The roles I will be writing about today are based on my understanding of them. Others may have different views. I am in no way trying to wave my flag of experience and shout “These are the exact definition”. I am speaking of how I interpret them after witnessing many relationships in the BDSM community. Your milage may vary.
My explanations today are leaning towards basic definitions. We will get deeper into the intricacies of the different power exchange relationships in another Saturday post. I am also in no way passing any judgement on any of the roles. I am very supportive of other’s kink even if I do not understand it, practice it in my own relationships, or find it exciting, as long as it take place between consenting adults and is done safely.
Most of these roles take place in a power exchange relationship. Some involve power exchange, but at a merely play level. More on that when I get to them.
Dominant – A dominant may be any sex. They are the person in charge in the relationship. They take control, lead, and direct in the relationship. They are the one who makes the rules, provides the structure, and takes on the responsibility of both parties in the power exchange relationship. Responsible dominants protect their other half. They strive to maintain a balance so both parties get what they need out of the relationship. It isn’t all about them. Punishment may or may not be a factor, BDSM play may or may not be a factor. The terms below are all dominant roles in a power exchange relationship.
Mistress – A female dominant. The one who controls and is obeyed.
Master – A male dominant. Some women prefer Master as a title. Master has a heavier meaning for those in a Master/slave relationship and especially in a Gor type relationship or no limits relationship.
Domme – Another term for female dominant. I believe it is French. I preferred Domme for a time. Why? Mistress has the meaning of a woman who is a married man’s secret sexual partner.
Daddy – The daddy role is a person who is a dominant in a relationship where the submissive is a babygirl, brat, or a little. Daddy is nurturing, accepts his lil one’s child like tendencies, more of a parent role. We are NOT talking underage, fantasies of sex with children, or incest. Often a little will say they have an inner child and will identify with a certain age. Again ALL are adults.
Daddi – A female Daddy. Often in Lesbian relationships. Sorry, I am unclear on the term in homosexual relationships.
Mommy – A female version of a Daddy. Again, all are of legal age.
Pro Domme or Pro Dominatrix - This is a woman who provides D/s experiences for a fee. A pro dominantor is a man in the same role. This is far more rare. I have never met a pro dominator. Sex is not a part of this. The scenes can evoke sexual plesure but sexual contact isn’t done. I’m not going to say ever, but I will say it is very rare.
The following are for the other half of the M/s relationship and are used for those who are not in power. They do not make the rules, they follow them as set by their dominant. They are on the receiving end of punishement if that is part of their relationship. Often they are on the receiving end of any BDSM play.
submissive – The person who agrees to give power to the dominant. They abide by rules, agree to do the service the dominant has outlined for them, they give the decision making over to the dominant. The following are terms that have a variation of being a submissive. Please note, while some submissives may be shy or subduded, most are not weak in any way. My wife is submissive to me, but no one else. A dominant who treats their submissive like a doormat may find themselves without a submissive.
Service submissive - A submissive who derives pleasure from simply giving service. My guys are service submissives. Play is done on a very rare occasion. Discipline is also rare. There is no physical contact and no sex. They do service. Housework, yard work, home repairs, etc.
Babygirl/Little - One who takes on childlike qualities. Often they will say they have a child inside and give that child an age. I have met Littles who are anywhere from 2 to in their teens. Babygirls/Littles can be prone to tantrums, need protection, the dominant is in athority in a daddy or mommy capacity. Adult babies fall into the babygirl/Little area. Again, this does not constitute underage activities. All are consenting ADULTS.
Brat – A submissive who enjoys rebelling their dominant in a childlike manner. Very common in spanking relationships.
Smart Assed Masochist or SAM - A person/bottom who rather than giving up control or giving submission challenges or annoys the top or dominant to entice them to give punishment or pain play.
boy – A submissive who relates to their dominant in a child to parent role. boi is often used in lesbian relationships.
Sissy – A male who enjoys being forced (consensual force) to wear women’s clothing or act in the role of a woman. Many service submissives enjoy doing their service in maid outfits or women’s panties. I feel this is almost more of a fetish than a relationship role.
