November 29, 2014

Bottoms, Subs, Slaves...A Glossary of Terms

There appears to be great confusion about some of the terms we use in the lifestyle to refer to ourselves.  It is easy to throw out the term "bottom", "sub", and "slave" while also referring to the dominant parties as "top", "dom", or "master".  However, the confusion arises in that few really take the time to decide what it means.

Today I am going to give you my ideas behind these terms.  BDSM is a flexible lifestyle in that there is not a cookie cutter system for all to follow.  Along the same lines, terminology is also determined by the individual.  The definitions/explanations that I am going to provide are simply my views on the subject.  Some might have ideas which work better for them.  Nonetheless, my goal is to give everyone a broad outline so that comprehension is thus increased.

I will start on the submissive side.


To me, a bottom is a submissive person who takes on this role during scenes or when engaging in play.  It is a physical (mostly) basis with a start and a stop time.  The submission lasts only for the scene within well structured parameters.  While there might be a connection between the individuals in the scene, it is not necessary.  In fact, the other person might be a total stranger.  Service is not part of this person's makeup, at least not in this realm.


This is obviously short for submissive.  Unlike the bottom, this is one who is in a more "dedicated" relationship.  A sub submits to a particular individual (or perhaps individuals in the case of a dom/domme couple).  The submission extends far beyond the play scenario to include most areas of life.  Service is a large part of the interaction and motivation for the sub.  However, the sub will retain some rights/say over certain areas of her life.  The relationship will be more structured and deeper as compared to the bottom with more time invested.  There is no duration of the submission with the relationship being open-ended in terms of time like almost all relationships are.  This type of structure is akin to "dating" with some power exchange involved.


A slave is one who goes for the full enchilada.  She is taking her submission to the nth degree.  There are no halfway approaches to this one.  Total power exchange is what she seeks.  A slave is one who gives up full control to the one she is with.  Outside some obvious limits (no cutting off limbs or burning one's face with acid), a slave has no say in what takes place.  All decisions and control reside with the dominant.  Naturally, this is a relationship structure which involves an astronomical amount of trust on the part of the submissive while the dominant takes on a great deal of responsibility.  He is the one responsible for steering the relationship which means, ultimately, all falls upon him.  Depth is something commonly associated with M/s.  A slave is continually having her limits pushed (in a safe manner) to see how much she can grow.  Slavery is a huge commitment on the part of both individuals meaning that it is not entered into lightly.  Many subs find that slavery holds a special appeal to them since the natural submissiveness within them is taken to incredible depths.  Of course, this path is not for everyone.

As for the dominants, I am going to state something that I posted on here before.  A dominant derives his "title" from the particular state of the submissive.  What I mean by this is that a dominant is not a master unless he is in control of a slave.  If the individual he is dealing with is a sub, then he is a dom.  Naturally, many individuals have the experience and knowledge to be masters but it is still up to the submissive to decide the title.  Therefore, if a dominant is in a scene with a bottom, he is simply a top at that moment.  Of course, it is highly possible for him also to be a dom or master to someone else outside of the one he is playing with.  Nevertheless, to that individual, he is a top.  This is one of the reasons why I laugh at the nitwits online self-naming.  His title is not determined by himself but, rather, the title of the one he is controlling.

Hence we see the terminology line up as such.


It is possible for someone to be just one of those or all three simultaneously.  The point is having a broad understanding of the different titles is important.  However, at the end of the day, it is what is inside of you that matters the most.


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Mr. Michael on December 3, 2014 at 11:09 AM said...

I'm glad you prefaced your post with the idea that these are "your" ideas. The temptation with too many bloggers and article writers is to try and define these terms for everyone in the whole community. I agree with you about 50/50 on your points, but thank you for the disclaimer :-)

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