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.
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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