labels - love them or hate them

Labels – love them or hate them

The topic for Tell Me About this time is labels. Categorising and labelling in an essential part of our learning and understanding of what is going on around us. It helps us to link things and by understanding similarities and differences within and between these categories, to arrive more quickly at an interpretation of what we see. By doing this we can process information quite quickly and reach an understanding based on our past experience.  We can then use prediction to hopefully make sense of it all and behave and interact in an way that is appropriate to the situation. 

We need linguistic labelling

I actually worked with a pupil a few years ago who had not developed the ability to manage linguistic labelling. The result was quite a high level of anxiety in many situations where she was not familiar enough to be able to feel safe. The connections between words was often not there and so the world became a much more frightening and confusing place. We rely on language to enable us to label and categorise, otherwise your ‘language library’ becomes a jumbled mess where you cannot access the information that you need.

Apparently, due to the overuse of technology as ‘childcare’, this will become an increasing issue for some of the upcoming generation; some children are not always being corrected when they don’t categorise correctly, and are not always being given the explanation which would help them to learn the connections between words. A worrying thought! So although I am about to have another little rant about labels again, I do appreciate that people need to categorise in order to make sense of things in what can be an overwhelming and confusing world.  

We need to understand who we are and where we fit

Being able to see similarities and differences is a key part to our understanding of how things work, however, when we attribute these labels to other people rather than objects and things, it can have an adverse effect. I am a person who does see the significance of having a ‘label’. Working in teaching, it is something that we have to manage and some young people who do not learn or behave in the more traditional way often benefit from being able to say “I am ………” as it can give them a reason and an explanation for the way they think or feel. Others find it a burden and it can make them feel more different or unusual and it is not a positive.

At the end of the day, it is about understanding, and knowing how or why only helps if you then know what to do with that information. So I am not against labels per se, I just think that they have to be used with care and caution and there has to be a value to using one. If identifying with a particular label is helpful as it allows you to navigate the world in a more positive way then it can be a real benefit. If it allows you to explain to others certain things about yourself and how you want to be treated, then it can be really helpful. I am aware that this is not always the case and so would exercise caution when applying a label to someone else.

Finding my own label

For quite a number of years, I had the feeling myself that I was somehow ‘different’ or ‘wrong’ and it was a relief to finally be able to put a name to what that was all about. Realising that I was sexually submissive was a huge thing for me as I was able to slap on my label and leap straight into my category, knowing that I was no longer alone and there were others. I used it to explain to my husband what I thought I was and what I thought I needed from him, and he kindly agreed to take his own label and join me in pursuing a our newly labelled lifestyle.

What I didn’t realise was that arriving at the conclusion that I was, or wanted to be, a submissive was really only the beginning. I quickly became entangled in other categories and labels – sexual submissive, lifestyle submissive, 24/7, slave, little, masochist, service submissive ……….. The community where I found my first ‘home’ was marketing the married submissive – I was submissive and married so yay! But although it seemed initially to be a good fit, it became clear that it was as limited in its acceptance of the different bits and pieces that might make up a relationship as any of the other labels.

Making things fit

I suppose to accept that there is not a clear definition leads to a dilution and therefore a confusion and so, for the most part, people try to make themselves part of the group.
Anyway, ultimately the confusion was all mine – if I didn’t fit there then I would need to find a new home, which really is what I have done here I suppose. During chat one time we were talking about this and a friend said, “We are not all square pegs here. We are squishy odd shaped pegs and balls and other stuff.” Sometimes I think we just know when we don’t fit and we find others who can relate to those feelings.

Living this dynamic has allowed me to grow a lot as a person and I am much less bothered these days about what others think. I have learnt to accept myself and have also found myself interacting with a group of people who have done the same. In the past if I didn’t fit neatly into a box, then I have been guilty of stepping back rather than reaching into the box, having a rummage around, and taking out the things that might be useful to me. However, from the comfort of my new position, I can see the various lids of the boxes that I had closed, slowly opening back up.

So while I may begin to embrace, or certainly consider some other labels in the months and years that come, I will proceed with caution. I will be careful to use the bits and pieces that are helpful to me and not beat myself up if I am not like everyone in that particular box. In trying to sort ourselves out so that we can more easily find others who share the same interests and ideas, we can end up creating a somewhat exclusive group. We somehow lose our differences in our desire to find others the same. I do not believe there is a right way or a wrong way and I think the need to squeeze people into highly defined groups can create as many issues as it helps.

