What are you?

The terminology in BDSM is always a source of confusion for me, and in particular the labels people attach to themselves and each other. I remember joining fetlife and being stumped by the mutually exclusive set of options they provided. I think my choices included submissive, bottom, masochist, slave, fetishist and kinkster. I kind of get masochist and fetishist. But what’s the difference between submissive and bottom? Or submissive and slave? Where does kinkster fit in? And why are these mutually exclusive decisions? Can I not have an ‘All of the above’ option?

I was therefore happy to stumble on this post by the very knowledgeable Irene Boss which gives her thoughts on the definitions of these terms. From a personal perspective I also particularly enjoyed the following comment in the article.

It is not uncommon for me to bond (and become friends) with a submissive masochist who also digs bondage, which is the rarest and most enjoyable breed of client for me.

I think that combo of labels captures my particular predilections fairly well. So while I’m guessing it’s unlikely I’ll ever be friends with Irene Boss, it’s nice to know I might make an enjoyable client! Although I am a little surprised by the rarity, as she observes it, of that specific kinky wiring.

When it comes to the D side of the equation, there are an equally mixed set of labels: Dominant, Mistress (or Master), Top and Sadist. But it seems people feel a lot more relaxed about using these interchangeable, or at least that’s my impression. Sadist has a very clear and distinct definition, but the other three get used and swapped fairly freely. I wonder if that’s down to the existence of professional dominants, who are happy to blur their personal boundaries in order to work with a wide variety of clients. Or if it’s a natural outcome that flows from the attitude of a typical dominant personality. i.e. Less obsession with labels and less need to carefully categorize their preferences.

Of course none of this even touches on the idea of a switch, which adds a whole new dimension to the matrix!

So what are you? And do you think the label is useful or matters in anyway?

Mistress with SlaveAn illustration of a Mistress/Top/Dominant/Sadist/Kinkster/Fetishist with a Slave/Submissive/Bottom/Masochist/Fetishist/Kinkster (strike all that aren’t applicable depending on your preferences).

OK, so I’ll admit, the image doesn’t relate to much to the text. But I liked it and wanted some eye candy to end the post!

Author: paltego

See the 'about' page if you really want to know about me.

1 thought on “What are you?”

  1. I’m 1 of those switches that is off the map! 😉

    I equate bottoms with subs & tops with dominants–but I have seen it restricted to S&M play. I prefer to be in a slave/sub/kinkster headspace with some light/medium S&M.

    A Femdom slave’s first concern is his Mistress’ pleasure; he follows Her orders even when he is not in Her presence.

    When I do top I am not a heavy sadist since I am not a heavy masochist.

    I don’t have a particular fetish–if my partner is enjoying Herself, I’m fully aroused just by Her arousal! ;^)

    What confuses this whole issue is that some bottoms are said to be topping from the bottom. 🙂

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