TPE (Total Power Exchange), TAT (Total Authority Transfer), no safewords, no limits, no way out, no “no”, owned, CNC, irrevocable consent, blanket consent, slave, property—
There are a lot of words, phrases, and acronyms used to talk about this area, many of which have other definitions, too.
It’s a lot to sum up. It can sound simple, but the totality of it, minding any loopholes, can be difficult to cover.
I use many of the above labels, but they don’t necessarily cover this area, as many use those labels for other pieces of this relationship, with a very different model of consent, so I use them alongside irrevocable consent, my chosen summary of this area.
Conversations on TPE and TAT that I saw emphasized the all areas part, but some held the idea that there could still be limits—there was just power exchange, or authority transfer—in all areas of life. Sex, finances, lifestyle, time, service, anything. Sometimes it simply overlapped strongly with 24/7.
The PE versus AT conversations focused mostly on the idea of it not being much of an exchange—what power or authority does the slave get back, after all? Transfer—definition: make over the possession of (property, a right, or a responsibility) to someone else.
Some got into the idea of personal power and strength versus the idea of the authority to make decisions. To me, both can be transferred—or at least owned.
Personally when in search of a noun I err towards dynamic—definition: a force that stimulates change or progress within a system or process. Mostly because transfer’s definition that includes ownership doesn’t have as neat a translation to nouns.
No safewords, no limits—is very simple, straightforward, and I like that, but it’s perhaps overly simple. Bright side, nearly everyone in the BDSM scene for more than a day knows what those words mean. No way out was a little vaguer—no way out of the relationship. No dissolution clause. No exit plan. Which many don’t spell out to begin with, so—more importantly: explicitly not allowed to leave, by contract, agreement, etc. For a while I favored the no safewords, no limits phrase, sometimes including no way out. No “no” was simple, too.
Blanket consent is a useful phrase, but some definitions leave the possibility of it being revoked. A standing assumption of consent, for either pre-established activities or pretty much anything. But perhaps just that—an assumption. But plenty do use it to mean irrevocable.
CNC is a lovely acronym that rolls off the tongue and I have to admit that when I talk to people who already know my dynamic that I’m referring to, especially out loud, I use it very frequently. With people who know me less well, or in a semantics driven context, or in writing—I try to use it carefully, because it can contextually mean anything from a once off rape roleplay scene with both a fake and real safeword to that 24/7 lifelong dynamic with no safewords, real or fake.
Irrevocable consent is pretty straightforward, I think. Consent is offered once, not to be revoked. Safewords, limits, ability to leave the relationship—all are forms of revoking consent, and are nulled by the phrase, as are the potential issues I have with blanket consent. Using the phrase in isolation I think is enough to imply the total and all areas parts from TPE/TAT, and if in a summary of my overall dynamic, I’d also be using 24/7, which is often a strong indicator in that direction anyway. I acknowledge that no label is perfect, and I’m happy to talk more at length, but for now, this is my go to quick explanation.
Admittedly, this makes some people uncomfortable.
The very reason I run this blog is because I know I can be a little niche. On the matter of consent and on the ways Mistress and I do other things. Descriptions of my dynamic are sometimes met with flattering envy and are sometimes met with horror and declarations of preferring death. To talk about my uniform means getting a response of either, “So practical; I hate having to think about clothes,” or, “I’d rather die than not be able to express myself with fashion.” To talk about service as my only full time occupation also meets statements of either envy of the opportunity (and privilege is a factor here) or of death by boredom. “Oh, me too!” is exceptionally uncommon on some issues, but always refreshing.
But for those who say—I wish I could do that, but I don’t know all the details, or, I like the idea of that, but I really want to pin down what it means for me, or, I want to live this, but I don’t know what it looks like day to day, or I’m curious, but I don’t know where to start, or I want to be of service, but I don’t know what to exactly do, for those who say, I want to learn more, I want to find people like me—those are whom I write for. I’m maybe not an expert, but I like to think I have a few useful or thought provoking things to say.
I try to somewhat focus on that niche of things where I know it can be unpopular and that there may be unfriendly tides around it elsewhere. Or even friendly to the idea tides where it’s hard to find someone who’s done it. To tell the people who might need it the most that they’re not the only one who wants this, does this, lives this.
