The inner conflict and surrender connected with dominance and submission are enduring themes in human culture and civilization.In human sexuality, this has broadened to include mutual exploration of roles, emotions, and activities that would be difficult or impossible to act out without a willing partner taking an opposing role.A 1985 study suggests that only about 30 percent of participants in BDSM activities are females.
A safeword is usually given to the submissive partner to prevent the dominant from overstepping physical and emotional boundaries.
The safeword is especially important when engaging in verbal humiliation or playing "mind-games", because the submissive may not be aware of an emotional boundary until it is crossed.
If an emotional boundary is breached and the safeword spoken, the dominant should cease all play immediately and discuss the emotional breach with the submissive in a tender and understanding manner.
For non-sexual dominance and submission in interpersonal relationships, see Power (social and political) § Power principles in interpersonal relationships.
For genetic inheritance and expression due to sex-chromosome-linked genes, see Sex linkage. Dominance and submission (also called D/s) is a set of behaviors, customs, and rituals involving the submission of one person to another in an erotic episode or lifestyle. Physical contact is not necessary, and D/s can be conducted anonymously over the telephone, email, or other messaging systems.
In other cases, it can be intensely physical, sometimes crossing into sadomasochism.
In D/s, both parties take pleasure or erotic enjoyment from either dominating or being dominated.
Those who take the superior position are called dominants—Doms (male) or Dommes (female)—while those who take the subordinate position are called submissives—or subs (male or female). Two switches together may negotiate and exchange roles several times in a session.
"Dominatrix" is a term usually reserved for a female professional dominant who dominates others for pay.