1. Jargon is a double edged sword. Terms best serve us as tools to identify complicated ideas and concepts for our convenience.  But once we begin to conform our behavior to the terms — rather than use the terms to explain or describe — they become problematic. We should look at people as individuals instead of types. We need to decide who we are and what we want as individuals before we try to slip into categories. In other words, if there’s no one special person to whom you seek to please, don’t aspire to conform to someone else’s concept of who you are but instead try to live your own ideal.

The BDSM community is diverse. There is no universally recognized authority on BDSM and we have no equivalent of the French Academy for deciding what words are acceptable and which of their many definitions are correct. Most terms are loosely defined with a wide degree of interpretation as to their meaning. As Larry Towsend writes in the Silver Jubilee edition of The Leatherman’s Handbook, “language is not hard and fast enough to provide a single definition for every term.

There is no magic formula to make each word register identical images in the mind of each person who hears it.   Moreover, some terms such as “sensual sadist,” and “competitive exhibitionism” are personal and carry unique meaning to the person who coined them. In other words, many terms have many meanings depending on who uses them and their mood at the time.

Many of the terms we use — such as “domme” — are recently coined on the Internet so they don’t have a long historical foundation.

Sometimes people use definitions and qualifiers as a means to assert themselves over others: “I’m a true Old Guard Master. She’s not a slave, she’s just a sub. He’s not a Dom, he’s just a top.” That kind of dominance is small.

It’s good to remember that for some perverse reason we in the scene enjoy embracing many terms — such as slave, boy, rape, torture, and fetish — which have very negative connotation outside the community — for understandable reasons.  To avoid misunderstandings, you need to be aware of what you are saying as well as what you mean to say.


  1. Ritualized sexual aggression and submission.
  2. The exploration, between consenting partners, of alternative or nontraditional forms of eroticism.
  3. A four letter contraction of three abbreviations for three phrases — BD, D/s, and S&M. It is an umbrella term encompassing Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & submission, and Sadism & Masochism (or Sex Magick or Master/slave) — and, to a lesser degree, other concepts such as Fetishism, Exhibitionism, Voyeurism, and occasionally Crossdressing.

The first three items are distinct but related concepts. These three separate elements are neither mutually exclusive nor synonymous: Participants in the BDSM community might practice only one of these concepts or all of them. For example, someone might like playing the sexual aggressive role and tying up his lover (while dressed in a Catholic nun’s habit) but he doesn’t want to cause her pain.


The application of ropes, chains, or other restraints placed over one’s body — or parts of one’s body such as hands and arms — to restrict one’s physical movements.


  1. A combination of correction and punishment administered by the dominant to the submissive for educational purposes and to enforce rules and proper behavior.

Discipline is something that comes from within a person; a will and ability to meet expectations. It can be taught, but it cannot be forced without a substantial loss of quality.” Furthermore “discipline as a skill that is prevalent within the context of all relationships and roles in life … I see correction as just that: there has been an error, fault or problem identified which requires change. I agree that if the act was performed with malice or intent to harm or destruct it may require punishment. However, depending on the error, it may simply require review, correction, adjustment, improvement or restitution. While I am of the opinion that correction in some way, shape or form is necessary in order to learn from one’s mistakes and avoid repeating them in the future; I feel punishment is above and beyond correction of an action and more appropriately addresses unsuitable intent or attitude.

Dominance governing or exercising one’s will, influence, or control over another in a consensual — and ideally mutually pleasurable — exchange of power.  (Sometimes it is combined with elements of sadism.) Submission (often written in lower case) yielding or surrendering one’s control to the will or authority of another in a consensual — and ideally mutually pleasurable — exchange of power.  (Sometimes it is combined with elements of masochism.) Sadism The condition in which (sexual) gratification is gained through causing pain or degradation to others. (Sometimes it is combined with elements of domination.)


The condition in which (sexual) gratification depends on physical pain and/or humiliation. (Sometimes it is combined with elements of submission.)In the scene, “enjoying sensations and feelings caused by things usually thought of as physically or emotionally painful or disquieting.


 maledom, refers to BDSM activities where the dominant partner is male.

Practices of domination common to many BDSM and other various sexual relationships are also prevalent, such as various forms of body worship, cock and ball worship, ass worship, fellatio, foot worship; tease and denial; corporal punishment including spanking, breast torture, caning, whipping; orgasm denial; and as well as verbal humiliation, face slapping, hair pulling, dripping hot wax on the genitals, spitting, golden showers, “forced” chastity, and irrumatio.

A 1995 study indicated that 71% of heterosexual males preferred a dominant-initiator role, but a more recent study from 2015 indicates that only 29.5% of men who are active in BDSM express a preference for a dominant role, 24% consider themselves to be switches and 46.6% of men prefer the submissive role.


dominatrix or femdom is a woman who takes the dominant role in BDSM activities. A dominatrix can be of any sexual orientation, but this does not necessarily limit the genders of her submissive partners. Dominatrices are known for inflicting physical pain on their submissive subjects, but this is not done in every case. In some instances erotic humiliation is used, such as verbal humiliation or the assignment of humiliating tasks. Dominatrices also make use of other forms of servitude. A dominatrix is typically a paid professional (pro-domme) as the term dominatrix is little-used within the non-professional BDSM scene.