Just about everything within Traditional BDSM’s teachings/beliefs can be traced back The Old Guard (the original gay leather biker/military men) and The New Guard/The New Leather (when they opened up to also include lesbians). We might do things a little different, adjusted to fit the respectable changes that have been made, but for the most part it’s very similar. Let’s take a look at what a collar meant to TOG, and how that reflects on collars today in Traditional & New Gen teachings. I will also touch on areas where collars are not respected as they should be (from not knowing the history of the collar).
The collar has always belonged to the Master, as it show the Masters ownership of the property/slave. The collar would have the Master’s name, M/s name (look at this like today’s Fet name), or House name/symbol. The slaves would wear their Master’s collar, proud to be owned by that Master, and proud that they did the hard work and EARNED the collar.
When attending events, other Masters would know the slave was owned, who the owner is, and would be respectful of that. Your actions while wearing that collar reflected on your Master and Their training ability. The collars would be returned if the contract ran its course, a partner died or was released. The next sub to be collared would wear a collar that, more than likely, had already been worn by other subs, and would feel honored to walk in their footsteps. As you see, the collar and being collared is a huge honor and wasn’t just handed out when the sub asked for it.
Let’s keep that mindset going as we move on to Traditional/current BDSM times. While there are still Leather Families/Households that still stick to the TOG traditions of earning a collar, most D/s & DD/lg don’t go to that extreme, and usually don’t keep the same collar to pass on to the next s-type. The collar has become more personalized to the subs style, which is fine, IF that’s what the Dom wants. Remember, it belongs to the D-type, and shows ownership, otherwise it’s just a cute fashion piece.
Some of those following Traditional BDSM do not recognize subs or littles as being owned or collared. The reason is limits. When you are M/s you are TPE, taking on the Masters limits, you are Their property. A collar shows ownership of property, if you are not TPE, you are not owned, and therefore don’t need to show ownership in the true Traditional sense of the word. There were no protocols established for anyone that wasn’t M/s, because they didn’t exist. You were SM and/or M/s and that was BDSM for The Old Guard. Since there were no protocols for those outside of M/s, it divided us as a community. Some of the more strict M/s saw all other sub types as claimed (not owned) and could not be collared. This topic does come up in Traditional M/s groups from time to time, so I want you to know the information and understand why it’s looked at like this, not to hurt anyone’s feelings or discredit their dynamic/collar. We can’t say words have meanings or our history matters to NG, and change things we don’t like because it makes us feel a certain type of way. Instead, study the history and the meaning behind the protocols. We can then adapt their philosophies to our changing world and keep the same honorable lifestyle.
We have an advantage over TOG bc we can study the history, their writings and philosophies as a whole. They did not have that luxury since they were living in the history we study, and communities were not connected like we have access to now. Studying TOG view on collars shows more than just ownership. It symbolized the Master and slave being bound together, as well as the symbol for the service and protocols that make up the discipline and mental bondage of a dynamic. This is exactly how today’s Traditional BDSM recognizes the other dynamics and their choice to collar their s-type. That does not mean anyone claiming to be a sub can just be collared. You still have to hold true to the discipline and mental bondage as TOG, it may look less strict than what they expected out of their slaves.
Here are some areas of the collar that are confused with some aspect of the vanilla world or are just plain wrong.
Comparing the collar to a wedding ring or marriage. This has been going on as long as I’ve been in the lifestyle. It is similar in the aspect of commitment that the vanilla marriage is supposed to represent. Not the actual relationship type, bc normally there is not a power exchange in a vanilla relationship (unless they are vanilla versions 1950s/TIH or FLR).
Self-collaring. This is where a sub collars themselves (claims to “own” themselves) to empower themselves or heal from past trauma. I get what they mean, and I’m all for that…but don’t call it collaring. Without the Bondage and Discipline there is no service or protocols, or power exchange. All needed on some level, even if really relaxed, to have a dynamic. Pretty simple. Get a tattoo, or bracelet etc to show the commitment to yourself.
Subs asking (or some demanding) to be collared. The only appropriate time for a sub to talk about wanting to be collared is during vetting and negotiations. This is to make sure you are both on the same page about being collared or not and the meaning behind it. After that, it’s 100% the D-types call. Not all D-types collar their s-type, it’s not required to collar someone, ever.
If you understood what it means to collar someone, and what it means to be in a dynamic that is collared you wouldn’t push it, you would earn it. If you ask, and the Dom lets you pick out your fave one and then just gives it to you, you are not collared. Both parties lack the understanding of the symbolism and commitment of a collar.
The Velcro collar.
This is one of the ways where the internet has ruined BDSM. For the D-type, it is where they offer up a collar really quick, and to just anyone. Then the relationship fails (i know shocker)…then the next sub comes around, collared very fast, rinse and repeat. From the sub’s perspective this is someone that is very submissive to the online Dom right from the start, submits within a few days (or weeks), accepts a collar without vetting, negotiations or understanding what all of this means, after the Dom gets all the pics and sexting he vanishes and she now moves on to the next one.
A play (or bondage) collar is not an “official” collar. It has absolutely nothing to do with a dynamic or ownership, it is a tool used in a scene, no different than a set of cuffs or crop. The play collar is used to enhance the theme of the scene, like a cat collar during pet play. A bondage collar would be thicker with an O ring to help restrict different movements. There has to be a power exchange, and ownership in order to collar/be collared otherwise it’s just a prop for a scene, or cute jewelry.