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Top 10 BDSM Terms You Should Know

Top 10 BDSM Terms You Should Know

Diving into the world of kink can feel a lot like learning a new language.

So, you have an interest in BDSM, and you decide to take your interest to Google to perform an internet search. You don’t really know what you’re looking for, but you’re casually browsing, hoping to come across something interesting and exciting you never heard of before. But the information you come across is full of jargon and terms that leave you scratching your head. Not a good way to start your exploration into kink, right?

Reading BDSM literature can be confusing, and even a bit intimidating, without an understanding of the vocabulary used to describe the different fetishes and kinks that are a part of the BDSM lifestyle.

In the spirit of helping guide you through the confusion, we offer up our list of the Top 10 Most Important BDSM Terms You Should Know.

1. BDSM

When people ask if you are “into BDSM” or vise-versa, it’s important to understand what they/you are really asking. Personally, even when I’m in a Vanilla type setting and I hit it off with someone and want to see if we would be compatible sexually, I ask if they know what BDSM means. If they don’t then I know we probably won’t be, or if they do I can tell what they think of it usually by their reaction. I’ve included the definition below for you.

Multiple acronym for Bondage and Discipline, Dominance/submission, sadomasochism. Frequently used as an all-inclusive abbreviation indicating anything pertaining to the “lifestyle”, often including fetish, although it isn’t part of the acronym. (1)
BD: Bondage and Discipline
DS: Dominance and submission
SM: Sado-masochism

2. Consent

The concept of consent is at once a personal, ethical and social concern, and holds particular importance within the BDSM community. Most activities you’ll engage in with your partner during playtime will test your partner’s physical and emotional limits. And out of sheer consideration alone, such trials should not be endured by anyone unless they give permission to do so beforehand.

The line between what can be considered BDSM and what is clearly assault has been hotly debated in the media, especially when the Jian Ghomeshi trial was making headlines globally. Ultimately, where that line is drawn will depend (and vary) wildly from couple to couple. What’s important is that couples who choose to engage in BDSM activities, establish clear rules and discuss each other’s preferences beforehand.

3. Dominant/Submissive Relationships

Dominance and submission (also called D/s) is a set of rituals, behaviors and customs involving the submission of one person to another, whether that be 24/7 or occasionally. It doesn’t necessarily involve physical contact because it can also be done anonymously online. It can also be intensely physical, sometimes crossing into sadomasochism. Both parties take pleasure from either dominating or being dominated. Those who take the superior position are called dominants—Doms (male) or Dommes (female), while those who take the subordinate position are called submissives, or subs (male or female). A switch is someone who enjoys playing either role and which role they play usually depends on what kind of partner they’re with. “Dominatrix” is a term that refers to a professional female dominants who dominate for money.

4. Top/bottom and Total Power Exchange

You can still have kinky relationships without fully submitting to someone. If Total Power Exchange isn’t your thing try finding someone who identifies as a Top or Bottom rather than a Dominant or Submissive. This definition of a bottom explains the difference between a bottom and a submissive very well, “A person who receives spankings, floggings, or other forms of stimulation in situations which specifically exclude power exchange. For example, a masochist may be interested in receiving some kind of stimulation but may not be interested in giving up psychological control; whereas a submissive has given up authority and may receive some kind of stimulation on the instruction of a dominant, a bottom does not give up authority and may control exactly how, under what circumstances, and to what degree he or she receives some form of stimulation.” (2)

5. Daddy/Babygirl Relationships

When people refer to themselves as a Big or little or that they have Daddy or Babygirl they are talking about ageplay where the “Big” takes the parental role and the “Little” is the child. A common misperception about age play is that people who engage in it have incestous perversions but that’s not true. For the most part it’s actually the powerlessness aspect of childhood and the power balance rather than the childhood itself, that is appealing. Submissives who require a nuturing dominant rather than a harsh one tend to search for these daddy type doms. Most littles tend to be people who are young at heart and most Daddys tend to be dominants who like to reward good behavior rather than focus on the bad.

6. Shibari

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Bring the virbrator into play!

The term “Shibari” is one you will most definitely come across if you have any interest in bondage or rope tying whatsoever. It stands for an ancient form of Japanese rope-tying that was primarily used for keeping people captive for torturing purposes. Shibari probably translates into something like “uncomfortable,” or “unpleasant.” The harnesses aren’t pretty to look at it, and can be crudely thrown together, but they are extremely effective. And once mastered, slightly modified Shibari techniques become ideal for suspension rigging purposes.

7. Safeword

If your partner ever yells out the word “pineapple” during playtime, I can assure you, it has nothing to do with your partner wanting some fruit. It’s more likely being used as a “Safeword” – a word or phrase that can be used to let their partner know they don’t want to continue with the actions being performed.

The safe word you choose to use with your partner is ultimately up to you. It’s best not to use the words “no” or “stop” because, in some cases, those words may be part of the role playing.

8. Mistress

In the BDSM scene, “Mistress’ is a word used to refer to a female dominant, or dominatrix. Consenting male and female submissives may be under the control of a mistress, who will often require that they perform any tasks she requests, including sexual activities (one would certainly hope!). The role play here turns the traditional power exchange on its head, turning men into submissives and slaves

9. “Training”

Whether it be slave training, pet training, or any sort of specific skill like anal or deepthroating, in a dominant-submissive relationship, the Master is usually putting the slave through some sort of training. The game often boils down to a make believe game of behavior modification. The submissive steps out of line (deliberately, for the sake of the playtime), and needs to have that behavior corrected through negative reinforcement, or “aversion tactics.” This is how punishment activities, such as spanking, flogging and paddling, are incorporated into the playtime.

In my experience, training is done best when you establish incremental goals for your partner to accomplish. Anal is an excellent example of this. Instead of having your partner use the same large toy for weeks, have them graduate from small to larger anal plugs, until their poor little ass can take it. Also, it’s important to remember that negative reinforcement and punishment is not always the best way to correct a behavior. Positive reinforcement, or rewarding good behavior, is often equally, if not more effective than punishment at reinforcing desired behaviors.

10. “Aftercare”

If you are thinking of doing a scene for your first time with someone where you are the submissive and you have some intense things planned, it’s important to understand how you might feel afterwards. There is something called bottom drop, and trust me its real. If you’ve come this far where you’re actually considering doing these fun and filthy things, chances are you’ve had some kind of wild fun in your past, even one night stands. How did you feel after? At the time I bet you were on cloud 9, then maybe after its all said and done you feel the opposite. Intense kink scenes, even with people you trust can also leave you with feelings of shame or guilt, especially if you have traditional ideas about relationships or socially appropriate behavior. As well, after a period of intense pain play, bottom drop may be related to the reduction of levels of endorphins in the brain as well. While you might not know exactly what helps you the best, sometimes you may need a safe psychological space to unwind and recover. Aftercare is the process of providing this safe space. Everyone’s aftercare varies and figuring out things that help this feeling disappear will make your kink experience more enjoyable.

References:

1) https://fetlife.com/groups/3243/group_posts/81275
2) https://www.xeromag.com/fvbdglossary.html

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About Simon Blackthorne

Simon Blackthorne
Simon Blackthorne is a Dungeonmaster at Wasteland.com. With over 30 years experience as a MaleDom, he brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and wit to the BDSM scene. Simon was one of original directors and contributors to Wasteland starting in 1995 and is a respected leader in the New England BDSM community. You can see Simon's BDSM Video Demonstrations and Tutorials at Wasteland.com
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