Living in Chains, Social Aspects
  For those who adore steel against their skin, who thrill at tinkling chains attached to their wrists and ankles, living full-time in chains is a persistent dream.  We do not desire slavery in the sense of giving our person and our life totally to another.  We just enjoy steel bondage and want it on our bodies all the time.  I describe myself as a "ferro-sexual."  "Ferro" means "iron," so a ferro-sexual loves iron or metal like other people love men or women.  The chains hug us, caress us, touch us in the right places and we love them for it.  We want the chains on us all the time like the hetero- and homo-sexuals want their partners by their side always.
    But, alas, society frowns upon such things.  We practice self-bondage in our bedrooms and basements.  We order manacles online for delivery in plain brown wrappers.  We lurk the bondage websites, write bondage stories, wear leather bracelets when we go out of town on business.  We live dual lives: proper business attire by day, manacles and chains by night.  The two halves grate against each other.  We wake up, stare at the cuffs on our wrists, give a long sigh and take them off so we can go to work.  Why can't we leave the cuffs and chains on all the time?  We are not prisoners while we wear chains.  We are prisoners while we slog through each day, caught in dual lives because half our personality is not allowed in the daylight.  The painful chains are not the steel ones that hold the cuffs on our wrists; the truly painful chains are the invisible ones that keep the cuffs off.
    A while back I posted a piece on several websites called "Modern Commercial Slavery."  In it, I discussed ways to live in chains by becoming a commercial slave instead of a love/emotional slave.  An edited quote from that article describes my idea:

    "As I currently envision modern commercial slavery, a business owner and the slave would enter into a business agreement not unlike an employer and employee.  The slave would provide skilled labor in return for meals and a safe place to wear bondage 24/7.  The owner would receive a skilled laborer for a very small cash flow (the cost of meals) and the trouble of housing the slave.  Modern commercial slavery would be based on a exchange of economic benefits rather than an exchange of power as is currently the case in most Western slavery situations.  Here is how it might work.
    "The owner runs a bondage supply store.  She wants to expand her line of custom items.  She finds a slave with carpentry, metalworking and leatherworking skills.  The slave wears leg irons and manacles 24/7, sleeps on a pallet in the shop and works building dungeon furniture and custom bondage gear.  The owner gets an expanded line of merchandise with very low cash flow and the slave gets the chance to live his dreams.  Or...
     "The owner lives on a small ranch in an area where eccentric behavior is a normal and highly cherished aspect of the community.  The owner has more business boarding horses and raising organic foodstuffs than he can handle.  These activities are labor intensive with small profit margins and the money just isn't there to hire a traditional ranch hand.  The owner finds a slave who enjoys life outdoors and doesn't mind hard labor.  The slave sleeps in the barn with the horses and helps the owner provide for his customers."

