BDSM is now used as a catch-all phrase covering a wide range of activities, forms of interpersonal relationships, and distinct subcultures.
BDSM communities generally welcome anyone with a non-normative streak who identifies with the community; this may include cross-dressers, body modification enthusiasts, animal roleplayers, rubber fetishists, and others.
Activities and relationships within a D/s or M/s 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").
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 when spoken.