I have been trying for days to organize and write my thoughts on TPE (Total Power Exchange) and APE (Absolute Power Exchange). There have been many debates transpiring lately on the mailing list and message boards and even others journals that have brought these two together.
I found a definition of TPE from the book Screw the Roses Give me the Thorns and it states “TPE is the empowerment of the Dominant BY the submissive's surrender to His/Her control. The power exchange is consensual and should be well negotiated. The depth of power yielded by the submissive is equal to the level of responsibility assumed by the Dominant.”
I immediately read this and went “How can this be Total?” Total is defined as “The whole amount, constituting the full quantity or extent; complete; "an entire town devastated by an earthquake"; "gave full attention"; "a total failure, including everything; "the overall cost"; "the total amount owed", without conditions or limitations, complete in extent or degree and in every particular” I think you get the idea. The definition of total is very straightforward. It encompasses everything, all of it. Yet the definition from a very well written book, and from numerous websites imply that this TPE is dependent upon how much power the Master wants and how much power the consensual slave is willing to give. Is this not with conditions and limitations and a complete and utter contradiction of the definition of “total.”
Absolute Power exchange was a little more difficult to define but I did look up definitions for the word “Absolute.” Something that is conceived to be absolute; something that does not depends on anything else and is beyond human control; "no mortal being can influence the absolute” perfect or complete or pure; "absolute loyalty"; "absolute silence"; "absolute truth"; complete and without restriction or qualification: not limited by law; without conditions or limitations; any belief, doctrine, concept or idea that is regarded as complete unto itself and therefore subject to no exterior circumstance or condition; Complete and without conditions.” Once again the definition is pretty straightforward and I believe even more rigid in a BDSM sense then the term “total” and unrealistic. Unattainable. One common flaw amongst all of us, be it Master/Dom, sub/slave is that we are human, and we are not perfect. Hence nothing we do will ever be “absolute.”
From here I have read numerous websites, which posted their opinions on it. Many subs/slaves wrote, “we strive for TPE/APE, I desire to be a TPE/APE slave, my goal is to be a TPE/APE slave.” Instead of reaching for unattainable goals, why not set realistic goals suitable for the relationship you’re in. We are told over and over again when planning our lives or trying to make that all important career move, to never set the bar “too high” for if you can’t reach that bar and meet those goals, then frustration, and eventually failure will set in. A Master/slave relationship is unique to each party involved and no website or definition should be the driving force in what sets your goals. You would never set your goals too high in your career or education so why set it too high for the most important part of your life…your relationship.
Another couple of websites really disturbed me with their remarks. Stating things such as “unhealthy, signs of lack of self esteem and self confident, total bullshit.” And this too disturbed me for no one; regardless of whom it is has any right to imply that another person has no self esteem or self confident. I am a consensual slave; our relationship is probably among the few whom can say they are together 99.9 percent of the time. I do believe, we are about as much a TPE/APE (per the BDSM definition) as a relationship can get. And I, in no way, lack any self-confident or self-esteem, if Master held a knife to my throat, I would not flinch, not because of fear, not because of lack of self-confident or self-esteem, but more because I am confident. I am confident that He would never ever injure me. Our relationship is neither absolute nor total, we are human, with conditions and limitations, be it vanilla society, our health, sheesh even old age! Yes I am always His slave but I am not perfect, He is not perfect, character flaw I guess.
Ok so that’s still not enough and you want to strive for TPE/APE. The first thing is, quit your job, both of you. How can you be apart from each other 8 to 10 hours a day and be a TPE/APE relationship? This is not possible. You are driving to work; driving in itself is a responsibility and gives you, the slave, control. You decided which route to take to work; you decide which radio station to listen to. You get to work, and yes you have control, every position has control and responsibility, hence how can you be a TPE/APE slave if you or Him works. It’s not possible. And how can He work and leave you at home, once again you have some level of control, some level of power, there is conditions and limitations placed upon your TPE/APE relationship, one being work. Yes it is feasible to both quit your jobs and stay at home and work. Yes it can be “real.” Master and I do it and so can any other person on this planet do it. But that still doesn’t make us or you TPE/APE as per the modern day society’s definition.
So you quit both jobs. Now what in this search for a TPE/APE relationship? Honestly I do not know. In my opinion in order to have a TPE/APE relationship the two of you have to be together, always. You as a slave are never allowed to make any decision, that is power, power is control. Essentially to be TPE/APE one would have to leash the slave and drag them around where ever the Master went. All decisions would be the Masters. She just exists. No more, no thought, no opinion. There would be no outside interference such as grocery shopping or the cable coming to the home and there would be no limitations such as me having MS, and don’t even think about getting old!
Yes, I do not understand this infatuation with TPE/APE and why we have to place such strict labels upon it. You can sit there and say, it is mental but anyone with any education and knowledge will ask you how can it be “absolute” when absolute implies perfect. The BDSM Community needs to stop manipulating words for their own benefit. We have the right to live as we desire but not the right to re-write the English language to suite our needs.
Master and I do not like labels, when the BDSM Community calls for us to place a label upon our relationship we call it TPE. That is something we rarely do and rarely define us as doing. We are Master and consensual slave; we have chosen a lifestyle that few could do. We are not TPE/APE for we are human, definite character flaws to being TPE/APE. I honestly am not sure if any word or definition would suite our relationship, other then believing in each other and satisfying each other’s needs regardless of what the BDSM groups think, or the vanilla society thinks. I am His always and I don’t need to strive for TPE or APE, I only need to strive to please Him and to learn how to keep Him happy.