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"The rightness of a relationship depends upon the people in the relationship, not by definitions you find in my column. What works for me is right for me, not necessarily right for Mark, or anyone else for that matter. What is right for you is what you need to pursue."

The Difference Between a Boy and a Slave
by Jack Rinella

My friend Mark wants to fulfill his life-long fantasy of having a "slave." Or is it a "boy" he wants? "What", he asks, "is the difference?"

For starters it's important to remember that every relationship is defined by the two people in the relationship. As I've written before, there are myriad variations on the theme. I can hear myself getting in trouble with the purists, but the only right way is the way that is right for you, or in the case of a couple, the both of you.

One couple, calling themselves "Master and slave" may choose to live in ways significantly different than another couple who lay claim to the same titles. One of the struggles that Keith (my 22 year old slave) and I have is trying to define his "slavery" in ways that are mutually acceptable.

I see the Master as the one having the sole responsibility and authority for defining how the Master/slave relationship will be lived. The slave is called upon to accept the Master's definitions and apply them in his/her life. The Master "sets the rules". I admit to the "one-sidedness" of this arrangement, but since control and domination are the primary hallmarks, the Master's word becomes law. The slave's choice is to accept and live as the Master expects, or not submit as a slave.

That does not mean that the two partners can't have another kind of relationship, but if the slave seeks, or needs, to retain control, then he is not being a slave.
Jim (age 27) and I have been dating for more than a year. When we first met, I began dominating him. Our first two ventures into the bedroom gave me the opportunity to tie him up, spank his ass, and generally control him.

On our third trip to bed he told me that he liked me very much but that this Master/slave stuff wasn't what he wanted. He wanted a relationship with me, but one that was more mutual and void of pain and domination. Right then and there he eliminated any ideas I had of making him my salve. Instead, he became my boy.

Within a week, Jim began to call me "Dad". Our relationship evolved into one of fuck-buddies and close friends. I soon found myself in the role of mentor and confidant. Jim retains his independence, his sarcastic attitude, and his strong will. I often refer to him as my "bratty, 27 year old teenager."

Though Keith has many of the same character traits as Jim, he has chosen a more surrendered relationship. He has given me himself as a gift, for my pleasure and my service.

My friend Larry, an experienced Master, talks about his Mastery in the following way. His words shed light on the meaning of slavery, as he sees it:

"Being a Master means to accept responsibility for the relationship. A master, other than just being dominant, is a balance for his slave who isn't just a bottom but is one who really desires to serve. It's always seemed important to me that there be a balance, that the slave desire to serve as much as the master desire to command.

"While most masters and slaves tend to be tops and bottoms, the depth of the relationship is somewhat different. I don't know how else to explain it. Being a Master entails understanding that you have control, which I think is difficult for most people. I think its something that you have to experience.

"It means someone has given himself as a gift whom I've accepted to use for my pleasure. Someone to learn and grow with, to share that whole master/slave relationship. The relationship I share with my slave is very much mental as well as physical. It is becoming more and more encompassing, much deeper. We've come to various understandings about ourselves, our needs, and what we can and can not give, what we can ask of each other, what we hope to find in each other in a total relationship."

A Dad/son relationship...is less encompassing, less controlling. The "pleasures" are more mutual, perhaps less intense, more obviously defined as "top and bottom".

I have a friend who is a slave. His answer to the meaning of his slavery shed light on just this top/bottom, Master/slave distinction:

"What does my slavery mean to me? It means that whatever we decide to do, and granted it's not all one sided, my objective is to serve him and ultimately to please him. That's the way I derive my pleasure, by serving him.

"My own perspective has developed from being a bottom, if you will, to being a slave. That is to say, my attitude has changed. Rather than focusing on deriving pleasure from being on the bottom side of an SM relationship, or a dominant/submissive relationship, I've learned to derive my pleasure from the activity of pleasing him rather than trying to please myself.

"As time has gone on, I have developed more and more into a space where I have the need to submit to his will, to his desires, whatever they may be, just for the purpose of giving him pleasure."

In any case, finding the person with whom to develop the relationship is the first step in creating the relationship. We can philosophize all we want about what "slavery" entails, but in the final analysis, it is defined by day to day living. No matter what you expect from a slave, what you get depends on who is doing the giving.

The dictionary defines a slave as "one bound in servitude to a person or household as an instrument of labor; one who is submissive or subject to a specified person or influence." The terms of one's relationship may be defined differently, but if they are, then by definition slavery no longer exists. It may approach submissiveness in some areas. There may be the semblance of bonds (whether desire, or love, or imagination). But in my opinion, if it is less than slavery, call it by another name.

The rightness of a relationship depends upon the people in the relationship, not by definitions you find in my column. What works for me is right for me, not necessarily right for Mark, or anyone else for that matter. What is right for you is what you need to pursue.

So, Mark, good luck on finding your slave or your boy. In fact, find one of each, it's really worth the effort.

Copyright 2000 by Jack Rinella. This material may not be copied in any manner. For permission to reproduce this essay, contact mrjackr@leathermail.com

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