The Info List - D/s

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Dominance and submission
Dominance and submission
(also called D/s) is a set of behaviors, customs, and rituals involving the submission of one person to another in an erotic episode or lifestyle. It is a subset of BDSM. Physical contact is not necessary, and D/s can be conducted anonymously over the telephone, email, or other messaging systems. In other cases, it can be intensely physical, sometimes crossing into sadomasochism. In D/s, both parties take pleasure or erotic enjoyment 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 an individual who plays either role. Two switches together may negotiate and exchange roles several times in a session. A dominatrix is usually a female sex worker who dominates others for pay. It is common for writers to capitalise the "D" in Dominant but leave the "s" in lowercase for the submissive. Many extend this to His/Hers, Him/Her, He/She, etc., to make it clear when they are referring to a Dominant.


1 Overview 2 Terminology

2.1 Linguistic conventions

3 D/s relationship styles 4 Safety 5 Consent and contracts 6 Equipment and accessories

6.1 Collars

7 Literature

7.1 Classic writers 7.2 Fiction writers 7.3 Non-fiction writers

8 Music 9 Films 10 See also 11 References 12 Further reading


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The inner conflict and surrender connected with dominance and submission are enduring themes in human culture and civilization. In human sexuality, this has broadened to include mutual exploration of roles, emotions, and activities that would be difficult or impossible to act out without a willing partner taking an opposing role. A 1985 study suggests that only about 30 percent of participants in BDSM
activities are females.[1][2] A 1995 study indicates that 89% of heterosexual females who are active in BDSM
expressed a preference for the submissive-recipient role in sexual bondage, expressing also a preference for a dominant male, and that 71% of heterosexual males preferred a dominant-initiator role.[3]

Submission may involve not just being dominated physically but also mentally, such as through erotic humiliation[4]. An example is a submissive female's mouth being used by her "master" as a cigarette ashtray.

A safeword is usually given to the submissive partner to prevent the dominant from overstepping physical and emotional boundaries. The safeword is especially important when engaging in verbal humiliation or playing "mind-games", because the dominant may not be aware of an emotional boundary until it is crossed. If an emotional boundary is breached and the safeword spoken, the dominant should cease all play immediately and discuss the emotional breach with the submissive in a tender and understanding manner. Negotiating limits in advance is also an important element in a D/s relationship. It is important to note that for a safe, sane, and consensual environment to be maintained, all participants should have a safeword of which the other is aware; this includes the Dominant partner. While it may not seem so from the outside, Dominants will also have limits and boundaries of their own, and should not only have a safeword but also be comfortable calling it if their own limits are exceeded. This includes cases where the dominant may feel things have gone too far and is uncomfortable continuing. As with any other participant, the dominant's safeword call should herald the stopping of all play and the start of a recuperative discussion between the participants. D/s may be ritualized or freeform. It is usually a negotiated lifestyle, with people discussing their wishes, limits, and needs in order to find commonality. A D/s relationship may be sexual or non-sexual, long- or short-term, and intimate or anonymous. Most adherents search for the essential intensity, trust, and intimacy that are required to make any deep relationship possible. Terminology[edit] Main article: Glossary of BDSM D/s participants often refer to their activity as "play", with an individual play session being called a "scene". In addition to "dominant" and "submissive", a "switch" is a person who can take either role. A scene between two switches can involve trading off the dominant and submissive roles, possibly several times. In contrast, the terms "top" and "bottom" refer to the active (agent) and passive (patient) roles, respectively. In a given scene, there is no requirement that the dominant also be the top, or that the submissive be the bottom, although this is often the case. The term "vanilla" refers to normative ("non-kinky") sex and relationships, the vanilla world being mainstream society outside of the BDSM
subculture. The term comes from vanilla ice cream being considered the "default" flavor. Linguistic conventions[edit] Some people in the D/s world capitalize words and names that refer to dominants, and do not capitalize those that refer to submissives, hence the capitalization of D/s; others do not. It was popularized in internet chatrooms, to make it easier to identify the orientation of the writer or the person being written about. Also, some submissives eschew personal pronouns, instead referring to themselves as "this slave" or "Master Bob's girl". This is sometimes considered an expression of modesty, but it is an entirely optional method of depersonalizing a submissive during "play". It may have roots in the military, where new recruits are required to refer to themselves as "this recruit", rather than "I" or "me". D/s relationship styles[edit]

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There can be any number of partners in a D/s relationship: one dominant may have several submissives, who may in turn dominate others, or a submissive may have multiple dominants. Relationships may be monogamous or polyamorous. Romantic love is not necessarily a feature in D/s: partners might be very much in love or have no romantic relationship at all. Some D/s relationships are sexual, others completely chaste.

