What is Dominant and Submissive

By Mary Smith. Updated: January 16, 2017
What is Dominant and Submissive

Dominant and submissive are two common terms in BDSM, which stands for bondage, dominance and submissions and sadomasochism. In erotic practices, it is an accepted custom to engage in roleplaying where one person adopts the dominant role and the other person the submissive or victim role. There are a set of customs and rituals that that comprehend the erotic playing field to which many people have grown interest into.

In this OneHowTo article we will explain what is means to be dominant and submissive.

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First recorded in 1991, BDSM has slowly grown into encompassing a set of behaviors and practices of distinctive erotic characteristics. Communities of people attracted to the darker and often, taboo areas of sexual activity have joined together with ranging interests that include rubber fetishists, cross-players, servitude and others with erotic preferences.

Some of the most current references to BDSM can be blamed on the success of the literary saga Fifty Shades of Grey, which evolved into a film phenomenon and has started a new wave of eroticism in literature. This has opened a world to many people with divergent erotic fantasies.

What is Dominant and Submissive - BDSM


Dominant is the name given to the person that will adopt the power role in the sexual intercourse. Other terms are top, master or mistress, god or boss. In this role the person carries out a fantasy where the dominant is in charge of creating pleasure to another person that will be allowing the dominance to fulfilled.

The episode is sometimes referred to as “play” and props may be used that give power to the dominant. Additionally, the roles may be reversed and the dominant may also carry out the role of the submissive.

What is Dominant and Submissive - Dominant


Submissive is the name given to the person that will adopt a patient and powerless role. Other terms are bottom, servant, slave, student or victim. The main emphasis is that the submissive is subject to the orders and demands of the dominant. There is often a “safeword” designed to prevent the dominant from over-exercising too much physical or emotional pressure.

The consent must be mutual as this practice is to be enjoyed despite the darker connotations behind it. Equipment such as collars, whips and ropes are often used in the practice but the goal is to enhance pleasure and not to cause pain or damage. Take a look at the best accessories for foreplay if you'd like to know more on the subject.

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