Could you be a slave, owned, property?

Could you be a slave, owned, property?

Many with a taste for male-led relationships are drawn to the idea of property, ownership, possession. It brings to mind the idea of a man in total control, commanding obedience and having the right to do what he wants with his property provided he doesn't annoy the neighbours. It conjures up images of a woman having no choice, no veto power, and no way out. To some of those who want real control and no safety net, it sounds satisfyingly absolute.

Since Taken In Hand is about male-led relationships and real control on the part of the man rather than just play control, it is not surprising that some Taken In Hand folk consider themselves to be in TPE or “absolute power” relationships. Nor should it be surprising that some Taken In Hand folk consider themselves to be in a “master-slave” relationship.

And yet for many, the idea of being a slave is completely abhorrent. We imagine real slaves being mistreated and used by wicked exploiters. Or we imagine an arrogant, odious “master” sitting back and expecting to be waited on hand and foot, and a down-trodden passive doormat woman being treated appallingly and suffering in silence. Or we imagine leather-clad BDSM types role-playing a negotiated scene before returning to “vanilla mode” equality. It need be none of these things.

Take the idea of literal slavery. Despite what some websites say, we (and indeed they) are not really talking about literal slavery, since the real thing is fundamentally non-consensual and not something real slaves passionately want. If you really want with all your heart not to have a choice or a way out, the relationship is, at its core, consensual. It is consensual non-consent, not the same sort of non-consent as when someone kidnaps a person having no desire to be a slave, and forces him into slavery. (Similarly, the “rape” I spoke of in my article When rape is a gift is not really non-consensual.)

Nor does being owned imply much about the owner. Different men have different preferences, limits, predilections, and objectives, and they are not all thoroughly loathsome. Obviously, it wouldn't do to be owned by someone incompatible, so caution and common sense is needed when you seek to be in such a relationship. Not just any man will do.

One thing that grates with some Taken In Hand folk is the idea that being a slave is the ultimate kind of servant. Not all submissive women have the service kink. And not all Taken In Hand women think of themselves as submissive either. The trouble is that many think that submissiveness means passivity, docility, having a “beta” personality, being mindlessly obedient or a people-pleaser. But as Jon Jacobs has written:

Submissive women run the gamut in aggressiveness from almost completely passive to super-aggressive. They can range from mildly resistant and disobedient, especially in the early period of a relationship, to super-resistant. What all submissive women share has nothing to do with levels of resistance or aggressiveness: it is the simple and profound desire to be controlled, protected, and contained—in a word, dominated.

Some say that being a slave is defined by “the degree of submission.” This might be a reasonable idea, but it is often taken to imply a scale of obedience such that being prepared to commit suicide or murder on command is deemed the mark of someone worthy of the name “slave”, whereas those who are not amoral or immoral are deemed not to make the grade.

I recently had a conversation with a D/s woman who clearly liked the idea of thinking of herself as her boyfriend's slave but who had been told that to be a slave means total obedience no matter what. If you are property, she had been told, your owner has the right to dispose of you as he wishes, including lending you out to other men, giving you away, selling you, and indeed killing you or having you kill your child. Realising that she could not in good conscience obey such commands, the woman sadly concluded that she could not be a slave.

Such statements are indeed consistent with the idea that if you own something, you have the right to dispose of it as you wish, provided that whatever you do with it doesn't frighten the horses. But what these statements seem to ignore is the fact that some uses of your property are better than other uses, and not everything you have a right to do is right. Some things you could do with your property would be morally wrong.

If you dislike this talk of morality perhaps you can at least agree with the following statement: not all men would want to lend their woman to other men, kill her, or have her commit murder. Some men would have a strong preference not to do these things. Some men would find the idea of those things quite appalling. If you are going to be a man's property, you had better make jolly sure you and he are compatible and have broadly the same values, limits, predilections and objectives.

The idea that you must obey no matter what or you can't be a slave puts all the responsibility for control on the woman and leads some men to develop the unrealistic expectation of zero resistance and complete obedience no matter what they ask of the woman. But being a slave doesn't give a woman super-human powers of unquestioning obedience any more than it makes her subhuman. Anyone who wants a slave has to be prepared to assert his authority actively if necessary. When a man tells a woman that obedience is the sine qua non condition of a relationship with him, the chances are, he has unrealistic expectations and will deny his own responsibility of control in the relationship. Such men tend to accuse the woman of being dominant, controlling, a shrew, unwomanly, not submissive or not a slave. Such accusations can be terribly wounding to the woman and may be highly destructive.

This view of the “slave” as being someone who obeys her owner without demur is common but it is not the only possible view. If you like the idea of being a “slave” or “property” but could not violate your deepest moral values in the name of obedience, there is another perfectly reasonable view you could take, as I shall explain.

Some take the view that “property does what it's told” but wherever did that idea come from? Property doesn't necessarily submit, serve or obey, does it? Well the dog I had as a child never did anyway! I spent vast amounts of time trying to train her to sit on the floor when told to, and not to move until permitted to, without success. I didn't even attempt to get her to fetch my slippers, retrieve a ball or otherwise serve obligingly like other dogs do. It just wasn't going to happen! No doubt an expert dog trainer would have done better, but I was unable to command her obedience.

