Secret Codes

signals, codes and symbols...

Although quite often spoken about, actually there are no real secret codes around. Or at least if there are any...they really are secret! So what we'll be doing in this section is writing about a few of the code signals sometimes used by various members of the fetish community. These aren't really secret, but some of them may be things you haven't heard or read about already.

Often what things mean will vary from one coast of the United States to another, so the international diffferences may be even more pronounced. If there are some codes or signals used by people in your country or locale or fetish interest group - please do write to us to share your knowledge. We'd love to be able to add things that we haven't heard about too!

None of these codes are carved in stone, but are simply examples of what some use to signal others about their interests. As a general rule of thumb, NEVER take anything that even remotely looks like it could be a code for granted. Ask! You may run into all sorts of awkward situations if you don't, even when at parties or munches.

We'll start with a some basic signals here on this page. You can click the sub-links below the BDSM GLOSSARY text on the menu to the left to read about some other codes and signals. We'll expand this section over time so be sure to check back to see what's been added.

A few of the basic codes...

At BDSM gatherings, events and parties a simple Left/right code is sometimes used. Anything worn on the left (like a whip, your set of keys or a set of handcuffs) indicates "dominant." But if these objects are hanging from the right side of your belt you are signaling "I am submissive, please use these things on me." So if you're visiting a party, you may want to be aware of where you hang your keys!

Another, somewhat outdated party code is the stud code. If your wristband or collar has pointed studs, you signal you are a dominant. Flat studs indicate submissive. However, if you are visiting a party do not count on it. In fact, at some parties no dominant would ever wear a collar, regardless of the kind of studs on it.

A small teddy bear on a leather jacket may (but, again, does not have to) indicate that the person wearing it is a "bear" - a daddy-type...perhaps looking for a little boy or little girl type to play with.

While the erotic power exchange does not have a common symbol, people will sometimes try to indicate their preference with small keyring size handcuffs or similar jewelry. However, since some people carry these just for fun (including police officers), this sometimes can lead to very confusing situations.

There are various other symbols around - none of them however is universal. There is the triskellion symbol for example (diffierent people have different meanings for it by the way) and in Europe people have tried to make a black square - like the gay purple triangle - the unversal BDSM symbol. These days most symbolism seems to be around in the Internet. Hardly anything can be found in real life situations.

See the menu at left for more information on codes and symbols...     

Based on materials from the POWERotics Foundation
© 1996-2000; republished here with their permission;
see the Contributors page for contact links.