Calling him ‘boy’

I got this question in my Asks and it was a really good one, so I wanted to devote a post to it.

Read your most recent post on the Texan. May I ask why you refer to him or other men like him as “boy”? Perhaps it is a reflection of my age, but no adult male I knew would hear this word in any other way than an insult. Is this something the two of you discussed before hand? Is it not hard to relate to him as an adult when your name for him is “boy”? Thank you.

These are such a great questions, thank you for asking them.

Firstly I want to say two things:

  • I completely understand your perspective. It’s similar to my reaction to being called ‘girl’ or being referred to collectively with other women as ‘girls’. I find it patronising and disrespectful and entirely inappropriate.
  • I do not address submissive men I don’t know as ‘boy’ and I do not refer to submissive men collectively as ‘boys’** in a non-personal context EXACTLY for the reasons above.

** I want to explain this further because a simple search will show that I have used ‘boy’ and ‘boys’ in quite a few places here on the blog.

In a BDSM context, the terms ‘boy/s’ and ‘girl/s’ have a place where they fit beautifully. Not for everyone and not all the time, but in the right circumstance.

I use ‘boy/s’ in a variety of ways (ref: search for ‘boy’ on my blog):

  • I called my last submissive ‘my boy‘ here on the blog, and I literally called him ‘boy’ when I spoke to him, as in “Come here, boy.
  • I refer to particular individuals as ‘a boy’ sometimes when I’m talking about them as in “I’m meeting a cute boy“..
  • My category for pictures of beautiful submissive men is called ‘photo – pretty boys‘.
  • I sometimes use it collectively to refer to submissive men as a group in a personal way, as in “boys with sex voices

There is nuance in determining when it’s okay to use it, and when it’s not: for me, when it’s personal or I’m talking subjectively about the kinds of things that resonate with me, I’ll often use ‘boy’. The term *makes* it personal, it speaks of affection and sweetness and desire. So I’ll use it if I think it expresses that more clearly.

Do I ask before I refer to someone here as a ‘boy’?

No, I don’t (and just to clarify: there’s a difference between ‘referring to’ and ‘addressing’: I do NOT addresss the sex-voiced Texan as ‘boy’).

My first post about the sex-voice Texan was entitled ‘Boys with sex voices‘ and I went on to talk about that voice (phew!). I did not discuss it with him, but I used it affectionately, and I knew him well enough to know that he would like it.

Ditto my referring to Drew from The Drew Duality as ‘a cute boy‘: he’s a friend, and I’m sure it was clear to him that the reference was intended as a sweetness.

Mostly when I refer to ‘boys’, I either know them, I have interacted with them in some way, or I am talking about how I relate to submissive men in a personal way, and it’s the *personal* nature of it makes me feel like ‘boys’ is more fitting. It brings them closer to me.

Do I ask before I *address* someone as ‘boy’?

Again, no. If I’m addressing him as boy, then that’s a pretty big deal: I am being super personal with him and know him well enough to be sure that he’ll think it’s sweet and intimate and special, which is how I intend it. I don’t EVER address random submissive men as ‘boy’. That’s very personal for me.

Now back to ‘why’ I use it.

In a D/s context, it’s a way of being sweet, or of acknowledging or reinforcing the dynamic.

So when I refer to submissive men as ‘boys’, I’m more often than not talking about them in a subjective and personal way as they relate to me: “the boys I like”, “I talked to a sweet boy today…” etc.

And when I address my submissive as ‘boy’, I’m saying “I see you, I’m acknowledging our dynamic, and THIS is who you are to me”. It’s intimate in the same way it’s intimate when he addresses me as ‘Ma’am’. Those words deliver a little thrill of the dynamic very simply. And if I say ‘good boy’, it’s like that on steroids. And no, I do not at all have any trouble relating to him as an adult when I call him that.

Things I DON’T do (because it’s completely the wrong context):

  • Address a man I don’t know as ‘boy’ just because he identifies as submissive
  • Address a group of submissive men I don’t know as ‘boys’
  • Refer to submissive men as ‘boys’ in discussions or on forums (i.e. in a non-personal context)

I find all of those disrespectful and inappropriate.

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27 Comments

  1. What a nice post, girl. :)

    Seriously, I enjoyed reading this a great deal and, from friendship boy’s perspective, not meant in a D/s way, I find it an honor to be called that in the appropriate contexts. To me, it’s one of those things that makes friendships stand out above the rest of the day to day relationships we have with colleagues, the lady at the grocery store, and all other types of people. I, along with my male friends, gay and straight, often use the term with each other when meant in a playful, bantering way.

    In a D/s setting, as the switchy me, I find it both odd to use it or to have it used referring to me when I don’t know the person well and think it’s irritating that one would either call themselves boy or call me that based simply of an active/passive scale in a profile.