Whether property does these things or not depends to a large extent on its owner. If the owner has a commanding presence and knows how to handle his property, he may thereby get the property to obey. But if the owner is mean or doesn't know how to control his property, the property is unlikely to obey, might rebel, and might even run away to find a better owner.

In this more realistic view of an ownership or master-slave relationship, the responsibility for obedience is not all on the woman: it recognizes that the man needs to be able to handle the woman and command her obedience (to make the woman want to obey or feel compelled to obey) if he is to expect obedience.

This view is in some ways more literal than the view that says that to be owned or a slave, you have to obey without question. It is a fact that historically, slaves did not always obey their masters, Biblical exhortations to do so notwithstanding. Read Frederick Douglass! Moreover, in the real world of slavery, a slave might rather die trying to escape than commit murder. That you are not a person without moral values does not prohibit you from being a slave or owned in some sense. As a human being, you are a moral agent in your own right, and you remain responsible for your actions, slave or not.

If you are drawn to the idea of being a slave (or property or owned) but think you do not meet the criteria, you might want to change the criteria you have in mind rather than sadly abandoning your heart's desire.

Or if what draws you is the absoluteness of the idea—the no control, no choice, no safety net and no way out—you might enjoy discovering (by reading Taken In Hand) that not all who consider themselves to be in an absolute, “no safety net” relationship feel any need to call themselves a “slave”. Some don't even claim to be submissive.

the boss

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Comments

Owned Slave?

It's a stupid word to use for this type of relationship. A slave is legally owned human property. Slavery is not legal so stop using this word. It's pure hyperbole.

The word "slave"

This word has other meanings in my dictionary. Do we really want to get into another tedious argument about words? If people use the word and it means something to them that is reasonably clear, I really don't see the problem. Words are often used metaphorically, or slightly differently from their dictionary definitions. The English language evolves, and that's a good thing!

Understanding words and respect for others.

A poster has claimed that: "A slave is legally owned human property"

This is not true... anymore then a battery is a battery or a bullet it a bullet. If you look on a package of D cells... that is what it will say, "D Cells". Only 2 or more cells is a battery of cells. The very tip of what we call a bullet, is a bullet. actualy what people load into a gun is called a cartrige. But everyone calls it a bullet... this word now means something else. So these words have changed over time and if I said I need a new battery, people would understand what I am talking about. If you go on any BDSM site you will see many different definitions of slave. and Im quite sure that this generation is not the first to refer to their lover as "my love slave". Words change and grow as we import them or move from country to country. As is evident in the change of English from England to America. So please do not get self righteous about having a monoploy on the definitions of any word. Try to be open minded and realize that that we use words to communicate and that they are not set in stone and change meaning over time.

Second the reader that wrote this also said: "Slavery is not legal so stop using this word. It's pure hyperbole."

This is not true either, there are many sites where you can find a slave... They are not shut down for being illegal slave trade sites.

As far as respect goes... I am glad you voiced your opinion and hope you continue to do so. HOWEVER... You just issued a command, you said "...so stop using this word."

What right do you have to tell someone what word they can use? You may not like it, you may not agree and are free to disagree. but it shows a lack of respect for others' thought, ideas and feelings if you issue a command not to use a certain word because it offends you. If you don't like what people are saying or writing, you have the freedom to not read or listen.

By the way... I really liked the article, it made a lot of sense to me.

Ian Elias

The term slave

I don't think battery and bullet metaphors are necessary. I think the concept here is that what some people think of as a slave from a historical perspective means someone that has no choice in the situation. Or their choice is either severe torture or death (either themselves or their family).

The difference here is we are willing partners who give ourselves freely out of love. We can walk away at any time if we desire. The term slave is self imposed and in the right context done with love. This is clearly a different definition of the word.

People in the BDSM community just use the word slave (and rape) in a different way than the rest of the world does. We use it (hopefully) from a place of empowerment and self fulfillment. What gets people upset (IMHO) is all the grey area in between. But this grey area can be more definite if we have solid boundries and a strong sense of self worth.

Cat NYC

The Word Thingy Again

The boss and Cat again have pointed out that it is the behavior and not the word that is at issue.

So what IS the problem? Why are these difficult words chosen... words which can very easily be misconstrued?

They are chosen by the BDSM community because they like to really turn things upside down and force us to see relationships in a new light... to make us see a different kind of loving (to borrow from Gloria Braham).

The use of the word "slave" is not meant in the literal sense of inanimate property as the boss rightly describes. Yes words have many components and nuances to their meanings. The BDSM people simply select the components of that are part of the slave definition, or the property one and use them and effectively disavow the offenses ones in their definition and use.

Many will point to the all important notion of consent, but this alone does not wash aware all the bad stuff in those difficult words. It would be just as insane to consent to become a slave with all the bits and parts of the definition even if consent to be a slave were freely given. I am certain that no BDSM slave owner in a loving consensual relationship would wish to own a "real" slave, the version of which were freed after the civil war.

