In the BDSM world, few things make me roll my eyes quicker than when people talk about collars. For the longest time I thought there was something inherently wrong with me. I’m not talking about the collars kinky people wear to simply show they are kinky. I’m talking about the collars that become invested with so much meaning and formality that you almost expect the collars to glow with their self-importance. These collars are powerful symbols of commitment on both the submissive’s part and the dominant’s part. The collar is a material manifestation of the power exchange. The solid feel around the neck serves as a constant reminder of the grip a dominant has on a submissive.
I just think it’s a misleading lie.
Now, as the child of divorced parents and the child of a woman who married the same kind of abusive asshole three times, I might be accused of being cynical. It’s just hard to be have faith in happily ever after when my own fourteen year relationship to my wife is considered some sort of longevity miracle by my already divorced friends. As an erotica writer, I receive countless e-mails from the Wish-They-Were divorced and the When-Will-I-Find-Love crowd. I look at my my own wife and see at least three points where if things had gone a little different, I’d be single right now. A sustained relationship is a miracle and having a physical symbol around just seems like you are taunting fate to me.
In my terribly short years on this Earth, I have noticed a very simple fact: healthy people grow. We change and evolve over time. We change political parties, we change musical tastes, we change which side of the paddle we are on and the things we loved ten years ago now seem silly and foolish. Those of us who never change become living caricatures, suited only for amusing stories and appearances on reality television. It’s not a matter of being easily swayed as much as we are constantly learning about ourselves and what we desire. We may want to be forever with our loved ones but what we really are hoping for is that they grow and evolve with us as we grow and evolve. If the loved one doesn’t, then it’s time to grow apart.
This almost seems self-evident to me in BDSM. Only a few of us have been doing BDSM for our entire lifetimes. The vast majority came into BDSM because we had outgrown our old lives. Normal society wasn’t enough for us anymore so we turned away and made our own path. Yet here we are, imitating the concept of marriage with leather collars believing somehow that NOW, now I am who I will always be. This person who broke away from the mainstream is the person I want to run away with and be a loose cannon forever under this new permanent never changing rebellion. Worse, the collar feels like a physical attempt to lock a person down at a point in their maturation. As if we could somehow ziplock a person and keep their love and devotion fresh forever. There is so much power, control and domination in our lifestyle that I think we sometimes forget that symbols can be stronger than we ever intended. You slap leather and chain around someone’s neck, you have effectively said “Stop this wonderful growth you are doing, I love you as you are RIGHT NOW.”
If the collar must be a symbol, let’s alter it a little. I want my collars to be unlocked and open. I want the submissive to know I adore her at this moment in time but I could never hold her from being who she needs to be. For that matter, she needs to know that I can change too. A few years, a few decades, or a few life changing events later and I might decide that I need something else in my life. Let the open collar represent just how fleeting and wonderful desire/love can be so that maybe we’ll appreciate it more when we have it. Let the openness of the collar be an invitation to evolve while serving as a reminder of where they are now. Love someone enough to set them free; if they stay with you, fuck the hell out of them while you still can.
That’s just my preference. Create your own definition and use for a collar. If you find a need for a lock around your neck then use it. I just want you to look at the symbols that bind your life and rewrite them to your needs. Love, grow and love.
Now I just need to figure out how to attach a leash to an open collar and I’m set.