Some have a policy of panties/nipple sticker for women (underwear for men) and some allow full nudity with explicit sexual interaction allowed.The fundamental principles for the exercise of BDSM require that it should be performed with the informed consent of all involved parties.

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RACK may be seen as focusing primarily upon awareness and informed consent, rather than accepted safe practices. The consent and compliance for a sadomasochistic situation can be granted only by people who can judge the potential results.

For their consent, they must have relevant information (extent to which the scene will go, potential risks, if a safeword will be used, what that is, and so on) at hand and the necessary mental capacity to judge.

Participants usually derive pleasure from this, even though many of the practices—such as inflicting pain or humiliation or being restrained — would be unpleasant under other circumstances.

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

The interaction between tops and bottoms—where physical or mental control of the bottom is surrendered to the top—is sometimes known as "power exchange", whether in the context of an encounter or a relationship.

BDSM actions can often take place during a specific period of time agreed to by both parties, referred to as "play", a "scene", or a "session".The precise definition of roles and self-identification is a common subject of debate within the community."BDSM" is an umbrella term for certain kinds of erotic behavior between consenting adults.The terms "top" and "bottom" are also used: the top is the instigator of an action while the bottom is the receiver of the action.The two sets of terms are subtly different: for example, someone may choose to act as bottom to another person, for example, by being whipped, purely recreationally, without any implication of being psychologically dominated by them, or a submissive may be ordered to massage their dominant partner.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 is essential.