For some the core notion is complete devotion and maximum trust. And who could object to being a love slave.. assuming that the slave gets their bit of pleasure from being used at will for the erotic pleasure of their master? Of course, if said love slave is hating it... her use is abuse and why would she consent to abuse? She wouldn't and her loving master would not abuse her.

The BDSM people love these hot words, love that they might even offend the so-called “vanilla” world. The BDSM people are all about polarized roles, pushing limits and distinguishing themselves from the lexicon and behaviors of the “vanilla” world.

Even things like having a bound lover may appear as abuse. One might assume that she is being bound against her will, that what is about to take place is something that she would not accept willfully. But in fact, the reverse is true. She desires to be bound and restrained and finds some sort of "peace" in bondage... and when mixed with an orgasmic experience for her it becomes like a double whammy... like the double sundae with nuts and whipped cream.

Real slaves are bound because they would escape their enslavement... there is no pleasure for them in having no free will. Bound love slave's will is to be bound and used for their master's pleasure which brings them pleasure.

Isn't like the pleasure everyone feels when they give a gift? We dip into our account and take the time to purchase the gift and we give it to bring some joy to the person who we give it to. We don't give it as a quid pro quo. So the bound slave, for example, is giving this type of lovemaking to her master, her lover because it is a thrill to him and her. He would not do it if he found no pleasure in it. And he wouldn't do it if it was not pleasurable for the slave... or lover.

The words are troublesome... but what words better define what takes place? BDSM people will use all the power exchange icons to play with in their relationships. What matters to them most is the mutuality of what they do. Each needs the other. One cannot be a master without a slave.. nor a slave without a master.

Can one be a lover without a lover?

SanderO

Consent

Surely the important word here is 'consent'? My partner wants exactly the same as I do—to please me in every way. If one has to coerce a woman through threat or physical abuse to what amounts to slavery, we are the furthest possible point away from what I see as a Taken In Hand relationship.

A slave is simply owned, not

A slave is simply owned, not necessarily "legally owned" and if there is consent, there are no laws being broken.

For those who believe that slavery or ownership aren't "real" unless it's "illegal" or "against one's will" let me offer the kitty metaphor.

There are two basic types of "real slavery" illustrated by two different cats.

First is the pound kitty. The pound kitty does not choose to be locked in a cage at the pound, nor does she get to choose her master. However, once her master has her, as long as she isn't in a crate all the time, at some point, she has the option to try to escape. (Obviously this would be most historical slavery. I mention the escape option because for some reason some M/s people, and I'm an M/s person. But SOME believe that if you leave the relationship you were never really owned, as if no slave ever escaped their master.)

Second is the stray kitty. The stray kitty comes to your door and scratches on it to be let in. She in essence picks you and chooses to stay with you. (voluntary/consensual slavery)

In both cases, the cat is owned.

Slavery

My impression of what slavery means in the world of kink is that the slave does have limits going into the relationship. But once those are negotiated the slave no longer has any limits. The slave can say no but the consequence is that the relationship is sundered.

As far as morality, you'd have to hope that a master would at least feel constrained by the law of the land and would not make the slave commit murder or any other crime. I did know a woman whose master ordered her, for no good reason, to cut off communications with her children. I think (a) that's an abuse of power that she entrusted to him, and (b) if she obeyed that, she is plain stupid and a wuss.

Someone who wants to be in this relationship is going to have to search out a master whose views agree very closely with the slave's, or else serving that person will be a misery.

I do not consider Taken In Hand to be a Master/slave relatiohship. The distinction is clear. In M/s, if a slave says no, the slave is out the door. In a Taken In Hand relationship I get the feeling that if the wife says no, I don't want this anymore, the relationship will simply change to meet the new needs. I seriously doubt that a Taken In Hand husband would show his wife the door if she said she really wanted things to be equal instead.

"Pat"

Pat's last point

I seriously doubt that a Taken In Hand husband would show his wife the door if she said she really wanted things to be equal instead.

I don't think you are right about this, or not in all cases anyway—I can't imagine that if I were in a Taken In Hand relationship I would be able to live with a change to an equal relationship, so I should think that the same would be true for some Taken In Hand men too—but if you or anyone else would like to argue this point, feel free to submit an article on it to give it its own thread.

Pat's last point

I was recently invited to an M/s Yahoogroup, and in spite of my objections and description of my own relationship as much more mundane in flavour, the people there kept insisting that what my wife and I do is not much different from an M/s relationship. I thought that if they could be open minded about it, so could I, and it has been an interesting experience to hang around there. It is my impression that M/s people have the same concerns, dreams, and aspirations as you see in Taken In Hand. We are really not that different.

Anyway, I just wanted to support Pat's view a bit:

I seriously doubt that a Taken In Hand husband would show his wife the door if she said she really wanted things to be equal instead.

I would not leave my wife if she came to me one day and called our "arrangement" off. The simple reason is that when we married, I promised to stay with her for better or for worse, and I do not take my promises lightly.

What I would do is to relentlessly fight to regain my control, and I am pretty sure that I could succeeed.

