Successful M/s relationships center themselves around the creation of a deep, shared, ongoing joy.
Photo by Artem Labunsky on Unsplash
After the mainstream success of 50 Shades Of Grey opened the door, sexual Mastery and slavery, together and separately, have become acceptable topics of daily conversation. Recently, the NXVIM sex slave cult was exposed, and in November 2019 a heartbreaking series of essays about child sexual abuse appeared in The New York Times.
These are all situations based on inferiority and superiority, total control and helplessness. And they are all horrifying examples of abuse. We need to eliminate human trafficking and child sexual abuse and learn to be able to identify charismatic sexual predators who present their predation as salvation, unequivocally.
However, none of these harrowing examples share anything in common with a Master/slave (M/s) relationship as understood in the kink community. M/s relationships are consensual, and if done correctly, fulfill both partner?s deepest desires. There is no coercion involved. Creating a relationship by searching for desperate people, ensnaring them in abusive relationships, and concealing the reality of it behind the rubric of an ?alternative lifestyle? does not make you a Master, but rather a predatory asshole.
Successful M/s relationships center themselves neither in emotional blackmail nor physical force, but rather the creation of a deep, shared, ongoing joy. Why bother reimagining the possibilities of a relationship if the answer won?t make both of you happy?
Everyone reading this has had a moment where life seemed utterly overwhelming, and you wished there was someone who would make all decisions for you so you didn?t have to deal with them. Most people go for a walk, or out to dinner, maybe take a mental health day, and then things seem manageable again.
For a moment, entertain the idea that rather than being a fleeting thought, the desire to have decisions made for you is a deep-seated need, and you only find true happiness when that need is fulfilled. Imagine, as well, that some people are only truly happy when they are in charge, and sometimes they can sense someone?s needs before that person is aware of them. The basis of a healthy M/s relationship is reciprocal needs fulfillment.
I identify as a Master. As I believe I should never ask someone to do something I haven?t done myself I have tried serving as a slave. I find consensual slavery incredibly physically, emotionally, mentally, and psychically difficult. It?s not something I could ever do long-term, and I think those who find their pleasure in doing so are incredibly rare and deserve to be celebrated. Slavery, in the context of the kink community, is an ongoing act of absolute selfless service, of putting your ego away completely, and finding your pleasure in the knowledge you have been found pleasing by your Dominant.
How did I discover this world?
I was 6. My father was a Ph.D. chemist, working at a federal lab. He had lots of friends he went to school or worked with who also had Ph.Ds. They would have gatherings, and as most of them had kids, the parties usually had a kids? section.
One night, due to a confluence of unusual occurrences, I found myself as the only kid at an adult dinner party. I even had a seat at the table. However, it was made exquisitely clear that I must stay silent and behave myself, as this was adult time. My mother was a great cook, and when folks started eating in earnest there was a whole lot of silence. Out of my mouth and into that silence came the following: ?Y?know, the world would be a better place if everyone just stayed quiet and listened to Me.?
People tried to avoid choking on their food. Since the dinner party precluded immediate processing, an excuse was made that I was overtired, and I was whisked off to bed with the promise that we would talk about this later. We never did. But the moment of my utterance stayed in my thoughts.
I lay in bed that night, not understanding why I made that announcement but knowing that I had just learned something concrete about myself. And it?s held true. Things are best when I decide. I decide where we?re going for dinner, and everyone is pretty much happy about the choice. And being in charge of the plan gives me joy, as well.
This is also true in my professional life. I?m a good team lead. I read people well. I tend to think both creatively, and associatively, and if I?m the project lead that talent is considered inventive and fresh. If not, I?m inevitably seen as stepping on someone?s toes.
I?ve come to terms with the fact that being a Master isn?t something I do, it?s someone I am. It?s just how I?m organized. Baby, I was born this way.
Life is a series of unequal status relationships. Parent/child, boss/employee, teacher/student, guard/inmate, shopper/clerk ? it doesn?t matter. The Living Theatre, in their piece 7 Meditations on Political Sadomasochism, states that these are sadomasochistic relations ? that someone is bringing the pain while someone else takes it.
I conceive of these interactions more as performed power relations than sadomasochistic acts, as I?m not into receiving or causing physical pain. Within the BDSM community, the phrase Total Power Exchange (TPE) is often substituted for Master/slave. TPE takes the implicit power relations already existing in everyday life and makes them explicit. It formalizes the informal. It says the quiet part loud.
One of the more common self-identifications I see in BDSM is ?submissive only in the bedroom.? Besides making me wonder what happens if we?re fucking in the kitchen, this frustrates me because it reduces BDSM to an activity, something you can do in your spare time. BDSM is not an activity or hobby, but an opportunity for self-revelation and transcendence that goes way beyond sex.
A major difference between submission and slavery is that consensuality in submission is achieved through negotiation and debate, while in TPE it is based on trust. Trust takes a long time to gain and requires a profound level of emotional honesty. If someone wants you to be their slave shortly after you meet ? RUN! This person is either a game player or an abuser.
