Research on vocative use and terms of endearment in BDSM erotica has shown connections to power and politeness (Dwyer 2007), but has yet to reveal vocative use in queer spaces. Using Dwyer’s framework to examine term use in an anthology of explicitly queer and trans erotica (Taormino 2011) has revealed mainly similarities and few differences, though does suggest the need for different categorization of terms. Dwyer (2007) examines BDSM erotica that, while including a certain amount of queer relationships, is primarily cisgender and heterosexual. The author identifies 13 different categories for organizing terms by their base term, but data from Taormino (2011) suggests that these categories are inconsistent. Koller (2012) and Motschenbacher & Stegu (2013) all argue for the construction of queer identity through language, via both written work and natural speech. Bauer (2008) identifies BDSM as another means by which to construct queer identity, and together with Dwyer (2007) the literature suggests that language, queerness, and BDSM may work together to contribute to the construction of queer identity. The analysis presented here reveals that queer vocative use in BDSM erotica is predominantly similar to cisgender and heterosexual use, especially in regard to complex terms and “Yes, Sir” patterns. A key difference is evidence for inconsistency within the age terms category, which points to terms being best categorized according to use and not conventional word definition. Given that both works look only at the written word, any similar patterns may only be superficial. This suggests further research is necessary to examine how real queer and BDSM-aligned individuals assign meaning to term use, both for the purpose of creating the headspace for BDSM play and for affirming one’s gender and/or sexuality.
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