BDSM Kink Explained In 12 Simple (And Sexy!) Pictures

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What Is BDSM? Terms For Dominants & Submissives Explained
Sex

Come and find out where you fit in! (Puns always intended)

As BDSM gains popularity and piques more public curiosity, many people are happily coming to learn there is no one-size-fits-all model for this kind of kinky play.

There are, if you will, many more than 50 shades of grey, as a matter of fact ... #sorrynotsorry #illbehereallnight

What is BDSM and what do the letters in that term mean?

According to Wikipedia's definition, "The term 'BDSM' is first recorded in a Usenet posting from 1991, and ... is now used as a catch-all phrase covering a wide range of activities, forms of interpersonal relationships, and distinct subcultures. BDSM communities generally welcome anyone with a non-normative streak who identifies with the community."

The meaning of the abbreviation itself breaks down as follows:

  • B/D = Bondage/Discipline
  • D/s = Dominance/submission
  • S?M = Sadism/Masochism

RELATED: 21 BDSM Love Quotes That Will Make You Purr

BDSM participants generally fall into three basic categories, but any one role or dynamic may be either fluid and changeable or clearly and consciously set as static for the duration of a particular relationship.

To set the stage for understanding the variety of relationships — and to know whether or not you might want to experiment a bit in this realm of kink yourself — it's important to first get a sense of the types of roles available to try on for size.

The categories break down as follows:

  • Dominants: Those who take external control in the relationship.
  • Submissives: Those who submit themselves to the external control of their Dominant.
  • Switches: Those who are comfortable in either role, and who often prefer not to feel tied to either one at all times (pun absolutely intended).

The following images explain each of the four sub-types of Dominants, along with the sub-types of submissives they may engage in some sexy play. (I said "sub" types — get it?)

There are also four important rules and points of clarification to know before you dive in:

  1. All of these roles and relationships are entirely interchangeable in terms of gender identity and sexual orientation.
  2. There are no hard and fast rules beyond those a couple sets for themselves. While these are general concepts, one person who identifies as a Dom may do so in the way another identifies as Daddy or as Master.
  3. All of these relationships are contingent on the mutual consent and satisfaction of both partners. Although the role of submissive in particular may feel demeaning to someone peeking in from the outside, if an adult who is mentally capable of consent finds it most satisfying to service the needs of another, that is their own personal business. Their choices may not be for you, but then, your life isn’t for them.
  4. These roles and relationships involve an exchange of power, not a surrendering of power. In the vast majority of cases, submission is considered something that must be earned — generally through his or her Dominant's respect, honesty, and general character. As a Dom I know once said, "The sub really holds the power. If I screw up and lose her trust just once, it's over." So please keep this in mind.

RELATED: The Counterintuitive Reason BDSM Is The Best Way To Explain Sexual Consent

Finally, all of this is supposed to be fun! That's why people in the BDSM community refer to what they do as play.

For now, here are 12 types of Dominants and submissives you find in the BDSM lifestyle and the meaning of each of these kinky terms.

1. Top (Dominant)

 

Core Needs The principles offered here are neither esoteric nor theoretical. They're based in our common experiences of BDSM play and of human relationships, both kinky and more ordinary ones. Many will seem familiar, even obvious, but they can still be challenging to live by or to apply consistently. Each of us has human needs that must be met in order to feel fulfilled in our dynamic/relationships. The actual number of "human needs" varies from author to author and expert to expert. However, there is a consistent, core set of needs that are fundamental to the happiness and success of our relationships. Many decades ago these needs were referred to as, "Dependency Needs" because, by and large, we depend on others to meet them. As we age, we learned to provide some of our needs for ourselves; however, there are still a core set of needs that we need others to meet. Those needs are: Understanding, Purpose, Sureness, Contribution, Array, Love & connection, and Evolution. We would argue that these needs being met, consistently and with focussed effort, is even more important when involved in a BDSM dynamic. Understanding is essential to a relationship in that we know we can share the 'tough stuff' and that our feelings will be validated and met with empathy and compassion when we are struggling. Aim at excellence. Doing the right thing means doing the best you can in whatever situation you find yourself. If you don't have an idea of what would be the best outcome, how can you choose among your different options? Whatever your roles, whichever techniques you use, learn all you can and aim to perform at the highest level you're capable of reaching. _ article RP credit: Master Graham and masters.shujja image RP credit: triskelclub #bdsm

A post shared by School of BDSM (@s_o_b_d_s_m) on Jan 27, 2019 at 2:02pm PST

Within the context of BDSM, "top" is a catchall phrase for the dominant partner — the one doing the tying, taking charge, giving orders and the like.

