I’ve heard the terms “bottom”, “sub” or “submissive”, and “slave” mentioned often on twitter and I was curious what the differences were, specifically between a “bottom” and a “sub”. I’ve been tied up, teased, and lightly tortured, and also have done the tying up and teasing, so I know that I much prefer to take the more passive end of play, but I wasn’t sure what I would term myself. So I set out to the internet and typed in my search criteria into Google. I got a bunch of hits back, most of the answers were very similar, and the following was the one I found most concise. It was from Yahoo Answers, of all places.
baka_otaku30 answered 7 years ago
Bottom, sub and slave are three tiers of the receiving end in BDSM.
bottom – The receiver in a BDSM scene or session. This is the basic BDSM term for any person on the receiving end of scene play. By itself, the term simply refers to anyone who takes the passive part in play or relationship. A bottom in a relationship will likely receive playful attention from their Top, or discipline in some cases, but will only go further than that if the bottom is also a submissive or slave. Rules given to someone that is strictly a “bottom” and not one of the other two will apply to the bottom’s well-being, such as bedtime or being forbidden to smoke or drink.
submissive (sub) – Unlike bottom, which is a simple statement of wanting to be the passive in play, sub refers to someone that, as a personality trait, prefers to surrender control of part of their lives to a Dominant. While a bottom’s part in a session ends when the session is over, being submissive is a more constant situation. A submissive will have the same rules that a bottom might have, but could also have some self-serving rules that the Dominant assigns, like always walking behind him or wearing a certain outfit on Tuesdays.
slave – A slave is the ultimate surrender of their own control, becoming the “property” of their Master. As such, every aspect of the slave’s life may be controlled by the Master at his whim, within any preset limits established at the start of the relationship. Things that others take for granted, like sitting in a chair instead of on the floor, choosing your own clothes each day or listening to your favorite music on the radio, could very well be a reward to a slave, only given when the Master feels that the slave deserves it.
Each higher tier is a subsection of the tier before it. Thus, all submissives are bottoms, but not all bottoms are submissives. All slaves are both submissive and bottom, but not all bottoms or submissives are slaves.
I can rule out “slave” for myself right off. It’s not for me, I’m way too hard headed for that. The lifestyle does intrigue me, but more from a voyeristic point a view, and not from experiencing it myself.
Really, I would classify myself as a “bottom” with some “submissive” tendencies. I wouldn’t relinquish control 24/7, I don’t think I could and be truly happy. But there are times when I would like to, to see what it’s like. I’ve fantasized about arriving home, or wherever, and being told to shower and change into some specific outfit. To have to act some way while being out in public. And, of course, to explore more of the bondage and BDSM I’ve had a taste of. I am a very strong minded, independent woman, but I’m also a girl who has struggled with herself for her whole life. One thing I struggle with is thinking too much, overthinking, especially when it comes to sex. Sometimes I have trouble orgasming, when I start to feel myself slip backwards, my mind can have a difficult time bringing it back and progressing up that hill. I’ve found when I’ve had some of that control taken away, my mind stops thinking about my clit or pussy, and my body takes over. Also, I’m not overly sensitive, tactile wise. I guess you could say that I have a high pain tolerance. For example you have to pinch my nipples quite hard for me to feel it, I don’t really feel light tickling caresses there, but pinch, pull or twist them…mmm, that’ll get me squirming…