|See also:||kink, domestic discipline, Slavery, BDSM AU|
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BDSM is an acronym standing for bondage & discipline, dominance & submission (D/s or d/s), sadism &/or masochism within consensual relationships. Some people also define the SM as Slave & Master. In fandom it is most often used in fic headers as a warning or as an indication of a story's content or genre. BDSM is used by fans as a general umbrella term for any fanwork which includes erotic power exchange, pain play, bondage, sensation play, other sexual kinks and occasionally for slavefic. The stories may be very sexually explicit, or may be more emotional or psychological in nature and contain little or no sexually explicit scenes.
Tropes and Styles of BDSM Fanworks
Some writers try to portray BDSM elements in the story realistically, depicting it as Safe, Sane, and Consensual or Risk-aware Consensual Kink. These fanworks may explore the mechanics of a BDSM relationship -- kink negotiation/exploration, choosing/using a safeword, the experience of subspace or domspace, subdrop and aftercare. Others, seeing their writing as fantasy, leave out elements that don't directly contribute to the kink or use their works to explore situations not possible outside of fiction. lit_gal's website disclaimer contains an extensive note explaining how the BDSM in her stories, especially those with non-human characters, differs from reality.
While fans may have strongly held opinions on the right way to do BDSM in fanfic there are works exploring the topic from many different perspectives.
One common trope is an AU or alternate reality where D/s relationships are the expected norm (BDSM AU). These stories normalize the BDSM desires of the characters and usually portray a 24/7-style relationship between the pairing. Not to be confused with slavefic, these stories are nearly always about fully consensual and societally supported kinky lifestyles.
Slavefic does often contain BDSM elements. In the worlds portrayed where slavery is legalized and enslaved people have no recognized right to consent, the BDSM elements, along with everything else sexual, are considered non-con or dub-con by most fans. Some of these stories take the narrative tack that the relationship is consensual and desired, and that the protagonists are exceptions in their society. The classification of that sort of story is more open to debate. See also slavefic for more details on the intersection of the two genres.
Another popular trope is the secret kink society or club that the characters join, sometimes in the line of duty in a kink take on the Undercover in a Gay Bar trope, and discover their nearly always perfectly matching kinks.
The BDSM variation of first time fic is often about one character discovering their submissive side. There are stories about brand-new Doms learning the ropes as well. These stories may take place in a kink club, an alternate BDSM reality or they may involve only the two characters figuring their kinks out on their own.
The Establishment brought BDSM and kink fic together with a collaborative RPG style of writing. The style, with point of view shifts that give the reader access to both the Dom and the Sub's inner thoughts, has been widely imitated and many players/writers of the Establishment use the style to good effect in their stories.
Some fanworks take canon scenarios with coded BDSM overtones and re-work them into explicitly acknowledged relationships. For example, White Collar fandom has frequent D/s relationships between Peter Burke and Neal Caffrey in both Peter/Neal slash and Peter/Elizabeth/Neal threesomes. The tracking anklet Neal wears is taken as a symbol of submission to Peter like unto being collared.
- A Cure for Boredom by emmagrant01, a Sherlock (TV series) John/Sherlock fic where John & Sherlock begin frequenting a BDSM club and discover that they both like it when Sherlock arranges John's sex life for him.
- A Kept Boy by poisontaster, a CWRPS WIP and start of the What We Keep shared universe, is a story about a modern society with legalized sex-slavery where the owners of slaves often use them in BDSM practices
- A lieutenant colonel is being beaten by thingswithwings, a Stargate Atlantis vid that uses the really very large number of canon scenes where John Sheppard is tied up, on his knees, or being beaten
- Bound to Please, a Professionals BDSM zine from 1994
- Bound to the Law, a Starsky and Hutch is a series of stories by Dawnwind. Author's summary: "Starsky and Hutch meet a dominatrix during a routine investigation and begin to investigate if BDSM would work in their relationship." 
- Castle (the rules by which we live) by kickflaw, a Merlin/Arthur modern AU with formal BDSM where Arthur is a professional Dom and Merlin is just discovering his submissive side
- Chains of Desire by Diana Williams, an X-Files Mulder/Skinner story where Mulder gets involved in a BDSM club and Skinner goes in after him
- Coming Home by Xanthe, a Stargate Atlantis BDSM AU where society is divided along D/s lines, kink is entrenched deeply in the culture and D/s pairs achieve soulbond
- Dark Shadows Play by Shadowsplay is a novel length, slash fanfic based on the original TV series Dark Shadows. Two hundred year old vampire and dominant Barnabas Collins takes Willie Loomis to be his servant and submissive lover. Barnabas develops and grooms Willie to consider and prepare for the decision of whether to become a vampire.
