There are two ways that collars are viewed in the community: fashionably and symbolically (not always mutually exclusive). Oftentimes, people confuse the two. What results is a “Velcro collar” that literally and figuratively comes on and off easily and at whim.
Collars are a staple in the BDSM community. It is the submissive “badge” that is worn proudly. There are times when it may be the only thing that a submissive wears, at all. Wearing a collar is kinky as hell and there are as many types of collars as there are submissives who wear them. Leather, metal, rope, whatever’s kinkiest to the players. It can be a real thrill getting led around in private or even at a kinky event with your collar and leash. And what D-type wouldn’t want to be on the leading end of that leash? In their most elementary form, collars look good and are super sexy. They are versatile in their kink and fun factor and immediately give a Dominant or submissive tangible roles in their play.
However, as fun and kinky as collars are to give and to wear, they also hold a much more meaningful and significant purpose to the community. To many, they are as important, if not more important, than a wedding ring. They hold that much meaning. Indeed, a collared relationship is likened much to a marriage. To collar someone or to be collared to someone is a sign of deep commitment and love. It signifies a pledge of longevity and devotion. Among countless other attributes, a Dominant is assuring guidance and protection. A submissive is vowing loyalty and servitude. Together they promise themselves to each other. Only with much thought and consideration should a true collaring take place. It is with one mind that the Dominant and submissive come to the place of a collaring. A partnership. It’s the road that many D/s relationships hope to travel. It is more valuable than any fashion token. (At this point, a token may not even be needed at all.)
Unfortunately, in the haste to enjoy the kinky, fun, more fashionable side of collars, people collar others or accept collars that don’t carry much weight or have much significance. They don’t value it for its true purpose. They bounce from partner to partner essentially “trying on” collars. The collars go on and come off as though held on with Velcro. One week a sub is collared to one Dom, the next to someone different. A Dom has given a collar to a sub and in a blink of an eye taken it away again. A veritable collar yo-yo as it were.
This misuse of collars is becoming even more noticeable as the online community gains momentum. People can now list their relationship statuses. It’s made the collar a very popular status symbol. Once you slap a collar to it, everyone knows that you’re fucking or playing or even sometimes doing something as seemingly innocuous as just talking. It’s kinda cool that way. Now everyone knows that you’re connected to this person. If you’re in an online relationship, it gives your relationship more cred. BECAUSE people put real value to a collar, it does make a relationship seem more important and more “real” if it’s collared.
Sometimes, though, a relationship doesn’t need to be anything more than fucking or playing. Or talking online. Just as in the vanilla world where it’s frowned upon to bounce from marriage to marriage to marriage without any real thought or commitment, it’s not thought highly to dabble much in the BDSM world of Velcro collars, either. It’s awesome to use collars in a scene or for play, but delineating it as an indicator for the deeper, more significant level of commitment devalues its true worth. That’s how we end up with Velcro collars out there.
That’s not to say that a D/s relationship is infallible and that a collar is never taken or given back, but it does mean that a collar is more than just a fashion statement in the BDSM world. It means that there is a partnership full of dedication and allegiance. It means there’s deeper significance than a status symbol. And it also means that deliberation and contemplation have been given to arrive at the place of a collaring. What the relationship looks like in the particular D/s relationship is as varied as collars, but the universal value is essentially the same.
Of course, a collar is only as significant as the people who use them. And sometimes a person needs to go through a few Velcro collars to really find its true worth. Maybe they never find a deeper value for a collar and use it as a more disposable commodity. Not everyone puts the same weight on relationships. Or collars. Conversely, relationships can be just as valuable without the need for a collar, at all. Not everyone feels validated by a collar (nor should a collar be the sole validation in a relationship). People can experience full and rich D/s without any use of a collar, fashionably or symbolically.
Regardless of how much power individuals put on collars in their personal dynamics, collars are going to continue to be an important part of BDSM. And it’s good. We need to have something distinct to kink that makes it different from the vanilla world. Some people are going to use Velcro collars and some people are going to use a collaring ceremony as marriage vows. It all depends on the agreed upon dynamic with the Dom and sub. Whatever that dynamic, communication is key. One party has to be privy to the other. Negotiation and communication is always mandatory, as well as an honest look at one’s self and partner. It would be a horrible and jolting reality if one or the other was using a collar in the Velcro sense and the other was looking at it as an indication of commitment.
Collars are kinky. Use them wisely.