Hi! Just a heads up, this section is aimed at mainly beginner kinksters, so it doesn't get crazy in-depth. Also, if you'd rather get a handle on BDSM terminology first, feel free to check out our 275-word glossary.
Alright, with that out of the way, let's dig in to the roots of kink.
Kink Traditions Are Ancient & Run Deep.
The earliest mention of the term 'BDSM' I could find was 1969, but people engaged in kinky sex acts long before that. It became a truly 'mainstream' word when E.L. James published her book, Fifty Shades of Grey. Her book was a hit! But people in the BDSM-community were furious 'cause they hated the way James portrayed their lifestyle, mainly because she left out the importance of 'Safe, Sane and Consensual,' which is a common BDSM motto.
Anyway, whether E.L. James got it wrong or not, the point is this: BDSM is more than just a cool room with cool toys and a safeword. It's a lifestyle. It's a deep, consensual commitment you make to another, even if it's only for one night (or one spanking.) You commit to giving control of yourself over to another or vice-versa, safely and sanely.
You can probably tell I'm pretty passionate about it, and that's partly because...
I've got a quarter-century of BDSM experience.
I've been into BDSM for the past 24 years. I started when I accidentally found my way into a BDSM chat room on AOL.
I was 19 years old.
Kink attracted me like a magnet. Controlling someone, or being controlled by someone, just fascinated me.
I went back and forth in the beginning, trying to decide what role felt right for me. I played very little, but I did what I always do when want to know more about something... I bought a book on the subject.
Actually, I bought many books.
Back then the internet wasn't the valuable source of information that it is today, so I had to rely on books and my friends.
Eventually I found a friend, Gabriela, who was quite experienced in the lifestyle. I asked for her help and she took me under her wing. I started training with her as a submissive, but she saw something in me and decided to train me as a Domme sooner than most.
I learned all I could from her. Her goal was to help create and educate female dominants. In her opinion, there were way too many male ones and she wanted to see more women step up and take control in bed, and in their lives.
After my time with her I went on to spend 23 years as a Dominant. I spent a lot of my time reading and learning at conventions, panels, seminars, and lots of playtime. I have definitely put in many hours to master my craft when it comes to kink and BDSM.
And all that taught me about myself.
A year ago I was emailing with my now-Daddy, and I'd made several, uh, submissive comments (ok I was throwing myself at him lol), and he replied:
"I think you might be submissive. Those are some pretty submissive comments."
I had to feel it out and he was right. I realized not only am I submissive, but I identify as a 'slave.' So I stopped denying what I truly wanted, and just be'd myself. I longed to serve.
Since admitting my truth and doing only what brings me joy —like being submissive, writing this blog, & running Ryze Kink— my need to be dominant has faded away. But don't get me wrong, I am assertive, aggressive, a total boss babe, and would still cut a bitch, lol!
However, I need to serve. I am 100% a babygirl, service slave to one.
I know that BDSM can be overwhelming for people who are new to this lifestyle. But I want to break it down for you so you'll understand the basics, like terms, rules, rituals, protocols. I want to arm you with some epic resources before you decide to engage in real-life play.
When you give control over to someone, it's key that you give it to someone who knows what they're doing. Someone who understands consent. Someone who knows where to hit safely, how to tie your wrists or ankles without cutting off circulation and more importantly someone who knows what to do IF an emergency happens.
But a Dom also needs a sub who will respond, express, and be honest. It's not only up to the dominant to know what is going on. The more educated you are as a submissive the better your experience will be.
BDSM takes more love and trust, not less.
Much of society acts as if BDSM-practitioners are creepy, shady, or depraved. I'm not sure exactly how that rumor started, but it's utterly false. In fact, the opposite is true.
Safe, Sane, and Consensual.
SSC is the BDSM credo. The "rules" many in the lifestyle follow. Yes, there are many out there who use BDSM as a guise for abuse. But people who abuse trust and love are not following the community's basic guidelines. It's important to understand there's a huge difference between BDSM and abuse.
Safe: BDSM is all about safety first. Which is why I'm writing this. Whether you dabble in it in bed or you want to live in a 24/7 slave relationship, please be as educated as possible when it comes to BDSM. Physical safety is super important, but sometimes mental safety can be overlooked. A submissive may enjoy being broken down by their Dom, but the Dom must remember to build that sub up again after. Leaving a submissive in pieces is not a nice thing to do. It can cause trauma and trigger mental health issues. Aftercare is vital for preventing this from happening for both the Dom and the sub.