Animal roleplay: A dominant male holds two females using dog leashes, Folsom Street Fair, USA, 2010

Face sitting
Face sitting
can be a way of expressing dominance

A female dominatrix poses with a transvestite submissive in a BDSM dungeon

Fantasy role play
Fantasy role play
can be an element, with partners taking classic dominant or submissive roles, or classic authority-figure roles such as teacher and student, police officer and suspect, or parent and child. Animal play, where one partner takes the role of owner or caretaker and the other takes the part of a pet or animal, can also be D/s play. A classic example of a D/s role is the sissymaid, where an adult male dresses in cartoonish female clothing and performs stereotypical female chores such as housecleaning or serving tea. It should be noted that cross-dressing in D/s does not always involve a desire to be sissified or made into caricatures of women or to serve: for example, others may desire to be made as beautiful as possible and interact on a "girlfriend-to-girlfriend" non-sexual basis. Variation in D/s is virtually limitless and the activities take many forms, and may be combined with other forms of BDSM. These variations may include:

domestic servitude or consensual slavery enforced chastity of the submissive erotic humiliation sexual slavery verbal humiliation fetishes—such as shoe or boot worship, uniforms, smoking, latex, and heavy rubber—are, among other activities, considered part of BDSM dehumanization (pony or animal play) or objectification (forniphilia, becoming an "inanimate object" such as a foot stool) cross-dressing whipping corporal punishment trampling human furniture human toilet - golden showers feminization cuckold bondage (sexual) public humiliation


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There are some risks commonly associated with D/s. Because it is mostly a mental activity, many of the risks associated with D/s involve mental health. Others involve abuses of the trust inherent in a D/s relationship. Some examples are:

Physically or mentally abusive dominant partner Self-hating subs Dominant partners who violate the trust relationship by attempting to isolate the sub from society or monetarily exploit the sub

Consent and contracts[edit] Further information on when consent can be a defense to criminal liability for any injuries caused, and when, for these purposes, non-physical injuries are included in the definition of grievous bodily harm: Consent (BDSM) and Legal consent See also: Contract (BDSM) Consent is a vital element in all psychological play, and consent can be granted in many ways. Some employ a written form known as a "Dungeon negotiation form", for others a simple verbal commitment is sufficient. Consent can be limited both in duration and content. Consensual non-consensuality is a mutual agreement to act as if consent has been waived within safe, sane limits. It is an agreement that consent is given in advance, sometimes without foreknowledge of the exact actions planned, though within defined limits subject to a safeword, reasonable care, common sense, or other restrictions. The consent is given with the intent of its being irrevocable under normal circumstances. As such, it is a show of extreme trust and understanding and is usually undertaken only by partners who know each other well, or otherwise agree to set clear, safe limits on their activities. It's not unusual to grant consent only for an hour or for an evening. When a scene lasts for more than a few hours, it's common to draft a "scene contract" that defines what will happen and who is responsible for what. It's a good way to work out what all the parties want, and usually improves the experience. Some contracts can become quite detailed and run for many pages, especially if a scene is to last a weekend or more. For long term consent, a "slave contract" may be drawn up. BDSM "contracts" are only an agreement between consenting people and are usually not legally binding; in fact, the possession of one may be considered illegal in some areas.[5] Slave contracts are simply a way of defining the nature and limits of the relationship and are not intended to carry legal force.[6] After a slave contract is drafted, some celebrate the event with a "collaring ceremony", in which the local D/s community is invited to witness the commitment made in the document. Some ceremonies become quite elaborate, and can be as involved as a wedding or any similar ritual. Equipment and accessories[edit]

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Some people maintain a special room or area, called a dungeon, which contains special equipment (shackles, handcuffs, whips, queening stools, and spanking benches or a Berkley horse, for example) used for play scenes, or they may visit a BDSM
club that maintains such facilities. Collars[edit] Main article: Collar (BDSM)

A typical D/s "slave collar"

Many submissives wear a collar to denote their status and commitment. It can be much like a wedding band, except that only the submissive partner wears one. The traditional collar is a neck band in leather or metal, chosen, designed, and even crafted by the dominant partner. Some subs wear a "symbolic collar", often a bracelet or ankle chain, which is more subdued than the traditional collar and can pass in non- BDSM
situations. It is not uncommon for a sub to have several collars for special occasions.[7] Dog collars are integral for K-9 roleplaying—pup-play. Many people—for example, some in the punk rock and goth subcultures—wear collars for other reasons, such as fashion. So, one cannot assume that all people wearing collars are involved in BDSM. Members of the furry fandom may also wear collars as a part of costuming or as fashion. Use of collars in the sexual aspects of furry lifestyle may or may not be connected to BDSM, depending on the individual's preferences. Literature[edit]

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A submissive man stretches out his bound wrists.

