BDSM relationships

A Mistress, "pony riding"
Source: Russian Mistress

Many BDSM practitioners regard the practice of BDSM in their sex life as sexual roleplaying and therefore speak of "Play" and "Playing". The execution of such play is termed a "Session", and the contents and the circumstances of the play are often referred to as a "Scene". The term "Play relations" is used as well, describing two different aspects:

First, the expression is used in usual emancipated relationships, in which BDSM is part of, or foreplay to, sexual activities. If several relationships with intense emotional connections exist over a longer time, then there can exist an overlap with the practice of polyamory. Second, the term "play relations" can describe relationships which are based exclusively on the occasional conjoint realization of sexual fantasies as a common goal and in which no further relationship exists.

Common role models

Tops and Bottoms

In BDSM terminology the partner who has the active (i.e., controlling) role in a session or in the entire relationship is described as "Top", a role that often involves inflicting pain, degradation or subjection. The partner referred to as "Bottom" or more frequently as Sub, exposes him- or herself voluntarily to those actions during the session and/or is the passive partner in the connection. Although the Top habitually is the dominant and the Bottom the submissive partner, it is not inevitably. In some cases the Top follows instructions, i.e., he "tops" the Bottom according to the Bottom's desires and in a way the Bottom expressly requires. A Top only having apparent control, while he in reality is conforming the instructions given by the Bottom, is labeled Service Top. Contrasting with the Service Top is the Dominant Top, controlling his submissive partner by using physical or psychological techniques during the session or in lifestyle. If desired, the Top can even instruct the submissive partner to exercise temporary control.

A similar distinction also may apply to Bottoms. At one end of the spectrum are those who are indifferent to, or even reject, physical stimulations. At the other end of the range are Bottoms who enjoy physical and psychological stimulations but are not willing to be subordinate to the person who applies these. The Bottom is frequently the partner who specifies the basic conditions of the session and gives instructions, directly or indirectly, in the prelude to the session, while the Top often respects this guidance. Other Bottoms try to control their Top by provoking reactions or "misbehaving" to attract interest. Nevertheless a small, very puristic "school" exists within the BDSM community, which regards such "Topping from the Bottom" as incompatible with the standards of BDSM relations.

Switch

Some BDSM practitioners "switch", meaning they play either or both roles, Top or Bottom, depending on the actual session's setting. They may practice this within one specific session or take these different roles in different sessions with the same or different partners. There are many reasons for this. Sometimes a switch lives in a relationship with a partner of the same primary preference (for example, two Tops), so switching represents the only possibility of being able to fulfill all of his or her BDSM needs within the relationship. Some people change roles without regarding themselves as Switches, since they do it only very irregularly or only under certain circumstances.

Non-erotic

Contrasting such "play relationships" are relationships in which everyday life is clearly framed by the concept of BDSM even outside of sexual activities.[36] The partners involved maintain in their daily life an appropriate balance of power and accordingly make aspects of BDSM a consistent part of their lifestyle. Here, BDSM cannot be designated a merely sexual phenomenon. The term "24/7 relationship" is derived from 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Another term for such behavior is "D/s", derived from "Dominant/submissive". The dominant partner controls most aspects of the submissive's life. Particular areas of life such as work, family, or friends can be excluded from the D/s relationship and not be placed under control of the dominant partner. Some D/s relationships, however, cover all areas of life; such constellations are designated as a "Total Power Exchange" (TPE). In D/s, and especially in TPE relationships, changes in the balance of power (so-called "Switching") do not take place. TPE relationships probably represent the least common role behavior within the BDSM spectrum.

Professional services

A professional dominatrix or professional dominant, often referred to within the culture as a "pro-domme", offers services encompassing the range of bondage, discipline, and dominance in exchange for money. Many dominatrices do not see themselves as prostitutes, since sexual intercourse between dominatrix and client usually is out of the question. However, in some cases, the sexual gratification or climax of the client may be permitted by other means.[37] The term "Dominatrix" is little-used within the non-professional BDSM scene. A non-professional dominant woman is more commonly referred to as a "Domme" or "Femdom". Dommes may title themselves as "Lady", "Mistress" or "Madame", and require their submissives to address them in this fashion, to emphasize the shift of power. Far more seldom seen are the services of professional female "Slaves". A professional slave brooks her costumer's dominant behavior within negotiated limits.

References

36. ^ Jay Wiseman: SM 101: A Realistic Introduction, Page 278
37. ^ "Interview with an anarchist dominatrix". libcom.org, originally Organise! (18 November 2006). Retrieved on 27 January 2008.

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