Article 1 - Styles of BDSM
It's not fair to tell you there are many ways to practice BDSM without telling you about some of them. Here's a brief explanation of some of the most common. There are all sorts of variations. What's important to remember is that none of them is The Best Way. Each is the best way for some people, not necessarily for you. If you find a style of BDSM doesn't work for you, it's fine to move on rather than try to force yourself into a mold that doesn't fit. Even if it means searching a little longer, achieving goodness of fit is worth the wait.
Let's start with the model that's probably the most familiar and popular, the Bitch Goddess. This is the one seen most often in the media and on commercial web sites. The dominant woman is a cruel and distant goddess who treats her submissives like worms, dirt, garbage, take your pick. I suspect this is popular because it's hot, at least, in the moment. People being what they are, it takes a lot of work to maintain this scenario. The goddess is going to want support sometime, the worm is going to need to take initiative sometime and somebody has to handle calling the plumber and getting groceries. No matter what anyone says, no one can live this full time.
Female Supremacy is a concept that often goes hand in hand with the Bitch Goddess view of BDSM. It's a sociological, and sometimes political, view that basically says the women are superior, men inferior. Then, depending on their own ideologies, people add personal bells and whistles. The notion of female supremacy fits some forms of BDSM like a glove.
Domestic Discipline is somewhat like the stereotype of a Victorian era marriage. One partner is in charge, the other obeys. If that partner doesn't obey, he or she is firmly corrected. There are those who practice domestic discipline yet don't consider themselves part of the BDSM community. I'm including this category anyway, because there's a definite, negotiated power transfer in these relationships.
Gorean philosophy is based on a series of novels by John Norman. Although you don't often see this form of BDSM in female dominant/male submissive relationships, I want to talk about it because some male subs try to adopt Gorean behaviors. The novels are set mostly on the planet Gor, where women are slaves to men. They are expected to dress, speak, behave and believe in a certain, highly stylized way. While there are people who incorporate varying degrees of Gorean philosophy into their relationships, they're a small subset of BDSM. Male subs aren't welcome in most Gorean venues because there were few male subs on Gor.
Bedroom is sometimes used to mean the opposite of lifestyle BDSM. If partners confine their power transfer to a strictly limited area of the relationship, it's bedroom BDSM. Within the confines of that area, this style of BDSM can be as intense as any other. It just never goes beyond those confines into other aspects of the relationship.
Silk scarves may be used by new or light players for bondage, so the term Silk Scarf is sometimes used to describe a less intense style. The power transfer exists but the manifestation is more gentle.
Lifestyle BDSM is an always on connection. Even though the partners don't always overtly express dominance or submission, the dynamic still exists. Sometimes people confuse the Bitch Goddess model with lifestyle. Lifestyle BDSM isn't defined by leather clothing or verbal abuse. It's defined by the constant nature of the power transfer. Most lifestylers are everyday people, with the same problems and pleasures as vanilla people. The difference is that the power balance in their relationships is deliberately and consensually skewed.
Not everything that looks like BDSM is BDSM. Some people enjoy very limited
and temporary power transfers. These are people who are basically vanilla
and who sometimes play BDSM type roles to spice up their sex lives. It's
fun, it's hot, it's fulfilling but it shouldn't be confused with BDSM.