Online Class: BDSM 101 – Foundations

BDSM 101: Foundations

Wednesday, August 12th 5pm
60 minutes

This isn’t your average 101 class!

I will NOT be covering “this is what spanking is…and this is what a piece of rope is…” I will instead provide a rich and in-depth discussion of various concepts fundamental to BDSM but are often confusing and misunderstood. This will provide a rock-solid foundation for genuine understanding and improved play and for beginners and experienced players alike. Some concepts include:

  • Understanding the difference between BDSM and abuse
  • Dominant/submissive & Top/bottom: how they differ from one another and why they are commonly confused
  • What is fetishism and how does it affect me
  • “Topping from the bottom” is real but it has nothing to do with topping
  • Fantasy or Reality: why you need to know where you’re at

Length: 60 minutes
Cost : $20

To register please visit my classes page and click on the Buy Tickets link under the BDSM 101 class.

The event will be held on Crowdcast.

Mistress Tissa on Coalition Radio rescheduled to Friday, August 7, 9:45PM EST

Listening is easy. Just follow the link in the tweet.

Mistress Tissa on Coalition Radio on Friday, July24, 9:45PM EST – POSTPONED

[Clean link is here]

The interview will be loosely structured, so I’m unsure about everything that will be discussed, but some topics mentioned are: power dynamics in BDSM, “topping from the bottom”, the influence of Patriarchy on BDSM and gender play, and more.

It will be a live video feed.

UPDATE: Due to my illness, this discussion will be postponed. A new date will be announced shortly.

Who Really Has The Power?

When speaking of power exchange relationships in BDSM, such as Dominance/submission (“D/s”), you may occasionally hear some people claim, “it’s the sub who truly holds the power.” Often this is followed with the assertion that submission is a “gift”. While there is truth to this, it’s not the whole truth.

The first error is the implication that power is held by one person: the sub. Just like outside of our kinky play, everyone has power. It’s just up to you whether you’re going to exercise it or give it up.

So, while the submissive does in fact hold power, so does the Dominant. Both roles involve having and expressing power. The sub can be controlled only as much as they allow and the Domme will control only as much as they are willing.

This is a symbiotic relationship. It’s characterized by interdependence. One is defined by the existence of the other.

In other words: while it’s true that without a sub the Domme has no one to control, it’s also true that without a Domme the sub has no one to be controlled by. They are both receiving benefits from — and giving “gifts” to — one another.

Shaming Dominant Women Who Submit

There is a faction of men, and some women, who are very outspoken about their contempt for Dominant Women who enjoy submission. I have seen them stalk and harass such women, proclaiming, “She’s not a REAL Domme! She submits!” Aside from looking like a troll, there’s a clear lack of understanding about power exchange as it exists outside of their porn clips and fetish fantasies, as well as some possible double-standards and hidden misogyny. Let Me attempt to bring these people into the real world.

First of all, I want to say that I do not trust ANY Dominant — female, male, or otherwise — who claims to have never submitted and does not have an interest to do so. To Me, it’s a big ol’ red flag. It’s kinda like when you have a supervisor who has never done your job and has no interest in learning what you do, but they are happy to act like an authority about it and boss you around. Nobody likes these kind of people.

I believe that to be an effective and great Dominant, you need to experience submission. What does giving up power mean, how much are you willing to give, under what conditions are you able to let go, how do you feel and react when being given an order, what goes through your mind when you are pushed, and so on. This is important because having an experience as a submissive increases your empathy for submissives.

Likewise, to be a great top you need to understand what it means to bottom. If you want to use an implement on someone, you should know what it feels like to receive that implement (anatomical limitations aside). If you don’t understand the perspective of the person who is bottoming, your knowledge will be limited to what you can imagine their perspective being like. And, personally, despite My rich imagination, I can tell you that there really is no substitute for actually feeling a single tail yourself.

“But how can a woman say She’s Dominant but also be willing to submit? Dominant Women don’t submit! It’s against their nature! It invalidates Their Holy Dommliness!”

Here’s the reality: dominant men can kneel before Me, submit to My power for one, two, three or more hours, and at the conclusion of our scene, guess what? They get up off their knees and continue their lives as dominant men. Likewise, a Domme can relinquish control to another…and when She stops relinquishing that control, She’s still Dominant. People, like power, are things whose expression is multi-layered and dynamic.

One way power can be expressed is through an intrinsically “dominant” personality. You may have heard of “type A” personalities. These are dominant types. Their brain is wired in such a way that they are naturally take-charge people. They feel more comfortable in leadership roles, and being assertive and confrontational is usually easier for them.

Another way power is expressed is by making a conscious choice to express it in a given situation. If one makes a decision to take the advice of their doctor and have the surgery, this is actually an act of submission! However, agreeing to let someone else operate on you does not change your underlying personality — whether dominant, submissive, etc. — before, during, or after the procedure.

Also, like many men, women usually have requirements before they’ll agree to offer their submission. It might be only given during certain activities, definitely not during other activities, and there might even be conditions to “inspire” submission, without which they don’t feel the desire or ability to do so in the first place. Sometimes it’s a person’s sex or gender, sometimes their age or ethnicity, sometimes it’s physique or clothing, sometimes it’s money. I have heard several men tell Me that beauty inspires submission in them. Or height. Or intelligence. Or big tits. Or bitchiness. Or very high heels. Dommes who submit are pretty much guaranteed to have their own versions of these things. It’s all personal and valid.

If you’re asking yourself, “Why in the world would someone who is Dominant even feel a desire to submit in the first place? Isn’t that exactly what Dominant people don’t want to do?”  I think one reason why people feel this way is because they are, probably unconsciously, associating submission with weakness, humiliation, or because it’s a sign that someone is actually unable to effectively dominate. None of these are true.

