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"I have to admit that it's easier to define a slave than a boy. I use the three qualities, obedience, surrender, and worship, in describing a slave and they hardly denote a boy."

A Boy Is What He Wants to Be
by Jack Rinella

It's a time honored question and I suppose it's time to answer it again:
"Dear Jack:

"I really could use your help in answering a question for me. What is the difference between a boy and a slave?

"I'm a Master from Minnesota. I won't go into all of my likes and desires but I have been seeking out a slave for service. I believe I have found what I am looking for. However the above question still seems to come up and bothers me.

"I've noticed a number of ads in which the guy has proclaimed that he is
a BOY and NOT a slave. Seeing as how I am one that uses the terms rather interchangeably, I'm not sure of the difference. I contacted one such applicant and asked him. He said that 'a boy performs the same as a slave, but has rights such as being able to refuse.' As a Master who wants a boy to serve him totally and follow my orders, how would that work? And if the boy does follow all your orders as he should and serves well, does that not make him a slave? Maybe I was just trained differently.

"I call my partner, my boy, but he is basically my slave. Unlike many Master's that I have met, I love my boy very much and care for him nearly as a lover. But in all aspects I have control of his life and he serves as I command and shows respect to me. He often calls himself the "the boy" and I like that. But again, it has always been understood that the term 'the boy' was really 'the SLAVE boy.'

"Thank you for your time and such. I hope it's not a dumb question to answer. For all I know the answer has already been written and I just don't know where to look for it. Master Mark"

Mark is facing the problem that all English speakers have to face: our language is apt to be extremely ambivalent. Unfortunately, the word "boy" can mean a lot of things and some of the meanings have no semblance to the others! I've met boys who were young, who were old, who were submissive, feisty, subservient, bratty, tops, bottoms, and even some that were female.

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. In fact, the only right way is the way that is right for you, or in the case of a couple, right for 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. In a recent conversation with a Master, for instance, we were talking about a slave being a 24/7 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). He noted that his slave didn't work outside the home because he was a 24/7! I know lots of 24/7's and they all work outside the home, but obviously his slave doesn't.

Generically, boy is used to denote someone in a more submissive role, but not everyone who uses the term is going to submit. There are cases of "boys" who dominate their "Dads," for instance.

Specifically, a slave is not a boy, though many Masters, myself included, use the term in referring to a slave. I often call Patrick, "boy." It is, in this sense, diminutive and affectionate.

When love enters the relationship, as it can and often does, even with Masters and slaves, the relationship may actually take on some of the characteristics of a Daddy-boy relationship.

In its strictest usage, the term boy would refer to someone who is in a Daddy-boy, not a Master-slave relationship. Daddies and their boys have unique and not easily defined relationships, probably more closely related to mentoring, friendship, and bonds of mutual affection. The Dad may provide leadership, advice, direction, even financial support, but a boy seldom takes on the role of complete obedience.

And obedience, in the Daddy-boy relationship, isn't usually expected. Though some Dads may demand, and get it, others aren't nearly so dominant nor lucky.
I think it is this characteristic that sets boys apart from slaves, though from relationship to relationship there may be all sorts of areas where the Dad and boy define themselves with a great amount of individuality.

Sexually, for instance, there are no rules that say that a boy can't top the Dad. Other couples may be rather versatile in bed or may eschew SM in their relationship.

Long time readers will remember that I used to have a boy named Jim. I will admit that I wanted to make him my slave, but he would have none of it, so I settled for being a father figure in his life.

Our relationship was sexual, open, and filled with conversation. Jim often consoled me, ate my cooking, and did the dishes. I gave him advice, mentored him in his career, and listened to his rambling complaints about life.

We spent a lot of social time together, but went our separate ways as well. Sunday nights, for instance, was reserved for SideTracks, not me, even if I really wanted to see him.

I helped him out financially once in a while and he always paid me back. Once or twice he even offered to help me with a few bucks.

In time, Jim and I grew a bit less intimate but still maintained a close friendship. He never ceased calling me "Dad." Eventually he fell in love with a guy in San Francisco, and as most boys do to their Dads, left me for his "true love."

Unfortunately, that relationship didn't work out so the boy called Dad for advice and I did my best to help him via the phone, even offering to help him return to Chicago. Jim, of course, survived the trauma and remained in SF. We stayed in regular in communication until his death in 1996.

I have to admit that it's easier to define a slave than a boy. I use the three qualities, obedience, surrender, and worship, in describing a slave and they hardly denote a boy. Likewise, there are qualities that describe a boy, I'm sure, but they don't come to mind as easily or succinctly.

Certainly a boy is going to be affectionate. I might add admiring, impulsive, caring, eager, sexy, curious, willing, and intimate. There may be some degree of versatility, and the sexual roles may vary greatly from that of a slave, especially in regards to discipline. Boys have more limits than slaves, to be sure.

If I sound like I'm struggling for words here, it's because I am. There are no hard and fast "rules" for boys. They, with their Dads, are rather self-defining. If that's not problem enough, anyone can adapt any moniker. It's easy enough to say you're a boy and many will, just because it sounds right to them.

My advice to Mark is to know what you want and to be clear with others what that is. Don't let their ambiguity dissuade you from the kind of relationship you want, and luckily seem to have. Call your boy what you want. What's important is that both of you enjoy the relationship.

Copyright 1999 by Jack Rinella. This material may not be copied in any manner. For permission to reproduce this essay, contact

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