Sane: This means that whatever activity we participate in together with another person, we do it with a clear, sane head. We don't hit in anger, we don't play under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and we're clear about what we're going to do.
Consensual: We consent to be controlled, owned, and/or dominated by another human being or vice-versa. It's all done totally of each person's free will. And they may take away their consent at any time. (Note: I do believe in consensual non-consent but that's a whole other blog post.)
Personally, I love a good rack.
No, I don't mean a pair of beautiful breasts (though I love those too), no, I mean I prefer the RACK philosophy over the more established SSC. In this case, RACK stands for Risk-Aware Consensual Kink. I advocate for this because it acknowledges that ALL we do in life come with risks, some great and some small, and we take those risks for a number of reasons. We all have a right to take risks when we think the potential harm is small enough and the potential benefit is great enough. That's life. We can do things to reduce risk but in the end, it's up to us to decide if the potential benefits outweigh the potential harms.
Cool story, but what exactly is BDSM?
The four letters stand for Bondage / Discipline, Domination / Submission, Sadism / Masochism, and they refer to a more sexually-open, sexually-explorative lifestyle that for a long time was disparaged by western society.
With the recent success of the Fifty Shades movies, that's changed, and more people than ever are quite interested in elements of BDSM.
So here's a quick breakdown of what each element refers to.
- Bondage: Any form of restraint.
- Discipline: Any activity where a person is training another person to act in a specific way often by enforcing strict codes of conduct. Or by inflicting punishment for failure to behave correctly.
- Domination: the control or influence over someone or something.
- submission: the action of accepting or yielding to a Superior will or authority of another person.
- Sadism: to derive pleasure, especially sexual gratification, from inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation on others.
- masochism: to derive pleasure, especially sexual gratification, from one's own pain or humiliation.
There are many facets of BDSM. I'm going to list a few here. If I missed something you're interested in, please reach out to me in the comment section so that I can add it and help you find whatever information you're looking for. That said, I've probably covered it in our Slick, Epic List Of BDSM Terminology.
The word kink means a sharp twist or curve in something that is otherwise straight.
I've never believed in being straight, lol! I love all things kinky. Usually, everything kinky is thrown under the BDSM umbrella. But some people enjoy some light kink, (like blindfolds, or some gentle ass slapping) in bed and they have no desire for a full-time BDSM relationship outside of the bedroom and that's ok! Whatever level of kink you're comfortable with is right for you.
A form of sexual desire in which gratification is linked to an abnormal degree to a particular object, item of clothing, part of the body, etc. Anything can be fetishized.
Sexual Limits & Comfort Levels
You may find as you dig deeper into the bondage-world your personal comfort levels grow and evolve.
A Bit About Safe Words
To me, safe words are a crutch for people who can't read body language or energy. If a cat or dog is consenting to be petted, I can tell, it's obvious. If I'm accidentally hurting the animal, there's plenty of warning, it's obvious. Pets don't need 'safe words', because their body language is more than enough.
I feel human body language should be even clearer, if anything, and safe-words are for immature practitioners who are bad at reading body language, energy, vibe. That said, I don't judge, and everyone deserves to feel comfortable and fulfilled in life.
Do whatever feels safest and best to you. If you're 'less-developed' in kink, a safe-word may be extremely useful in helping you and your play partners explore... well... safely.
The best thing to do when speaking to another person in the community, or on planet earth, is just be polite. Use your manners, communicate well, and be yourself. If you're unsure about something then just ask.
Online: When speaking to a Dominant online, in private, or on a BDSM forum or a chat room, it is customary and polite to capitalize all of their nouns and pronouns. It's also customary and polite to use lowercase for all the submissive's nouns and pronouns as well. It isn't necessary but it's a sign of respect for the dominant. Some Dom/me's won't care about it and others are quite strict about it. I do this in my personal life when I'm speaking to my Dom online in private but it's harder to do it in a blog post than it is in a text message or a forum. Using a capitalized letter for my Daddy's nouns and pronouns have become a daily ritual that I use to show him respect.
Real Life: In real life, it can be a bit trickier. It's really best to ask a dominant what they prefer. Some Dom/mes don't want to be referred to as 'Mistress' or 'Master' right away. Some only like to be called by those titles at particular times or only by certain people. I tend to stick to 'Ma'am' and 'Sir' if I don't know the person and I'm unsure, as I would for anyone in the community, male, female, Top or bottom.
Roles within BDSM
Chose whatever role or label that you resonate with. If you feel more comfortable with a label but you don't fit into the "definition" it doesn't mean anything.
Use whatever label or title feels best to you!