Imagine a dominant male CEO who is responsible for leading his company and the people in it every flipping day. He’s very good at this, but it’s still a lot of pressure and it can wear a person out. Most people will want to find ways to manage the stress that is generated. We all tend to do this naturally; it’s part of our inclination to homeostasis. The more “on” and “in control” a person has to be in their lives, they more they might feel a need to do the opposite to find their equilibrium. (The inverse can be true for people in positions in which they lack power.) This is not weakness. It’s a function of emotional health. So, the CEO might find his equilibrium by going sailing, gambling at a casino, or visiting a Dominatrix.

It’s the same for a Domme. She might spend all week controlling Her subs’ every move; tying them down and doing all sorts of things to them “without their consent” and on the weekend think, “All these guys seemed so at peace afterward. I want to know what it’s like to be tied down and have things done to Me ‘against My will’. I want to take a break and give someone else the power to make the decisions.” And so, like the always-in-control CEO, She decides to release some pressure by situationally submitting to another.

The thing about this that shamers don’t seem to understand or care about is: the rope that ties Her down or the thing that does whatever to Her doesn’t magically change Her desire, ability, or wiring to be Dominant anymore than the CEO who gets on his knees and licks the bottom of My shiny black boots. These are just experiences people are having. It doesn’t fundamentally change who they are. (Well, it could have an effect on one’s consciousness and self-concept which can change over time, but that’s for another article.)

People also can submit just for fun. I mean, some of you do it for that reason, right? You’re not hardcore, “lifestyle” slaves, you just want to negotiate some activities and then let your Dominant make the decisions about what they look like for a couple hours. You enjoy the mystery, the suspense, even the “game”. It’s sexy. It’s a good time. Why would that be any different for a Domme?

Lastly, if a woman is really Dominant, She’s going to do whatever the hell She wants, anyway — whether someone thinks it’s okay or not. A person’s ignorance won’t change that, and any unexamined beliefs regarding women, dominance, submission, and how they relate to that person’s fantasies about those things are theirs to own and don’t necessarily have any bearing on reality. So stop shaming Dominant Women who submit.


Power Dynamics, Contextualized

I’ve talked before about power dynamics and one’s “role”. I thought I would elaborate a little bit, and include them both inside and outside of BDSM.

Dominant: A person who likes to take charge and be in control. They prefer to dictate activity and/or assume a position of leadership. Usage of the word does not necessarily indicate a person is kinky as it is used in “vanilla” contexts. It is a personality type irrespective of any erotic proclivities (meaning someone can be dominant and not kinky) and can be used to describe those with “Alpha” traits. Though the quality of being dominant is typically considered an expression of “masculinity” and thus associated with and expected of men, it is a gender neutral term and can apply to anyone. It also can be situational, e.g. a person may be dominant in their “vanilla” life but submissive sexually.

Domme or Dom: A person who identifies as or assumes the role of a Dominant within the BDSM culture. “Domme’ is usually capitalized to visually establish one’s Dominance and as a part of psychological play. Capitalization can also be extended to any references made to the Dominant(s), e.g. She, Her, Them. “Domme” is usually the femme spelling and “Dom” the butch spelling. The term itself does not indicate what kind of Domme/Dom someone is (e.g. sensual, sadistic, Mistress/Master, etc.). It also does not imply that one’s identification and role as a Dominant within the BDSM culture is also their profession. People who are Dommes/Doms but not in a professional sense are often referred to as a “Lifestyle Domme” or “Lifestyle Dominant”.

Dominatrix: A title usually reserved for professional Dommes. Like a lawyer offers professional legal counsel and representation services, a Dominatrix offers professional Domination services. Also known as a “Pro Domme” or “Pro Dom”. Some non-professional Dommes also use this term if they identify as such. Other Dommes prefer “Domina”, “Mistress”, “Goddess”, or some other variation(s) or combination or terms that they feel are more reflective of the kind of Domme they are.


Submissive: A person who likes others to take charge and be in control. They prefer to receive instruction and/or assume the position of follower. Again, this word is used outside of kink culture and relates to “Beta” personality traits. “Submissiveness” is usually assigned to ideas of “femininity” and thus assigned to and expected of women, but, like dominant, is gender neutral and can be applied to anyone.

sub: A person who identifies as or assumes the role of a submissive within BDSM culture. “sub” is usually not capitalized to visually establish one’s submission and as a part of psychological play. The word has no femme or butch variations and is gender neutral, which also enforces the notion of submission by further removing one’s sense of personhood. Like Domme and Dom don’t indicate the personality or style of the Dominant, submissive is similar in that regard; their styles may be complementary to Dommes/Doms (i.e. sensual, masochistic, slave).

Anyone who is a professional submissive usually refers to themselves as a “professional submissive” or “pro sub”. There is no complementary title to Dominatrix.


People who can both Domme/Dom or sub are usually referred to as a “switch”. There is a lot of variability here, too. Like the Kinsey scale, some people are only “sub curious” or “incidentally Dominant”; where others may be very nearly 50/50. Again, this is a gender neutral term.

Professionally, one may be a “pro switch” (offering both professional Dominance and submission).

Outside of kink? These people are usually just seen as flexible, adaptable, “team players”, and other such terms. Of course this doesn’t mean that dominant and submissive people aren’t these things, but the more you lean toward either end of the spectrum, the more difficult you may have with adaptability. Speaking as a strongly dominant person, I’m not the best team player. I do better in positions of leadership; I make a terrible follower!