Ownership Flag

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Designing the Ownership Icons

The Ownership Icons allow people in the Ownership Subculture to show their involvement in the subculture, their status and orientation. The icons were initially used by the The Slave Register, but the graphics are now available here in a range of sizes. All of these designs and image files are copyright, but may be reproduced freely for commercial or non-commercial purposes without prior permission.

In creating the icons, I wanted a set of designs that would be still be clear as tiny 16x16 icons on a web page, or blown up to 10 inches square on a T-shirt. They had to have the option of indicating sex, and whether the individual is owner or owned. They also had to have a clear symbolism corresponding to their meaning (which makes them easier to remember), but without being obvious to vanilla by-passers in public.

MaleFemale
Mars symbol Venus symbol
While there are symbols for male, female, gay, lesbian, trans and bi, there aren't accepted symbols for owners and for owned: no "hankie code" colour for D/s or M/s, and no symbol like the Triskelion that's used for BDSM. So the Ownership Icons were going to be largely new.

The first question was how to indicate sex, since all the other designs would have to accomodate the sex symbol. Symbols for the planets have existed for hundreds of years, and Mars and Venus are used as a shorthand for male and female sexes in biology. To simplify things, I chose to use only the arrow (male) and cross (female) from these symbols.

Since it's easier to design with squarer, symmetric symbols, I put the sex symbol inside each icon rather than sticking out, as in the Mars and Venus symbols. This meant I needed a set of "containers" for these symbols, showing owner or owned.

 Male Female
Shield Arrow on shield Cross on shield
I've used shields for master / mistress / owner, and that's is an idea lili and I were discussing in the summer of 2005 (the shield seal added by TSR to the certificates in 2005 was part of that.) A shield reflects my thinking of a master as head of the household, and the whole set of associations with houses and aristocratic hierarchies. It's also unused within Ownership or BDSM imagery.

So I placed the sex symbol in the middle of a shield, and a blank shield can be used by people not wanting to indicate sex. This convention also allows heads of household to base personal designs on a shield (and the :T: monogram and shield I use at the bottom of webpages is an example.)

 Male Female
Collar Arrow in collar Cross in collar
For owned slaves / collared submissives, the basic symbol is a thick circle, surrounding the sex icon. This represents the collar, and is easy to distinguish in outline from the shield, even as a small icon. A collar is so universally part of D/s and M/s imagery that it's the obvious choice, and yet the circle is not at all obvious to outsiders, unlike some jewellery or designs which show realistic chain collars.

Again the sex symbol is placed in the centre of the design, with a blank icon also provided which doesn't indicate sex, and which can be the basis of personalised icons.

 Male Female
Cage Arrow in cage Cross in cage
For free submissives, I had to think a bit harder. A circle with a gap was one option (as an open collar), but its outline is very similar to the symbol for owned slaves: if you're looking at a small icon with details which are just on the edge of your eyesight, then that's not so good.

Instead, I put the sex icons inside broken squares, just consisting of the corners with 4 gaps, one gap in the middle of each side. This represents an unlocked/open cage, and ensures that the outline is different to the previous two types. For me, using a cage in the symbol suggests that a submissive seeking enslavement isn't really free: they're a prisoner of their unwanted freedom in many ways. (And if you want to think of new slaves being dragged out of a holding cage, auctioned off and then collared, you're welcome to that too...)

Collar Shield Ownership Flag
Collar shield Ownership Flag
Once I'd put this set of icons together, I realised I could make a symbol for the Ownership Subculture itself by placing the circle on the shield, as the collar-shield. This design is also the basis of the Ownership Flag.

All of these designs and image files are copyright, but may be reproduced freely for commercial or non-commercial purposes without prior permission.

Tanos, July 2006

Background

The Hanky Code

The Mars and Venus symbols.

Possession. Ownership. Consent. Responsibility. Respect. House. Service. Dignity. Authenticity. Rituals.

O&P (Ownership & Possession) is a new structure built from familiar D/s and M/s concepts, defined by the O&P Manifesto.

There is an O&P discussion group on Fetlife.

The O&P Wiki contains articles about O&P and related D/s, M/s, and BDSM topics.

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House of Tanos