- Submissive: The submissive is the person in a BDSM relationship with the most control. A Dom can't control them if they don't give it up. They typically don't live as submissive 24 hours a day but they can.
- Dominant: The person in authority. The one the submissive gives control over to. They typically don't live as a Dom 24/7 a day but they can.
- Switch: Male or female that enjoys playing both the submissive and Dominant role on different occasions. Usually, they lean to one side more than the other. Typically they choose roles based on the other person they are playing with or it can be based on their feelings in the moment.
- Master: A male dominant who has ownership of their slave. Some Dom's enjoy using this title even if they don't own slaves.
- Mistress: A female dominant who has ownership over their slave. Some Domme's enjoy using this title even if they don't own slaves.
- Owner: A person who claims ownership over another person. they can prefer this title over 'Master' or 'Mistress' as it's more gender-neutral and leaves no doubt that they consider their slave or submissive their property.
- slave: A person that gives up their complete control over to their dominant. They (consensually) give up all of their rights to limits, safewords, or negotiation.
- property: A person who is owned by a dominant. They tend to enjoy feeling less like a partner and more like actual property. They enjoy 27/7 total power exchange.
- Sadist: A Dominant who enjoys inflicting pain. Not harming someone, please understand the difference. Sadists enjoy inflicting the pain on someone who enjoys pain. Someone who longs for their Dom's pain. Typically they do not enjoy inflicting emotional pain.
- masochist: A person who enjoys receiving pain. Typically they enjoy physical pain and not emotional pain.
- Sadomasochist: A person who is into both giving pain and receiving pain equally.
- Top: A person who is in control of a BDSM scene but may not necessarily be Dominant.
- bottom: A person who gives up control during a BDSM scene but may not necessarily be submissive.
- Daddy: A Dom who takes the father or teacher role in the relationship. Typically a 'Daddy' is not as hard as a 'Master'. They tend to be more loving, sensual and controlling than mean.
- Mommy: A Dom who takes the role of a mother or teacher in the relationship. Typically a mommy is just how it sounds. A sweet, soft, caring mommy.
- babygirl: A person who identifies or role-plays as a young girl. Babygirl's are into age play but don't have to be. It can also be used as a nickname for a submissive girl.
- babyboy: A person who identifies or role-plays as a young boy. Babyboy's are into age play but don't have to be. It can also be used as a nickname for a submissive boy.
- Handler: A person who owns a pet. A handler takes care of the pet in the same way a Dom would care for their sub.
- pet: A person who identifies as a pet. It could be a kitty, a puppy or even a pony. They enjoy dressing and acting like an animal. They're deep into pet play.
- Rigger: A person into tying up subs in rope. Typically they're into intricate rope bondage and/or Shibari.
- rope bottom: A person who enjoys being tied up and/or suspended in rope bondage.
- Primal Predator: A Dominant who enjoys "hunting and capturing" their prey. Typically primal's do not use etiquette, toys or follow social norms. They follow their instincts.
- Primal prey: A submissive who enjoys being "hunted and captured" and being prey for their Primal Predator (their Dominant). Typically primal's do not use etiquette, toys or follow social norms. They follow their instincts.
- Bull: A sexually Dominant male who has sex with a woman in a cuckold relationship while humiliating or cuckolding the wife's male partner.
- Hotwife: An attractive, married woman who has sexual relationships with men outside their marriage. Typically with consent (but not always) from their husband, who enjoys knowing his wife is with another man.
- cuckold: A husband whose fetish is to watch his wife have sex with other men. Typically they feel a masochistic pleasure in watching their wives "cheat" on them.
- Fetishist: A person who gets off sexually through their fetish. Sometimes they're unable to come without the presence of their fetish or without fantasizing about it.
- Kinkster: A person who enjoys “unusual” or fetishistic sexual preferences or behavior.
- Vanilla: A person who is not into anything to do with BDSM. They typically only enjoy missionary position, in the dark.
Rituals, Rules & Protocols
Every dominant is different and likes things their own way. Some dominants don't care about rituals, rules, or protocols and just do whatever feels best at the time. Some dominants are quite strict and demanding when it comes to rituals, rules, and protocols — that's fine as well. They do what feels best to them.
These things should be discussed and decided on together.
If one of you loves forms and wants to be organized and clear about your playtime but the other is more spontaneous and doesn't want to write it all down ahead of time... then maybe you can discuss it and find a comfortable solution for both sides.
You won't know until you get honest, bring it up and talk about it together, like adults.
