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Related: female domination - sexual power
Contrast with: submission
Illustration by Eric Stanton
Domination and SubmissionDomination and submission (D&S, D/S or D/s), in a BDSM context, is a sexual activity involving the biological responses of submission and dominance. 'Domination and submission' in a relationship context is a relationship that employs one dominant partner and one submissive partner. These relationships can be part-time or 24/7.
Dominant and submissive relationships, however, are not unique to human recreational pursuits. Dominant and subordinate relationships appear within many animal populations, especially the more socialized populations including most mammals.
Dominance between species defines the nature of the food chain, and may underly the phylogenetic evolution of neural systems that affect dominant and submissive behavior. Those systems include the monoaminergic systems, especially those mediated by the neurotransmitters norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine, and by polypeptides, especially endorphines.
In human sexual behavior, a dominant is one who enjoys performing any of a variety of BDSM practices upon a submissive; this enjoyment can spring from a simple desire for dominance or an enjoyment of the interplay of wills involved in such a scenario. The term is falling out of use in vanilla sex (see top). A male dominant is often called a dom; a female, a domme or dominatrix. "Dominate" and "Dominant" are sometimes used incorrectly as synonymous nouns. Submissives who submit to an extreme degree are sometimes called slaves.
The term "dominant" is more precise than "top", since the term "top" is also used in vanilla, especially gay, sex to refer to an insertive partner, or as a transitive verb meaning to have insertive sex with. As above, it is very commonplace for partners to change roles from one encounter to the next or to have both insertive and receptive sex.
A submissive may be, but is not necessarily, a BDSM bottom. For example, some submissives enjoy taking orders from a dominant but do not receive any physical stimulation.
It should be noted that the submissive is commonly, in a wider context than the BDSM scenes themselves, the partner who is giving instructions - the top typically tops when, and in the manner, requested by the bottom.
In order to explore BDSM sex, it is essential to be careful and choose a top who will be responsive to one's needs, feelings, and limits. (See safeword.) Failure to choose a trustworthy top can be very dangerous, and even a trustworthy but overzealous top can inflict severe pain or injury by failing to pay attention to the bottom.
Note that in D&S, it is commonplace for two partners to switch roles from one encounter to the other, depending on mood and preference, a practice known as switching.
There are some indications that preference in B&D activities follows a 'compensatory' pattern, with people who have much power and responsibility in real life often preferring a submissive role, no hard scientific data to either confirm or reject this hypothesis seem to exist, however.
There are also indications that submissives substantially outnumber dominants, in both males and females. Professional dominants provide sexual services for those unable to find a compatible partner for this activity. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki//Sexual_submission [Jul 2004]
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