    I went on to explore how this might work economically and legally.  I got copious feedback from Gromet's forum, mostly pointing out the significant legal hurdles.  For instance, if the business owner deducted the slave's meals as an expense on his taxes and the IRS could show that a true master-slave relationship existed, the owner could go to jail for a long time since slavery is illegal.  I still think MCS might work for a few situations but will remain a dream for most.
    So what's a ferro-sexual to do?  Well, the Discovery Channel has an idea!  They ran a program about extreme body modification.  People use tattoos, piercings and plastic surgery to change themselves into animals.  The program highlighted the lives of  Lizard Man, Cat Man, and Leopard Man, among others.  Their appearance is bizarre, to say the least.  Yet they all live in communities, hold jobs (one works as a side-show act in carnivals), and live relatively normal daily lives.  Except for the stares and the questions.  I'm watching this program and it hits me: just do it.  I'm not talking about tattoos and piercings, I'm talking about chains.  If we want to live in chains, just do it.  Come out of the closet.  Fasten the steel cuffs and collar around your wrists, ankles and neck.  Grab the grocery list and go to the store.  When the manager sees you walk in and asks if you're alright, say "Yes, thank you, I'm fine.  Where do you keep the metal polish?"  When the dumb-founded checkout girl finally makes her mouth work and asks why you're wearing that, say "I enjoy wearing chains.  I like the feel and the sound.  Does the color go with my hair?"
    OK, reality check time.  There are cities where this might work.  There are cities where it might not work.  My personal opinion is small towns might be best.  I know small towns have a reputation for harboring evil rednecks but, in a small town, you are a face, a name, a person.  If you get to know your neighbors and become a member of the community, people accept you despite your eccentricities.  Leopard Man lives outside a small British village.  He drops by the local pub for a beer clad only in his leopard tattoos.  The locals know him and accept his public nudity as part of the package.  I'm sure there are communities where people would accept a full-time chain wearer just as readily.  Given our acceptance of diversity in the Western world, I suspect most communities in Europe and the US would accept us wearing chains in public if we remained good citizens.
    Not to say that acceptance would be universal.  An expert on the Discovery Channel pointed out the animal people limit themselves in the social strata where they can function.  They are not welcome everywhere.  He also pointed out they likely have no interest in meeting people who would not accept them or attending those functions where they are not welcome.  So, we won't get invited to the Chamber of Commerce Christmas Ball.  Did we ever go before?  Not me.
    We will also be limited in our job opportunities.  Depending on the community, jobs may be non-existent.  The older among us might get by with a very simple lifestyle and past savings or an early retirement.  The rest probably must move where work is available or hang on until a job becomes available where we are.  Employment will be the most limiting factor on who can pursue living in chains.  The trick will be showing prospective employers we are reliable workers regardless of our appearance.  We must show up on time, be clean and neat, treat customers and co-workers with courtesy and work like Trojans until quitting time.  Because we are different, we must do all the above, better, faster and friendlier than anyone else just to break even.  I can hear the women and minorities among us saying "So?  What else is new?"
    An interesting opportunity for those who enjoy the rugged life might lie in our national park system.  With falling budgets and more visitors than ever, the National Park Service is increasingly turning to "workationers."  If you work half-days maintaining the park, the park service will give you a campsite for free.  With a small tent and a mess kit, we have a place to live.  We could travel from park to park by hitchhiking with other workationers.  Most are retired folks living on the road in motor homes.  Food is now our only expense.  It would be a rough life in the outdoors but you can't beat the view out your back window.     This could also allow us to try living in chains on a reversible basis.  Spend your vacation in a park at the other end of the country wearing chains and shoveling gravel on hiking trails.  Come home after vacation with no one the wiser other than some strangers you won‘t see until next year.  For some, an annual 24/14 chains fix might be all they need.  “So, when do we see the pictures from your vacation?”
    At work, indeed in all social situations, we must be real people.  We can't be defensive about our kink nor push it on others.  We should regard our chains as just another garment and get on with life.  Being nice to others, upholding our end of the conversation, helping neighbors, driving defensively, being sensitive to others wishes.  Some will want nothing to do with us and we must abide by their wishes.  Others will be unsure and we must show them the real person under the chains.  Some will gravitate to us because we represent rebellion or self-actualization or some -ism.  These people we must welcome while not allowing them to hijack our kink to places we don't wish to go.  For instance, I personally  don't want to become a lighting rod for extreme personal liberty; I just want to wear my chains in public.
    We must be especially careful around children.  Parents will understand the link between our dress and our sexuality.  Many will not wish their children exposed to that link.  We must honor their wishes.  Parents have a responsibility to raise their children the best way they know how.  Non-family members do not get a vote in how they raise their children.  Note that a responsibility is bigger than a right.  A right is something you may do; a responsibility is something you must do.  Teens will be a particular problem as they may be draw to us.  Teens, with all their hormonal changes, feel weird and different, so they are drawn to the weird and different.  If they want to discuss our lifestyle, we must do what any other adult should do: get their parents' permission.  "I'll answer your questions if your parents say it OK.  I'm in the book; have your parents call me and I'll discuss it with them first."  Obviously, the parents, if they talk to us at all, will want to talk with us alone then decide if they want their child exposed to us.  If we are ourselves with the parents and let our hard-working, honest, practical selves show past the chains, then we'll make a teenage acquaintance now and again.
    Where do we go from here?  As a start, I'd like all you ferro-sexuals out there to assess your community.  Is this a place where living in chains might work?  Do the citizens value personal expression and look kindly on eccentricity?  If so, email me and tell us about it.  I'll post your replies here somewhere.  When someone takes the plunge, let us know and we'll all come out of the closet.  Maybe the Discovery Channel will do a program on us.

dungeonmouse, September 3, 2005

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