A ritual is put in place for the submissive to know exactly how to execute their dominant's desires and needs. It almost always involves an action where the Dom prescribes a series of behaviors for their pleasure and benefit. Rituals are meant to be automatic and a properly trained sub shouldn’t have to be asked to do it every time. If a sub does forget then they should be disciplined accordingly. A good Dom has rituals in place for a reason and not just because. They are put in place for the Dom's pleasure and happiness.
Some examples of rituals are:
Titles: The way a submissive and Dominant address each other. This is a powerful way to maintain the power exchange that is at the heart of any BDSM union. Most people in relationships have nicknames and pet names but in the BDSM context, it's important to establish and reinforce the power dynamic. For example, I don't like to call my Daddy by his first name. Sometimes I have to and it feels disrespectful because we have an established ritual where I only call him Daddy, though I do have a nickname for him when we're around others that feels like a good compromise for me to keep the power dynamic between us.
Kneeling: Some dominants have a preferred way a submissive should kneel in front of them. One Dom may prefer that his sub kneel with her hands behind her neck and her chest thrust forward, with her eyes forward. Another Dom may prefer for his sub to kneel with palms facing upwards on her knees or thighs with her eyes downward at all times. Another Dom may prefer for his sub to kneel with her hands behind her back, loosely clasping the right wrist over the left, and blindfolded. And these are just a few examples. Every dominant is going to have their own way they like their sub to kneel.
Morning and evening rituals: My morning ritual...as soon as I wake up I say 'Thank You' to the Universe for letting me wake up to another beautiful day. And then I text my Daddy. He's usually the first human I have contact with (sometimes I wake up later and then it's my son). After that, I have rituals to begin my day; yoga, meditation, my gratitude list and beautifying myself etc.
At night I will brush my teeth, wash my face, use the bathroom, and then I get in bed. I will watch a game, read or watch an ASMR video on YouTube, and depending on the time, I will text Daddy before or after this to say goodnight. He is the last human that I speak to before I close my eyes and sleep.
Rituals don't have to be all about sex or all about BDSM. It's nice to incorporate daily rituals for yourself as well. The consistency of daily rituals will help you grow and be better every time you prioritize yourself and whatever makes you happy.
The only real rules of BDSM are consent and communication.
Rules are put in place for the dominant to establish their control and for there to be clear lines between Dom and sub. They help a submissive focus on their goal, which should be to please their dominant and do as they're told (depending on the type of relationship of course). The examples I'm about to give started as rules but have become my habits and part of my rituals. However, I know that a lot of BDSM relationships thrive on rules and many Dom/mes want to have control of every part of their submissive. And there's nothing wrong with that...every dominant is different and does things their way. Cuz they're the Dom/me and they're allowed to do whatever they want.
- I will always call Daddy by his proper titles.
- I will not hesitate to reply to Daddy and I will do so honestly.
- I am always under submission to my Daddy even if i'm not in his physical presence.
- I will dress up for Daddy every day. I wear clothes, makeup, jewelry, etc that he enjoys.
- I will follow my routine and systems every day, consistently.
- I will endure any discipline or punishment he gives me so I can become a better slave.
Those are just an example of some rules. If you're interested in a long list of some pretty intense rules for slaves then you should check out 128 slave rules.
Please keep in mind that these rules are only a guide for you. A good dominant will have their own rules that cater to their needs, desires, and lifestyle.
Protocols are a set of governing rules that dictate the body, behavior, and attitudes through an enforced code of behavior usually listed in a D/s contract.
I currently do not have a contract. It's not something we've ever discussed. But when I was a Domme I wrote up quite a few contracts and helped quite a few people write their own. So I'm familiar with them. They are like everything else in this lifestyle...it all depends on the people in the relationship. Everyone has their own tastes, desires, needs, and lifestyles. A contract isn't a legally binding document. It's another method of control. There's a lot of people that love forms, strict rules and defined, clear protocols that are a deal-breaker if not done correctly. A contract just lays all those out on paper for the organizational fetishists out there lol. I am one too so I get it.
I love contracts. If my Daddy came at me with one, I'd probably come. LOL!
When writing a contract it's important to discuss the details before attempting to write them into a contract. Sit down together and be clear with each other about what you both expect and hope for in the relationship. Write down all your questions, hopes, rules, ideas, and beliefs. Set intentions together for what you want in the relationship. It will help make the contract clear so both parties are happy.
Here's a sample contract so you can get the feel of what one looks like and modify it for your own needs. This is in no way an extensive or detailed contract. Contracts need to be made-to-order with your own rules and protocols. If you have any questions about writing up a contract let me know in the comment section and I'd be happy to help.
