Domination and submission

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Female slave led on a leash. Photo by Asa Jones.
Submissive woman wearing a collar.

Domination and submission (also known as Dominance & submission, D/s, D&s or Ds) is a set of consensual psychosexual behaviours, customs and rituals relating to the dominance of one individual over another, and the submission of that individual to the first.

D/s is a form of power exchange and often referred to as the "mental" side of BDSM, compared to bondage or sadomasochism.


In D/s, one takes pleasure or erotic enjoyment out of either dominating or being dominated. Those who take the controlling position are commonly called Doms (male) or Dommes (female), those who take the controlled position are called subs or submissives (male or female).

It should be borne in mind that D/s is about an interaction between people. That someone chooses to dominate someone in a personal relationship does not necessarily imply that they are generally dominant in the rest of their lives or, if they are, that it is noticeable. Likewise, someone who is submissive in a relationship will not necessarily be generally submissive. For some submissives, it can take a great inner strength to go against social pressure and allow the dominant partner to make decisions on their life.

D/s may be a long-term continuing relationship (such as a master/slave relationship), or a set of roles assumed for a single scene or occasion. In a long-term D/s relationship, the participants may remain in their roles all or most of the time (see 24/7), or only under particular circumstances.

Variation in BDSM is extensive and activities take many forms, and may include servitude, verbal abuse, humiliation, consensual slavery and sexual slavery and may be combined with other forms of BDSM in myriad combinations. D/s participants often refer to their activity as "play", with an individual play session called a "scene".

Some D/s relationships are sexual, others completely chaste. Fantasy role play can also be a part, with partners taking classic dominant/submissive roles such as teacher/student, police officer/suspect or parent/child. Animal Play, where one partner takes the role of owner/caretaker and the other takes the part of a pet or animal, is also considered D/s play. Some people maintain a special room or area, called a dungeon, which contains special equipment (e.g. shackles, handcuffs, whips, queening stool, spanking bench, etc.) used for play scenes. Or they may visit a BDSM club that maintains such facilities.

Many submissives and slaves wear a collar to denote their status and commitment. In lasting relationships, it can be much like a wedding band, except that only the submissive partner wears one.

See also[edit]