For most people involved in Kink, power play is a quintessential and important part of BDSM. It’s a kink that underlies most others, especially those that involve one partner doing something to another, tying them up, holding them down, flogging them, whipping them, etc. etc. Power play provides a crucial pivot point for all other negotiations and acts of kink to move around.
To recap, Power Play is whenever one person involved in a sexual act/BDSM scene holds power or authority over another. Typically there are three different roles involved in Power Play, the Dominate, the Submissive, and the Switch/Verse who can move freely between both roles. The Dominate (dom) is the one who holds power, and the Submissive (sub) is the one who gives up power.
Even in perfectly vanilla sexual acts, there is often a person who leads and a person who follows. Power Play takes this to more of an extreme and tends to involve more rules and orders. There is also a tendency towards honorifics, a title or words meant to invoke authority or politeness, in the Kink community, these honorifics extend to both partners.
Honorifics for Dominates include (but are not limited to): Dom, Domme, Dominatrix, Sir, Ma’am, Mister, Miss, Master, Mistress, Daddy, Mommy, Care Giver, and much more.
For Submissives: Boy, Girl, Prince, Princess, Baby Boy/Girl, Good/Bad Boy/Girl, Little One, Slave, Puppy, Kitten, and much more.
These are also certain types and styles of Doms and Subs common in the community:
Service Doms/Subs tend to engage in some kind of slave and master play, where the submissive takes and follows orders of the Dom. In this scenario, a Service Dom would be intent on servicing their sub, fulfilling their needs and desires, though still maintaining a dominate role in the scene. These doms are also sometimes referred to as Pleasure Doms. A Service Sub would be intent on fulfilling the needs and desires of their dom, maintaining submissive status in the scene.
A Brat is a Submissive who fights back against their dom’s rules, intentionally getting ‘in trouble’ to rile up their Doms and receive punishments. Brats can sometimes enjoy being forced into submission, others pride themselves on maintaining their ability to talk back, even if they are fulfilling their role.
On the opposite hand, a Brat Tamer is a Dominate who likes to 'tame' or engage with Bratty subs. These Doms tend to prefer Subs who fight back and they enjoy dominating them into submission.
A Pillow Princess/Prince is a term used to describe a submissive who enjoys being on the receiving end of pleasurable acts, but who doesn’t prefer to return them. The term Pillow Princess specifically has been picked up by the Lesbian community, and refers specifically to a bottom in a Lesbian relationship who prefers to receive pleasure.
There are also some specific types of Dominate/Submissive relationships and dynamics (D/s) that are popular in the BDSM Community. These relationships can be occasional, limited to a certain time or space, or be 24/7 dynamics, maintained at all times. Some such relationships are:
Master/Slave, a dynamic where one partner controls, orders, and in some cases act as though they own the other partner. This style of D/s relationship is most common in heterosexual couples where the woman is the dominate partner. This is also the most common form of relationship that extends to 24/7 dynamics.
Mister or Mistress/Boy or Girl is a dynamic most similar to Master/Slave. The difference tends to be that the Mister or Mistress doesn't tend to act as though they own the submissive, though this can certainly be the case. This dynamic also tends not to run 24/7. Another common form of this relationship involves a 'Sir' or 'Ma'am' rather than a Mister or Mistress, and this kind of relationship is most popular in the BDSM community.
Master/Puppy or Kitten, is a dynamic involving Pet Play, a type of BDSM play in which one partner assumes the role and mannerisms of a specific animal (most commonly Puppies or Kittens, though there are many kinds of animals people like to play as). This dynamic is NOT beastality, nor do those engaging in it desire to have sex with actual animals. Rather, this dynamic is about the power play between the Master and the animal, and has a lot to do with the headspace one gets into while acting like said animal.
The last common dynamic is Caregiver/Little One (sometimes shortened to CG/lo, DD/lg for Daddy and Little Girl, or MM/lb for Mommy and Little Boy, or any such combination of honorifics). This dynamic is sometimes a part of Age Play, a type of play where one partner assumes the role and mannerisms of a child. Like Pet Play, this dynamic is NOT pedophelic, nor do those engaging in it desire to have sex with minors. Rather, this dynamic has more to do with power play and headspace, similar to Pet Play. This dynamic can also exist without any form of Age Play at all, and instead behave more similarly to Mister or Mistress/Boy or Girl dynamics, just with different honorifics. This type of play might also involve submissive partners who prefer honorifics like Kitten, Puppy, Prince, or Princess.
Sometimes Power Play can extend to roleplays as well, such as Teacher/Student or Boss/Employee. Some couples might even have a Power Dynamic in place without necessarily giving a name to it, or following the 'rules' of any common D/s relationship. These dynamics are entirely up to the people implementing them, and no two relationships will look the same.
Many Dom and Sub relationships involve more than just two people as well! The combinations are endless!
This is a very basic and surface level intro to Power Play! Let me know if you have any questions! See you next week!