The easy part first: B&D = “bondage & dominance” or “bondage & discipline.” S&M = “sadism & masochism.” D&S = “dominance & submission.”

People who read s.s.b-b are generally interested in ways to have sex that are outside the mainstream. One of the recurrent threads on s.s.b-b is the question of “what to call ourselves”, since there is no one set of sexual practices we all enjoy or are interested in, yet there is a lot in common among all the things we talk about.

Some people enjoy submitting to another person, placing themselves under the power of another, in a sexual context. It can be a very hot thing for someone to say to you, “I’m yours. Use my body for your pleasure.” This is D&S; one person is dominating, the other submitting. Slave/master, harem girl/sultan, boy/daddy, student/schoolmistress. D&S is an erotic power game, where both people are getting off–one on the thrill of controlling, the other on the thrill of being controlled. This is also where the terms “top” and “bottom” come in; the top is, roughly, the dominant; the bottom is, roughly, the submissive.

What do tops and bottoms do with each other? Well, one good possibility is they have lots of hot sex. Another possibility is the top ties the bottom up in some manner, which directly and physically puts the bottom at the top’s mercy, and then the top plays with the bottom, teasing, seducing, frustrating, and hopefully finally satisfying. This is a bondage & dominance sort of game. Some people enjoy playing with punishment–“You’ve been bad and now I have to tie you up and spank you!” That’s bondage & discipline for you.

Then there’s the sort of game described by S&M–“sadism and masochism”. Whips, canes, nipple clamps, all the wonderful things that are designed to cause, in greater or lesser degree, pain. It can be a powerful thing to submit to someone else who wants to hurt you; it’s a fantastic gesture of trust. And as will be discussed later, pain is not really pain anymore in an S&M game; it becomes overwhelmingly intense stimulation, which when administered by a skilled top can bring a bottom to entirely new heights of ecstasy.

Sometimes the D&S aspect becomes secondary to the sensual trip; you don’t have to enjoy obeying another’s commands to enjoy being tied up and whipped! And of course, pain (whether light or heavy) is only one sort of sensation; there are many others, and all of them can be lots of fun to play with.

This sort of trip, merging pain and pleasure to create an amazingly powerful experience for the bottom, is sometimes known as SM: Sex Magick. The precise definitions of B&D, S&M, whatever, don’t matter so much as do the experiences they point towards. All these areas, as you can see, overlap and intermingle in many many ways, but for me they all meet in the single concept of Sex Magick: taking a fantasy and turning it into reality, creating a magical space in which your desire can come to thrilling life!

While we’re sorta on the subject of abbreviations, here are some more: motos = Member Of The Opposite Sex; motss = Member Of The Same Sex; IMHO = In My Humble Opinion; BTW = By The Way; SO = Significant Other (i.e. lover); SMBDLMNOP = SM and BD and whatever else it is that we’re always talking about here on s.s.b-b; “Munch” refers to “any social gathering of local people who read s.s.b-b” (it’s short for “Burgermunch”, a tradition started in Palo Alto); “plonk”–see a later question; WIITWD = What It Is That We Do (a newer term than SMBDLMNOP); YMMV = Your Mileage May Vary (i.e. this is my experience, yours may be different); ObBDSM = “Obligatory BDSM”–if a post here contains little BDSM content, the poster will put “ObBDSM: ” at the end of the post; YKINOK = “Your Kink Is Not OK”–see question 17… and of course FAQ = Frequently Asked Questions.

Oh, and the reason I refer to SM behavior as “play” here is because, well, it ain’t work! Play means nothing other than activities done for recreation and for pleasure, and hence “play” is a fine word for many BDSM behaviors. Many of my friends use “play” similarly. (Though let me begin the many YMMV’s by stating that many other people who do BDSM consider it to be a very real, and deep, part of their sexual orientation; these people find that the term “play” doesn’t adequately express how important and fundamental these behaviors and relationships are to them. I am increasingly finding myself to be one of these people. And for still other people, some BDSM is play and some isn’t. Confused yet?)

Just so it is totally clear at the outset, NONE OF THIS MATERIAL ADVOCATES ANY KIND OF NONCONSENSUAL BEHAVIOR. What I am describing here is a variety of ways for lovers to enjoy one another, if and only if they both want to, and both give their consent. Anyone who claims that this information is in some way advocating nonconsensual, criminal acts is hereby charged with having failed to read and understand what I am saying. When I use the term “SM” in this FAQ, I refer specifically to consensual behavior. (See a later question for more on this.)

Finally, you’ve probably already noticed that we talk about more here than just sex and bondage. If that bothers you, please, post something _yourself_ about either or both topics! Complaining “where are all the sex and bondage posts?” is unproductive; if you want to see more of something, put it out there yourself. Everyone on s.s.b-b is posting for their own reasons, which don’t often include titillating strangers.

But then again, this whole group is _about_ titillation–about conscious eroticism, about getting what you want, and the first step is often admitting it. Read on, and enjoy! Who knows, you might be a different person by the time you finish this FAQ… it’s happened to others before you 🙂