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Symbols

Symbols come in all shapes and sizes. They can be flags or pieces of jewelry. Come explore the importance of symbols in our lifestyle.

Common Lifestyle Symbols

BDSM Emblem

emblem

The BDSM emblem has no "obvious" symbolism because it was created to be enigmatic. To the vanilla observer who would be put off by BDSM, it is merely an attractive piece of jewelry. Thus, we can wear it freely as a friendly salute, nod, and wink to other BDSMers we should happen to pass on the sidewalks and in the hallways of our daily lives.

To the insider, however, the Emblem is full of meaning.

The three divisions represent the various threesomes of BDSM. First of all, the three divisions of BDSM itself: B&D, D&S, and S&M. Secondly, the three-way creed of BDSM behavior: Safe, Sane, and Consensual. Thirdly, the three divisions of our community: Tops, Bottoms, and Switches.

It is this third symbolism that gives meaning to the holes in each unit. Since BDSM is at the very least a play style and at its greatest a love style, the holes represent the incompleteness of any individual within the BDSM context. However "together" and "whole" individuals may be, there remains a void within them that can only be filled by a complimentary other. BDSM cannot be done alone.

The resemblance to a three-way variation on the Yin-Yang symbol is not accidental. As the curved outline of Yin and Yang represent the hazy border between where one ends and the other begins, so do the curved borders here represent the indistinct divisions between B&D, D&S, and S&M.

The metal and metallic color of the medallion represents the chains or irons of BDSM servitude/ownership. The three inner fields are black, representing a celebration of the controlled dark side of BDSM sexuality.

The curved lines themselves can be seen as a stylized depiction of a lash as it swings, or even an arm in motion to deliver an erotic spanking. The all-embracing circle, of course, represents the overlying unity of it all and the oneness of a community that protects its own.

Other Thoughts

The Myth of the BDSM Symbol by cajunrose

A Response to The Myth of the BDSM Symbol by Purr

BDSM Rights Flag

BDSM Rights

The BDSM Rights Flag is intended to represent the belief that people whose sexuality or relationship preferences include Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, or Sadism and Masochism ("BDSM") deserve the same human rights as everyone else, and should not be discriminated against for pursuing BDSM with consenting adults.

The flag is inspired by the Leather Pride Flag and Quagmyr\'s BDSM Emblem, but is specifically intended to represent the concept of BDSM Rights and to be without the other symbols\' restrictions against commercial use. It\'s designed to be recognisable by people familiar with either the Leather Pride Flag or BDSM Triskelion (or Triskele) as "something to do with BDSM"; and to be distinctive whether reproduced in full colour, or in black and white (or another pair of colours.)

For more information: BDSM Rights Flag Website.

Leather Pride Flag

Leather Pride Flag

The Leather Pride Flag is a symbol for the BDSM subculture.

The flag was designed by Tony DeBlase, and he first presented the design at the International Mr. Leather contest in Chicago, Illinois, USA on May 28 1989. The original prototype flag is now on display at the Leather Archives and Museum in Chicago.

Although the flag is often common in the gay community, it is not a "gay-only" symbol and represents the entire leather community.

According to Mr DeBlase in a contemporaneous editorial from Drummer magazine:

"The flag is composed of nine horizontal stripes of equal width. From the top and from the bottom, the stripes alternate black and royal blue. The central stripe is white. In the upper left quadrant of the flag is a large red heart. I will leave it to the viewer to interpret the colors and symbols."

This editorial also notes:

Desmodus Inc. [DeBlase\'s company, at the time, publisher of Drummer] has a copyright on the design and anyone wishing to use it for purely commercial purposes must receive our written approval. However, we welcome members of the Leather/SM community to use the design for flags, banners, pins, printed material, etc. to be distributed free or sold at cost, or to be used for fund raising for not-for-profit causes that benefit Leather men and women. No permission is required for these uses, but we do ask that you inform us of the use and, where possible, send us samples.

However, this restriction seems to not be enforced. There have certainly been thousands of instances of the LPF produced purely on a For-Profit basis. It has, perhaps, been released in to the public domain.

The triskelion is another symbol which has been adopted as an emblem by some BDSM groups.

Another name that is used to describe the leather flag is "Black and Blue with Love".

The Collar

Collar

The collar is a symbol of a commitment between a Dominant and submissive. This can have several meanings and understanding a universal definition is impossible. For some people a collar is only worn durning play time and thus signifies the division between roles, nothing more. The importance of this collar varies from partnership to partnership but can be just a prop or an added toy wihtin the playspace.