Within the submissive community, many women claim to be a ?bratty sub.? Within this rubric, everything must be discussed, negotiated, and agreed upon before anything can happen, and this process must be repeated for every activity. If I wanted to be an ambassador, I would have majored in political science.
I?m attracted to TPE because it provides an alternative way to live life. Having to negotiate, cajole, and hope in order to get what you want strikes me as quotidian existence writ small, rather than an interrogation of social norms.
There is a small corner of the kink world that identifies as Gorean. Gor, based on a badly written 27-book series by John Norman, is rooted in a simple concept: All women are born to be slaves to all men. This means that all men should be treated with the same level of respect that a non-Gorean slave would afford only to her Master. Problematic, but fascinating in practice.
I experienced the power of a trained kajira (Gorean slave) one day in line at a convenience store, and saw the effect of her life choice on the larger vanilla world. The cashier was having a bad day and spreading gloom in every direction when a young woman walked in, mid-20?s. I clock her collar, ankle bells, outfit, and general mien, and realize that I?ve just had my first R/L kajira sighting.
I watched her check the energy in the room, latching her gaze onto the cashier. Her attention was like a solar flare. She found his darkness and obliterated it. She love-zapped kindness and unconditional positivity on this stranger. He relaxed, and began to share that kindness with those who moments ago he abhorred. He chatted with customers about baseball and gave a kid a free cookie.
The kajira neither spoke nor moved, but changed this man?s emotional state in less than three minutes. This required a fuckton of natural ability honed by years of practice and a deep belief in the transformative nature of her practice. Being a good slave takes work and commitment, just like any other skill.
TPE is not only about sex. Two years ago, I would have blithely tossed off a comment about TPE and control making me hot. It?s true ? I do find control erotic, and the more control I have the more erotic it is. But it?s much more than that. It?s a bespoke relationship: two people, in concert, working to build a relationship that fulfills their unique needs. It is created intentionally, with all assumptions deconstructed and troubled.
As someone whose disobedient body has led them to continually question foundational societal posits, I?m always looking to find my match, the one who will never be satisfied with ?it is what it is,? whether that connection occurs as part of a TPE relationship or just as a friend.
I want to be someone?s alpha and omega, their beginning and end, and have them dedicate their life to pleasing Me. I want to fulfill someone?s need to serve another, and to find their greatest joy and peace in doing so. I want us to complete each other.
I search endlessly for someone who needs to be vulnerable, to show me the things most people would hide. I never want anyone to feel forced ? TPE needs to be based in joyous mutuality, not oppressive hierarchy. Two people agree to a status-based relationship because it makes them happy. I want someone smart, accomplished, somewhat emotionally healthy, and committed to open communication.
TPE is neither a shelter for a woman escaping a destructive life situation, nor an excuse to sit around and await orders. Rather, it is the consensual, voluntary gift of dominion over your life to another. The more you have to offer, the more profound that gift. In fact, the majority of women I have met who have a long-term commitment to consensual slavery are in helping professions such as nursing or the military. Their lives and the lives of those they work with depend on clear communication and a respect for the chain of command. I don?t believe this to be accidental. The over-representation of consensual slaves within these professions occurs because success in these fields demands the same skill set that makes a good slave: a commitment to putting another?s needs before one?s own.
When in a TPE relationship, I am forever reminding myself that just because I can do something doesn?t mean I should. Just as my slave?s focus should be on pleasing me, my lodestar is their health, growth, and safety. As I often push my slave to the edge of their comfort zone, communication is key.
Clear communication begins with the only thing in 50 Shades of Grey that seems realistic: the slave contract. I have written more than one of those, and believe they are necessary. A slave contract is a negotiated and mutually agreed upon spelling out of the rights and responsibilities wherein the slave has consented to give up their right to consent. This is not something to be entered into quickly or lightly.
People often ask Me: What do you do in a TPE relationship? Just like any other relationship, it?s about the match. If you are claustrophobic I won?t put you in a cage to sleep, or, if I do, we will work up to it very slowly. While people often associate BDSM with whips and chains, that isn?t Me. I have Cerebral Palsy, don?t trust myself with a whip, and am familiar enough with physical pain that I refuse to inflict it on anyone else.
Partially due to My disability, My practice is based in the mental, as opposed to the physical, realm. On the simplest, most concrete level, we do what pleases Me. Every slave is different, and so while there some constants in what I find pleasing, much will change from slave to slave.
As a Master, what I offer is the best, most sacred version of myself. Someone offering me absolute decision-making power over them is both a tremendous honor and a huge responsibility, one that I take extremely seriously. As I am My slave?s alpha and omega, she is the center of my world. If the bullet comes for her, I take it. That?s My half of the slave contract.
Keen-eyed readers have noticed that sex was not mentioned in my discussion of what I desire from a slave and what I offer in return. It is most certainly in this matrix somewhere, but I much prefer non-sexual service, as it better lends itself to public and /or 24/7/365 practice. Overall, My goal is to literally change your mind to please Me.
Total Power Exchange is not in any way deviant, coercive, or dehumanizing, but rather on one end of a continuum of healthy, consensual relationships.