Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it also opens the door to finding new and exciting things about yourself and the world around you. Maybe it’s curiosity that brought you here to explore what kink and BDSM is all about. Or maybe it’s wanting to learn more about who you are in kink and BDSM. This blog series is all about curiosity, exploration, and giving you the inside scoop on what BDSM and kink is.
Kink and/or BDSM at its core is an exchange of power between consenting partners through a series of activities and roleplays, also known as scenes and sessions. BDSM stands for Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, Sadism and Masochism. There are always two sides to the exchange: the Dominant and the submissive. The Dominants hold control in scenes, whereas the submissives give up control in scenes.
As the previous blog spoke about, Dominants have many different types of styles or combinations of styles. Similarly, submissives have many different styles and/or combinations of styles. In this blog post, we will be focusing on the submissive side of the exchange. Unlike Dominants, submissives don’t have set honorifics or ways in which they should be called. However, the name of their style and the way they describe their kink gives similar insight about who they are in kink.
The Three Submissives: Submissive, Slave, Switch
When describing submission there are three main umbrella terms that all styles fall into: submissive, slave, and switch. A submissive is an individual who enjoys giving up control within the confines of scenes or other specified scenarios and contexts that have been decided by both parties. Submissives have safe word/words as well as hard and soft limits that are decided by the individual. Hard limits are boundaries that a partner will not cross. Soft limits are things that may be explored at a later time but are not something someone wants to try right away and may never want to try down the line. Submissives typically do not have a total power exchange with a Dominant, but in some cases do develop one.
Slaves, in the context of BDSM and kink, are individuals who enjoy giving up complete control both in scenes and out of scenes. This is a completely consensual exchange and has nothing to do with what slaves are outside of kink and BDSM. They are typically a total power exchange relationship, where the Dom has complete control over nearly all aspects of the slave's life. Slaves also typically do not have safe words and do not have limits, or those limits are decided by their Dominant. Master/slave relationships take extreme levels of trust, and do not typically begin fully realized. Instead, they usually start out low risk with a lot of communication and a goal to eventually have a fully realized slave dynamic. Slaves usually follow a lot of rules and protocols, more so than any other style of submission.
Switches are individuals who enjoy being both a submissive and a Dominant. This can look a lot of different ways and is typically not an even 50/50 split between their submissive and Dominant side. Switches sometimes are in dynamics with other switches but can also function very well in dynamics with submissives or Dominants. Some individuals have dynamics that have scenes that are constantly changing in terms of who is the Dominant and who’s the submissive in scenes. Others are a submissive in one dynamic and a Dominant in a different dynamic. And there are some who are perfectly fine to just fill one role in a dynamic. There’s a lot of variety in how switches operate within the confines of BDSM.
Dogs, Kittens, and Horses Oh My
The previous Kink blog mentioned a Domination style of being an owner. While there are many aspects to being an owner, one main one is that typically pet play is present in the dynamic. Just as there are owners, there are pets. Individuals who consider themselves pets enjoy existing in an animal-like headspace during scenes and even outside of scenes. There are many different types of pets and different types of pet play. The most common animals are dogs, kittens, horses, pigs, and even sometimes wild animals such as wolves. Each pet has a different way of expressing their animal side and a different way of exploring the headspace in scenes. Some individuals like to be a lap pet and get a lot of cuddles and play with toys during scenes. Others enjoy doing training types of activities, such as learning to walk on a leash. The main aspect that all the different pet types have in common is wanting their Dominant to have an ownership role.
Stuffies and The Littles Who Want Them
Littles and middles are the submissives who, generally, are the other half of Daddy/Mommy Doms. This isn’t always the case for all Daddy/Mommy Doms, but it is pretty typical for littles and middles to look for a caregiver or gentle-style Dominants. Littles and middles are individuals who enjoy scenes in a headspace that are younger than their own. This is also known as age play. Age play does not have to be any specific age, but instead focuses more on a feeling of youngness or a feeling of being more carefree than their adult headspace can create. Littles are usually individuals who find themselves in a headspace between toddler age to around age ten, whereas middles are individuals who enjoy a slightly older headspace around ages 10 to teenagers. It is important to note that age play has nothing to do with minors, and individuals who participate in age play are still fully cognizant of the fact that they are consenting adults. Whereas individuals who psychologically regress to a younger mental state are not cognizant of that fact and are not considered littles because they can no longer consent to adult activities when in a child mental state.
