BDSM, like any subculture, has its own symbols. These may allow members to recognize each other without drawing the attention of the vanilla, or non-BDSM, world. They may indicate a person’s preference or status within the community. Not every group uses them, and, as with any large and diverse group, not everyone defines them in the same way, but for those who recognize them, they are a quick and subtle means of communication.
The BDSMblem (http://evidenceandreason.
There are three variations which Quagmyr acknowledges, two of which have particular meanings. One, with its green, yellow, and red inner fields, represents the Safe, Sane, and Consensual mantra of BDSM, the other is rainbow-backed and represents queer BDSM specifically.
The Leather Pride flag (http://www.thetwilightguard.
Recently, a set of symbols denoting Dominant or submissive preference has been gaining some attention. In this set, a shield outline denotes a Dominant, with an arrow or a cross inside showing the gender, and a circle or open square signifies a submissive, with the former meaning a collared or owned sub and the latter meaning the submissive is single. It is worth noting, however, that these symbols came out of the Ownership and Possession subculture, which is a form of the 24/7 lifestyle in which submissives are possessions and the goal is to ingrain submission to the point that submissives become slaves. This may be something to consider before wearing the symbols, or any others. If you don’t know what something means, check it out. It’s unlikely that wearing an unknown symbol will be anything worse than embarrassing, but if you don’t want to give someone the wrong idea about who you are or what you support, it’s a good idea to do a little reading.