I thought I would continue our BDSM basics series by digging in a little deeper about what a Dominant is and the different Dominant roles within the BDSM community. For a first hand perspective of what it means to be a Dom, read an interview with my Dom here.
Dominants choose to take on a position of authority during the power exchange that is BDSM. This can be for only a scene (known as topping) or may look like assuming a Dominant role 24/7 in a relationship, like B does within our triad. He or she assumes the control and responsibility during a scene and are charged with keeping their submissive safe. The submissive puts total trust in their Dominant, relying on him or her to meet their needs. It’s important for Dominants to remember they only have as much power as their submissive is willing to give them and to treat the act of submission as a gift that needs to be protected.
Below are a few varieties of Dominants that I am personally familiar with. This is not meant to be an all encompassing list of Dominant behaviors/titles, but rather a jumping off point. Like always, please remember that labels really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Having a label does not change who or what you are, but rather helps us communicate with the world around us. Many Dominants may encompass many of these traits or find that the type of Dominance that appeals to them evolves as their Dominance deepens. Never be afraid to try new things with a consenting partner, but always do your homework first.
Domme: A Domme is a female Dominant to either a male or female submissive and is sometimes referred to as a Dominatrix. This is often portrayed as highly sexualized and leather clad role on TV and movies, but a Domme is truly like any other Dominant- just female. Please know that although I often refer to Dominants as male, that is only because it’s my default setting within my own dynamic and I have the pleasure of knowing some wonderful female Dominants who I deeply respect.
Master/Mistress: A Master or Mistress is the Dominant counterpart in a Master/slave dynamic. They require complete surrender from their submissive both in and out of the bedroom and will often have a contract with the slave that outlines the expectations and requirements within the dynamic. Slaves surrender their rights to their Dominant and enjoy living a life of servitude and obedience. The Master will make all decisions for the slave and he/she will be required to ask permission for most activities.
Top: A top is simply the term to describe someone who takes the Dominant role during a scene or a prearranged amount of time. Generally if someone identifies as a top, rather than a Dom or other variety of Dominant, this means that their Dominance is confined to the bedroom/scenes, rather than an entire dynamic or lifestyle. This is still not the same as just liking rough kinky sex, and is a valid form of Dominance. It’s okay to enjoy all the different rules and kinks BDSM has to offer and not want to take on the responsibility of another human being out to the bedroom. BDSM allows us to have rules, terms, and protocols to explore our darker fantasies in a safe and controlled way.
Daddy/Mommy: A Daddy Dom or Mommy Domme are the caregiver roles for littles, middles and baby girls within our community. The Dominant will care for and nurture their submissive, taking on a more parental role and helping to meet their needs. The little may enjoy stories and coloring or other childlike activities, and the Dominant will provide direction, guidance, and protection to their submissive. Little space can be nonsexual in nature (like within our triad) and is a deeply connecting and adoring time for the submissive and the Dominant. This is not to be misunderstood with pedophilia, as all parties are consenting adults.
Brat Tamer: A brat tamer is a Dominant who loves the challenge and fun that a bratty submissive brings to a dynamic. He or she enjoys “taming” the brat and discipling or correcting their playfully naughty behavior. They allow a certain level of mischief that a Master, for example, would not and enjoy finding suitable rules, corrections are rewards. The goal is not actually to “break” or “tame” the brat, and the Dominant enjoys the process and antics just as much as the brat does. Rather the Dominant looks to help the submissive learn the line between brat and disrespect, so both parties needs are met.
Sadist: A sadist enjoys inflicting pain and humiliation with their consenting and willing partner. This can be inside or outside of the bedroom, but is always consensual. They may enjoy delivering impact play, spankings or verbal humiliation. Sadists may enjoy marking their sub and experimenting with different implements, such as floggers, whips, and canes. There is a delicious mind fuck to sadomasochism, and the endorphin rush can be addicting. (Yum)
Handler: A handler is a Dominant who takes responsibility of a submissive pet, such as a puppy or kitten during pet play scenes. They are responsible for keeping their pet safe, training their pet and sometimes even grooming. Pet play takes place in and out of the bedroom, but is often a nonsexual bonding experience for a lot of dynamics.
Primal Predator: I dive into this much deeper in my primal post, but this is a Dominant who identifies as primal and enjoys “hunting” their prey (submissive). This is a very raw and instinctual form of BDSM and usually these Dominants use less implements in a scene and rely on their nails, teeth, etc. Primal allows them to step away from what is deemed as civilized behavior and feed their most carnal desires. (Double yum)
Rigger: A rigger is a Dominant who enjoys rope bondage and will tie their submissive up. Often these ties are incredibly intricate and take a lot of experience and practice to ensure both parties remain safe. There is a physical power exchange with being tied up, and many people find the look of rope on skin to be artistic and sensual. In my opinion, rigging is an art form just as much as it’s a kink.
Switch: A switch is a man or woman who identifies as both Dominant and submissive. They may lean fully submissive with one partner and Dominant with another, or they may enjoy a dynamic where the power shifts back and forth depending on the day or scene. We will have an entire post on switches in the near future, but I wanted to mention them here quickly as this is a valid and common form of Dominance within the BDSM lifestyle.
If I’m being honest, I spent an embarrassing amount of time choosing the featured image for this blog. I didn’t know exactly what image I was searching for but I knew for damn sure I was not about to perpetuate the image of a Dominant being a well dressed man in a three piece suit. Dominants, possibly even more than submissives, have been forced into this one size fits all box and I am here to tell you that Dominants come in all shapes, genders, socioeconomic levels and kinks. In summary, much like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Dominance is in the eye of the submissive. When you care for and guide your submissive, you are the perfect definition of a Dominant- even if you don’t own a suit.