Sincerely
Egghead

When there was no internet

I`ve been in this kind of relationship a lot longer than there was internet and I never really gave it to much thought until we got internet and I started reading more about it.
I don`t really know why people have to be in a certain category. I would say at times I`m Taken in Hand, at times my husband and me are M/S, BDSM and at other times we`re just a normal couple.
Would he want to end our marriage if I wouldn`t want this kind of relationship any more? To us, there is no going back. Even if it is just a "normal" husband and wife relationship at times, it always get`s back to Taken in Hand, M/S or BDSM. Sometimes without me even realizing it and other times with him having to fight for it to get his control back and yes so far he has always succeded.
Autumn

A law of M/s relationships?

Pat wrote:

In M/s, if a slave says no, the slave is out the door.

Is that a rule the master has to obey to be deemed a master in the M/s community, or what?

Do all those who identify with the M/s label agree that that is a necessary condition for an M/s relationship, or do some M/s folk disagree with that idea? It seems very clear that Jon Jacobs did not hold that idea, for example. (Is that the distinction between a TPE/absolute power relationship and an M/s one?)

A reply to the boss

To the boss,

In answer to your question, the idea that a slave who says No is shown the door, no that's not some "rule." (SOME people who are M/s have for some reason decided that they have some right to make rules for how other people run their relationships or that they can just give words any meaning they want. I can guarantee that historically slaves who said no were punished, not told to leave.) I am in an M/s relationship. I am owned. No doesn't mean "the door" in my relationship, "no" means punishment.

There is a very big bit of confusion about what a slave is vs. a D/s submissive. I don't believe a slave is a higher level of submissiveness. It's simply a different "kink" Submissives want to SUBMIT. A slave has a deep and abiding need to be OWNED. The two can exist together, but they don't always.

Submissives also often negotiate contracts and safewords and blah blah blah, but then the submissive has all the real power don't they? I don't WANT the power, which is why i'm property.

I COULD leave I'm sure. I know some extremists even within the M/s community would say then that I'm not really Owned, but that's a bizarre interpretation of slavery, since even historically slaves often did escape. And since slavery is about ownership and not submission, all slaves don't obey all the time.

Many people living in an M/s think others have a warped view of "real slavery" but they also often have one as well. What makes a "real slave" in my opinion is the sincere internalized belief that one is owned. I think it could be argued that even those historically enslaved against their will weren't always "real slaves" in the sense that they never fully internalized it.

Slave doesn't mean wicked or wuss

Pat wrote:

I did know a woman whose master ordered her, for no good reason, to cut off communications with her children. I think (a) that's an abuse of power that she entrusted to him, and (b) if she obeyed that, she is plain stupid and a wuss.

I agree, except that she might be wicked, not just a wuss. But if she disobeyed, does anyone think that that means that she is not a slave? Because if so, then it seems to me that no one in her right mind would consider herself a slave. Yet many good women do. This seems a really bad criterion to me.

Perhaps some of those who identify as slaves or owners of slaves would like to comment?

Slaves can and do say 'no'

Pat wrote:

In M/s, if a slave says no, the slave is out the door.

In an 'ideal' world, a slave never has any problem with obedience, is always willing, compliant and capable while her omniscient owner is always stern and accurate in his requirements while never asking too much. Time for a reality check!

In the real world, a slave is going to have lots of issues and problems with obedience and fulfilment of her owner's orders, especially in the beginning (the first two or three years). Her master is likely to have all kinds of stupid requests, forgetfulness and plain idiocy as he learns how to handle her and deals with her reactance.

A continuous refusal to comply with something that is not to do with self-preservation, morals or ethics could mean that the relationship isn't really M/s and the relationship might terminate. This is a long way from automatically kicking a woman out just because she says 'no'.

Slavery

The master/slave thing has no appeal for me at all, I am not at all attracted by the idea of being someone's property even in fantasy. The mere suggestion of being tied up or chained or blindfolded or any of the other things I've read about happening to 'slaves' fills me with panic.

When I was young and trying to sort out my feelings, the books I found all seemed to be weird stuff about master/slave relationships: Story of O, John Norman's Gor books, and later Anne Rice's Beauty books; none of them appealed to me at all. I wanted something more 'normal' than that, though I wasn't sure what. The Master/slave thing is way too heavy for me.

Being owned

Louise wrote:

The master/slave thing has no appeal for me at all

You are not alone.

I am not at all attracted by the idea of being someone's property even in fantasy.

Not even in a non-slavery sense? There are other senses of the word that I did not touch on.

The mere suggestion of being tied up or chained or blindfolded or any of the other things I've read about happening to 'slaves' fills me with panic.

I understand that, but I can't help thinking that you are talking about the superficial details that may or may not be present.

When I was young and trying to sort out my feelings, the books I found all seemed to be weird stuff about master/slave relationships... I wanted something more 'normal' than that, though I wasn't sure what.

Yes, I get many messages from readers who like Taken In Hand because it often sounds almost normal and really not at all scary.

