Master/slave or M/s relationships are a special case of dominance/submission, in which the dominant has ultimate authority over the submissive. Some practitioners of M/s believe that ownership of slaves is based on an inescapable emotional state, such as total power exchange (TPE). It should be noted that the owner/slave relationship is entered into on a strictly consensual basis, without the legal force of historical or modern non-consensual slavery, which is in any case forbidden by the laws of most countries.
Connotatively it refers to highly committed dominance and submission (commonly abbreviated as D/s) relationships, as a person who has surrendered their personal property and freedoms to another, who has become the property or chattel of their owner(s). This term is widely used, as it has a certain self-affirming weight.
Some practitioners feel the difference between submissive and slave is the degree of submission. However, many who are involved in master/slave relationships see the difference as one in kind, not in degree. In particular, some slaves do not have a naturally submissive personality, but simply choose to surrender their will and volition to another.
There is considerable debate over the exact definition of the word "slave" as it pertains to BDSM. Many people believe that you are a slave if you consider yourself one, whilst others believe one must be in the emotional state of total power exchange (see below) for the term to apply.
There are differences of opinion about whether one needs to be currently in an M/s relationship to be identified as a slave. Many in the mistress/master-slave community do not feel that current ownership is a requirement, viewing it as an identity rather than a condition.
Symbols and rituals
Various forms of symbolism are sometimes used to affirm the owner/slave relationship, such as wearing the owner's collar, being registered in a slave register, adopting (sometimes legally changing to) a name chosen by the owner, or engaging in a public declaration or ritualized ceremony of some type. Some people draw up a slave contract that defines the relationship in explicit detail, but these have no legal weight and are therefore not intended to be used in any court of law.
In some traditional rituals, after signing a slave contract, many people celebrate the commitment to the relationship with a collaring ceremony, which can be simple or elaborate and friends are usually invited. The slave then wears a collar, which symbolizes their status. The collar may be an actual piece of neckwear, or may be a bracelet or other piece of jewellery that symbolizes their slavery. These collars are generally never removed unless or until the relationship is dissolved, although some slaves exchange a formal collar for a more subdued (or less obtrusive) one in work and vanilla situations.
Total power exchange
Total power exchange (TPE) is a derivative of the concept of power exchange in a master/slave relationship. The term refers to a relationship where the dominant or owner has complete authority and influence over the submissive's life, making the majority of decisions. TPE is occasionally referred to as 24/7, denoting that protocol in the D/s relationship is in play anytime, anyplace and the dominant partner gets complete power at all times of the day, though most consider these terms to have somewhat different definitions.
- A TPE (Total Power Exchange) relationship, sometimes described as an absolute lifestyle d&s relationship ... is a relationship in which no impediment to the exercise of the owner's power is accepted ... Such things as safewords, contracts, negotiated limits, and anything else which recognizes / acknowledges / formalizes limits on the owner's power are inimical to TPE.
Jacobs disliked the term TPE and preferred to talk about absolute power exchange (APE), but both terms continued to be problematic for some people, including many who pursue these types of relationship, since the relationship is subject to the physical and the emotional limitations of the participants and therefore cannot genuinely be total or absolute. Partly as a result of these objections, the term internal enslavement (IE) was developed in 2000, and is used to better describe the state of mind of these kinds of consensual slaves.
The slave may work to please or satisfy the master. This could include servitude, humiliation, public servitude, public use of collar and in some instances leash.
Slave training is a BDSM activity usually involving a consensual power exchange between two people taking on the roles of a master or mistress and a slave. Typically this involves changing the slave's behavior in a manner that is pleasing to the master or mistress, perhaps instructing the slave to follow a set of rules that the master or mistress has set out.
Slave training is a learning process both for the slave (or submissive) and for the master or mistress, or dominant. Training will usually be set out and defined clearly before it begins. The master or mistress will teach the slave how to speak, act and think in a way that is pleasing to them. The slave, in return, gets pleasure from being able to make their master or mistress happy. Or, the slave gets a reward like food, a bed, etc.
In some instances, in more extreme relationships, it may also involve some forms of aversion training. This could include use of spanking, cropping or clamping to encourage compliance, and to permit the slave to find an excuse for complying in their own minds.
Master/slave also exists as a subculture which straddles the Leather and BDSM worlds, and is represented at regular conventions and meetings in North America. These include the annual International Master/slave contest for master and slave pairs, held as part of South Plains Leatherfest each February; the MASTER/slave Conference held in Washington DC each July, which is also the largest convention dedicated to M/s relationships; and Masters And slaves Together with over 20 chapters across the United States.
- Guy Baldwin, SlaveCraft: Roadmaps for Erotic Servitude - Principles, Skills and Tools. Daedelus Publishing Co, 2002, pp57-62. ISBN 1-881943-14-3.
- Robert J. Rubel, Master/slave Relations: Handbook of Theory and Practice. Nazca Plains Publishers, 2006, p121.
- Robert J. Rubel, Protocol Handbook for the Leather slave: Theory and Practice. Nazca Plains Publishers, 2006, pp9,39.
- Christina Abernathy, Erotic Slavehood: A Miss Abernathy Omnibus. Greenery Press, 2007. ISBN 1890159719.
- Jack Rinella, Becoming a slave. Rinella Editorial Services, 2005. ISBN 0940267209.
- Jack Rinella, The Complete Slave: Creating and Living an Erotic Dominant/Submissive Lifestyle. Daedelus publishing Co, 2002. ISBN 1-881943-13-5.
This article incorporates text from the article on Total Power Exchange in Wipipedia, the free-content Fetish and BDSM encyclopedia.