Kink 101 What is Total Power Exchange

Kink 101 What is Total Power Exchange

Total Power Exchange

People use cars for different reasons. Most use them (more or less) occasionally: to go to work, to do shopping, to visit grandma or to drop the kids off at school. Others, such as truck drivers, Formula 1 racers and taxi drivers make a profession out of driving a car.

Let’s cross over to BDSM. Again, probably the vast majority of people into it do it occasionally, just for the fun of it. But a bunch of others are in totally different relationship: D/s, 24/7 or Total Power Exchange (TPE), the people who have taken BDSM beyond the kink.

Total Power Exchange falls into the latter category. Compared to the professional car-drivers: a Formula 1 driver is NOT the top end of taxi driving or truck driving. And a truck driver will probably never make a good rally driver. In other words: while they all use cars professionally, they use them in different ways. And one is not better than the other, just different – totally different.

In that same way TPE is totally different from all other forms of BDSM. But …. it is still BDSM. Or better, it is a relationship in which forms and techniques are used, that are also used in other forms of BDSM. Not the TOP of BDSM (in other words the ultimate goal everyone should reach for). Just different. Unfortunately: TPE is often romanticized – such as in “The Story of O” or the “Beauty” novels.

TPE stands for Total Power Exchange (sometimes also known as Absolute Power Exchange or APE). And the essence of TPE is in the fact that the exchange takes place in the very beginning of the relationship. As opposed to all other forms of BDSM there is no growth in the amount of power, exchanged between partners. It is total, absolute, all-encompassing and non-negotiable from the start. And something that is already total cannot grow any larger. Compare it to a light bulb: flip the switch and it is ON. Flip the switch again and it is OFF. And these are the exact two choices, a slave has in a TPE relationship: he or she can either be the full and total slave of the owner – or leave the relationship altogether.

The Babylonic Waterfall of Tongues

The BDSM community – in its endless and unproductive efforts to find ever more words for ever smaller personal niches of power exchange – has a habit of constantly inventing new words and descriptions: such as “consensual non-consensual”. This does not really help and is the main reason why there is much misinformation about TPE around.
TPE is basically simple: it is as close as one can get to the age-old principle of slavery: I own you and I can do with you as I please.

Now don’t get me wrong: that does not mean a TPE owner will run to the nearest Home Depot, get himself a nice chain saw and hack off ………………………… Nope. TPE owners are indeed the proud and responsible owner of a (sometimes more) slave and they will cherish, love and care for that property in the same way people care for their other property. But that does not change the fact that the slave indeed is considered property. By the owner AND by the slave.

Fruitless efforts to “downgrade” whatever it is you do, by finding other (fluffy) words for it, doesn’t help. Clarity does. In TPE the dominant is (or considers him or herself to be) the owner of one or more human properties and the slave is (or considers him or herself to be) such property in the same way the house, the pets, the car, the furniture and the fridge are the property of the owner. And in the same way the car, the chairs and the bed have no rights, the slave has none. But in the same way an owner will feed, love, cherish and care for his or her dog or cat he or she will do so for his or her slave(s).

But …… in the same way the owner will train his or her horse or dog to do what the owner wants it to do, act the way the owner wants it to act and look and behave like the owner wants it to behave, the TPE owner will change, modify, train and condition his or her slave(s) to his or her liking – without asking the slave if he/she likes that or not.. That is where one of the main differences with all other forms of BDSM is: concepts like safewords and negotiation are NOT in the TPE-vocabulary.


About Simon Blackthorne

Simon Blackthorne is a dungeon master at Wasteland and has been actively involved in the BDSM scene since 1975.  You can see more of his writings and films at WastelandBlog.com (NSFW)

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