(Then I read posts elsewhere on the internet or hatemail sent to me accusing me of being a dangerous woman with a dangerous website and I breathe a sigh of relief!)

A slave need not be submissive

On the whole, I think you have written a well-balanced article that helps bring in a lot of reality to the terms. Being slave does not stop someone from maintaining a sense of self-preservation. That applies whether it's emotional, mental, physical or spiritual preservation. A slave is still a human being: a consensual slave with the right owner is a vibrant, productive and happy human being.

The one area you don't highlight well is that, just as not all Taken In Hand women consider themselves submissive, not all slaves are submissive. Of the slaves I know (not many—slaves are not all that common, after all) I would say that their average submissiveness is well below the average of people who self-identify as submissive. What slaves do seem to do, is take on the owner's goals and desires and transform them into reality as best they can.

Thanks for highlighting that!

Interesdom wrote:

The one area you don't highlight well is that, just as not all Taken In Hand women consider themselves submissive, not all slaves are submissive. Of the slaves I know (not many—slaves are not all that common, after all) I would say that their average submissiveness is well below the average of people who self-identify as submissive.

What a great point! I did intend to write something to that effect, but somehow, as you say, it is not clear in the article. So many thanks for highlighting that.

Question to M/s masters and slaves

Doug (Interesdom) wrote:

What slaves do seem to do, is take on the owner's goals and desires and transform them into reality as best they can.

Is this true? Is it true that in an M/s relationship the 'slave' takes on the 'owner's' goals and desires, as opposed to exploring and improving her own goals and values by her own lights, or something more mutual?

TPE, M/s and Taken In Hand

This is an excellent article :)

It reflects a lot of the things I have been trying to reconcile for some time. I have the profound need to be owned, cherished, cared for, protected. My husband and I have a TPE type relationship. I have been comfortable identifying it as an M/s relationship in the BDSM community online. (I have frequented a BDSM chat room with some very excellent people for the past seven years or so). Like so many others, those labels didn’t seem to quite fit us, but they were the best I had until I found Taken In Hand, and also the DD/head of the household philosophy. I feel now that the Taken In Hand philosophy suits our relationship to a ‘t’.

the boss wrote:

Obviously, it wouldn’t do to be owned by someone incompatible, so caution and common sense is needed when you seek to be in such a relationship. Not just any man will do.

Absolutely, the boss! You have to utterly trust and be compatible with someone in order to participate in a TPE or Taken In Hand relationship, imo. It’s absurd to think it would work to try to obey someone who consistantly made decisions you can not respect. And, shocker, I believe that trust has to go both ways. The dominant partner, head of the household or master must be able to trust the submissive partner in the same way. Think about how quickly a submissive partner in a relationship such as these could yell ‘abuse’ and cause all kinds of problems for the dominant partner. So both partners must trust each other equally and have the faith (based on real experiences) that the partner has their best interests at heart.

the boss mentioned the idea that "to be a slave means total obedience no matter what” and “your owner has the right to dispose of you as he wishes, including lending you out to other men, giving you away, selling you, and indeed killing you or having you kill your child.”

Internet nonsense, imo. Sometimes people become so caught up in the fantasy, and have little real life experience. This is a dangerous situation in my opinion. In reality, anybody who expects perfection, or perfect obedience, is living in a dream world and will never be happy. I would consider any of these statements, if they came from a potential partner, friend, whatever, to be warning signs! Now, though I can only speak for my relationship, and from my experiences talking to similar folk, I would have to say that those types would be seen as internet fantasy types and would not be respected by people in the bdsm community. The community in general does NOT accept that. The online environment however (depending where you go) seems to be rife with such people.

All the best,
lis

Dangerous women!

To the boss:

I followed that link to the post about you:

I'm terribly freaked out by sites like www.takeninhand.com—I looked at the site and said, “oh my god, thank heavens there are sane BDSM people like Matisse [a professional dominatrix] to balance out the scary the bosss out there.”

Which was interesting because I love Matisse's blog, too, and view y'all as very similar people: literate, intelligent women who know exactly what you want and go out to get it. Of course you want radically different things, but that's part of the delightful diversity of life.

I guess that both of you are scary to people who dislike your favored modes of life. Which looked at objectively is foolish, because Matisse isn't going to run wild and start torturing unwilling men, and you're not going to go out and what, start submitting to unwilling men... or whatever scary thing you do. ;-)