- Don't Look too Closely (all the angles are oblique) by shaenie, The Avengers (2012) Steve/Tony BDSM series
- L'Histoire d'Obi by Lilith Sedai, a Star Wars: TPM slavefic novel influenced by The Story of O that uses the undercover trope
- Let Coulson Take the Wheel by hoosierbitch, an Avengers Clint Barton/Phil Coulson fic where Clint has to safeword, and it terrifies him.
- Let Your Dreams Run Free by telesilla and hily, a Trek Reboot RPF first time where Anton Yelchin discovers his true nature with experienced Dom, Chris Pine, is an example of the Establishment style of writing 
- Needs must by thatotherperv, a Suits Harvey/Mike AU fic where Mike is a professional submissive, who takes a long term contract with Harvey.
- Take Clothes Off As Directed by Helenish, a responsefic to Coming Home that uses a similar BDSM society as an allegory for modern sexism; not really about BDSM
- The Intern by Lutte, an Attack on Titan Levi Ackerman/Eren Yeager fic where Eren is Levi's intern and Levi runs a BDSM club.
- Toes with Diamond Rings by Arachnethe2, a Kirk/T'Pau fic from 1998.
BDSM in Canon
In most mainstream television or films, kink or BDSM is often played for laughs or as a sign of a character being mentally unbalanced.
From the Supernatural scene where Dean Winchester wanders into a fetish club by mistake to the many Law & Order-style shows where a kinky relationship leads to murder, positive, realistic portrayals are rare.
Some notable exceptions may be Castle; at various times, both Rick Castle and Kate Beckett display clear familiarity with various aspects of BDSM culture and practice, and that familiarity is a significant component of their flirtatious onscreen relationship in the show's first few seasons. Another is Irene Adler in Sherlock (BBC), a character that is a broadly positive take on a dominatrix. The pilot episode of Elementary indicated that Sherlock Holmes is a sub ("about six feet high" with a cut to a pair of handcuffs). Phèdre nó Delaunay of Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy series of novels is an extreme masochist, and the novels are notable for their explicit and predominantly positive portrayal of BDSM.
Due to creator's William Moulton Marston's philosophical investment in a philosophy of female dominance, bondage and discipline were a recurring theme in the early era of Wonder Woman comics. For many contemporary fans these serve as a kind of "old shame" they'd rather disassociate the character from. Some early covers in this vein are collected on superdickery.com.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation explored a nuanced and positive portrayal of a major character relationship which included BDSM sexuality. A professional dominatrix named Heather Kessler, also known as Lady Heather, was a recurring character who appeared in six episodes, as well as the two-hour series finale. CSI Supervisor Gil Grissom became emotionally involved with Lady Heather, played by actress Melinda Clarke. The potential relationship provided some insight into Grissom's developing character, as well as shining a new light on his relationship with co-worker Sara Sidle. The character of Lady Heather was portrayed as someone with heightened sensitivity and a unique understanding of the layers of consciousness that are explored and developed by the exchange of power in a BDSM encounter, as well as the potential for greater trust and intimacy in a relationship based upon BDSM sex.
- Boys in Chains was an archive dedicated to BDSM slash fiction, now hosted on AO3
- The Titanium Whip Awards recognise the work of fanfic writers who write with a BDSM, kink or fetish theme
- Kink Bingo inspired many works with BDSM themes
- The Establishment is a multi-fandom RPG with kink and BDSM themes
- Fancake is a multifandom recommendation community with recs tagged BDSM
- Writing BDSM by Xanthe (2008)
- A Meta on the London BDSM scene by pennypaperbrain (2012)
- Meta on How to Write Realistic BDSM by pennypaperbrain (2013)
- Cliches in BDSM Fic by Chez Rozilla, accessed 14 March 2021
- Main Page, accessed November 30, 2010
- On BDSM, Part I by irana, accessed January 13, 2010
- A Kept Boy Masterpost, accessed January 13, 2010
- A lieutenant colonel is being beaten accessed January 13, 2010
- Archive of Our Own, accessed September 13, 2021
- Chains of Desire Series by Diana Williams
- Dark Shadows Play, accessed March 3, 2021
- Let Coulson Take the Wheel, accessed November 19, 2014
- Let Your Dreams Run Free, accessed November 30, 2010
- Needs must, accessed November 19, 2014
- The Intern, accessed May 21,2019