Sunday, September 6, 2015

Say My Name

If there is one thing that BDSM world likes to obsess over, it's labels. Names, titles, roles, forms of address. It's a topic you can't get away from. We are very, very invested in what people call themselves, what they call each other, what they call everyone else.

I was part of a discussion today about how a woman was frustrated at some d-types' habits of punctuating every sentence with the word "girl." The overwhelming response was that a d-type has no business addressing a woman they don't know or own as "girl," especially in such a persistent manner. There was one guy who, rather obnoxiously, insisted that if we were offended, that's on us, and that we have no right to change how that d-type chooses to speak. Of course, he made no mention of how a d-type has no right to address another person as a subordinate just because of their identity as an s-type.

I couldn't seem to get it through his head that "girl" is not a casual form of address between strangers or even casual acquaintances. Basically, if you aren't my owner, one of my closer friends, or a sassy gay man, you have no business calling me girl. It's much the same as calling someone you either aren't in a relationship with or don't know well "little one" regardless of their age or size just because they're an s-type. It comes across as condescending.

Now, I'm from the Southern U.S., so I'm used to people casually tossing around terms of endearment like candy. Honey, baby, sweetie, darlin', and dear are just part of our dialect. Those don't bother me, but girl and little one are not remotely in the same category. Not in the context that woman was talking about. They aren't comparable.

We say things with these forms of address within BDSM interactions, or with the lack of address.

It occurred to me while I was mulling this over that my owners have never really addressed me by my actual name. My ex employed sweetie somewhat, but tended to opt for terms like slut, bitch, and slave. I wasn't particularly fond of that. Slave was cool, but I've never gotten any kind of warm fuzzies from the other two. It bothered me for a bit that he never said my name. I thought it was weird.

But, then, Daddy never says my name either. With him, I am Rabbit, or baby, but most often Rabbit. I'm not sure what I'd think if he ever did call me by my actual name.

I think with both of them, the only time I ever heard my name on their lips was in reference to me, rather than a direct address. I have to wonder if this habit of renaming one's partner is something people do in vanilla relationships. I admittedly have no experience with those, so it could be for all I know. I do find it interesting that we have such a preoccupation with giving out "slave names" and such.

Outside of my relationships, however, I'm very much on the side of use my name or GTFO. As I have mentioned in previous posts, my identity as a slave is not a social status. If someone addresses me with a subordinate term, such as slave, girl, little one, slut, etc., it tells me that they feel like they are my superior or that they are dominant to me, which immediately raises my hackles. It is presumptuous and, frankly, obnoxious.

I am also very careful, despite the prevalence of the use of sir and ma'am within vanilla Southern culture, not to use honorifics even casually in conversation in BDSM company, because I feel that it, like the use of the subordinate terms, conveys a message. Not everyone may feel like the use of honorifics signifies an concession of dominance, but I have met enough that do, that I would not feel comfortable in their use.  Some may find that disrespectful, but I'm not one for handing out respect to strangers either.

I just find it a little fascinating how much we say with how we address people, and what you can tell about a person based on what they call you.   


  1. I live in the vanilla world and before my current relationship had very little experience of the BDSM world.
    My ex used to call me 'love' but he never used anyone's given name. He was just a rude, obnoxious twat.
    I'm not against the use of words like this when, as you say, they are part of the dialect. In England for example in a shop you might get called 'love', in Ireland if you're talking to a group of people it would be 'lads' regardless of whether you're talking to men or women.
    As far as I can see there are certain sections of the BDSM community who are very hung up on rules and names. For me personally it's not an issue right now as I'm not involved with the community in the real world. Online I use Dawn, Sir is Sir and for anyone else I use their online name. In public Sir and I rarely use each others names unless we are talking to someone else or want to get each others attention in a group. In private it's pretty much the same. He has several names for me ranging from princess to slut, I do get the warm fuzzies whatever he calls me:) I call him Sir, his real name has become, in a way, my safeword. If I use it he knows I'm not playing any more.
    I think I would be offended if someone I didn't know called me slave or little one and I wouldn't call a stranger Sir or Master just to show respect. Just because I identify as sub doesn't mean I'll submit to any Dominant. Respect has to be earned but that still doesn't mean I'm going to call someone Sir or Master. There is only one Sir in my life.

    1. My ex was of the mind that "sir" was what you called other people's dominants, not your own. He wouldn't allow me to call him sir, but neither did he require that I call anyone else sir either.

      I've never been much for using names or forms of address in casual conversation unless I'm trying to specify who I'm talking to or trying to get someone's attention. It's just not the way I talk. If I do, I often default to the typical southern quirk of tacking on some casual endearment like "hun" or "sugar."

      I think the one exception to the girl thing is one customer at work who always answers my calls with "Yeah, girl, whatcha got?" I know he's not talking down to me in that context. But I think placement can affect how it comes across.

  2. My Master doesn't want me to call any random man Sir, unless they are in a certain relationship to me: basically regular play partners that we respect and in general he expects me to ask him for approval before I start applying honorifics. The same would go for Mistress for a woman, or other titles of respect.That said, I have occasionally come out with "yes Sir" during a scene with someone and my Master didn't mind that.
    But "Master" is only reserved for him, I will never be allowed to call anyone else that.

    1. I get the feeling that most people feel like Master is a personal term, with the exception of Goreans, and Leatherfolk who use it as a part of a name, like Master Bob, etc.

      There are very few men I've felt any inner compulsion to call sir, and one of them ended up becoming my owner. I haven't met many female d-types, so I've never really felt the need to call anyone ma'am. I call Peach "madam" sometimes, but not in any PE capacity.