Soooo, we come back to how independent women's sexuality is threatening to folks who don't share her tastes. Doesn't seem to matter what flavor!

~~~~Valerie

"It is a rather peculiar thing to want, after all"—quoted from Louise

Great topic

Thanks for being brave and brilliant enough to raise this, the boss. I don't know what I think about the idea of slavery: I believe, fundamentally, in equality of the sexes and obviously am sickened by the "real", non-consensual slavery that still exists. At the same time of course I have a strong desire, and need, to dominate a woman and don't really know how extreme that dominance could become if my partner wanted it. What I do know is that the idea of radical forms of dominance like this do appeal to me on some level—the question is whether it's simply sexual fantasy or something that could form part of a real relationship. To repeat myself, I guess it depends on my next partner. What I think is important about this topic, from a man's point of view, though, like your discussion of rape as a gift, is that you're confronting difficult, troubling aspects of our desires and helping us work at reconciling them with our moralities, or maybe deciding they're not for us.

Oh, and I'm sure you're right to mention the metaphorical use of this concept of slavery; I think if I could ever talk this way about a relationship I was involved in, it would have to be metaphorically, which of course doesn't mean it wouldn't be true. I think words like this can perhaps sometimes be used to tell a deep emotional truth.

I'm rambling now, but for some reason my mind's wandered to the images in John Donne's 14th divine sonnet:

"Take me to you, imprison me, for I/Except you enthral me, never shall be free,/Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me."

Which shows that these ideas can sometimes be used for purposes that are far from nasty and wicked. Anyway, thanks, and keep it up!

Possessed

I am certainly not a slave, and much of what I have read about the M/s relationship is not appealing to me at all. There is something, however, very attractive to me about belonging to my husband. Sometimes I will ask him why he wants me to do something and I get butterflies in my tummy when he holds me very tightly, and whispers in my ear, "Because you are MINE." I definitely am turned on by some kinds of possessiveness in my husband. I am not sure why, but I love it. It makes me feel all warm, safe and loved. It is one of the parts of our relationship that I do not understand, but I just accept it.

Take care,
Tevemer

Broader Goal Than Mere Self-service

What has been forgotten in the discussion is that real slaves do the work which masters are unable or unwilling to do. Thus, when the slaves revolt—walk off the job or poison the master's food—it makes for uncomfortable living for those insisting on wearing a crown.

Also forgotten in the pseudo-analysis of taken in hand relationships is that the broader goal in taken in hand relationships is not who is ahead in little games of one-upmanship that undermine marriages. Rather it is longevity and stability of the relationship through traditional means rather than nouveau experimentalism.

Although there are times when a husband may spank his wife—even over her immediate objections—taken in hand marriages are seldom total power exchange (TPE) relationships.

As previously noted in my *flogging the slave* post, taken in hand wives can have a surprising amount of freedom and autonomy. While not running foot loose and fancy free, taken in hand wives are seldom seen on a short leash.

What taken in hand relationships do—and do quite well—is to clear away the clutter and game playing that destroys so many relationships. Women in taken in hand relationships are more clear-headed and less agitated than their more supposedly liberated counterparts.

Having curbed bickering and frigidity on the home front, men are less likely to stray. It is for this reason that taken in hand wives are much more secure in their marriages as they get older.

The benefit to familial and feminine needs explains why taken in hand relationships are not limited to any particular ethnic group or religious belief system. Rather, while they may wax and wane within a particular culture, taken in hand relationships tend to be distributed globally through time. They are, most probably, older than any commonly practiced religion on the earth today.

Interesting article

Coming back to the site after an absence, and I find this as the top article :) Very well written, the boss, and I loved some of your replies in the comments, too :)
--

"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so" Hamlet, somewhere.

From A Slave's Point Of View

Very well written, the boss. I agree that a slave cannot be defined by degree of submission. Since the idea of submitting is not slavery. I am not submissive. I am however owned property, a slave. That to me means a great deal. Before I entered into such a relationship I was very careful in choosing the right person. I searched for fifteen years before I found someone that was compatible to my “flavor” or “shade of submission”. As for negotiations, well if you call spending a great amount of time telling someone what you like, what you dislike and learning from them what makes them happy, yes that could be negotiations. I suppose more marriages would last longer if people took the time to do that.

Don’t think for one minute I’m an obedient person or that I don’t have the right to say no. No is a very strong word and I have had to give a very good reason for saying no, but the word is allowed, and I haven’t been forced to leave the relationship. I like that you couldn’t get your dog to submit to you. That made me laugh. It is truly that Master has the control since he’s the one that influences me to obey him by his handling of me. If he was in any way abusive to me I guarantee he would never for one instant be able to get me to be obedient to him. Experience has proven that to me and that is also why I spent so much time trying to find the person I would finally allow that sort of control over me.

Interesdom wrote:

A slave is still a human being: a consensual slave with the right owner is a vibrant, productive and happy human being.

I could kiss you for that. I am here today because of the right owner motivating me to be exactly what you say in that sentence. I couldn’t have expressed it better myself.

Interesdom also wrote:

What slaves do seem to do, is take on the owner's goals and desires and transform them into reality as best they can.

Yes, that’s what we do. My daily activities are to do just that. Help Master to achieve his goals and fulfill his desires. I spend a lot of time doing things for him that makes his life more pleasant but I don’t kneel down and serve him. What I do is support him so he can support me. I in turn receive motivation to have goals and desires, an atmosphere to achieve such things, guidance, and if need be a good Taken in Hand experience.

