"Honour to those who honour give"
One common misconception about BDSM is that the 'slave' must want to be mistreated and dishonoured - that because they act in a self-denigrating and apparently humiliating way, they are therefore somehow 'sub-human' and unworthy of respect and honour. People see a collar, and assume that the wearer is 'property', and therefore bellow contempt.
Sadly, there are some who play at 'Master' that carry the same misconception. They think that those who seek a collar must inherently be beneath those to whom they kneel - and that the service of a slave automatically elevates the 'Master' to the status of a God. They think that all submissives are seeking to become merely property: objects to be used by their 'betters', with no care or concern for the value of themselves, and therefore unworthy of being treated with honour and respect.
They see images of BDSM, but they never seek to look beyond the surface of what they see; they choose not to see the rich interplay of power, respect, honour and trust that flows between the real Men who play these scenes (and live this life) for real. Instead, they try to ape the egotism that they think they see in the Master: demanding that subs should come to them with 'no demands, no expectations, no rights', expecting immediate unquestioning surrender to anything and everything that They desire - and mocking those that come to serve Them with terms like 'fag', 'bitch', 'cum-dump' and 'thing'.
Such a deep misunderstanding of what BDSM is is at the heart of why we still need reminders that 'Safe, Sane and Consensual' must be the mantra at the heart of our communities.
I proudly wear a collar. I serve those whom I love, and love those whom I serve.
When I kneel to a Master, I do so to gift Him with my surrender. Through our power-play, I place my honour in His hands; I do so trusting that He will use it, feed from it, and return it to me - ready for me to surrender once more. My willing submission leads to my Master's increased Dominance - which in turn feeds my deeper submission... In that exchange, we jointly create an endlessly deepening current of energy that we both can ride down into places that we could never reach alone.
Service, surrender, submission - these are honour-gifts given from one man to another. They are the fuel that drives our interactions and our play. But a gift that is cast aside without honour dishonours both the one who was gifted and the one who gave the gift.
The Master who knows the importance of His slave's gift is one who knows the value of that gift - and the value of His slave in turn. Knowing the value of the slave, He knows His own value in turn. He sees the man who wears the collar - knows the depth of his desire and the inner strength that it has taken for him to place that desire in the hands of another; He understands the self-control needed to spread one's back to the flogger, to bend one's head for the restraints. He knows that His slave has put aside his own needs in order to focus on His service - but the Master knows that in doing so, the slave has made the Master's pleasure their pleasure, shared.
The true Master is one who can see beyond the collar to the Man who wears it. He knows, respects and honours the gift that this man gives in kneeling to Him. He knows that whilst this honour is freely given, it is still only lent - and must be returned. Such a Master knows that He Himself must be honourable, in order to be worthy of honour in turn.
A Master who is not a Gentleman is no Man at all.
"How can I value you if you will not value yourself?"
But, there is an equal and opposite urge in some subs.
They experience the buzz of humiliation and service, but allow themselves to feel degraded by such experiences; worse: they feel guilty for wanting them. They listen to the rhetoric of those who would try to sanitise our deepest urges, and let themselves feel that what they do - what they desire - is wrong: perverse, unmanly, 'sick'.
Believing that their desires are 'wrong', they come to think that they themselves must be 'bad' for feeling them. Hating themselves for what they desire, they seek out others who will punish them - and slowly become trapped in an ever deepening spiral of desire for punishment and degradation. They come to want to be an 'object', a 'thing' - no longer human, and therefore no longer responsible for the desires and the actions that they are 'forced' to enact.
They project their self-disgust onto their 'Master' - and turn His dominance into a form of ritualised abuse. Eventually, their 'play' itself becomes a form of self-punishment - a fetishised self-flagellation that merely massages their negative ego and reinforces a deep (even subconscious) self-hate.
I know, because I walked the first stages of that descent, before both my Partner and my Handler helped me to see that my guilt was destroying both myself and our love - saying: "I love you too much to be the tool for your own self-destruction"
Why tell yourself that you are 'Just a slave' or 'Only property' - then expect your 'Owner' to treat that property with contempt? Which Man would buy a Ming vase, then break it - or wish to own a broken toy...?!?
In denigrating yourself for your desire to submit, you also denigrate those whom you serve. By devaluing yourself and your service, you make that service worthless - and insult the very Men you pledge to love.
'The paling priest doth lie' - the desire to submit, to serve, is not wrong: it is a deep and inherent part of us all - an inheritance from our primal (and primate) past.
In the East, it is recognised that to dedicate oneself to the pleasure of another is to be worthy of the deepest honour and respect. Whether Geisha or Monk, the Zen of Service is pursued as a way to deep inner peace and enlightenment. Something that our 'Individuality at all costs' Western world has lost, and is perhaps a lot worse off in the losing.
To wish to give of ourselves to those whom we love and respect is a deep and beautiful urge. It is one that is at the heart of all romantic love and most brotherly fraternity - and it has inspired incredible poetry and world-changing heroism both. It is not an urge to be guilty of, but one to be celebrated and encouraged.
Just as you are. As you are. Who you are.