It was during the mid-1990s, in a debate in the newly established AOL service in the US came the idea of creating what we know today as a BDSM emblem. This was based on the thought that it was necessary to have a symbol representing this expression of sexuality and lifestyle. The symbol had to be a little mysterious. When worn, it did not have to attract the attention of "vanilla" people but be easily recognized by those who knew its meaning. Finally, through the public debate, an emblem was created that reminded the yin and yang design and was enriched by a description of Anne Desclos's ring in the novel "The Story of O" (which is very different from what was used in the film) .
Specifically, the ring described in the novel was quite different from what is now known as "Ring of O". The novel describes a ring similar to a stamp (with a relatively large stamp plate at the top), made of glossy iron, gold-plated inside and a gold Triskelion on its top.
The symbolic meaning of the ring in the novel differs quite well from what is currently used between individuals, professionals and BDSMers in general. In the book, such a ring was worn by a female "slave" after completing his education at Roissy Castle. There, those who wore the ring were compelled to be obedient to anyone (in this case, to men) belonged to the secret society of Roissy (the emblem of which is Triskelion) and had to allow them to do everything, independently whether these activities were enjoyable or fair.
But BDSM's practice has nothing to do with the description of the novel.
People wearing and using such symbols show that they are interested in BDSM (eg the hand wearing it may indicate if it is Top or Bottom).
The BDSM culture now has an integral rule: Safe, sane, consensual.
This means that the subjugation or imposition on others following this culture is a pure choice of the individual and that they can always refuse. All practice is based on the fact that there is always safety and that personal beliefs and limits are not violated.
The three parts of the emblem have been attributed to various interpretations:
- the 3 roles a person can adopt in BDSM: Top, Bottom and Switch
- the 3 sub-categories of the BDSM scene with specific interests: Bondage (Top / Bottom), Dominant / Submissive, Sadist / Masochist
- the three inviolable principles of BDSM practice: safe, conscious, consensual,
- the three types of sexuality that are found and are fully integrated into the BDSM scene regardless of gender: heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality (the spectrum of sexual orientation now includes a range of expressions such as asexuality, pseudo-sexuality, etc.)
Dots are likened to holes and represent the "flaw" of every aspect, because it is assumed that a person cannot practice the BDSM alone. It will be incomplete until a compamion is found who will fill this hole.