What BDSM means?
BDSM is a word composed from the following abbreviations: B&D (Bondage & Discipline), D&S (Dominance & submission) and S&M (Sadism & Masochism). It means, that it can cover a play, where heavy pain is inflict or tight bonds are applied or where one person drive another. There is one sign common for all three: there is at least one person, who lead the scene (called top), and at least one person, who is controlled (called bottom).
Bondage & Discipline - bonds, humilitation and corporal punishment are used to control the behaviour of the bottom. The top forces the bottom to achieve a certain goal through the given rules. If these are broken, then punishment takes a place. It is very similar to a child treatment used in last centuries, but applied on adults of course. Very often role playing such as parents/children, teacher/student is a part of it.
Dominance & submission - the top dominates the bottom. The top demands that the bottom wants to obey. It is similar to B&D, but the control is mostly in an emotional field. Let me give you an example to make it more clear: The top gives a command to the sub to keep the house clean. In B&D the top will check, if the house is really clean. If not, her crop will have a work to do ... In D&S the top will not care if the room is tidied up, but if the bottom has spent enough effort to fulfil the request.
Sadism & Masochism - pain is involved. The masochist likes to receive pain, the sadist likes to inflict pain.
BDSM can be a lifestyle, it can be a favourite game regularly played with a partner, or it can be something what would be never understand by some. The most of BDSMers say, that erotic power exchange is the most sensual thing you can experience. I can't say, if it is true for everybody, but it is surely for me.
Safe, sane, consensual
No BDSM web site would be complete if this basic philosophy is not mentioned there. Any scene has to be:
Safe - you can't totally eliminate a possible problem, that something will go wrong, but you have to be prepared to handle such a situation.
Sane - there are limits you have to worry about, things you should aware of. Never get too deep in your fantasies, stay in touch with a reality. You can dream about being raped, but it is not so fun, if you realy are.
Consensual - both of you have to agreed to play. BDSM is based on the gift of submission and not on the abuse of power.
Hurt not harm - What is the difference? Hurt means to inflict pain, harm means to cause temporary or lastig damage. The damage can be physical, but can be mental too. Do not underestimate psychological point of view!
Punishment is something what makes the bottom feel very uncomfortable and it is used to remind him, that he did something wrong. Some bottoms do not understand that and try to misbehave to receive harsh treatment which they like. This is not a good approach and I would recommend to change it as soon as possible. I think that it is not a fault of the bottom only, but of the top as well. If we say punishment, we think very often about corporal punishment - when physical pain is inflict by hitting with a tool or a part of a body like a hand. But punishment can be also humilitation, forcing to stay in uncomfortable position, tight bonds etc, etc. If the bottom is a heavy masochist, than it is hard to punish him by beating and still avoid injure. In my opinion the most cruel punishment is an ignorance. I don't know about anything more terrible than waiting for your Mistress to put some attention to you again. And it works on all types of bottoms. Or am I wrong?
Mistress/slave, Domme/sub, top/bottom, switch
What is the difference between these words? Hence we do not often realize it, there is a big difference there. Sometimes some people use them in different meanings. I will mention here my personal feeling about them.
slave - is a person totally inferior to his Mistress, who control his body and mind. The slave is obliged to fulfill all requests and comands of his owner, has to ask a permission to do anything what was not commanded to him, and in fact do not have any rights. A slavery is the greatest gift, which can one human being offer to another in the BDSM relationship. It is also a very risky and dangerous thing, because he is at the mercy of his owner. Therefor before the man would become a slave, he should know very well the person he wants to submit to, and he should know, what will be the demands on him. Otherwise there will be a big disappointment for both parties involved. If this happen, the slave should ask to be released mostly because he feel, he is not able to fulfill Mistress's desires and in that way meet his own need to be a good slave. The Mistress should step forward and release the slave from his duty, simply because he becomes unusable for her anyway. The slavery is a relationship without any borders and without any time limits. In most cases enter to the partnership is very formal and quite often both participants sign a contract.
sub - the main meaning is as a person in D/s relation, but very often is used to describe a person, who offers a power over certain rights for a limited period of time to his Domme, usually in the duration of the scene. Unlikely in Mistress/slave relationship, here are some limits set, in sense of actions and time too. The sub is not under total control, he only submit in a certain range.
bottom - a very general term, which express inferiority of one persson to the top (the superior one). The bottom can be a masochist, sub and also slave.
If we take Mistress-slave relation like marital status, then Domme-sub would be a pair of lovers and top-bottom can be any pair, who just have a date. We also can say, that every slave is a sub and every sub is a bottom, but not vice versa. Also every Mistress is a Domme and every Domme is a top.
switch - is one, who change his/her role, can be a top and can be a bottom too.
In written contact (by mail, email, IRC etc.) it is useful, if it is easily recognizable by name, who is who. There is a rule for this: top usually uses capital first letter, a bottom uses all letters in small case and switch uses capital letter somewhere in the middle in his/her name.
Esential principles of the BDSM relationship
As in any relation, also here the most important is the respect to the partner, and it does not matter if she/he is a master or slave, it works both ways. Anybody would hardly ever submit to someone, who did not earn his trust, and she will not earn his trust, if she does not show her esteem to him too. Only novices and these, who do not take BDSM seriously, claim themselves to be Mistresses or slaves from the first meeting. Be aware of these people! Who is serious, this will take you as an equal partner. When both of you ensure, that your desires match and both feel comfortable and have trust in each other, then the bottom can offer himself to be under the control of the top, and the top can take this offer. I stress here, that both parties can and not must. To submit, it is the last bottom's decision. Since the top takes that offer, she takes also the responsibility for her bottom. I find following ads and responses as a major mistake: "i am begging you to be accepted for your service", or "kneel and immediately write to me that you want to submit!". Both are signs of low experience (well I was the same in the past :-), and in case of experienced people it demostrates a lack of esteem or self-esteem. Relations, which start in that way, end very early too and are not very happy. Of course there is no rule without an exception. If you seek someone just for one session and you like a risk, it can be the right way for you. But it is not how I feel about BDSM. If you search for a lifetime partner and want to have a life full of love, sex and emotions, then it would be better to start from another point - go for a dinner, learn what she likes, what is her philosophy, what she expect from live and very slowly get to the questions concerning BDSM. In that way you can test, if you are both of the same mind.