House is used in several different ways within BDSM, but always to represent a group of individuals pursuing some common purpose and wishing to establish some form of identity together. The construction "The House of X" is a very common way of titling such households.
Much of the imagery and symbolism in BDSM comes from historical centres of power, such as monarchs and lords. Royal and noble dynasties often took a name of the form "House of York" or "House of Grimaldi" to identify themselves, either based on a geographical location ("York") or their founder ("Grimaldo Canella".)
Modern science fiction has used similar terminology when putting quasi-aristocratic households in a fantasy context. For example, the slave dealing business run from the House of Cernus in John Norman's Gor series; and the struggle between House Atreides and House Harkonnen for control of the planet Arrakis in Frank Herbert's "Dune". These fictional houses share the key features of historical houses: the idea of a common identity and name, a leader, and retainers or servants.
BDSM Publishing and Fashion Houses
Similar names are also uses by some BDSM publishers, such as the House of Milan and House of Gord, and fashion businesses, such as House of Harlot. This usage also overlaps the mainstream concept of a "publishing house" or "fashion house", but has an added dimension within BDSM due to its historical and modern D/s associations.
A House provides an alternative model to the Leather Family, for groups of people living together in a D/s structure. For some people who prefer more masculine styles of dominance, the idea of a hierarchical and even formal or ritualised household may sit more comfortably than a family.
There is some overlap with the concept of a Head of Household, which also applies to simpler monogamous relationships similar to traditional marriages.
Many D/s Households are prominent within their local BDSM scene, and may organise events or their local chapter of an organisation such as MAsT. Having a shared household identity is both convenient and affirming, in the same way that many married couples prefer to share a surname.
Links to Households
- The Order for Discipline and Service - a household in Virginia, US
- Sir Stephen's household - in New Jersey, US
- Household Keppeler - in Michigan, US
- The Iron Triangle Household - in Seattle, US
(See also links on the Leather Family article.)