In some circumstances, a "service top is a person who applies sensation or control to a bottom, but does so at the bottom's explicit instruction."

2. Bottom (submissive)

 

Mutual Ongoing Aftercare It is O/our belief that aftercare is a joint effort. Just as play, pain and pleasure are planned for, taken seriously, and are joint activities so aftercare should be too. Selflessly caring for each other after a scene and as W/we both come down from O/our respective endorphin and adrenalin highs is another aspect of play and love that W/we cherish. Shujja enjoys intimate closeness with Master while snuggling into His armpit and hearing His breathing steady and slow after His hard work and exertion. She enjoys smelling His sweat and musk as He recovers from intense scenes. She enjoys showering Him, as she's able throughout her own recovery after a scene, with soft kisses on His chest and running her fingers over His tattoos and burying her face into His chest hair. Shujja, usually, slowly finds herself slinking from Master's chest to His stomach to His cock to His thighs and then to His feet, after most intense scenes. At his feet she will kiss Him and provide her tears, sometimes, too; dripping her tears of gratitude onto His feet and curling up into a ball and remaining quiet and still as Master further recovers. Later, she is sure to tell Him how lucky she is and thank Him for all of His hard work, both after a scene and also for many days later in various ways: love notes left in His shower, surprise messages written on a chalkboard for Him, baking cookies for His return home from work.. all of these are, in fact, ways that she supports her Master and provides Him with ongoing aftercare. While Domdrop may not happen every time one plays, being aware of what can happen and taking the steps "of aftercare" to lessen its impact can go a long way to having a safe, fun, and healthy relationship. _ article RP credit: Master Graham and masters.shujja image RP credit: the_perverse_redhead #bdsm

A post shared by School of BDSM (@s_o_b_d_s_m) on Jan 27, 2019 at 1:22pm PST

Similarly, "bottom" is the generic term for a submissive partner — the one being tied, spanked, commanded, and the like. A bottom may also be someone who enjoys submitting temporarily, and in limited ways.

Additionally, "a bottom in BDSM does not have to be the receptive partner; for example, a female dominant may command her submissive to penetrate her."

RELATED: What Is A 'Service Top' In The BDSM Kink Community?

3. Dom/Domme (Dominant)

The main difference between a Dom (male-identifying) or Domme (female-identifying) and a top is that neither will follow instructions given by someone else.

Where a top may perform an act like oral sex on a bottom at the bottom's command, a true Dominant will "give orders to a submissive, or otherwise employ physical or psychological techniques of control ... [in order to] instruct the submissive to perform the act on them."

4. Sub (submissive)

According to the folks at Pervette, "The main difference between a submissive and a bottom is that the submissive ostensibly does not give instructions, although they do set limits on what the dominant can do."

It is a submissive's choice and role to follow the orders, cues and commands they are given by their Dominant.

RELATED: Find Out Where You Fall In The Spectrum Of Vanilla/Kinky Sex!

5. Master/Mistress (Dominant)

While some believe that "service and obedience are often the core values in Master/slave structures," there are others who consider this relationship structure to be more spiritual.

The primary distinction between this BDSM relationship type and others is that a Master (male or male-identifying) or Mistress (female or female-identifying) holds "ownership rights to their slave's body, as property or chattel."

6. Slave (submissive)

 

Someone Must Yield Too many people strive for a 50/50 relationship and then wonder why life is so stressful. But 50/50 means there is no decision maker. That doesn’t work because at the end of day, someone must yield. There must be a hierarchy in any structure, be it a corporation, a business, a government, a family, you name it, there always has to be authority, else there is chaos. In the 1990’s and 2000’s men could not get their female partners to dominate them sexually, so they sought out the professional Dominatrix. The common thread to all these sexual and submissive desires is the longing for loving female authority. The male gender learns early on that there is something special, almost magical, about the female gender. She is different than he is. She is lovely, beautiful, caring, and nurturing. In some men, this revelation only gets stronger as he matures. He realizes that being under the loving authority of a woman is what gives his life a peaceful and meaningful existence. After puberty, the testosterone takes over thus aggression, violence and the primitive hunting instinct is prevalent. However, there is always the female, the mysterious female that calls out to males for civility, community and family. Women are romantics at heart and most women contemplate love and romance from the time they enter adolescence. Nature evolves as it corrects errors and strives for perfection. _ article RP credit: Elise Sutton image RP credit: sapiosexualfemale #bdsm

A post shared by School of BDSM (@s_o_b_d_s_m) on Feb 9, 2019 at 8:13pm PST

A slave within the BDSM lifestyle is someone who consents to surrender themselves as property of their owner.

