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Type of Players in BDSM

By Maïtre Pierre


BDSM is different for different people. Since their needs are different, the description of the people is different.

Some words are used to describe these different people.

Terminology will vary from groups, or even between different geographical locations. This article is here to shed some light on these description but it is up to you to see if it is appropriate for you.

In BDSM, we have three primary types of "players":

    1. The one who is in control is the Top or Dominant.

      For many, these two expressions mean the same thing. But in some groups, a Dominant would be someone in a Domination/submission realtionship compared to a Top who would just be the giver in a S&M scene.

    2. The one who receives or is being controlled is the submissive, or the bottom.

      Again, for many, those two words are interchangeble. In the same fashion, a submissive would be someone in a relationship with a Dominant compared to a bottom who is the "receiver" in a S&M scene.

    3. Switch:

      A switch is someone who "plays" both sides of BDSM. Sometimes, they are the Top or Dominant and other times they are bottom or submissive. In some groups, switches are frowned upon and considered to be "not real". I remember a gentleman who was a Top telling Catharine that he didn't believe in the existence of switch and she was telling him: "Look at me, I am one!!!"

Here are a few tidbits that could be interesting for you to know:

    - It is interesting to notice that the older S&M and "Domination" books refer more to Top and Bottom. The usage of Dominant and submissive seems to be "newer".

    - Male Dominants are often refer to "Dom" and females as "Domme"

    - Slave is used by some to describe a submissive or bottom but the difference between a slave and submissive is wide between groups.

    - As for Master and Mistress; in the dictionary, master mean "the owner of slave" and BDSM'ers use it in this aspect. Some believe that a Master should only be one who is a specialist in a particular field (a Master in whips for example).

You see that there are no particular rules about the terms used in BDSM to describe players. Since people's needs of BDSM is different, and since that the same word could mean different things for different people, while talking with others, don't be surprised if you hear conflicting terms. Just politely ask the person to whom you are talking for clarification and don't jump quickly to conclusions if you are not certain.

Maître Pierre