Symbolism in BDSM


BDSM is rife with ritual and symbolism.


The #triskele is probably the most common symbol or “logo” of the BDSM community. The #BDSM emblem has no “obvious” symbolism because it was created to be enigmatic. To the vanilla observer who would be put off by BDSM, it is merely an attractive piece of jewelry. Thus, we can wear it freely as a friendly salute, nod, and wink to other BDSMers we should happen to pass on the sidewalks and in the hallways of our daily lives. To the insider, however, the Emblem is full of meaning.


The three divisions represent the various threesomes of BDSM. First of all, the three divisions of BDSM itself: B&D, D&S, and S&M. Secondly, the three-way creed of BDSM behavior: #Safe, #Sane, and #Consensual. Thirdly, the three divisions of our community: #Tops, #Bottoms, and #Switches.


It is this third symbolism that gives meaning to the holes in each unit. Since BDSM is at the very least a play style and at its greatest a love style, the holes represent the incompleteness of any individual within the BDSM context. However “together” and “whole” individuals may be, there remains a void within them that can only be filled by a complimentary other. BDSM cannot be done alone.


The resemblance to a three-way variation on the Yin-Yang symbol is not accidental. As the curved outline of Yin and Yang represent the hazy border between where one ends and the other begins, so do the curved borders here represent the indistinct divisions between B&D, D&S, and S&M.


Since intense BDSM isn't happening 24 hours a day, it may be useful to use symbolism that will work as a reinforcer of the roles even when they aren't being lived out to the full extent. Examples might be the shaving of the submissive's pubic hair - as an indicator of her status towards both her #Master but also her status compared to free people in general. Just like a child needs parental guidance, a slave needs guidance from her Master, thus the removal of the pubic hair works as an excellent symbol of a person with less freedom than the average adult person.


Various forms of symbolism are sometimes used to affirm the owner/slave relationship. These include the wearing the owner's collar, being registered in a #slave register, adopting (sometimes legally changing to) a name chosen by the owner, or engaging in a public declaration or ritualized ceremony of some type.

The most widely known symbol is a #collar. It’s a visible symbol of the commitment between a Dominant and his/her submissive or a Master/#Mistress and his/her slave. Collars are available that can be locked around the neck, with the #Dominant/Master holding the key, which emphasizes the sense of “ownership.” Other collars are more symbolic and can be worn in public: those who are in the know might recognize one, but the general population might only see such a piece as a pretty necklace, or bracelet, or ring. Whatever form they take, they are visible reminders of the bond between a Dominant and his/her submissive or slave.


Another symbolism that many couples use are Words or more specifically, names for the submissive given to them by the Dominant and calling the Dominant by a specific title like Sir or Master. I didn't want to call my Master by Master for various reasons, so found out what Owner in Italian is and boom, Padrone was born. I have called my Master by Padrone ever since. He named me and calls me his Baby or Babyslave. I can count the amount of times on one hand I have heard him use my actual name, even when we are in public.


Words and names are very important and can be a constant reminder, just like a collar, that one is a submissive/slave or a Dominant. Be careful of what you choose to call each other in public situations because you might get a few funny looks or raised eyebrows if you chose the wrong one.


There are many other symbols used in the D/s community. These can be from handkerchiefs to signify your tastes and station in life to actions you take that have far greater meaning behind them. It is my hope that I have piqued an interest within you to continue to learn about symbolism and how it can pertain to your relationship. Keep researching and learning for the knowledge will bring greater depth to your relationship. It is said that scenes are only 1% of D/s.


© 2018 by Michelle Fegatofi