    However, sometimes it works, and when it does, it’s the hottest thing ever, but I think it is definitely something that is defined by the personalities in the relationship versus the roles. In my own setting, if Axel called me boy I’d laugh with derision, and, even though I have seen some very “boy like activity” with Thumper, I simply cannot call him that except when being an intended smart ass. It is not a term that fits him in my mind in any way.

    So, all that to once again say, very nice post :)

    1. “What a nice post, girl. :)”

      Grrrr… *shakes fist*

      It’s interesting and complex isn’t it?

      I’m glad you didn’t take offence at my referring to you that way. It didn’t occur to me for ONE SECOND that you would, which was inconsiderate of me I guess (though I prefer to say ‘I knew you wouldn’t’!).

      I play around with affectionate names for my submissive, and ‘boy’ is a favourite because it’s unbearably sweet to me (especially when he’s bigger than me and all chest-beaty-raawwwrrr *laugh*). LOVE.

      But yes, for some it is NEVER going to feel right, and I’d say ‘laughing with derision’ is a clear case where that ain’t gonna work… :D

      Ferns

  2. When it is sweet (alternatively, seductive) and coming from someone I am in a relationship, playing, or flirting with, I really like “boy,” particularly when paired with an affectionate descriptor: “silly boy,” “cute boy,” or best of all “good boy.”

    So, yeah, I like it coming from the right person in the right situation. But most people don’t get to call me “boy.”

    1. Yes, exactly like that. And I like the way you said ‘most people don’t get to call me “boy” <= that's important. For many submissives, it's very intimate and personal and if used outside of that context, it's just patronising. Ferns

  3. I’ve grown quite fond of ‘boy’ for sub men (and I am one). I agree with you that it is sweet and affectionate–not that I’m sweet and affectionate toward them, but rather I imagine their ladies are. (Not my blog, so I don’t have to go into ‘lady.’ :)) It also avoids the fraught minefield of sub/slave/boyfriend/husband.

    I can’t say I have very wide experience, but I’ve yet to hear an objection to ‘boy’ from a submissive man.

    I’m not particularly fond of being addressed as ‘boy’ by those I’m not in a relationship with, and even then only one lady does.

    I use ‘girl’ only of people who use it of themselves, FWIW.

    1. “I can’t say I have very wide experience, but I’ve yet to hear an objection to ‘boy’ from a submissive man.”

      I’m surprised you’ve never seen it: I have. I think it particularly grates when the Domme has an attitude of superiority (vs silly, but perhaps misplaced, affection).

      But I also think that some submissive men who don’t like it may feel too awkward to SAY so, so there’s that also.

      Having said that I do know some submissive men who will say it’s unacceptable in no uncertain terms. And fair enough.

      Ferns

  4. It is fascinating how easy it is miscommunicate with words. Great explanation of how the word “boy” works for you. I agree with a lot of what you say and think it works along those lines for me as well, more or less. The question and your post reminded my of a quote I like:

    “The important thing about any word is how you understand it.”
    – Publilius Syrus (43 B. C.)

    Cheers!

    greg

  5. Ferns,

    You beautiful, amazing, sexy girl (haha)! I really have a whole lot at all more to add to this, but rather praise for explaining so well things I have been asked before myself. I will say that when speaking to potential submissive women, it goes exactly the same as how you describe the use of “boy.”

    Awesome, thank you!

    1. *laugh* See when you use ‘girl’ like that, I’m only listening to what came before… Selective hearing…

      Glad you could relate.

      Ferns

  6. Great post!

    Yes, absolutely, the words we use are so very important. As a Domme, calling the submissive men with whom I’ve developed relationships by “diminutive” pet names was initially a stretch. But in a D/s context it seems appropriate and it’s enjoyable for both of us.

    I always ask men what they like to be called. A man I recent dated a few times said his very favorite thing was to hear his mistress call him a “good boy”.

    Using the right pet names can be both gratifying and reinforce our respective roles.

    1. Thanks Regina.

      Ahh, yes ‘good boy’ has a lovely power to it. SO sweet.

      It’s interesting you ask what they like to be called: I’ve never done that.

      I play around with affectionate names that I think suit him and see how he reacts to it. I’ve never had a submissive who reacted poorly to ‘boy’, though.

      I totally agree about ‘the right pet names’.

      Ferns

  7. Well! I’m in absolute agreement with what you say here, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise to you! ;) You break it all down very well.

    The different men that have been in my life have not all stirred that reaction in me to call them by that term. It’s something that when the connection is developing it naturally comes about because of our interactions and fits well and is accepted with delight. I never ask.. it’s just naturally there. They draw that special warm, nurturing, adorable feeling out from my soul where I just want to fuck them and eat them up! Gawd! How I love it!

    ~ Vista

    1. *smile* Yes to all that. Especially about how it comes naturally. If it didn’t, I’d find something else that was just for us.