Celebrating differences

When we split people up into categories, the large variety in each category seems to be reduced whereas the differences between the categories seems to be highlighted. I am not sure that either is a positive. At the end of the day, we are all different and we all have our own set of experiences and personality traits as well as having our own set of hopes and dreams. Unlike things and objects, people cannot be neatly defined and labelled in a precise way so I will try to stay away from defining myself in such terms. At the moment I am happy surrounded by boxes with open lids. I am content looking into those that seem to be of interest and am spending time thinking about those that don’t in an open-minded way.

I love reading about and talking to people who are different to me and then learning that actually we also have a lot in common. My life currently is about pushing boundaries and it feels good not to be boxed in and to be pushed to try new things and to be accepted for being who (and what) I am. So ultimately I am torn – while it would be nice not to have to use differentiators and for the world to be accepting and inclusive in a way which it is not, it is also important to recognise that we are all different and in embracing that we can learn and grow.

Tell Me About Labels

To see who else is writing about labels just hit the badge to go to the page or why not check out some more of my Tell Me About posts.

This post was originally written and published in August 2017 but has been updated for the current prompt.

Posted in Submissive Musings, Tell Me About ... and tagged , , , , .


  1. Ponder that y’all aren’t the first ones to do this. This isn’t the first generation to do it either. Were there enough time I bet some cave man would have drawn a cave picture of his tied up cave lady. That drawing probably wouldn’t have a label. Doesn’t mean they weren’t happy.
    The overall question isn’t about your label, it’s about your happiness. You certainly seem at ease so….

  2. Labels can help us find common ground, but I don’t think we should expect other’s who share labels similar to our own to be exactly like us within that label. No two daisy’s are exactly the same. As you said in your last paragraph “we are all different.” I like celebrating the differences as much as the similarities. In learning about the differences of others I often learn more about myself, that’s how I discovered I was a little ?.

  3. Really enjoyed this and it is very true, when Madam and I started in our FLR it was very difficult to work out how to define what we were and then we decided “sod it this is how we define ourselves and our relationship”. this generally meant taking a little bit from different categories of the FLR, D/s, BDSM and FEMDOM world and mixing them together and we were quite happy with that.
    The problem occurred when you bring others in to the relationship, they initially want to understand you by how you categorise yourself and the relationship, and as we found to our slight cost their interpretation of a definition can be way different from our definition. Thankfully that problem was found very quickly before it caused a major problem in Madam’s life and our relationship.
    We are lucky now that Madam has a Boyfriend that saw how we defined ourselves and then asked us to elaborate and explain – it doesn’t take much to ask and makes a real difference.

    • That is really interesting and I can see it would make things difficult when adding someone else. We have not done that so have not had to cross that bridge so thank you for adding that here as I am sure it will be useful to others. As you say, your relationship is very individual to you and I am sure like ours, it is continually evolving. I am so pleased that you have found some thing that works for the two (or three) of you. I appreciate you taking the time to comment ?

  4. Labels are a very handy evolutionary survival tool. Friend, enemy or stranger were the first three and even today, those are the initial filters our subconscious employs. Online makes things even more confusing.

  5. This post is important and merits a proper response which i will do over the weekend. I assume every blog emerges from N America on BDSM and my overall regard of the UK & Irish “scene” is very negative. This is based on actual experience of unsocial kinksters on both islands.
    They owe me nothing nor me them and their disregard for online males is a disgrace. Other nations they look down on are light years ahead of them. Now i notice a decline in N American kinkdom which has zero to do with the usual kneejerk excuses.
    But with that out of the way i commend your fresh thinking & more later over the weekend.

    • I look forward to hearing your response and I am sorry that you have had a negative response from the British and Irish kinksters. Personally I have not met many of them but those that I have met have a been similar to me in thinking. I would say the same of those from the other countries. I suppose I have been lucky to meet people through blogging and through online chat sites. I tend to skim over what I find is not helpful.

        • Labels I put on things are key for me to make sense of the world around me. People, experiences, things I all label. However for me labels can be transient, like your open boxes I guess. You take what you need from them while they make sense. Great post.

