What's in a word?

Within the lifestyle we use many labels to describe ourselves: master, slave, dominant, submissive, top, bottom, sadist, masochist, and even slut. But what do the labels mean? Ask 10 people you will likely get 10 different answers, while the words had specific lifestyle definitions once upon a time, the edges have blurred in recent years, the cause of which is another discussion.

The definitions I was taught are as follows:
Bottom - one who enjoys having any of a variety of BDSM practices performed upon them for a limited period of time.
Top - one who enjoys performing any of a variety of BDSM practices upon another for a limited period of time.
Submissive - a bottom, who is also in or desires to be in a controlled role within an ongoing relationship.
Dominant - a top, who is also in or desires to be in a controlling role within an ongoing relationship.
Slave - a submissive who has completely committed to their relationship by a total surrender of themselves and their rights.
Master - a dominant who has through trust and confidence drawn a submissive into surrender to himself.

As you can see those are highly restrictive labels and many who today call themselves "Doms" do not remotely qualify for the term under the definitions I was taught.

What is the danger in the definitions being mutable? If someone describes themselves as a dominant and a submissive builds trust in them and attempts to build a relationship with them, what emotional damage will it do when the relationship has to be abandoned because the needs of the submissive are not being met?

This does not mean that labels are absolute, we all know those that fall into more than one category, we do not belong in a box, we are dynamic in our ways, a label is a way of communicating a great deal of information in just a word, that is all it should be, it is not a status or a right, simply a way to give information quickly.

19 Sep 2007 14:59:27


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