      Mind you, when I come up with things like ‘holy fuck beautiful eyes’ (seriously, I actually called him that), I’m not exactly showing any great skill at coming up with them *laugh*. I expect if that had gone anywhere, I’d have ended up with ‘beautiful eyes’ (or maybe ‘holy fuck’, which tickles me no end).

      Ferns

  8. *stumbles in after being at that pub all day watching the Rugby* Fens calls him boy cos she can and thats that *gives Ferns slobbery kisses and tells evrybody on ther blog that Ferns is mah bestest buddy in the whole wide world and wanders off again*
    Coug

    1. *laughs and laughs* I’m liking drunk Cougs.

      Think I came to this end-of-party a bit late, but still:

      *tucks you into bed, gets water and headache tablets ready for the morning…*

      Ferns

      1. It ummm didn’t seem as hilariously funny and witty a post when reviewed Sunday morning as it was on Sat night. But glad you liked it
        Coug

  9. Ohhhh I love this one! I have to agree that the underlying difference is in when it is coming from someone you know personally then with someone who you don’t know personally.

    I work customer service on the phones. My friends at work will tell you there have been instances when someone on the phone will say “listen girl” or “listen lady” and I will quickly jump on the offensive and sternly correct them to say “Ma’am (Sir) My name is ****! I don’t like it and it goes right through me from someone I don’t know because it is being used in a patronizing way then.

    However, there have been times when it was used by someone I knew on a more personal level and it has the affect of sending me into that *sighs* *butterfly* soft floating head space. If its an intimate relationship in some way and they add that personal ownership type of “My girl” then OMG Woohooo! *laughs*

    I remember first time Darksoul said “That’s my girl” I was so butterfly dreamy happy head space I think I could have ran a mile in ten seconds in that moment.

    Respectfully,
    Mysticlez

    1. Yes! Context matters so much.

      I can’t imagine anyone objecting if a dude says ‘Me and the boys are going to the pub’ (except that it’s grammatically incorrect… heh). It’s a completely different thing from some strange woman saying ‘Look, boy…’ to someone she doesn’t know.

      That’s a lovely memory: amazing how much power words have *smile*.

      Ferns

  10. I agree with you.
    I refer to a guy by his name and nothing else.
    Of course I have used “boys” affectionately amongst friends but just as assuming every woman is submissive or every Domme is a leather clad mean girl it’s rude to speak to people condescendingly. I refer to My boy as “Kiddo”, He knows it’s a term of endearment and in no way is meant to make him feel insulted. We’re the same age and its more to make him blush then anything. He knows I think he’s adorable(:

    1. *laugh* ‘Kiddo’ is cute.

      I think there are pet names that belong JUST to that person, and those that are recyclable.

      I used to call my ex boy (among other things) ‘silly cunt boy’ and it seems ridiculous that that could be hot and sweet, but how we got there is a long story, and it was totally hot and sweet with us. I will (obviously) NEVER use that with anyone else because it was ‘ours’.

      ‘Boy’, on the other hand, is re-usable (just like ‘Ma’am’ is re-usable).

      Ferns

  11. One of the problems here is with *overloaded operators* on certain words.

    Lets take “Sir” and “Ma’am” as a great example.

    You will, I have no doubt, now got some very particular images in mind, thanks to the general BDSM cant in a lot of our brains.

    However, I will tell you that what I had in mind was the meeting of two equals being polite, and formal, just lahk in tha ole South, where this was the height of formal manners.

    And yet, if you were to see these people in the eye of my mind, the meaning they are conveying is warmest affection, love, and a deep mutual attraction. They are *hot* for each other.

    Maybe I’m just a sucker for Protocol. :)

    1. It does depend entirely on context.

      I think if you come from a culture where it’s normal in every day life, that’s another thing.

      In a BDSM context, though, the issue with using honorifics or diminutives with random people straight out of the gate is that you are putting D/s roles (yours and theirs) above human interaction and since you aren’t in a relationship with them, that’s a way of playing at D/s without consent. It’s also a barrier to communication to assume that roles are in play with strangers.

      Most will simply correct the person if they don’t like it, but some will get pretty offended about it. It’s generally safer and more polite to just… not.

      Ferns

  12. I particularly dislike the use of it as a general term or a collective because I think it’s a term that one should have consent to use. Personally, I use it as an term of endearment but if he doesn’t like it, I stop.
    I refuse to use ‘boi’ because I see it as an attempt to further dehumanise or emasculate men. I hold this opinion even though I don’t view the use of ‘boy’ to be emasculating (in my use or for the recipient).

    1. I agree about ‘consent to use’, and I do think that most forms of collective use in addressing submissive men have an attitude of entitlement in them. Many men don’t mind that at all, and many love it, but that’s not the point: It’s dynamic-laden.