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Duties, expectations, acceptable types of sexual activity, clothing, diet, routines, and more may be contained within a slave contract, "a document that outlines the desires, limits, and expectations of [both] parties."

In addition, these contracts often outline "clear expectations of whether the couple will be monogamous or polyamorous, and if there would be permission or expectation of sexual interaction with other people." The contract can be declared void by either party at at any time.

7. Domestic Servant (submissive)

 

French Maid French maid is a strongly modified style of servant's dress that evolved from the typical housemaid's black-and-white afternoon uniforms of 19th century France. The later use of the French maid black and white uniform has been by stereotypical soubrette characters in burlesque dramas and bedroom farces. Some styles are conservative while others are revealing. The French maid costume is often used in cosplay, sexual roleplaying, and uniform fetishism. Depending on design details, some forms can be classified as lingerie. Uniform fetishism is a particular type of clothing fetishism in which an individual is sexually aroused by uniforms. It is a form of sexual fetishism. Uniform fetishism has been associated with a variety of different uniforms, including schoolgirl and cheerleader uniforms, French maid uniforms, and uniforms associated with police or military organisations. A popular costume for sexual roleplay, the French maid uniform, worn by a servant who traditionally defers to her wealthy master, carries an implicit dominance and submission symbolism. When worn during sexual foreplay or by practitioners of the BDSM lifestyle, the maid may perform humbling (or even humiliating) acts of servitude, such as dusting, mopping, serving drinks, or forniphilia (e.g. posing as a footstool or other forms of human furniture). In Friends with Money (2006), Jennifer Aniston's character (who is a cleaner by profession), dresses as a French maid for her boyfriend, first vacuuming and using a feather duster, then having sexual intercourse whilst still in costume. On the NBC TV series 30 Rock (May 2009, season 3, episode 3), Aniston (guest-starring) once again wore a skimpy maid costume in an attempt to seduce Alec Baldwin's character. In Desperate Housewives (Season 1, Episode 21), Lynette (Felicity Huffman) wears a French maid outfit bought at a lingerie store to spice up her marriage. _ article RP credit: bdsmwiki image RP credit: _alexielle_ photography: jrs504 #bdsm

A post shared by School of BDSM (@s_o_b_d_s_m) on Aug 2, 2019 at 4:20pm PDT

According to BDSM blog The Power Exchange, "The Domestic servant lives to serve and fulfill the needs of the household. This form of submission includes taking care of all household chores and tasks."

8. Pet (submissive)

Pets are submissives who enjoy playing the role of an animal — often a puppy or kitten — to their Master or Owner.

"Entry-level animal play may involve imitating the sounds of animals, crawling about on all fours, being hand fed or petted, or wearing a collar," says Kinkly.

Additionally, when taken to a more extreme level, "Masters might restrict their pet's movements by keeping them in a cage or off the furniture or force them to use a litter box rather than a human toilet."

RELATED: What It Means If You Crave Pain And Rough, Hard Sex

9. Daddy/Mommy (Dominant)

 

