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Explicit sexual activity, such as sexual penetration, may occur within a session, but is not essential.

Such explicit sexual interaction is, for legal reasons, seen only rarely in public play spaces, and it is sometimes specifically banned by the rules of a party or playspace.

The abbreviations "sub" and "dom" are frequently used instead of "submissive" and "dominant".

Sometimes the female-specific term "domme" is used to describe a dominant woman, instead of the gender-neutral term "dom"; both terms are pronounced the same.

Whether it is a public "playspace"—ranging from a party at an established community dungeon to a hosted play "zone" at a nightclub or social event—the parameters of allowance can vary.

Some have a policy of panties/nipple tape for women (underwear for men) and some allow full nudity with explicit sexual interaction allowed.

For other scenes, particularly in established relationships, a safeword may be agreed to signify a warning ("this is getting too intense") rather than explicit withdrawal of consent; and a few choose not to use a safeword at all.

This is sometimes the case for "punishment scenes" between master/slave couples or for some extreme or edgeplay scenes which may include abductions, rape play, or interrogation.Given the wide range of practices, some of which may be engaged in by people who do not consider themselves as practicing BDSM, inclusion in the BDSM community or subculture is usually dependent upon self-identification and shared experience.and is interpreted as a combination of the abbreviations B/D (Bondage and Discipline), D/s (Dominance and submission), and S/M (Sadism and Masochism).Activities and relationships within a BDSM context are often characterized by the participants taking on complementary, but unequal roles; thus, the idea of informed consent of both the partners becomes essential.The terms "submissive" and "dominant" are often used to distinguish these roles: the dominant partner ("dom") takes psychological control over the submissive ("sub").Terminology for roles varies widely among the subcultures.