  6. I commend you for bringing serious topics to the surface that often get glossed over Missy. The blog format offers options that the standard current BDSM sites ignore or simply see as too complex. Since not long after these sites emerged from Yahoo groups i have tried to find a serious submissive female but most are simply sub standard. No pun intended in that but on & in an online D/s the online demands are not harsh or OTT. One tries to find a level suited to the sub depending on her experience & circumstances & teach from scratch if necessary. The BDSM community on the W European Atlantic islands differ from the European mainland. That also applies on more vanilla sites where what i term the Judge Judy or Jeremy Kyle judgements do not prevail. To skim over is fine if one is not seeking & i am not expecting sun moon & stars Missy. Nor am i deluded enough to think i am Europe’s greatest Dom!
    I simply seek an online sub who can communicate & work at building a quality 2 way connection. All of us differ in our tastes & interests Missy but to gain even a short term D/s is now very difficult. I am no new starry eyed Dom on the block but a normal guy happy to compromise. In RT i do not have the scope to meet or attend events so it is online only for now at least. My daily life outside online kinkdom is very isolated. Nor am i in the best of health but by no means a total wreck. Some people can do Poly with ease & others prefer mono while some can do exclusive submission.
    Some male Ds of course give little leeway to a sub & in RT reserve a Poly option for themselves but not their sub. That is a sub’s choice & i of course realise male subs also go for that option. In my time on the blog platform only one “friend” emerged from S Carolina. To read her blog one would think this lady was a sexpert but that was only in her fiction faction & poems. In an online context she clearly was a creative thinker but not a kinkster. That was fair enough & in time she vanished which is not unusual in Blogland. To sustain a blog of any kind demands effort & time & energy. My view on BDSM is open minded & i see no point in marrieds or sex workers getting a tough time. They have as much right as the Angels on here to be on here or on kink sites. Exclusion in a free open forum of any kind is wrong in my view & people have reasons for being active. If Oprah or Doctor Phil came out as kinksters i would welcome them & there is no such thing as the perfect marriage. Marriage is a charming ideal but can go wrong as can any social union. Labels matter in BDSM but many “submissives” are Ds & Ds the reverse. To define one’s role goes nearer to Mills & Boon rather than De Sade. The eye candy or trophy sub factor comes into play as well as economics. Economics may be the boring science but a D with a nestegg has sway as opposed to a man or woman on limited income. Sex is not removed from social mobility or indeed the other issue of class.
    That is the first half of my reply so i hope there is food for thought & i have not put you all to sleep ?

    • Finding the right person is always difficult I think as there is so much to take into account. Having a D/s dynamic with HisLordship means that everything works really well for us and we are able to have the intimacy and intensity that I had always craved, but we were also happy before and I know how lucky I am that I eventually found the right person for me so a lot of it is about compatibility and attraction on a general level which was there before we explored our roles as sub and Dom. We already had the honesty, communication, trust and respect that is needed as a good foundation for any relationship. The D/s has allowed us to take that further and apply it in a more structured way I think so that we can avoid the power struggles that would emerge sometimes before. Having more defined roles has been good for us. ?

      • Maybe the notion of “community” is a complete myth & the main aim of the media is to make anyone not related “a stranger” & a “danger” to be avoided at all costs. If people are brain washed into assuming the family unit is ideal a look at criminal statistics paints a totally different picture. Most serious crimes take place within the supposed domestic heavens & units termed “family & friends”.

  7. Pingback: Limits, Labels and Life – submissy

  8. What you write about how we need linguistic labelling is really interesting and makes a lot of sense. It will be rather interesting to see how it’ll turn out with the new generation.

    I like how you end up calling your labels boxes with open lids, which is how I would like to look at my labels too, in a way. Like you write, it’s quite nice to find other people with that same label but then becomes limiting also. I guess the trick is to find that balance, so keeping that lid open sounds right.

  9. Labels I put on things are key for me to make sense of the world around me. People, experiences, things I all label. However for me labels can be transient, like your open boxes I guess. You take what you need from them while they make sense. Great post.

  10. I don’t want the labels to define me, but it is nice to have the words to be able to categorize things, to make clear to others where I feel I fit in, or what the different facets of my personality are. I like your idea of open boxes, that’s actually a much better thing to have than labels. Great post, Missy!
    ~ Marie xox

  11. “I am content looking into those that seem to be of interest and am spending time thinking about those that don’t in an open-minded way.”
    An extremely strange statement. You can, of course, study something interesting, but what’s the point of spending time investigating someone who is not of interest?

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