Monday, January 21, 2008

And I rest my head on Benny's hairy thigh and I think to myself, "Thank God this motherfucker doesn't own me."

Mistress Matisse, who knows a hell of a lot more about these things than I do, gets it on the nose regarding "Total Power Exchange" (TPE) relationships:

I think TPE is positioned on the idea that the submissive having any limits whatsoever is bad, and something to be overcome. I don’t agree with that idea. I have seen people who claim to practice it compare it to a parent/child relationship. They mean that in a positive way, but the logic is flawed. The role of a parent is to grow this little person into a big one and eventually send them out into the world. TPE seems like the precise opposite, in that the goal is to shrink a grown-up functional person down into someone who feels that they no power. TPE people usually insinuate - if they don't just say outright - that they feel TPE is superior to other expressions of d/s. I think putting forth the idea that the best and highest example of consensual, affection-based slavery is one that most closely mirrors real, non-consensual slavery is a mistake.

I agree completely, and there's three other things that bother me about the whole concept:

a) I am not a submissive. I am a regular human person with a fetish for being submissive. I am no more a real slave than a furry is a real dog. And while I'm a bad example myself, what with the switching and the cheating and whatnot, I really don't believe that anyone has no will of their own and can give up all their trust, unless they are completely insane.

b) If it really does exist as advertised, with no limits and total obedience, it would be a goddamn travesty to do SM play under these circumstances. If someone puts total trust in you and gives up their right to say "no", how the hell can you then turn around and tie them up and hit them? Even if you know that they like it, it seems very ethically wrong to cause someone pain without continuous negotiation. I can't imagine even vanilla-fucking someone who isn't able to negotiate as an equal.

The apologetic "it's for the submissive's good, really!" metaphors are a clue: parent-child, teacher-student. What do these relationships have in common? That's right, a parent or teacher is a total piece of shit if they have sex with someone in their care. And SM sex with a dependent? You'd get killed in prison.

c) This quote from a woman describing her own TPE relationship:

This is one of the parts that makes most people cringe when they are talking about a TPE relationship. Their argument "you can leave if you want to", is of course valid in the sense that I can walk out the door if I should be stricken by insanity. However, Leo would come after me and bring me home. That is his right. Most TPE couples create an environment where practical actions support this "unable to leave" decision that the couples made when they entered their relationship.

In our case there are a couple of things. I do not have a job outside our home. Consequently I do not have any money of my own. When I need money for some reason, I have to ask Leo for them, and he will give them to me. If I get change after my purchase, I am to give that back to him. I don’t have a car, so I can’t go anywhere other than by foot, and there is no public transportation around. So even if I should suddenly turn insane and would want to leave, that would be very difficult.

JESUS CHRIST! I guess there's a certain appeal to submission as a "get out of adulthood free" card, but... adulthood has some perks, yanno.


  1. Wow, what is insane is having no money and not being able to leave the house. That is crazy. I am a stay at home mom and I don't have any income either, but my husband's paycheck goes to our joint checking account and we talk about how we spend OUR money.
    I am not into the stuff you are into, Holly, but it seems that you have a healthy attitude about it all. I wish you well and I hope you find what you are looking for.

  2. You know, that woman's quote reminds me strongly of the opening chapters in Stephen King's Rose Madder. And not in a good way.

    I don't personally understand full time master/slave relationships, but I know a few people involved in them and it seems to work out well for them. But the idea of giving up your option to ever change your mind just seems, well, insane.

  3. Sugar - Yeah, the whole thing gives me the heebie jeebies. If he becomes abusive (and I can't imagine that a man who wants to literally own a woman would do that), she's dead. But even if she just wants to end the relationship regular, no abuse but the magic's just gone, she's going to have a hell of a time.

    And thanks!

    Aebhel - Hm, haven't read that book, but I'm guessing it's not a romance novel.

    Yeah, I don't think there's anything wrong with living with your SM partner, but when your actual life--your money and future and freedom--is reduced to about the level of a housepet, then you're, yes, insane.

  4. It's sort of a feminist horror novel. Pretty brilliant book, actually, if you're into gore and obscurely metaphorical passages about the Garden of Good and Evil. I highly recommend it.

  5. Rose Madder is one of Stephen King's best, and Norman is definitely his best villian... in my humble opinion.

    And you're right, the parallels are definitely there.

  6. what scares _me_ is kind of fundie who no shit thinks this is what ALL marriages should be like

    you know, minus the leather and flogging

    maybe just minus the leather