BDSM: Some Brief Definitions

The use of artificial means to physically confine body movement. Frequently implies bondage for its own sake, rather than as a means to some other end.

The use of pain as punishment. In the context of “B&D” (Bondage and Discipline), the means are often those traditionally used by adults in authority for children (spanking, etc.) The infractions being punished may be vague (“You've been a bad boy”), irrelevant (“Your tie is crooked”), or inevitable (“You forgot to say 'may I'”). Frequently the top purposely sets unreasonable or impossible expectations (“Lick my boot”, while the bottom is gagged), or the bottom makes unnecessary confessions (“I cruised another man”) in order to assure punishment.

The exercise of control for its own sake. Domination often involves coercing the bottom to engage in behavior which the bottom purports (perhaps truthfully, perhaps not) to find objectionable. Coercion may be verbal (commands, threats), physical (e.g. forcing the bottom to his knees), or mental (“head trips”). “Dominance” implies control but may not carry the connotations of coercion.

The voluntary surrender of control. Usually, submission requires that the partner take a role which makes use of domination (q.v.) The bottom may want to be forced to engage in specific behavior which is eroticized by the domination; or alternatively his goal may be to submit to what the top wants, regardless of what behavior the bottom himself finds enjoyable.

The enjoyment of inflicting erotic pain. The sadist gets pleasure from the pain experience of the bottom, and therefore even if the top prefers certain pain-inducing activities to others, he cannot achieve the desired pleasure unless the bottom experiences those activities as painful. However, the bottom's pain experience must be erotic; otherwise inflicting pain is not sadism but brutality.

The ability and desire to eroticize intense stimuli generally categorized as “pain”. Factors which are involved in the eroticization process are highly variable, and so bottoms have widely variable responses to different kinds and degrees of pain. Often, a key part of sadomasochism (for both sadists and masochists) is “pushing the bottom's limits”, i.e. exceeding the level of pain which the bottom can successfully eroticize, the goal being to increase his capacity for eroticization.

S/M (Sadomasochism):
an erotic interaction, involving intense physical stimulation, in which one or more “Tops” and one or more “bottoms” contribute their individual power to a common empowerment. The synergy of power as a whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts. This power is wielded, within the agreed parameters, by the Top(s) for the benefit of all the participants..

Master, slave:
In a Master/slave relationship, the Master accepts responsibility for decision-making and the slave accepts the duty to serve and obey. There are often other ways in which the Master exercises dominion (which may or may not involve domination as defined above) over the slave. The terms Master and slave are also used for people who (whether or not in a Master/slave relationship at any given time) identify as such, consider that role to be intrinsic to their sexuality, and require for personal fulfillment (for the Master) exercise of or (for the slave) submission to dominance.