September 4, 2010

Total Power Exchange

I often write about this topic in a round about way but today I thought I would really delve into this fundamental practice of the BDSM world.

Much of what we do in our daily lives reflects that of a traditional relationship. Life is still life regardless of what particular lifestyle one opts for. Everyday situations need to be handled and responsibilities fulfilled. Many approach BDSM with the belief that it is a way that will fix all the outer problems. This is not true.

Promote Inequality

The most basic tenet of BDSM is that we promote inequality. "All men are created equal" is a mantra for others to preach. In our way of life, people opt to be subservient to others. It is a conscious choice to serve. The ones who choose this path are not seeking to be equal. Instead, they are craving a life where one is in control and directive of all actions. They are seeking a fulfillment that is different from the average. A service mindset is at the core of who these people are.

At the same time, there are ones who crave being in control. For the true dominants, this is not something that comes from a place of weakness. Unlike the "control-freaks" we encounter in the traditional world, a true dominant understands the responsibility that accompanies accepting the submission of another. It is not something that is undertaken lightly.

Therefore, the very essence of a BDSM relationship is inequality. Both parties fulfill a particular role for the other. There is no pretense that both parties are acting in accordance with each other. The dominant is the one who is in charge of leading the relationship. It is the submissive who is fulfills the relationship by obeying the directives of the one in charge. He guides, she follows. Inequality at its finest.

Total Power Exchange

Taking this idea one step further, there is a concept in this lifestyle called "total power exchange" (the term "absolute" is often substituted for "total"). This move the power exchange to the extreme. The power breakdown under this circumstance is 100%-0%. All power lies in the hands of one. The other is meant to obey and follow. Again, this is a consensual choice that each party makes. However, both have responsibilities.

Many take exception to the idea of a total power exchange. They believe that a slave will retain some authority no matter how dedicated she is. Debates often arise in those instances where one works or has duties of tending to children. How can one be completely in the control of another when she has managerial tasks at work or is in charge of disciplining the kids?

I answer this question simply with the notion that it is his will for a slave to do these things. If it was not, she would not be doing them. Take the job as an example. My slave works outside the house. She is responsible for getting to work on time, performing the tasks set out by the company, and earning monies which are turned over to me. Her position is with my consent. This was something approved by me before she applied for the job. If I decide that she is not to work, then she would quit immediately. Of course, I must be accepting of the financial consequences of my decision.

That is an example of what it means to be under another's control. In a total power exchange, the other makes all choices for you. This is fundamental in a M/s relationship. A slave's position is to obey. The Master dictates the direction of the relationship.

Acceptance of Responsibility

One thing that few ever mention when discussing this topic is the acceptance of responsibility for all that transpires. It is easy for a dominant to blame a slave when things go wrong. This is the wrong approach. If a slave is following the directives set down upon her, then the Master is the one who takes responsibility for the outcomes. It is his decisions that her actions are based upon.

Few are up to this task. Newer people are drawn to the idea of having someone do all that he tells her to do. Usually, sexual antics are at the top of the list. Aside from this, many are not suited to take responsibility for another. In fact, they cannot take control of their own lives. This creates a quandary when one is looking to submit to another. There is nothing that is accomplished by submitting to one who is unable to run his own life. Sadly, most seem to fall into this category.

I always caution newer people to think about the responsibility side of the BDSM equation. It is not all fun and games. The online world makes it look so easy. It is not. The reality is that there are many pitfalls to a BDSM relationship. Effort, communication, and discipline are required if people are to succeed. There is a lot more to a BDSM relationship than just sex. People need to look beyond that.

In the end, is there a BDSM relationship without an exchange of power? I dont believe so. It is the one aspect that is fundamental to this way of life. Those who are seeking to maintain equality arent entering into the BDSM lifestyle. Instead, I think they are simply seeking to add some kink to their lives. This is a far cry from living a life with the exchange of power as a central theme. Total exchange of power is at our core.

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Lynn on June 3, 2013 at 12:01 AM said...

I just want to say thank you for sharing this. My husband and Dom and I have not been following the lifestyle for very long, nor do we follow the TPE lifestyle, but this is very valuable advice and information for anyone just starting out. Whether you give your Dom complete control or its only partial, communication, trust, respect, and discipline are key factors in making the relationship work, and I'm glad you pointed that out. Both my husband and I are on the stubborn side and have short fuses at times, but after being introduced to D/s and taking very good advice like that in your article, it helped us a lot, and it is a much more fulfilling relationship. Thank you again.

Debutant Divorcee on May 24, 2014 at 7:33 AM said...

I am very confused with the concept. Can you suggest any reads?

Debutant Divorcee on May 24, 2014 at 8:10 AM said...

Ok, another question? If I need my Dom to pay attention should I just ask for it? I think I've been reading to too much. In the vanilla world if I beg a man or ask for my desires he will withdrawal and this is a very scary thought. But should I fear asking for what I need or want? I especially fear to loose that person.

Anthony said...

Debutante, no doubt this is a little late, but to anyone else wondering: yes, if you need your Dom to pay attention, then ask for it nicely:

Sir, would you mind looking at this?

A good Dom will not withdraw if you make your desires known. He will take your information in and maybe act on it now, and maybe later. But he wants to know all the information he needs in order to properly care for you. A good Dom does care for you and does want to give you what you ask for. He just might not give it in the way you intend or at a time you would choose.

If you don't have a Dom you can trust with your needs and desires, then you need to look for another Dom.

Anonymous said...

I have lost my Master and wish to find him again. Any ideas? I won't be able to find a true master like this intelligent and knowledgeable about this lifestyle. Are there any forums for this kind of stuff?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this explanation. I was recently, abruptly, jarringly, unsolicitedly introduced to a dear friend's D/s contract (my friend is the Dom, this was his contract between himself and his sub), and then was left with it with no context or information to help me process it. As a recovering survivor of early childhood sexual trauma, that was a very unkind and thoughtless way to have introduced me to it, and it triggered a very alarming, frightening (but, also empowering and thrilling) struggle and resolution of the trauma issues I have been working through (that happened to be unfortunately (or fortunately?) coupled with a bad manic reactions to a new SSRI medication).
Alarmed by the inappropriate way this reaction caused me to reach out, this friend said goodbye to me.

I am glad though, doing more of my own personal research (because I love and trust this friend and was willing to be open and look past the things about it that terrified me), has led me to an appreciation for it.
It seems a collection of nuanced ideas and principles, and my previous exposure has only been to the very surface levels of the kink and sexual aspects, which alone are quite uncomfortable for me.
There's still a lot I'm trying to understand, it was all so terribly confusing and lonely a thing to go through. And though I do have a therapist I can talk to about it, it's hard to have no one else at all.

I'm grateful for those who take the time to explain

I'm glad to have my horizons expanded, and glad people can be open in thoughtful ways about their choices.

Esther Ledbetter on February 14, 2017 at 8:29 AM said...

Thank you for this articule it was very helpful. I am in a 24/7 relationship with tpe. It helped me understand that th eir isnt a difference in the two that i can find.

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