Dom? Sub? Daddy? Babygirl? Kitten? Kinkster? What’s it All Mean, Anyway? (And Which One Are You?)

With the growing popularity of social networks like FetLife, geared specifically towards fetish and kink–along with an increasingly relaxed atmosphere towards openly talking about facets of sex and sexuality within the realm of art, books, and movies, today’s culture is one that leans towards the kinds of discussions that break down silences and taboos and get people talking about the things that were once only whispered about in the dark. But before you can learn to open up and explore, you need to have a basic understanding of the vernacular–a grasp of the common terms and phrases you’re likely to encounter on the websites and among the social circles that specialize in kink, fetish, BDSM, and alternative sexuality. For starters, here’s a look at some of the sexual “orientation” options you’re likely to encounter.

Keep in mind that these are not all-inclusive, and the definition itself will often vary depending on the relationship and parameters of the particular website or community you happen to be working within. In addition to mainstream terms like straight, gay, lesbian, and bisexual, many kink and fetish communities will offer choices that include:

Heteroflexible/Homoflexible: A heteroflexible person is one that is described as someone who is primarily straight, but is willing to consider relationships or encounters with someone of the same sex. Likewise, homoflexible refers to a person who is primarily attracted to those of the same sex, but will occasionally be drawn to those of the opposite sex.

Dominant/Dom/Domme: A dominant is someone who takes on the dominant or leading role in a sexual relationship, in turn controlling the submissive partner. It’s a broad term that can either be a full time Master or Mistress position or simply a top during sexual scenes. Domme is the female variant of Dom, which is itself the shortened version of dominant. There is more to being a Dom than simply whipping and spanking. Doms often take on a guiding or leading role in their subs lives, providing discipline, leadership, and depending on their subs needs, punishment and affection as well.

Submissive/Sub: On the flip side from the Master or Mistress is the submissive. What many people may not realize is that there are several different varieties of “bottoms”; that is, someone who prefers to take on a more submissive role. In addition to the traditional sub, there are sexual slaves–those who perform sex acts for their Master without question, as well as pets (which can be used as a term of endearment for subs as well as to refer to those who indulge in pet play), brats and babygirls. Brats are bottoms who enjoy the struggle or challenge of fighting their top, ultimately being brought to submission after a bit of rough play. Babygirls can combine their brand of submission with ageplay, though the two are not necessarily intertwined. In reality it’s a type of affectionate submissive that looks towards a more guiding, leadership-driven Dom (often these subs seek out “Daddy Doms”)

Switch: A switch is someone who identifies as both dominant and submissive and can go back and forth between the two roles.

Ageplayer: An ageplayer is someone who enjoys a type of roleplaying where one individual acts as if they were a different (often younger) age than they actually are. It should be noted that this is entirely different than pedophilia. Age playing does not mean that a person is actually attracted to people who are under aged. It is the act of feeling like they are being taken care of and child-like that draws them in to this type of submissive relationship.

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