dom·i·na·tion

noun\ˌdä-mə-ˈnā-shən\

1: supremacy or preeminence over another

2: exercise of mastery or ruling power

3:exercise of preponderant, governing, or controlling influence.

sub·mis·sion

noun \səb-ˈmi-shən\

1 a: a legal agreement to submit to the decision of arbitrator b: an act of submitting something (as for consideration or inspection); also: something submitted (as a manuscript

2: the condition of being submissive, humble, or compliant

3: an act of submitting to the authority or control of another.

© 2011 Merriam Webster

Dominance and submission or D/s is used here as a term to describe a specific practice, whether sexual or psychosocial, that includes the submission of one to the will and domination of another. D/s as practiced within the BDSM community is defined by the SSC principle and equal respect for both people involved in the relationship. An excerpt taken from Psychology Wikia about D/s and BDSM practices provides an excellent example of the ethical rules surrounding the practice of D/s and BDSM:

“Modern BDSM is very different, it is based upon a deep ethos of mutual respect and has developed an entire subculture of values and approaches within which such explorations of oneself and ones relationships can take place in a safe, sane and consensual manner within either or both roles.” 2

SSC is the golden rule, in other words if you are practicing D/s or BDSM you should be doing so Safely, Sanely, and with the Consent of everyone involved.

So now that we are clear…

What is BDSM?

BDSM can be translated many ways, generally it is accepted to mean:

  • Bondage
  • Dominance/submission
  • Sadism/Masochism

At first reaction most people would shun any practice that so openly embraces any of these characteristics, but making uninformed judgements often leads to misconceptions, which is why the BDSM community is often the victim of ignorance and discrimination. None of the above practices are undertaken outside the realm of SSC (Safe,Sane, Consensual) that is not what BDSM is about, it is about the exchange of power, sensual pleasure through means of constriction and precise implementation of pain, and above all trust and respect.

What BDSM is not.

BDSM is not the product of psychological instability. There is no clinical or statistical proof that individuals who participate in BDSM lifestyles are more prone to mental illness than the general populace.

BDSM is not rape, and it is not abuse. Abuse and rape are both primarily defined by a LACK of consent,respect, and safety. BDSM practitioners do not take pleasure out of committing acts of violence or abuse on nonconsenting partners, such a practice is illegal and indicates serious mental illness. A study on the psychology of S/M and BDSM found that S/M practitioners are not inter­ested in pursuing their sexual interests unless their partner is will­ing. To quote the author’s findings:

“Rapists, socio­paths, etc. report that if the victim was enjoying or aroused by the assault, it would negatively affect their arousal or have no effect. Informal questioning of S/M practitioners suggests that if the person was not enjoying the act, they would stop.” 2

What is D/s?

Excellent question! D/s stands for Dominance and submission. Often D/s and BDSM are seen as one and the same, but this is not the case. D/s can exist as part of a BDSM lifestyle or as a very distinct and individual practice. Also, D/s does not necessarily include sexual or erotic underpinnings, BDSM however does include sexual pleasure whether it be mental or physical. In practice D/s can range from periodic staged “scenes” to a 24/7 practice, the magnitude and frequency of occurrence is dependent on the consent of the individuals involved in the relationship.

What D/s is not.

People that practice D/s are not degenerates. In fact D/s is practiced across all levels of socio-economic station, and many practitioners of D/s are generally well-educated and affluent.3 That is not to say everyone who claims to participate in the BDSM lifestyle, or who claims to be a Dom/Domme or submissive is the genuine article.

D/s is not slavery. Dominance and submission is a consensual act. There are agreed upon limits which both sides of the relationship Dom/Domme and submissive must respect. There are different levels of D/s, temporary D/s “scenes”, partial D/s relationships, and full-time D/s relationships (yes it is possible). There are also different levels of control. These are all considerations which absolutely MUST be discussed and agreed upon, that is how D/s is responsibly practiced.

  • It is common to hear the term “slave” in the BDSM community, this term however is not indicative of actual enslavement, rather it refers to the extreme degree of submission, where the “submissive” consensually gives complete control (sexual, physical, hygienic, financial) to the Dominant.

References

1. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. “Domination” and “Submission”. 2011. Retreived from http://www.merriam-webster.com/

2.Psychology Wiki. Domination and submission (BDSM). 2011. Retreived from http://psychology.wikia.com/wiki/Domination_and_submission_(BDSM)

3. Moser, C.The Psychology of Sadomasochism (S/M). Originally published in S. Wright, ed., SM Classics, New York, Masquerade Books, p. 47-61. Retreived from http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/BIB/SM.htm

4. Moser, C.The Psychology of Sadomasochism (S/M). Originally published in S. Wright, ed., SM Classics, New York, Masquerade Books, p. 47-61. Retreived from http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/BIB/SM.htm

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