Kink Book-List For Newbies
I've read all the books on this list. These are my personal favorites and the books I've learned the most from. Please remember that you can read all you want and watch all the tutorials you want but there is nothing that can replace learning with an actual human that understands you and your needs. BDSM is about honesty and communication. These books are here to help with all the rest.
- Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns: The Romance and Sexual Sorcery of Sadomasochism by Phillip Miller and Molly Devon
- SM 101: A Realistic Introduction by Jay Wiseman
- The Loving Dominant by John Warren and Libby Warren
- Different Loving by Gloria Brame
- The New Topping Book by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy
- The New Bottoming Book by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy
- Jay Wiseman's Erotic Bondage Handbook by Jay Wiseman
- Two Knotty Boys Showing You The Ropes: A Step-by-Step, Illustrated Guide for Tying Sensual and Decorative Rope Bondage by The Two Knotty Boys
- Playing Well with Others: Your Field Guide to Discovering, Exploring and Navigating the Kink, Leather and Bdsm Communities by Lee Harrington and Molena Williams.
- Sacred Kink by Lee Harrington.
- Sensuous Magic: A Guide to S/M for Adventurous Couples by Patrick Califia-Rice
- Erotic Slavehood: A Miss Abernathy Omnibus by Christina Abernathy
- The Ethical Slut by Janet Hardy and Dossie Easton
- Miss Abernathy's Concise Slave Training Manual by Christina Abernathy
- BDSM: The Naked Truth by Dr. Charley Ferrer
There's a ton of information out there on the internet. However, not all of it is great, and some of it is complete crap. That's why we're taking the time to write these pages. To help you find the right information to make the right decisions for you and your partner.
J and I are both very picky about where we get our information and what we share. I'm listing a few sites that I think have been very helpful to me and to others I know. If you think I missed a great site, please let me know in the comments and I will take a look.
Fetlife: Is a BDSM community. It's been called the Facebook of Kink. It's meant to be a resource to find groups, events and meet people. However, it can be a playground for people who are not interested in learning how to play properly or take the time to get to know a person before playing. You have to be careful and vet someone carefully before meeting them in real life. That said, I've met some amazing people on Fetlife. I've learned some great stuff and read some hot AF writing on there. And of course, there are a ton of hot photos of people in all sorts of kinky deliciousness lol!
The Two Knotty Boys: These guys taught me how to tie some rope! I knew how to do some basic rope tying before I found them but they go deeper on knots, ties, positions, type of rope, etc, etc. than any other resource that I've found. They're the best at what they do. They have some great videos and tutorials. I'm a big fan and I admire them. They've been BDSM educators for a long time and know their shit. They just keep getting better.
Find A Munch: This resource is to help you find a munch in your area. A munch is a BDSM meeting that takes place in a vanilla setting and usually, there is a discussion, a speaker or a demonstration of some sort. But they're not limited to just that. Each group has their own rules and agendas. I've attended a few over the years and I think it's a wonderful way to meet people in the BDSM community in your local area.
The Kink Aware Professionals Directory: "The Kink Aware Professionals Directory (KAP) is a service offered by NCSF dedicated to providing the community with a listing of psychotherapeutic, medical, legal and other professionals who have stated that they are knowledgeable about and sensitive to diverse expressions of sexuality." This directory has been quite helpful for me over the years.
BDSM Is An Art
Dominating someone takes skill and talent. It takes desire, passion, communication, honesty, and love. You must love what you're doing to do it right. You can't half-ass BDSM. Someone could get hurt, physically or emotionally. It's best to play with someone who is experienced or at least someone who genuinely wants to learn how to play properly. It's vital that you know what you're doing on both sides of the whip.
I've been at this for many years. As a Domme I knew how to bring pain in the most delicious ways. However, I was jealous of those that I was inflicting the pain upon so I gave it up and I've never been happier. Serving my dominant brings me more joy than being a Domme ever did. I would never trade my time being a dominant though. All those years of being a Domme helped me when I decided to be true to myself and give into my submissive side. I was quite strict and demanded excellence from my subs.
Now, I put those same expectations and demands on myself as a slave.
Even though I've been doing this a long time, that doesn't mean it has to take you a long time to get good at being a Dom or a sub. If you set an intention with your partner, or even alone, and you take advantage of the amazing resources listed here in this blog post, you can learn quickly. It's the intention to learn and be better that will help you ryze faster. Have no doubt, that if you care about what you're doing (no matter what it is in life) and you intend for it to go the way you want, and you spend time 'mastering your craft', you can be the Dom or sub (or anything really) that you long to be. We believe in you.