I’d like to take a moment to congratulate Valerie also. You said it!

Soooo, we come back to how independent women's sexuality is threatening to folks who don't share her tastes. Doesn't seem to matter what flavor!

That is what slavery is in essence. A woman having permission to be a vibrant sexual and independent person without the restraints of society telling her she’s evil. It’s very liberating to be told you’re allowed to be what you feel inside. Of course sometimes what we are inside scares other people. I don’t blame them. I merely assume they are a different flavor.

Re: Could I be a slave, owned property

My husband is my safety net. After being together for 23 years he knows me well enough that by my reaction he can tell how far he can go.

We don`t need a safeword or a contract. I believe it`s a matter of trust and not all people who have been together that long have that certain kind of trust.

Autumn

Who would want to be a slave when she could be a wife?

Personally I am discomforted by your article and in what follows I have tried to articulate my discomfort:

Words have meanings and, unless we happen to be Humpty Dumpty and about to topple off the wall they do not mean whatever we choose them to mean. To use the words “slavery” and “property” and “ownership” in connection with the sort of relationships you discuss is not, in my view, a constructive use of those words.

In the year 2005 in the USA or UK any attempt by a man to lawfully possess a woman in the way you describe is a charade, completely false to the words being used. Some women might consider it a pleasant fantasy and a woman might enjoy enacting a role in a relationship where she is notionally owned or possessed or enslaved but, ultimately, she can choose to end it at will. Since she can end the arrangement at will then, from the man's point of view, the “slavery” or “possession” doesn't really exist unless he is particularly easily deluded.

What does the man gain from having a woman as “property”? More to the point, what does he gain _extra_ that he should not already have been able to expect from a committed relationship with a loving, submissive and trusting woman? In such a relationship a man should be able to make reasonable demands and have them met. If he cannot obtain at least this much from an ordinary relationship then why bother at all?

On the other hand, if the woman really were property like any other possession, or if she really were a slave then he would be free to take real legal ownership of all of her belongings, dispose of her when she became inconvenient or displeasing, replace her with a more pleasing model, sell her for a fee and use the funds some buy several much cheaper far eastern imports, ignore her or generally be selfish with her. However, even if it were legally possible, a good man will not feel at liberty to do any of those things and a bad man is not the sort of person that a sensible woman should give herself to as property, unless she has some desperate reason for doing so.

What I am trying to say is that (in the USA or UK in 2005) the man's duty of care to the woman, and the benefits he can expect from the arrangement, don't change regardless of whether she is a so-called “slave”, labelled as a “possession” or if she is an obliging woman with whom he has a trusting and well balanced relationship. The “possession” or “enslavement” of the woman does not add any real benefits for the man over what he ought to be able to expect anyway; for him any benefits are only imaginary ones. Conversely the “enslavement” of a woman does carry extra risks for the man because if the arrangement becomes public knowledge, or (worse) if it ever turns sour and she decides to prosecute for abuse (real or imagined) or simply sue for divorce, then that behaviour and language will almost certainly count heavily against him, even if it was instigated at her request and with her conscious approval and consent.

With this in mind, it seems therefore that any man who wholeheartedly agrees to the idea of “enslaving” a woman is either somewhat immature or somewhat foolish or both and if that is true then he is also not the kind of man that a sensible woman should wish to be totally possessed by.

So it seems to me that using the words “enslavement” or “possession” for a relationship such as your article describes is inherently false or unfair or both. The woman gets the benefits of being property or enslaved (that is to say she can enjoy the intellectual / emotional freedom that comes from the choosing to put herself in that situation and she can indulge her fantasy) but she loses nothing because ultimately the man still has to treat her with tender loving care, unless of course she somehow actually enjoys real abuse but in that case she is possibly not the kind of woman a man should trust in such a dangerous relationship. She can give herself fully to enacting the role of “slave” or “property” but the man cannot ever fully adopt the role “owner”.

I think a man might agree to such a relationship to make his woman happy and to avoid making her feel rejected if it was her suggestion and he perceives that she is especially insecure but, if he is a sensible man, then in his own mind it will never be anything more than a game of words and, from his point of view, bears absolutely no resemblance to real slavery or real ownership.

The arrangement that your article describes is, I think, better described as marriage. It describes marriage as marriage is supposed to be: no opt-out clause, total commitment and an understanding that the woman follows her husband's lead and obeys him. In particular this is close to marriage as described by the New Testament, where the husband acts with the authority of God and must be deferred to accordingly, but he also must give an account to God and must conduct himself accordingly. In such a relationship the woman does, in some way, become her husband's property but only within a social and moral framework that is intended to reduce the risk of abuse and that sets boundaries for the expectations of both parties.

If you were married in the Biblical sense of the word you would be subject to your husband. You could rightly and properly refer to your husband as “my lord”. You could rightly and properly serve him without being servile and defer to him while still being a creature with your own independent ideas, talents and abilities and a realistic expectation that they would not be brushed aside. You would not be expected to take a masculine role or responsibilities but would be free to be fully a woman. You could rightly and properly receive discipline from your lord and he could punish you or reward you as he thought best. He could lead without ignoring your views, and you could follow without indignity. His could rightly expect to be honoured with your obedience but you could rightly expect to be honoured as his royal companion, not as his dog or dishwasher. Your commitment to his well-being and his commitment to your well-being would be total and no longer negotiable.