One of the most famous works in this area is Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's Venus im Pelz (Venus in Furs, 1869), in which the protagonist, Severin, persuades a woman, Wanda, to take him on as her slave, serves her, and allows her to degrade him. The book has elements of both social and physical submission, and is the genesis of the term "masochism" coined by the 19th century psychiatrist Krafft-Ebing. Classic writers[edit]

Marquis de Sade Leopold von Sacher-Masoch

Fiction writers[edit]

Arthur Adamov Laura Antoniou Jacqueline Carey E.L. James Elfriede Jelinek John Norman Pauline Réage Anne Rice Cecilia Tan Larry Townsend

Non-fiction writers[edit]

Gloria G. Brame Patrick Califia Dossie Easton Janet Hardy Jay Wiseman

Music[edit] The Velvet Underground's song "Venus In Furs" is based on Sacher-Masoch's novel and discusses sadomasochism, the character Severin, and common bondage practices in a detached, objective, and non-judgmental manner. The Rolling Stones
Rolling Stones
song "Under my Thumb" (M. Jagger, 1966) is supposedly about a D/s relationship. The Green Day
Green Day
song "All By Myself/Dominated Love Slave" (written and sung by Tré Cool) describes Cool's feelings for female dominance. Dwele's "Obey" is a Neo-Soul song based on the mind of a Dominant in a D/s relationship. The Run The Jewels
Run The Jewels
song "Love Again (Akinyele Back)" is a 2014 hip-hop release with verses about sexual dominance by Killer Mike, El-P
and Gangsta Boo. The Rihanna
song "S & M" denotes the artist's arousal in BDSM play. The DNCE
song "Be Mean" is written about the artist's desire to be dominated. Films[edit]

Venus in Furs
Venus in Furs
- (imdb link) (1967) Directed by Joseph Marzano (written by Joseph Marzano, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch). A submissive (masochist) discovers (or creates) a reluctant Sadist. Long, examining scenes depicting what is for the submissive to wait in solitude or in transitory. Sadist gives the masochist the "ultimate gift" in the end. The Night Porter
The Night Porter
- (imdb link) (1974) Directed by Liliana Cavani. Thirteen years after WWII a concentration camp survivor and her tormentor, currently the night porter at a Vienna hotel, meet again and fall back into their sado-masochistic relationship. Histoire d'O (imdb link) (1975) Directed by Just Jaeckin. Based on the novel Story of O
Story of O
by Pauline Réage 9½ Weeks
9½ Weeks
(imdb link) (1986) Directed by Adrian Lyne. Based on a book by the same name. Popular for its "You Can Leave Your Hat On" scene. Preaching to the Perverted (imdb link) (1997) Directed by Stuart Urban. A female dominant/ Dominatrix
movie depicting the London S&M scene. Secretary (imdb link) (2002) Directed by Steven Shainberg. Widely regarded as the first mainstream film to depict D/s relationship issues. Liberty in Restraint - behind the eyes of a fetish photographer (film)documentary (imdb link) (2005) Directed by Michael Ney. Contains real life D&S scenes and discussion. The Duke of Burgundy - (imdb link) (2014) Directed by Peter Strickland. A woman who studies butterflies and moths tests the limits of her relationship with her lover. Fifty Shades of Grey (film)
Fifty Shades of Grey (film)
- (imdb link) (2015) Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson with a screenplay by Kelly Marcel, based on the novel of the same name by E. L. James.

See also[edit]

Abusive power and control Dominance hierarchy Hierarchical organization Female dominance Female submission Male dominance Male submission Master/slave (BDSM)


^ Breslow N, Evans L, Langley J. "On the prevalence and roles of females in the sadomasochistic subculture: report of an empirical study." Archives of Sexual Behavior 1985 Aug;14(4):303-17. PMID 4051718 ^ Eugene E. Levitt, Charles Moser, and Karen V. Jamison "The prevalence and some attributes of females in the sadomasochistic subculture: A second report." Archives of Sexual Behavior 23(4) / August, 1994 DOI 10.1007/BF01541410 PMID 7993186. ^ Ernulf KE, Innala SM. "Sexual bondage: a review and unobtrusive investigation." Archives of Sexual Behavior 1995 Dec;24(6):631-54. PMID 8572912 ^ Michelle Fegatofi "UNVEILED The Secret Submissive Within, published 2013" page 93. ^ 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ^ Makai, Michael (September 2013). Domination & Submission: The BDSM
Relationhip Handbook. Createspace. pp. 162–171. ISBN 1492775975.  ^ Makai, Michael (September 2013). "Chapter 6: The Collar". Domination & Submission: The BDSM
Relationship Handbook. Createspace. pp. 152–161. ISBN 1492775975. 

