At the core, total power exchange is exactly what the label describes: the total (or absolute) exchange of power. However, like every other part of life, the way it plays out depends on the individual relationship.
Most TPE relationships are similar: at a certain point, the submissives give complete control of herself–body, mind, activities, possession–to her (or his) dominant. Yes, total usually means TOTAL. No safewords, no stated limits, no freedom to make career decisions or financial choices–and most people invovled in TPE will agree that the submissive loses the right to end the relationship as well.
I’ll wait while the majority of you think things like “Impossible!” “That’s abusive.” “Slavery is bad.” “No one can stay in role all the time!” “How could you want to destroy a sub’s spirit and independence?”
I’m not going to re-invent the wheel. There are people on the internet who are living TPEs and they do a much better job of explaining it than I can. I am not a TPE Dominant–yet. I have a long-distance slave. We have agreed that once we move in together, our goal will be to build a total power exchange. We know this is what we want–what we were meant to be. TPE isn’t for everyone, it’s not even what I thought I wanted a year ago. It is what I want with Moonflower.
To answer, quickly, the objections above:
“Impossible!” –Read some of the webpages listed below. These are couples (or triads) who live or are working toward TPE. And they are just a few of the examples out there.
“That’s abusive.” –Abuse is forcing your will on another person or otherwise harming them. Becoming a TPE slave is a process that can take years. The slave always has the choice to end the process–up until the final moment of surrender. And a TPE Dominant craves responsibility, not power. Controlling another means being responsible for her well-being and happiness. I’m not going to abuse or harm the one person I cherish more than anything or anyone on this planet.
“Slavery is bad.” — Yes, it is. Involuntary enslavement of any individual or group is morally indefensible. Some TPE couples discard the terminology of property, instead talking about dependence. Moon prefers the word “slavehood.” She likes the imagary of being a slave–owned property. However, she wants to assert that her slave status is by choice and is empowering to her, therefore separating it from involuntary, denigrating slavery.
“No one can stay in role all the time!” –Again, I agree. To me D/s is not a role, it is who I am. For more on this, see “The Nature of Roles” elsewhere in this section.
“How could you want to destroy a sub’s spirit and independence?” –I don’t. I want to control it; own it. Moon will continue to build her own career, develop friendships, fight with me over corgis vs. greyhounds and deeper problems. I will guide her, teach her, lead her, and, if necessary, control her in these things. Her spirit and personality are what attracted me to her in the first place. If I destroyed these things, what would be the fun in having her around? Also, she is a slave. That is her inner nature and what she was meant to be. By giving her the chance to be what she longs to be, I give her the freedom to be even more herself, not less. Saying slaves are somehow “less” than other submissives is the the equivalent of saying submissives are weaker than dom/mes. It may apply to a rare, emotionally victimized person, but for the majority, it’s not just false, it’s insulting.
I’m sure there are other arguments and other outraged reactions. There are several websites that present more detailed views of TPE based on the authors’ experiences. I will say one last thing about TPE: some will argue that I don’t know what I’m talking about because I’m not “in” a TPE. I respond by pointing out I knew I was bisexual before I ever kissed a woman; I knew I was dominant before I ever had a submissive; I know I am a TPE dominant–and so does my slave.
The Total Power Exchange Home Page
a male dom/fem sub couple in the netherlands discuss their view of TPE. They have a wonderful FAQ on TPE and also have given space to a few other views of how TPE “works.”
What is Absolute Power Exchange?
a section of the “Submissive Women Speak” website. Most of the articles are responses to e-mail or discussion list conversations, but they provide a clear picture of what APE is and isn’t (at least to the authors).
Total Power Exchange List July 2001 NOTE: this list was closed July 1, 2001.
the discussion list started by moon and me in December 1998. More links appear in this “mini-site.”