Kinky Peter Rabbit
Where there are riggers there are rope bunnies. Rope bunnies are individuals who enjoy being restrained as one of their main kinks, and typically enjoy shibari specifically. Shibari is Japanese rope bondage and is considered a form of bondage art. Bondage for submissives can be done for a number of reasons, sexual or otherwise. However, typically for rope bunnies, it creates a physical space of calm for them to disconnect and let go of the things around them. Many slip into what’s called subspace which is basically an altered state of consciousness, and can sometimes almost mimic a drug-induced high. Rope bunnies typically enjoy the physical aspect of being bound by their partner, but additionally enjoy the showcase of themselves as the art. This is sometimes done in public kink spaces, or even in photographs for themselves or others to see later.
The Pain Players
Individuals who enjoy physical and/or mental pain are also known as masochists. Masochism is the other side of sadism, and it is not uncommon for an individual to be both a sadist and a masochist. Masochism can come in many different forms and many levels of extremes. For some individuals, light spanking is the way they allow their masochism to shine through and for others, they prefer things such as needle play. Both are genuine ways of expressing masochism. There isn’t a certain threshold to reach in terms of the amount of pain to be considered a masochist. Masochists are not limited to physical pain and can also enjoy mental or emotional pain such as predicament play, humiliation/degradation, and hypnosis. Masochism is typically not the only style a submissive has, but there are individuals who practice masochism as their main or only kink.
Money Makes The Subs Go Round
Finsubs or financial submissives are individuals who enjoy a dynamic centered around money or financial domination. As I described in my last blog post about Findoms, there are many ways to express financial submission. Some individuals enjoy paying for certain items or experiences for their Dom, whereas others enjoy having their money controlled or taken from them. Often, the act of financial submission is fulfilling for the submissive, and there’s no need for any other type of reward. For instance, individuals who enjoy what’s called financial draining get a mental and emotional rush at watching the Dom deplete their bank account, similar to the rush others might get from sex or other kink acts. There isn’t one correct way to be a finsub and for many finsubs, their dynamics revolve completely around the financial submission. For others, however, it is just a main aspect of their dynamics with other kinks and styles playing a part.
For animals, prey is something that is hunted and the same can be said for submissives who consider themselves to be prey and experience their primal side. Primal play is all about an exchange of power and energy between two people. There is a hunting and catching aspect to the play done either in a human or animal headspace. Prey are individuals who like to give some resistance to their Dominant by either running, hiding, or fighting back. However, it’s the act of being captured, and consensually forced into doing what their Dom wants, that is the exciting part for prey. Primal play is a very raw and passionate kink that is mainly focused on the exchange of energy between people.
Individuals who enjoy pushing their Dominant’s buttons and challenging them are called brats. Similar to prey where they enjoy being put in their place, brats also enjoy getting a reaction from their Dom that makes them assert their dominance over them. There isn’t the same exchange of energy between brats and their Dom as there is for prey and hunters. Instead, it is done more in a playful way and is usually a way to get their Dom to give them a punishment that they enjoy. That is also known as a funishment, a punishment that is planned and enjoyed by both parties. Brat’s Doms are not always brat tamers but it’s important to always gain consent from your partner before engaging in bratty behavior. Some Dominants do not tolerate that type of play at all and as such are not a good fit for submissives who enjoy bratting.
Explore and Learn Who You Are in Kink
Exploring who you are in kink and BDSM can be a new and exciting avenue to venture down. Even if you’re just starting out, or have been exploring for a while, there is always more to learn about yourself and the community. There is no right or correct way to participate in kink as a submissive, slave, or switch, it’s all about what feels right for you. Being true to yourself and what you like is the best and safest way to be a submissive. Never feel pressured to fit the mold a Dominant wants you to fit or what books and movies make you think you should be. As always, the most important things in BDSM are communicating, creating safe scenes and dynamics, and enthusiastic consent throughout.
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