help with some basic terms...
Erotic power exchange is full of its own special lingo. We'll try to avoid it as much as we possibly can here but there are some basics you need to know.
The partner in charge is usually called dominant, dom, domme, top or master and sometimes the active partner. The other partner is usually either called submissive, sub, bottom or slave and sometimes the passive partner. People who like to play both ways are usually simply referred to as switches. We'll have a lot more to say about all these roles later, but this will give you a basic foundation for our discussions here.
Top/bottom come from the gay and lesbian world; master/slave - although very often used today - mostly have their roots in early pornography. You can just about ignore the terms sadist and masochist since they are seldom used by those actually in the Lifestyle, although some subs may say they are masochistic as well, meaning that they (predominantly) enjoy pain impulses.
The classic shorthand for erotic power exchange is either S&M (sadomasochism) or BDSM, the latter being short for Bondage, Discipline, Sadism and Masochism. Other abbreviations in popular use are D&S or D/s (dominance and submission) and B&D (either bondage and dominance or bondage and discipline). Of course the BDSM acronym has now been expanded to also include D/s (Dominance & submission).
The words sadism and masochism were invented by Austrian psychiatrist R. Krafft-Ebing over a century ago, based on the names of two writers: De Sade and von Sacher-Masoch. Krafft-Ebing was not publishing about erotic power exchange but about mental diseases. And that, ever since, has created the confusion, the stereotyping and the prejudice. Just like de Sade was never a Marquis (French nobleman) but the son of a rich landowner, sadism and masochism as Krafft-Ebing used them, have virtually nothing to do with erotic power exchange.
In an effort to avoid terms like S&M some people use the word algolagnia, which is again the wrong word. It comes from a combination of the Greek words algos (pain) and lagnia (lust). The problem here is that this is another misused term from the psychiatric world. Not everybody who is into erotic power exchange is also into pain.
Below are a few more terms in pretty common usage today (we'll be adding more expansive writings about several of these later):
24/7 - Full time erotic power exchange relationship (24 hours/7 days)
...see the menu at left for more information on codes and signals.
Based on materials from the POWERotics Foundation
© 1996-2000; republished here with their permission;
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