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BDSM Guide Sex Guides and Tips
by Double D, aka Delilah Douglas
About Author Delilah Douglas
The author Double D, aka Delilah Douglas, is a writer, artist, activist, and roller girl based in central New Jersey and Long Island. She is a product specialist at EdenFantasys.com, Web Merchants Inc.; she is not a doctor or a licensed sex therapist. She creates humorous, entertaining interpretations to simplify the product research process for the consumer. ...

What is BDSM?

BDSM (aka Sexual Magic, Power Exchange, S&M, Sexual Surrender, Kinky Sex, Fetish): A ubiquitous acronym for Bondage and Discipline, Domination and Submission, and Sadomasochism (S&M).

The word "play" usually follows the acronym; this implies that BDSM activities are to be performed with pleasure in mind and that people who participate as players are enjoying the experience. Also this implies that the participants are stepping outside their day-to-day lives/personalities to perform in a role as an actor would in the theater. The period of time that players are participating in BDSM activities is known as a "session" or a "scene."

Fetish:
Sexual fetishism is an erotic reaction to an object or body part (body type). It used to be defined as a sexual attraction to an object that was not commonly considered arousing. In modern society, the term has become very vague because so many objects that were once considered "fetish" are now commonly seen in a sexual way. Silk stockings for instance; the object itself is no more sexual than a garbage bag, but a pair of sexy legs wearing those stockings is commonly an arousing thought.

BDSM is commonly categorized as a fetish because it is outside the sexual majority and also because there are so many inanimate objects linked with its practice. Since we associate those items (whips, handcuffs, leather, latex, etc.) with sexual activities, the objects, even when taken out of BDSM context, will cause an erotic response. The practices of bondage, domination, and S&M are classified as "kinky," therefore unusual to the majority, but then again it's also pretty unusual to find people that are truly happy with their sexual experiences.

The practice of BDSM is more widely accepted today than in previous years and is viewed as just another means of sexual expression. But if you are still feeling alienated about exploring the full potential of your sexuality, the online BDSM community Alt.com has over 3,800,000 members worldwide, there is little doubt you can find someone there to play with.

Vanilla:
Sexual activity that does not involve BDSM play.
Player:
One who participates in BDSM activities.
Dom:
Or Dominant, the player that has been given consensual power/control over another person(s) in BDSM.
Sub:
Or Submissive, the player that has, under pre-established specifications, given up control of their actions, behavior, and body to another person(s) in BDSM.
Switch:
A player that can assume the role of a Dom or a Sub, depending on the situation and partner.
Power Exchange:
The consensual empowerment given to the Dom by the Sub. This exchange can last an hour, a week, a year; power can be surrendered to a Dom for whatever length of time the Sub chooses.
Discipline:
Much more than just an S&M beating, discipline is the process of changing a Sub's behavior through any combination of physical, emotional, or psychological punishments.
Top:
A player who assumes the active role in BDSM play. This is different from a Dom because the Top does not necessarily have any power/control over another person(s); the Top is carrying out an act upon a Bottom, perhaps even under the explicit directions of the Bottom.
Bottom:
A player who assumes the inactive (not necessarily passive) role in BDSM play. This is different from a Sub because the Bottom does not automatically surrender control to another person(s); the Bottom is the player receiving the actions of the Top.
S&M:
Or Sadomasochism, the practice and ideology of giving and receiving pain for sexual pleasure. This term is often inappropriately given to the whole of BDSM play, but is more specifically related to the activities of Sadists and Masochists.
Sadist:
A person who gets sexual pleasure from inflicting pain on another person. The person who agrees to receive the pain does not have to derive pleasure from it (as a Masochist would); the person receiving the pain is considered a Bottom.
Masochist:
A person who gets sexual pleasure from receiving pain from another person. The person giving the pain does not have to derive pleasure from it (as a Sadist would); the person giving the pain is considered a Top. Differences between Dom/Sub, Top/Bottom, and Sadist/Masochist: Dom and Sub exchange power, Top and Bottom exchange actions, and Sadist and Masochist exchange pain. Most people who participate in BDSM activities are some combination of these three categories.

Example:

This scene is gender ambiguous because male and female players can be any combination of these roles.

A couple is performing a role-play fantasy where one player is a student seducing a teacher. Within this role-play, the student is threatening to tell the principal that the teacher performed sexual acts on the student (this is not true, yet). So in exchange for the student's silence, the teacher must do whatever the student desires. We are more familiar with the teacher as the person in control (the Dom) of the student (the Sub), but in this case, the student is controlling the teacher therefore reversing the role of power. So the teacher is the Sub and the student is the Dom.

Now the student starts taking advantage of the position of power. The teacher is told to give the student oral sex and, because of the blackmail situation, begins to kiss the student's inner thigh working up to the crotch. The teacher is now performing a sexual act on the student and is considered a Top at this point. It does not matter that the Bottom (aka the student) has instructed the Top to perform the action, the relationship still stands.

The student is a Sadist and has the teacher bend over for a spanking with a ruler. The student is getting turned on doing this, but the teacher is resisting and begs the student to stop (this was part of the couple's pre-establish scene). The teacher is not receiving sexual pleasure from pain*, therefore is not a Masochist, but this does not change the fact that the student is still a Sadist.

*If the person playing the teacher is resisting the beating in the context of the role-play, it does not mean that the player is not enjoying it. Role play is acting, so the person playing the teacher could have been getting excited by the beating, but just resisting to cater to the fantasy. In that case, the player would be considered a Masochist, but the fictional character of the teacher is not.