The gravity of a collar in a relationship context is much more. For many people, a collar is like an engagement ring or wedding ring. When a submissive wears a collar in this context they are commited, possessed or owned by someone else. Collars of this sort should never be taken lightly. Just as an engagement isn\'t entered lightly, a collaring carries strong importance in a D/s lifestyle relationship. Collars in this form can be a collar, brand, tattoo, piercing or any other form of outward mark worn by the submissive person in the power exchange. Each collaring is a symbol of the love, honor and commitment of two people who deeply care for one another.

The internet has given way to another form of collar. The internet collar, usually symbolized as [DOM] or {DOM}, has two connotations. One is that two people are engaged in an online relationship, where life experiences are non-existent and all power exchange is done online. Many are of the opinion that this sort of relationship is fake and degrades the importance of a collar in the lifestyle as a whole. For some, this is the only way they can experience the power exchange that they are exploring or craving. I find no harm in online collars, as they have no bearing on everyday lifestyle events in the long run. The second meaning is that someone is in a real collar and wears an online collar as a symbol of that bond online. This, while it looks like an internet collar, can cause some confusion and the offense taken by others when it is assumed that an online relationship is taking place. Commitment is commitment, no matter how strong the bond, proximity or duration.

Other Sites with general information about collars

General Information about Collars from Wikipedia
The Collar by forestnymph
A Collar and Its Many Meanings by cinnamon^
A View from the Top by Sir Scott
Collars from Informed Consent
Collars and Traditions by jade
The Collar by Erotic-BDsM
The Collar... BDSM Symbolism and Personal Meaning by silkenluv

IRC Collars by Raven Shadowborne

Degrees of Collars

Some relationships are of the volition that collaring is a phase of collars earned by the progression of training or learning of a submissive. The phases of collaring developed from the Old Guard Leather Community, where we also acquired the Safe, Sane and Consensual mantra. While this is not everyone\'s views, it does warrant some looking into.

Collar of Consideration

The Collar of Consideration is generally given at the onset of a potential relationship. While the method of receiving this collar varies, the collar is usually plain and unadorned with one or several rings on it. There are many variations on how a collar may be represented in actuality. It can be by a bracelet, waist chain, anklet or other choice. This is sometimes determined by the situation of the submissive such as job requirements etc. Sometimes it is dictated by the Dominant\'s personal taste. This collar is traditionally blue in color.

Other sites with information about the Collar of Consideration

Collar of Consideration by Mistress Steel
Training Collar

The Training Collar is worn by novice submissives the duration of their training. It does not symbolize a commitment other than that to learn and obey a training Dominant or mentorship. Typically this collar is undorned, simple and sturdy. It can have one or more rings on it. The purpose of this collar is to allow the submissive to feel some of the control that s/he will surrender and to experience a taste of the emotions evoked when a power exchange takes place. This collar is a tool for discipline and training only.

Other sites with information about the Training Collar

The Training Collar by Mistress Steel
Formal collar (also called a slave collar)

The Formal collar is offered by the Dominant at the final stage of the process with the intent to formalize the bond and relationship of the Dominant and submissive. It is a recognition of commitment, deep emotional feelings, devotion, mutual respect and consideration. In some relationships this collar is given at the same time as a proposal for marriage. It\'s weight within the lifestyle is that of a wedding ring. This collar is created specifically FOR the individual submissive and is often an original design.

The presentation of such a collar is usually a formal celebratory occasion with friends or privately. Couples commonly prepare vows, a benediction, ceremony or ritual scene to place permanant body markings. The collaring ceremony has many variations as there are couples, and no one ceremony is incorrect.

Other sites with information about the Formal Collar

The Formal Collar by Mistress Steel

The Collaring Ceremony

The ceremony for when a collar is formally accepted by the submissive is meant as a joyous and beautiful time for the couple. This is generally done in a public ceremony with friends and can involve vows, promises and pledges along with many symbols for the life and strength of the relationship. Each ceremony is personalized just as a wedding is, and there are no common expectations.

Other sites with Collaring Ceremonies described or shared

Ceremony of Submission
The Taking Ceremony
The Ceremony of the Roses
Vows for the Ceremony
The Collaring Ceremony by jade
A Gorean Collaring
A Sample Collaring Ceremony
Collarin\'
Ceremony Guidelines

IRC Collaring Ceremony

Shared Ceremonies

Ms Siren and boy john\'s Collaring Ceremony
Lady Cynthia\'s Collaring of jt
Mistress Toppitoes and slave subbitoes
The collaring of lil niagra by Masta Pririp
The Collaring of Lily
Our Collaring by BoundLady
The site of the BDSM Marriage of Master William and His loving property sandi

The site of a Virtual Collaring Ceremony