      And don’t get me started on ‘boi’: Co-opting a term that started in the lesbian community and using it to refer to submissive men bugs the hell out of me. It’s both disrespectful to the community it came from AND to submissive men because it implies something about gender which is a step further than ‘diminutive’. Plus the use of it very often comes from a place of hetero-focussed ignorance (those who use it often have no idea where it came from) and that’s a whole other level of ‘nope’.

      *arm wavey ranting*

      Ferns

  13. May it please Your Ladyship…………….

    First, in vanilla life this writer is a writer, a grammarian and a linguistic maven. In the scene, a free-lance sub, if that term is permitted, devoutly deferential to all Dommes, given to capitalizing Their pronouns and using self-abasing language with, if one may say so, finesse and flair.

    In this slave’s humble writing, it refers to itself as a non-person or sub-human creature, using that neutral pronoun for itself, and avoiding a capital letter for any pronoun, like “I” in referring to its sub self (the quirk is technically called “illeism,” by the way). As You have already noticed, this bootlicker carefully capitalizes all references to Your Ladyship and, in fact, to any Woman, using the honorific of Her choice — Goddess, Mistress, Princess, Madame or Lady, as She prefers (as soon as this unworthy correspondent can learn Her wishes, that is). Your obedient servant, spelling its own slave-name with no capital letter, makes every possible effort to write and to speak respectfully and politely to all such Ladies. The salutation of this letter and the closing are examples of that somewhat stilted formality, denoting deference and submissive respect..

    In person, this worm would, if permitted, grovel on its knees or crawl on its face at Your feet (or Her feet: that is, any such Dominant Lady kind enough to allow this worthless insect to approach Her Eminent Presence) [an example of what this slave is trying to demonstrate]. So it logically follows that a slave, or any sub male praying to a Gracious Goddess or Magnificent Mistress, would address Her is such terms as this, begging Her leave to offer a humble opinion.

    And of course, it would thank Her profusely for Her kindness in allowing it to serve Her (just as a well-trained slave thanks Mistress for the kiss of Her whip, whether for punishment, training or simply for Her own amusement) and close a letter to Her with a self-abasing phrase such as ………..
    With a thousand worshipful kisses to the toes of Your beautiful boots,
    …………………………………………bootlicker

  14. May it please You, Miss Ferns……….

    This foolish creature took off in a fog and failed to respond to Your original question. Please forgive it and allow a further offering of thought on the term “boy” as You specified.

    The term comes directly, it would seem, from nineteenth-century American Southern usage in a genuine slave-holding society, where black men were called “boy” to imply that they were less than men in a society where chattel status was based not on gender but essentially on race or color. Even the Constitution refers (in 1789) to them as “other persons.” In fact, black people were considered social as a sort of hybrid: human in form and capable of understanding language and performing work, but without the legal rights of personhood. They were “bred,” for example, but not allowed to marry, and families were broken up on the auction block with impunity. They could not testify as witnesses at a trial. Yet they could be cherished as individuals (as Jefferson demonstrated) with personalities.

    When (in the humble opinion of this male) a Lady addresses a male as “boy,” She is saying “you are just a child, a simpleton, a person without any say in your own life.” She is also calling to mind that Southern slave society, on a very subliminal level — saying “slave” without using the actual word, if only for conversational variety.

    Many Mistresses rebuke Their subs, for example, for addressing Them as “Mistress” before She has deigned to collar them, or accept their fervent pleading for the privilege of being Her slave in actuality. Similarly, She may be reluctant to call the male “slave” until that formal power exchange has taken place. A term like “boy” is a nice compromise (Mistress might also use more pointed vocabulary if She needs to reduce the male’s ego: “pig,” “dog,” “scum” or a number of more colorful obscenities and barnyard epithets). It beats calling him “sir” or “Mr. Jones” (although “Jones” carries a certain flavor of military brusqueness).

    Sometimes, Mistress likes to give Her chattel a “slave name” once She has formally accepted it into Her service. The intent here is usually to dehumanize and humiliate the slave. Some Mistresses just give their chattels numbers (and sometimes brand those numbers on them for identification and further denigration). However, a humiliating name is psychologically useful: responding to, and thinking of oneself as “cock,” ‘cuntongue,” “toesucker” or even “bootlicker” speeds the removal of any pride or ego that may be left. Once in a while, the slave’s former name when it was a person and before it became a thing, an owned chattel, provides an amusing pun. “Jerry” becomes “Jerkoff” or “Kevin” becomes “Kissass” — creative Dominatrices can conjure humorous humiliation that will remind the male a hundred times a day that it is a worthless nothing existing only to serve, submit and suffer for the amusement and pleasure of its Omnipotent Owner.

    Thank You, Miss Ferns, with cyber kisses to Your lovely soles……….
    ……………………………………….bootlicker

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