Besides the popular idea that consent is always revocable, thinking about the phrase can lead people to other uncomfortable ideas. Any other popular ideas of consent can be erased by the irrevocable part. Aftercare or sobriety, for instance, cannot be conditions of irrevocable consent.
There’s the popular, “Well, what if they decided to chop your arm off?” argument. I posed a similar question to Mistress once while discussing this philosophy, to which she replied that I could beg her to chop my arm off and she still wouldn’t, let alone do it of her own desires.
Chopping my arm off sounds dangerous, expensive, and time consuming, and would lead to some hard questions at the ER, and who wants responsibility for that? Mistress’ occasional joke about such things is usually something I respond to with, “But then you’d have to get your own coffee,” at least while I was figuring out having one arm, and the joke ends with:
“Well, can’t have that.”
Yes, my consent was irrevocable once it was given here—but it was all around carefully considered before it was given, including pondering the mind of who I was giving it to. She’ll do things I don’t like, things I would’ve called limits if I currently defined them, go past when I would safeword if I would use one—but she’ll only do things she is willing and able to take responsibility for, which doesn’t include chopping off my arm. This is what really keeps her from things that are overtly illegal or sometimes just extremely risky.
Still—there’s the claim that such ownership is just a fantasy. It’s not legal, so what’s backing up the dynamic with this consent model?
I recently had some M/s characters explore this in my fiction. The slave says:
“[Our contract is] honor bound, and it says you own me, and I can’t change that. If I go back on it, I lose that integrity. It’s like a lien. I either honor the agreement or lose something momentous. Telling someone they own me really meaning something, ever again. […] I said that—anything you wanted to do—I’d let you. And if you don’t abide by the law or religion or social pressure, that doesn’t change what I said. So if I break the contract and leave and say it was because you were doing something illegal—I’m still breaking the honor ties. So I forfeit my right to leave with that integrity, to you—because the only way to leave with that is if you release me. You have a lien on my integrity with my debt being lifelong obedience. To include forfeiting all other rights. Unless you release me. If, when, I die, you die, or you release me—the debt is paid; my integrity is something you can’t take at that point.”
This is generally my own real world philosophy on it. My honor and integrity backs it up—no small things by my values. Also, internal enslavement can alter what your mind can truly wrap itself around, to exclude disobedience—this can keep you bound in a way, too.
Beyond the law, there can be other pressures, lessons built in from preschool and beyond.
In a previous post, I pointed out something about this:
“If Mistress were to say yes to everything I want, to give in every time I was suffering in any way, we couldn’t have a functional M/s dynamic as we define it. She has to be able to pick her own methods over what society teaches us about courtesy and compromise. She can choose to observe those things if she wants, but if she feels bound by them every time, she’s not actually controlling things.
“For my part, I have to be able to deal with it in a way that makes it easy for her to choose her own methods, not fixate on the concept of fair or treating others as you want to be treated. I can’t just technically never say no but try to whine and wheedle my way out of anything and everything I don’t like. It helps to be flexible, able to find things to like in a situation, and handle it even if I can’t.”
I think some do picture something slightly different with irrevocable consent to the reality—they picture the screaming no, the being held down, all that. Realistically, things don’t look like that here—I’m expected to just not say no, not to say it or complain and be overpowered. It looks a lot more peaceful and the reality is that even if my knee jerk reaction is no, I always want to obey more than I want to say no, and if I can’t quite bring myself to say yes, I want to be pushed there. And frequently, I just want to say yes.
Also, you can’t really effectively hold someone down screaming no when what you told them to do is the dishes or the laundry. Irrevocable consent goes far past things where holding someone down would work and that underlying desire to always say yes, and to say yes and just do it even when you don’t want to, is an important part. If communicating about actual wants is desired, it can be done at a time not directly after an order.
I will also say, I think it’s often valuable and important to read differing opinions on these things, avoid the echo chamber, and it can be thought provoking to read pieces with similar opinions that explain it in a new light. I spend a lot of free time pouring over anything from academic articles to books to FetLife writings, going to classes, taking video courses, and practicing, on the subjects that interest me, often regardless of the conclusion of another’s content, absorbing all the ideas along the way.
It was this that allowed me to choose the label I felt was right for me—watching others theorize on what possible labels meant, how they were used, why they were selected, when and by whom. After that, it lets me figure out more about what it really means to me, how to explain it, how it fits into other pictures. And if I think I have something to add, I write pieces of my own, like the ones mentioned above, or even this one.