Words Matter

When one is looking to explore BDSM, kink, and the lifestyle if they are coming from a place that does not educate them about this before hand, all of the terms tossed about and improperly interchanged can bewilder a person.

Shit I sometimes toss out a title because it is simpler to say ___ than it is to look at what I’ve written and determine which honorific is correct for the moment.

I am going to give some definitions and remind you constant reader that I am not the world’s authority on BDSM.  I am not always right, and what you will find as you poke a little deeper and slip further into the rabbit hole, words matter….to you.

My personal identification as slave comes from a place of understanding for ME, and MY role in MY relationship.  Your definition of slave is going to be different.

The terms shared are just simple outlines to help you identify where you might fit in and that hopefully will assist you in finding the right counterpart to what you seek.  One last technical note:  When I write its been noted that when I use Dominant/Master/Top all of the words are capitalized but I don’t do the same with submissive/slave/bottom.  It is a tradition when talking about BDSM and the hierarchy involved to write in this way.  It stems from the time in the early internet age before everyone had a camera phone and Skype that was used to identify who was a leader and who was a follower.  David would be considered a Top or Dominant, david would be a bottom or a submissive.  It is also a psychological reinforcement of the concept that one leads one follows.



These are the most general of terms used in this lifestyle and they have multiple meanings.  The most basic of their meanings comes from/with the idea that in a S&M scene one gives pain the other gets pain.  The terms can also loosely refer to any two individuals participating in a BDSM relationship.

It might be helpful to think of Top/bottom in the context of it only being a physical temporary state for the purposes of S&M play.  There is an energy exchange, as there is with any sexual activity.  There is some power exchange, because again one is giving the other is getting, but the exchange is not as complicated and deep as the exchange in a D/M/s relationship.

A Top and a bottom might not even be in any type of committed relationship, they might simply be two people that have negotiated the ability to give one another temporary pleasure.

On a personal note, I do not like to use the term Top/bottom….even if my nickname is bottom bitch.  I prefer to use the terms:


These two words are more to the heart of the relationship that I described above where there is one person that inflicts pain and a second person that receives the pain.  I feel the terms are better used because they represent the ying/yang of the physical needs without necessarily implying that there is a deeper connection.


This is one of the most common combinations used when discussing BDSM and the corresponding adult relationships. It is the term that most people are familiar with and the one that even seasoned folks like myself use the most.

This combo implies that there is a connection that goes beyond just a play date, or play session.  It is two people (poly groups would fit under this umbrella but for simplification poly will be discussed in a different forum) that negotiate themselves into a relationship that includes some level of power exchange.  What is important to remember when you choose a power exchange relationship is that there is one leader and there is one follower.

A power exchange relationship is one where the parties agree that one person will assume authority and the other accepts that authority and they live in harmony.  That relationship can last for a short time or in theory, forever. There are different levels of power exchange and all the participants must consent to the parameters of the relationship.

For many D/s relationships there are things that are negotiated either into – or out of – the relationship.  Some exclude the rearing of children from prior relationships – some exclude periods of time when either party may have to work.  The point though is that on the topics that power exchange has been granted, the person on the bottom or the submissive must understand that unless a renogotition has happened what you’ve agreed on is what you live by.

This is one of the reasons why I speak often of taking the time to build a foundation of education and trust.  If you are willing to give someone power over any aspect of your life, you owe it to yourself to make sure that the person you’ve yielded power to is worthy of what you give them.

There are relationships out there that practice what is called a total power exchange or TPE.

More often than not a TPE relationship is considered to be


Quite often in a M/s relationship, almost all areas of the slave’s life will fall under the authority of the Master.  Just like in a D/s relationship consent must be present for all of the parties involved.

I’ve tackled the differences with M/s and D/s previously here…and perhaps poorly. It can be a challenge to explain what is natural for me.

Similar to the D/s as described above moving into a M/s relationship requires that the parties build a foundation with each other rather than simply jumping into the situation.  If you are going to give control of yourself to another, in such a manner that yes even the basic need to urinate could be regulated, you’d better be for damned sure you know a lot about the person with the authority.

The title of this post is Words Matter…and they do.  Words will not take the place though of common sense, hard work, self control, and commitment to the process.

At the end of the day you could call yourself convection oven, and if you are living up to the agreements made, then you are being successful.