Given the wide range of practices, some of which may be engaged in by people who do not consider themselves as practicing BDSM, inclusion in the BDSM community or subculture is usually dependent on self-identification and shared experience.
and is interpreted as a combination of the abbreviations B/D (Bondage and Discipline), D/s (Dominance and submission), and S/M (Sadism and Masochism).
BDSM is now used as a catch-all phrase covering a wide range of activities, forms of interpersonal relationships, and distinct subcultures.
This article is about consensual adult sadomasochistic activity.
For the medical condition involving non-consensual ideation or behaviour, see Sexual sadism disorder.
For the medical condition in which pain/humiliation is required for sexual arousal and causes distress or impairment, see Sexual masochism disorder.
BDSM is a variety of often erotic practices or roleplaying involving bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, sadomasochism, and other interpersonal dynamics.
Individuals are also sometimes abbreviated when referred to in writing, so a dominant person may be referred to as a "dom" for a man or a woman.
Sometimes a woman may choose to use the female specific term "Domme". Individuals who can change between top/dominant and bottom/submissive roles—whether from relationship to relationship or within a given relationship—are known as switches.The precise definition of roles and self-identification is a common subject of debate within the community.Unlike common "power neutral" relationships, activities and relationships within a D/s or M/s context are often characterized by the participants taking on complementary, but unequal roles; thus, the idea of informed consent of both the partners becomes essential.The "Dominant" or Dom(me) takes control consensually over the submissive or sub.The top is the doer of an action while the bottom is the receiver of the action.Thus a submissive giving a massage is simultaneously the top and the sub.