BDSM Basics: BDSM Titles and Labels

Few topics get people heated like the different titles and labels we use in BDSM. As they’re inherently personal, kinksters often have strong opinions on using the “right” label. While words have literal definitions, yes, we don’t see BDSM labels as set in stone. They can mean whatever we need them to mean — but as we need a common language to begin exploring kink, they’re also handy tools for self-discovery and education. So let’s talk about them.

Here are a few things we believe to be true about the titles and labels we use in BDSM.

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Get creative

It’s okay to use the “standard” titles you see in the BDSM community: Sir, Mistress, Daddy, Mommy, etc, etc, etc,. There’s nothing wrong with that. But if they don’t feel right or fit you, choose something else. Some people like to titles from the aristocracy, others use words that mean something to them. We’ve heard Dominants referred to as “Coach” and “Maestro” and submissives may simply take on a name that fits their personality instead of being a label.

Reject them

Some people absolutely hate labeling their kink. That’s okay, too. If titles for your power exchange or labels to describe your kink don’t work, don’t use them. What you call yourself matters very little — it’s all about what you do and who you are. You may change your mind later or you may not, but the choice is always yours.

Define labels and titles the way you want

Okay, let’s be clear. Words have definitions. But language is constantly evolving, so it’s okay to re-define a label or title to suit your needs. I use the label “babygirl” because I like it and yet (to some) I’m nothing like a “real” babygirl. (Always be careful of terms like “real” and “true” — it’s very narrow thinking that isn’t good for anyone.)

Just because the stereotype of a “Daddy” means one thing doesn’t mean you can’t take the label for yourself and make it mean something else entirely. The title or label you use only needs to fit you, not what anyone else does.

Ignore gender stereotypes

If you like the term “Daddy” use it — regardless of your gender. I’ve met very feminine people who definitely give off Daddy vibes, and I’d call them that (if they allowed it). Use Sir or Ma’am based on preference, not gender. Look for gender neutral terms or choose multiple labels/titles to fit how you’re feeling at the moment. The words we use to describe ourselves don’t have to be literal or based off a textbook definition. They can be based on how we feel and whether we like the word — regardless of gender.

Labels and titles can change over time

When I first got together with John Brownstone, he was “Sir” and I was a variety of names: little one, pet, and eventually babygirl. That last one has definitely stuck. Today, he’s Daddy, and I can’t imagine calling him anything else. Over time people change, as do relationships. It’s perfectly valid that the way we describe ourselves and the labels we use may change over time, too.

You’ll discover new things about yourself. Your dynamic may change. One relationship will end and another will begin. You’re not betraying your past self or your early kink life by changing the titles and labels you use.

Resources to help you learn more:

Kinky Titles are Different for All of Us

Why We Say Caregiver/little Instead of DD/lg

What’s the Difference Between a Sir and a Daddy

Using Labels to Figure Out Your Kink

3 Responses

  1. Ettina Kitten says:

    My favorite kink title for me, as a D-type, is Doctor, because I like thinking of myself as a mad scientist.

  2. Sweetgirl says:

    I adore that you stress that we should “always be careful of terms like “real” and “true” — it’s very narrow thinking that isn’t good for anyone”. It is one of my pet peeves, when people use these terms.

    Great post, x

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