In BDSM, Master/mistress/slave or M/s is a relationship in which one individual (the submissive) gives to another (the dominant) ultimate authority over them. It is a form of Domination and Submission. The participants may be of any gender or sexual orientation. The relationship is structured in terms of slavery, because of the association of the term with ownership of the slave and the rights of a master to their body, as property or chattel. The Dom/Domme is often called Master if male, or Mistress if female.
The owner/slave relationship is entered into on a consensual basis, without the legal force of historical or modern non-consensual slavery, which is forbidden by the laws of most countries.
The symbolic side...
Various forms of symbolism are sometimes used to affirm the owner/slave relationship. These include the wearing the owner's collar, being registered in a slave register, adopting (sometimes legally changing to) a name chosen by the owner, or engaging in a public declaration or ritualised ceremony of some type.
Some people draw up a slave contract that defines the relationship in explicit detail. These contracts may also deal with domestic arrangements (such as cleanliness, home duties) and interpersonal relationship matters (such as issues of deference, language, etc.), besides the sexual arrangements. Typically, they would provide that the master has the only say in all matters relating to the body and manners of the slave, including clothing, underwear, social relations outside of the arrangement, etc. However, these contracts are understood as not having any legal weight and are not intended to be used in a court of law, but are an understanding and agreement between the individuals.
In some traditional rituals, after signing a slave contract, many people celebrate the commitment to the relationship with a collaring ceremony, which can be simple or elaborate and friends are usually invited. The slave then wears a collar, which symbolizes their status. The collar may be a piece of neckwear, or may be a bracelet or other piece of jewellery that symbolizes slave status. These collars are generally not removed unless or until the relationship is dissolved, although some slaves are permitted to wear a more subdued (or less obtrusive) one outside of the home - for example during work or in social situations with people who may feel uncomfortable by them.
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