Daily D/s _"Submission, the art of release. Dominance, the art of restraint."_ Mastery: Being the dominant in the relationship means that your daily objective is Mastery. Whether you call yourself a master or not, dominance is the perogative of Mastery. Mastering skills and mastering yourself. It is your daily task to master yourself and your skills. This means your character and your abilities. Constantly adding to your repetoire and keeping yourself in check, accountable, and accelerating. This means constantly improving yourself. Making sure that you are at, or working towards, the standard of a mastered human being. That your temperament is in line with your sovereignty and your competence is in line with your authority. That your level of competence appropriate for the role of dominant is also reflected in your efficiency in keeping your cool. You can not rule your world if you don't even rule yourself. Dominance requires the daily practice of progress, self improvement, motivation and restraint. Restraint in your skills for topping and restraint in the temperance of your character. Loose Hair: Submission is expressed by your desire to fulfil desires. Submission is how you show your love and affection, your devotion and dedication. It's the recognition of the setting in which you are most free to show your most love. Your freedom as a recognised submissive may be shown by your hair. It may be free flowing as a gift of beauty and a symbol of your free sensuality. It may be long and luscious as a symbol of your delicious unbridled sexuality. It may be kempt in careful arrangements as a symbol of your effort and obedience. Or it may be unkempt and stragly as a symbol of your humble slavery as a dirty whore. If it is part of your consensual arrangement you may be wearing your hair according to the taste and preference of your dominant. Or your style of submission and the way you express it may be up to you and your own individuality. However you release yourself, your submission is a gift. _ article RP credit: Cave image RP credit: little_miss_pretty_pants11 #bdsm

A post shared by School of BDSM (@s_o_b_d_s_m) on Jun 24, 2019 at 11:14pm PDT

A Daddy Dom is "a slight variation from a traditional dominant ... in that they must consider their subs inner child dynamic." In these cases, "Daddy Doms are usually in full control ... but also have to take care of the social and emotional well being of their baby girl since their sub is in a slightly different mind space than traditional subs."

Daddies and Mommies get pleasure from spoiling, rewarding, disciplining and punishing their "little" as they see fit, and consider themselves to be protectors. These relationships tend be loving and long-term, and may or may not include some level of age play.

10. Good Girl/Boy (submissive)

 

Male Dominance Male Domination, Maledom, or male Dominance generally refers to heterosexual BDSM activities where the dominant partner is male, and the submissive partner is female. However, the term is sometimes used to refer to homosexual BDSM activities, where both partners are male. Compared with female domination, also known as femdom. Maledom scenarios are common in BDSM fiction, including works such as the Story of O and the works of John Norman and Adrian Hunter. In modern times, maledom fiction began with the works of the Marquis de Sade who wrote about sexual scenarios in which men tortured women. The term "sadism" is derived from de Sade's name. Maledom scenarios are often critiqued by feminists because the imposition of the male as the dominant figure can be seen as implying the inferiority of females, although few feminists seem concerned about equivalent impositions in femdom fiction or practice. The objection is questionable, as an urge to submit can be quite strong in females who have no pathological personal background, nor any particularly identifiable psyschological pathology, only an interest in having a relationship with a dominant man. "To be completely woman you need a master, and in him a compass for your life. You need a man you can look up to and respect. If you dethrone him it's no wonder that you are discontented, and discontented women are not loved for long." - Marlene Dietrich _ article RP credit: wipipedia image RP credit: master.goodgirl #bdsm

A post shared by School of BDSM (@s_o_b_d_s_m) on Sep 20, 2019 at 1:53pm PDT

Typically referred to as a little or babygirl, "the little girl submissive worships her Daddy Dom."

"She will do anything to please him because she knows that he makes it his mission to care for her and to protect her," explains Normandie Alleman. "Since she is secure in his feelings for her she trusts her Daddy and submits to him completely."

She continues, "The little girl puts her Daddy’s needs first and pleasing him is of the utmost importance to her. In return he fulfills her needs and disciplines her when she needs it."

11. Princess (submissive)

A princess differs slightly from other subs in that she is willing to serve and submit, but only if what she is going to get is what she really wants.

A princess loves "being spoiled and pampered all day ... [but] There is another side to the princess role, and that is Princess by Day, Slut By Night ..."

"This is when the woman loves to be completely cared for and treated like royalty by her Dom, but at night to thank him, she becomes the dirtiest slut she can imagine and she loves every second of it."

12. Brat (submissive)

Another one of Daddy's subs, a Brat is one who "talks back, misbehaves, and is otherwise difficult."

As Kinkly explains, brats are people who "enjoy being 'put in their place' rather than submitting easily. Likewise, some Dominants enjoy the challenge of getting a brat under control."

Additionally, "Some brats use talking back, or phrases such as 'Is that all you've got?' as a way to goad their top into heavier play."

RELATED: 15 Sexy Quotes That Explain Why Daddy Dom/Babygirl Kink Is Crazy Hot

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Deputy Editor Arianna Jeret, MA/MSW, has been featured in Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, Yahoo Style, MSN, Fox News, Bustle, Parents and more. Find her on Twitter and Instagram for more.

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