Further reading[edit]

Baldwin, Guy (2002). SlaveCraft: Roadmaps for Erotic Servitude — Principles, Skills and Tools. Daedelus Publishing Co, .. ISBN 1-881943-14-3. Gloria G. Brame, William D. Brame, and Jon Jacobs (1993). Different Loving: An Exploration of the World of Sexual Dominance and Submission. New York: Villard Books. ISBN 0-679-40873-8. Califia, Patrick, (1993). Sensuous Magic. New York, Masquerade Books. ISBN 1-56333-131-4. Henryson, Dean (2014). Girl Fighting Exposed. Createspace. ISBN 978-1493767496. Masters, Peter (2009) The Control Book. CreateSpace. ISBN 1-4421-7386-6. Masters, Peter (2008). This Curious Human Phenomenon: An Exploration of Some Uncommonly Explored Aspects of BDSM. The Nazca Plains Corporation. ISBN 1-934625-68-X. Katherine Ramsland, Ph. D. The Anne Rice
Anne Rice
Reader. Ballantine Books, 1997. ISBN 0-345-40267-7. How Do They Rate? Elliot Slater and Lasher as Love Slaves, contributing author, Claudia Varrin Rehor, Jennifer Eve (May 2015). "Sensual, Erotic, and Sexual Behaviors of Women from the "Kink" Community". Archives of Sexual Behavior. International Academy of Sex Research. 44 (4): 825–36. doi:10.1007/s10508-015-0524-2. Retrieved 21 October 2015.  Rinella, Jack (1994). The Master's Manual: A Handbook of Erotic Dominance. Daedelus Publishing Co.. ISBN 1-881943-03-8. Rinella, Jack (2002). The Compleat Slave: Creating and Living an Erotic Dominant/Submissive Lifestyle. Daedelus Publishing Co.. ISBN 1-881943-13-5. Saez, Fernando and Viñuales, Olga, (2007). Armarios de Cuero, Ediciones Bellaterra. ISBN 978-84-7290-345-6 Claudia Varrin (2000), Art of Sensual Female Dominance: A Guide for Women. Birch Lane Press. ISBN 0-8065-2089-2. Claudia Varrin (2003). Erotic Surrender: The Sensual Joys of Female Submission. Citadel Press. ISBN 0-8065-2400-6. Claudia Varrin, (2004). Female Dominance: Rituals and Practices. Citadel Press. ISBN 0-8065-2659-9. Claudia Varrin, (2005). The Female Dominant: Games She Plays. Citadel Press. ISBN 0-8065-2669-6. Claudia Varrin, (2006). Female Submission: The Journals of Madelaine. Citadel Press. ISBN 0-8065-2707-2. Claudia Varrin, (2006). Dominación Sensual Edicions Bellaterra. ISBN 84-7290-316-8. Claudia Varrin, (2006). Die Kunst der weiblichen Dominanz. Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf ISBN 3-89602-710-7, ISBN 978-3-89602-710-8. Claudia Varrin, (2007). Die Kunst der weiblichen Unterwerfung. Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf. ISBN 978-3-89602-773-3

v t e

Outline of BDSM

Bondage and discipline B&D or B/D

Animal roleplay Bondage hood Bondage suit Breast bondage Collar Crotch rope Erotic sexual denial Forced orgasm Head bondage Human furniture Hogtie bondage Interrogation scene Japanese bondage Metal bondage Mummification Positions Predicament bondage Rope bondage Self-bondage Sensation play Spreadeagle position Suspension bondage Total enclosure

Dominance and submission D&S or D/s

Ageplay Bladder desperation Body worship Boot worship Erotic humiliation Facesitting Fear play Female dominance


Female submission Feminization Male dominance Male submission Master/slave Medical fetishism Rape fantasy Servitude Sexual slavery

Sadomasochism S&M or S/M

Breast torture Caning Cock and ball torture Erotic asphyxiation Erotic electrostimulation Erotic spanking Figging Impact play Knife play Play piercing Pussy torture Temperature play Urethral sounding Violet wand Wax play In fiction

Related topics

Consent Dungeon monitor Edgeplay Gorean subculture International Fetish Day Kink Leathermen Leather Pride flag Limits Munch Pegging Play Play party Risk-aware consensual kink Safe, sane and consensual Safeword Sexual fetishism Sexual roleplay Top, bottom, switch


Laura Antoniou Pauline Réage Catherine Robbe-Grillet Leopold von Sacher-Masoch Marquis de Sade

Commentators and theorists

Gloria Brame Patrick Califia Dossie Easton Janet Hardy Trevor Jacques Fakir Musafar Gayle Rubin



and media Equipment Feminist views Glossary Index of articles