Slut - This term is not used in a negative light when the dominant is referring to their submissive as their slut or whore. It can be used in humiliation, but I use it as a term of endearment or a term during play and sex to stimulate. At times one uses slut when they are playing or doing funishment. That is punishing for fun. I must punish my dirty slut. Be warned, anyone who calls my wife a slut will be told where to go and possibly slapped. Do not call someone a slut. Do not touch someone because you think if they are into BDSM they must be loose sexually. Doing so will get you hit or shunned. Just because someone is into BDSM does not make them a slut. Much of our play is non sexual. Slut in this capacity does not mean sleeping around. It is more of a “Oh you like it when I hurt you or make you beg for orgasms you little slut”.
slave – A slave may have a deeper servitude and often agrees to complete power exchange. They give up all rights, desire ownership, they wish to be fully controlled. Their submission is deep enough to give a feeling of being completely owned and often have no limits. A slave may often give up all rights by signing a contract. The contract is NOT legally binding. One cannot own or be owned by another but it is extremely symbolic. Slaves can even be registered and given a number.
Switch – This is a person who enjoys to be both dominant and submissive. Sometimes this takes place in the dynamics of one power exchange relationship, both persons are switches and enjoy trading roles. Sometimes a person can be submissive to one person, their dominant, but dominant to another. I often see women who have a male dominant but also have a female submissive or slave of their own. Sometimes the dominant has control over their own submissive and their submissives’s submissive/slave, sometimes they allow their submissive to control their own submissive or slave.
BDSM play terms - These terms are used in a play setting and are seperate from a regular power exchange relationship. Play partners are not neccessarily dominant and submissive. D/s will be used here to denote Dominant and submissive.
Play partner - These are people who engage in BDSM activities but do not have a power exchange relationship in a deeper sense. My play partner calls me the Queen. I am a dominant and he sees me as such, but I have zero control over his life and his decisions. He defers to me, does things to help or give service, but is mostly a very dear friend. He loves heavy impact and is a huge masochist. I enjoy giving it. We have zero sexual contact. Many people have multiple play partners. Trust is important, caring is important. You can be monogamous and have play partners.
My relationship with my play partner is not intimate. I think it is a good idea for those just beginning to explore to meet experienced and trusted tops to play with in a public setting so they can explore different sensation play or bondage play safely. Please note Playing in a BDSM sense with multiple people is not being slutty or loose. Often no sex is involved. I have seen women who are trying to learn, play with different people and then be labled a slut in a bad way. It pisses me off. It is a safe way to learn if it is done with trusted tops in a public setting or small group gathering.
Top or service Top - This is the person who gives, flogs, spanks, ties up, does whatever form of BDSM play to another person. They have the active role. Often their relationship to the one on the receiving end is not D/s. Often there is no sex involved at all. I am a Top to my play partner. There is zero sex. I am a sadist and he is a masochist. I give pain and get enjoyment, he receives it and gets enjoyment. Trust and pre negotionation is important before a play scene.
bottom – This is the person on the receiving end of all of the above. A dominant person can be a bottom and a top can be submissive. I am a dominant but I enjoy electric play. A service top is the person who would give me the sensations during electric play. They lead in the scene but I have not given up my power. Sometimes a submissive will be a top in a scene. My wife could do electric play with me. She would be the top in the giving, and I would be the bottom in receiving, but we are still Mistress and submissive.
Please note. A Top takes on the responisbility for the bottom during and just after the scene. The Top is the one who makes certain the bottom is safe and receives the aftercare they need. Sometimes if a dominant isn’t skilled in an area of play their submissive wishes to experience, they will find a trusted Top and be present. I have done training in violet wand or electrical play. The submissive of the dominant received sensation from me and from their dominant as I taught the dominant proper technique.
Sadist – A person who enjoys giving pain. This can be emotional, but in my experience the one receiving emotional sadism often is doing so without consent. Just my opinion. I’m not referring to consensual humiliation. A sadist receives pleasure sexually or simply intese physical enjoyment (I get this with my play partner. it is stress releiving), when they inflict pain. This is consensual. If pain is given without consent it is abuse.
Masochist - A person who receives pleasure from being on the receiving end of pain. Again, consensual. A dominant can be a masochist in some areas. I myself enjoy violet wand or electrical play. It’s not at a high pain level for me, but I have known Masters who enjoy receiving pain. This goes back to the Top/bottom dynamic.
Sadomasochist – A person who gets physical or sexual pleasure from both receiving and giving pain.
I am going to refrain from giving definitions for the Leather culture because it is a complicated structure and I don’t know enough about it to properly address the roles. I am also going to refrain from any definitions of polyamory roles. That goes under types of relationships and again, the ideas about it vary greatly. I have also excluded terms defining sexual identification because that is a whole different area.
I hope you enjoyed these definitions. I will apologize for any typos. I am rushed because the tax man is coming. I wanted to get this posted before I get going on my busy Saturday schedule.