May 142007

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.

  9 Responses to “Open Collar”

  1. I have to honestly say, your blog is my favorite.

    Yes I have my few that I circle daily and a few other blogs further out of my circle that I visit a couple times a week and the rare ones on the outer edges I pop by once a week or less.

    I thoroughly enjoy your stories.

    I thoroughly enjoy your commentary.

    I thoroughly enjoy your photo’s when you put them up.

    Originally I came for the stories, now I come for the commentary AND the stories. They make me think, they put perspective in places that needed perspective. I feel welcome here and not like . . . an oddity . . .

    I enjoyed today’s post alot. Thank you.

  2. I never saw the collar as a permanent thing. I saw it more as a wedding ring of sorts, and there is always the option for divorce.

    One BDSM couple I know use a collar, but he (the submissive) had a key to the collar in his bedroom. He can take it off whenever he wants, he just chooses not to.

    I will admit, I love collars. I find them sexy but I also like that they come off. One of the nicest collars I ever saw was a simple dog collar, with a ring to prevent it from getting too tight. Nothing sexier than that chain hanging down between two lovely breasts. Then again, they were also part of a “dog show” I went to once. :)

    I also get a little thrill when I see anyone wearing the fashion versions of collars, you know the ribbon around the throat? Yummy.

  3. You’ve a distinct point of view… I love that you think for yourself and challenge current practices and ways of approaching things.

    I, too, balk at many BDSM’ers who feel it necessary to do something simply because “it’s what their supposed to” or because it’s the “proper” way to behave as submissive or dominant.

    There are certain blogs I read in which I become infuriated because they write things that show they are obviously playing a role and think their submissive/dominant behavior is cute and flirty. In reality, it simply shows how much they buy into the stereotypes and labels. It never ceases to amaze me how these bloggers seem blind to how the smallest things they write are so telling about themselves.

    Quite frankly, I rarely – if ever – post comments as generally I tend to be a quite cynical and judgmental. In fact, this is the first time in over two years I have felt compelled to reply to a post. Which is probably a good thing… I don’t think many people would be happy with some of the criticisms I have, so I mostly keep my thoughts to myself.

    I highly agree with breaking from roles and labels and doing the things that are right for *you*. Follow your own path. Create yourself free from labels and roles and expectations. Use structures and ideas that appeal to you and find a way to make them your own.

    Also, I agree with your concept of a collar stagnating growth in accepting something that is, essentially, a piece of leather. Symbols can be powerful and representative without closing you off and making you a pretty doll on a shelf.

    And? Promising forever is an impossible promise that *no one* could possibly keep. The concept of “til death do us part” is completely unrealistic. Growth and change is inevitable… All we can hope for is someone who will be with us as long as the Universe permits. And that the person we choose to grow with will grow and change with us in a way that is positive and loving for both.

  4. Holy crap, such really good comments and it has to be my busiest work day.

    Musns- Thank you very much. You help make me feel that I am on a right track.

    t’sade- Visually I really like collars. Maybe it is a Southern thing, but around here lately collar ceremonies have become the new pig picking and it’s starting to grate on me.

    Having said that, I always thought the best cloth collar was a noose. Sexy.

    Neeraja- Thank you for coming out and leaving a comment. I find myself commenting less and less because of similar reasons. I feel like I don’t want to comment on someone else’s personal journey when I am still trying to figure out my own.

    ’til death us part’ makes me giggle every time I hear it. It’s just absurd.

  5. The only thing permanent in my life is that I own my own collar. Yes, I’ve been collared before to someone else and, much like my marriage, I didn’t view it as a permanent fixture. Instead, I have my own collar (in theory) that I wear with a leash that I hand off to particular people now and again. I’ll let them lead me around, I’ll even obey them, but I will not allow them to take what is mine. Ultimately, I follow my own rules and my own set of guidelines, belonging to the essence and power of myself.

    And it’s not that i don’t like the deep symbolism of collars, it’s just that I can wiggle out of one that feels too constricting around my neck. So to speak.

  6. I can understand the picking bit. It loses some of its enormity when overused or institutionalized. While I’m only on the fringes of the BDSM cultures, I’ve seen the same thing in the pagan groups. The dedication ceremony is much of the same thing, it becomes just a matter of course or just a “follow these 10 directions” instead of something personal, incredible, and special. I will admit, Reiki is much the same way these days.

    I feel the same about wedding rings (which I equate to a form of collar). I have a simple white gold band which means more to me than my mother’s $15k diamond ring does to her. Well, before she pawned it, that is. In the last seven years (my anniversary was yesterday), I have not worn a single piece of other jewelery because that rings means so much to me. But, compared to the endless other people out there who wears a rings, how can you know?

    I think it is possible to have a collar and have it mean something, but it requires you to know both members, to know what goes on their life. Sometimes, you just can’t read a relationship from its collar.

    I don’t have a journal, so my only existence is replying. But, I have a tendency not to read journals that I don’t chat on; I like being on top of the water instead of the ice below.

  7. i haven’t posted before though i am an addict at reading. But this one i had to comment on. i feel…perhaps that we are dinosaurs in that we are about to celebrate our 28th anniversary. we have been in the BDSM lifestyle for only the last 5 of that. Our transition to this was just part of the long journey that we are on together. We met as “children”, i 14 and he 19 and have not been apart since. First it was a promise ring, then an engagement ring, then a wedding band. There was a ring to commemorate the birth of 4 healthy children and one to celebrate 15 years together. Then when we entered the lifestyle, we bought each other new bands, ones of silver to be worn with our gold bands to us they symbolized the multi faceted nature of our relationship. Then he handcrafted a leather collar for me. i only wear it for scenes, but i do wear a particular necklace engraved with His initials 24/7. It is my collar and no more limiting to my growth than anything i have worn prior. Any relationship that doesn’t grow and evolve is destined for failure. Growing with one we love can be a challenge sometimes…but anything good is worth working for.

    i see your points and appreciate your thoughtfulness and opinions. i just wanted to express another point of view. Thank you.

  8. I love the opposing views as much as the agreeing ones. It is interesting to see the ways you view your collars and I appreciate the time each of you took to express yourselves. Thank you very much and those who haven’t commented, feel free to jump in.

  9. i guess it’s all a matter of interpretation. i don’t have a collar, heck i’ve never had a collar, to physically wear. and He never speaks of our relationship in a way that a collar is ever necessary. i don’t need it to remember we are linked or that i am His. over the last year who i am as a submissive has become more clear in my mind but a lot of that is in relation to who He is as my Dom. i never saw the collar as a finality point in growth or the relationship but more as an outward symbol to others that the relationship was more than just another transient experience in their life.

    now i do see some blogs that make me scratch my head but i’m atypical in my subbiness, well somewhat, so i don’t really do anything but accept that’s their manifestation of bdsm and it works for them so yippee.

    all relationships need to change somewhat but the basics about what attract us to one another have to remain there otherwise we have no purpose for the other anymore. my mother didn’t remarry thank God but my dad did SEVERAL times. he did skew my opinions of the viability of longterm relationships for quite a while. but then i sort of made peace with that, those were his issues not mine. He reminds me a lot of my father without all the chronic whoring around.

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