[This post was origanlly posted via GMHedon on Fetlife, but was edited to suite my own perspective.]
People are what they are and should get to enjoy playing however they like. Labels are not especially important in themselves, being mostly useful in a descriptive fashion rather than prescriptive (what we feel we are rather than what anyone feels we should be); but it’s darn useful to have them when we wish to articulate our identities and desires…
Our community tends to lump individuals into one of only two general groups: Dom/Sadist and sub/masochist. If one is a Dom, then they’re presumed to be a Sadist to a certain degree… Subs who also whack folk with sticks might be termed switches… When really, they feel submissive all the time, but enjoy ‘serving’ by topping in a scene…
So, how do we break this up into more useful groupings? Think of there being two Axes (æksiːz): One describing our relationship to Power and and the other describing our relationship to Sensation (there’s potentially any number of additional ‘Z’ axes possible describing our relationship to fetish, relationships etc., but that gets really complex…)
Anyway, Along the X Axis we can indicate our relationship to Power (simplistically):
- A) Dominant
- B) Neither
- C) submissive.
Crossing that is the Y Axis where we can indicate our relationship to sensation (likewise, simplistically):
- 1) Sadist
- 2) Neither
- 3) Masochist.
Note: These letters and numbers don’t mean anything. Anyway, if we were to draw this out into a grid, we’d find ourselves with nine basic categories.
- A1 - Dominant Sadist: Likes to give intense sensation, but also need to be served.
- A2 - Dominant: Indifferent to sensation. All about power and being served
- A3 - Dominant Masochist: “Beat me! Now! Harder! Exactly this way!!”
- B1 - Top or Sadist: Disinterested in power. Likes causing intense sensation
- B2 - Umm.. Not into Power OR Pain? Certain Kinksters/Fetishists etc.?
- B3 - Bottom or Masochist: Disinterested in power. Enjoys intense sensations
- C1 - submissive Sadist (Service Top): Will hurt you just the way you want
- C2 - submissive: Not into pain, all about service and surrender of power
- C3 - submissive Masochist: Loves to serve, enjoys intense sensation
And people could be any of these, or subtle variations between them. And of course it’s just as possible for people to be more than one of these combinations at different times or in different contexts. To switch. It’s possible to switch along either axis or both… Lots of possibilities.
Why is this useful? Because using only two definitions: ‘Dom’ and ‘sub’ makes it really easy for poor match ups to occur (and they do. All the time).
Imagine an A2 playing with an A3… Does that sound like fun? Or a C2 getting beaten by a B1? Neither really enjoying it and wondering what’s wrong with them….
This is also where we run into people insisting that somebody isn’t REALLY a submissive because they don’t like pain… Which is missing the point. As is insisting one IS a submissive when what you want to say is “No I’m not interested in serving you, I want you to beat my ass with that stick, please”.
Is this definitive? Hells no. 9 categories is a slightly less blunt tool than two categories, but it is certainly not definitive. Kink is about more than just power and sensation (heck, sensation could easily be decoupled from pain too) and we could keep adding axes forever…
Ultimately, everyone belongs to their own unique category.
But these nine categories serve the immediate purpose of systematically decoupling submission from masochism…
Note: As I stole this first place, I can certainly not claim any kind of exclusivity ;)