The terms "top" and "bottom" are also used: the top is the instigator of an action while the bottom is the receiver of the action.The two sets of terms are subtly different: for example, someone may choose to act as bottom to another person, for example, by being whipped, purely recreationally, without any implication of being psychologically dominated by them.
Failure to honor a safeword is considered serious misconduct and could even change the sexual consent situation into a crime, depending on the relevant law, since the bottom or top has explicitly revoked his or her consent to any actions that follow the use of the safeword (see Legal status).For the medical condition in which pain/humiliation is required for sexual arousal and causes distress or impairment, see Sexual masochism disorder.BDSM is a variety of often erotic practices or roleplaying involving bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, sadomasochism, and other related interpersonal dynamics.Whether it is a public "playspace"—ranging from a party at an established community dungeon to a hosted play "zone" at a nightclub or social event—the parameters of allowance can vary.Some have a policy of panties/nipple tape for women (underwear for men) and some allow full nudity with explicit sexual interaction allowed.BDSM is now used as a catch-all phrase covering a wide range of activities, forms of interpersonal relationships, and distinct subcultures.
BDSM communities generally welcome anyone with a non-normative streak who identifies with the community; this may include cross-dressers, body modification enthusiasts, animal roleplayers, rubber fetishists, and others.
For their consent, they must have relevant information (extent to which the scene will go, potential risks, if a safeword will be used, what that is, and so on) at hand and the necessary mental capacity to judge.
The resulting consent and understanding is occasionally summarized in a written "contract", which is an agreement of what can and cannot take place.
Individuals who can change between top/dominant and bottom/submissive roles—whether from relationship to relationship or within a given relationship—are known as switches.
The precise definition of roles and self-identification is a common subject of debate within the community.
For other scenes, particularly in established relationships, a safeword may be agreed to signify a warning ("this is getting too intense") rather than explicit withdrawal of consent; and a few choose not to use a safeword at all.