Whether you’ve read (cringe) 50 Shades of Grey, or you’ve found BDSM another way and have decided to explore BDSM, one of the first questions some people have is are about BDSM roles, and where they may fit – are they Dominant or submissive? I’m going to help you try and figure out where you might fall on the BDSM totem pole.
Now, roles are an important aspect of this lifestyle. And while I absolutely don’t agree with most of the titles that have been creeping their way into this lifestyle — my reasons for this are pretty lengthy, and will probably be another article altogether — everyone needs to identify themselves so other lifestylers will know if they might be compatible with each other.
Each person that has interest in BDSM has their own opinion about what a Dominant or submissive is, and technically they’re all correct — for the people expressing them. Even if you don’t agree with this — which I don’t — it is what it is, for the time being.
With all of this said, let’s get started, yes?
BDSM Roles: s-Types
First, I’ll talk about the various s-type roles. Like I said, there are WAY too many titles popping up, none of which existed when I started in this lifestyle (and I find most of them ridiculous), so I’ll stick to a the more common ones — submissives, slaves, littles, pets and bottoms.
- submissives: A submissive is someone who desires to give up control of themselves, or control of certain aspects of their lives to a Dominant. There are a lot of different “types” of submissive now — one ridiculous type after another. But moving on…
- slaves: A slave is someone who consensually gives total control to their Master/Owner — often giving up much or all of their rights to limits, safewords, or negotiation. Gorean relationships and The Story of O are good examples of slave types.
- littles: A little is someone who identifies as or role plays as a young child.
- pets: Pets are bottoms who enjoys animal play, or a submissive or slave who is considered property like domestic animals. Pets will not necessarily have an animal persona — but it can happen.
- bottoms: During playtime, a bottom is the person who gives up control, or who receives physical sensation from a Top.
I wrote an article awhile ago called “How to be a Good Submissive” you might want to check out, if you think you identify as a s-type.
BDSM Roles: D-Types
D-type roles are just as varied as s-types — and I find most of the new titles just as ridiculous as the submissive ones. Anyway, I’m going to stick the more common ones — Dominants, Masters, Tops, Daddies and Owners.
- Dominant: A Dominant is someone who exercises control in a D/s relationship. Can be used for either male or female Dominants. By the way, a female Dominant is called a Dominatrix — NOT Domme.
- Master: A Master is an owner of a slave, or a person highly skilled at something — for example, a Master of ropework.
- Tops: A Top is the person in control during a scene or in play, but may or may not be a Dominant.
- Daddies: A Daddy is someone who takes on a father role in a relationship and is often, but not always, a Dominant. And yes, there are Mommies, too.
- Owners: Owners are those who have possession of another, usually a slave or pet.
Now with the simple definitions out of the way, how do you decide what fits you the best? If you’re trying to decide whether you’re a Dominant or submissive, try taking the BDSM Test at bdsmtest.org. Though I don’t agree with some of the titles that it gives in them, the results are extremely detailed and will be a great way to spark conversation with your current or potential play partners.
When you find out, let me know the results. I’d love to know.