It seems to me that what you are leading towards in your article is the role that you were designed to perform and to find fulfilment within; that role is called “wife”, not “slave”. Unfortunately a century of relativistic morality and irrational thinking has rendered the concept of marriage almost meaningless and indeed the institution barely exists any longer; we still have wedding ceremonies and a marriage register, but the actual social relationship between the parties is, in many cases, not much different from that of a cohabiting boyfriend and girlfriend. Even the legal relationship is often treated as a footnote to be skipped over by society, courts and individuals alike when it is convenient to do so.

Since the word marriage has been thus undermined and diminished in significance it seems to me that you and some of the other people you describe are trying to find a way to describe the relationship that you properly and naturally desire and that “slavery” or “property” perhaps seems to be the next best terms to describe the roles, and the degree of commitment and engagement, that you seek. Personally I wonder if it might be more constructive to try and rescue the term “marriage”.

Best wishes,

Thank you, LifeOfCuriosity

... for this absolutely brilliant comment. I think you are right. (Except that I was not saying that I myself wish to use the word “slave”, I was merely discussing the idea for those who do.)

biblical beliefs verses cultural beliefs

I find Life of Curiosity's comments on biblical marriage to be very interesting. I come from a very conservative Christian background and in fact in most families the women rule the home. In philosophy most of these families would say that the husband is "the head of the household". Yet in reality the wife is the one who leads and controls the family. She frequently tells her husband what to do. Just as in our secular American society the woman is in charge of most aspects of the family so also in the Christian American family the woman is the “head of the home”. She tells the husband what he is allowed to spend money on, how he is allowed to parent their children and most interestingly, she decides what his daily schedule will be. He frequently needs to get his wife’s approval before he can commit to this or that activity. Conversely the wife rarely needs to ask her husbands permission to schedule activities because she is the one running the family schedule.

I find this fascinating because these families will so adamantly tell you that the husband is the head of the house when in fact the wife is the head of the house. Perhaps on the major issues like buying major purchases or choosing the children's schools he is "allowed" to make the final decision. Yet even in these situations he knows he will daily listen to his wife’s wrath if he makes a choice she doesn't like.

I think in fact very few Christian families live in the biblical sense of the wife being submissive and respectful to the husband. Most would laugh their heads off or would be disgusted at the idea of the husband giving any discipline to the wife for her lack of submission or respect. I am not even talking about physical discipline. I am talking about any discipline. This just isn't done or even spoken of. It is frequently taught that the woman should out of biblical belief submit to and respects her husband, but in reality it is rarely followed.
A husband should certainly not demand that she submit or show respect, but should patiently serve her in spite of her lack thereof. At least this is what I see in western part of the United States where I live.

Interestingly enough, I do have one friend who is very submissive and her husband totally rules their home. He runs the finances, the family schedule, and the parenting. I am well aware of the fact that she is expected to obey her husband and that some consequence is forthcoming if she doesn’t. I don’t know what the consequences are, but I do know that she rarely disobeys him. I think most of the Christian women we know find this woman’s relationship repressive and in fact see her husband as controlling at minimum. When I first met my friend I felt a bit like that myself. But after knowing her for a while and realizing that she felt quite happy in her marriage I changed my tune. I decided that it was really none of my business and if she was happy that was all that mattered. Yet even though her relationship is in fact the most “biblical” of all of us, it was the most repulsive to most of us as well.

Now that I am taken in hand both emotionally and physically I understand how satisfying that kind of relationship can be. I did not really understand that when I first met my friend and simply thought her husband was a controlling jerk. It’s funny that even with my deep biblical belief I didn’t see him as actually following biblical mandates as being the head of the household. I couldn’t see this clearly as I was so used to seeing the woman rule the home. It seemed so natural to me and a husband ruling the home seemed very unnatural. I think our beliefs are in fact much more cultural than biblical even if we say we believe the biblical mandates.

re: Wife or Slave [LouiseC]

I confess I am not quite sure what the “romantic view of marriage”
is supposed to be.  If I [LifeOfCuriosity] described something that you
[LouiseC] found romantic then all well and good but I was not trying to
describe a perfected story book relationship.  The type of marriage arrangement
that I see as constructive begins with the assumption that the marriage is an
association of two thoroughly imperfect people and that things will go
thoroughly wrong and therefore that corrections and adjustments will
need to be made.


I also don't think the validity of any particular form of marriage arrangement
is changed by the fact that sometimes abusive people get married.  The
kind of marriage arrangement I was alluding to does not condone abuse within
a marriage but accepts that it will happen and therefore provides a mechanism
for dealing with it ... that is the whole point of marriage being public business
and not, as some seem to think these days, a private matter.  The expectation
of abuse is precisely the reason that (in the UK at least) there were marriage
promises and that marriage comprised a contract between husband, wife and
their community.  The community (or their representatives) are called as
witnesses to the promises and included in them and given a future role to play
—namely that they should support the marriage and help to make it successful.


It is true that some people still managed to be abusive in various ways but abuse
is not something peculiar to marriage contracts, nor to one gender.  Nor
were all marriages abusive.  Indeed the idea, often alluded to but not quite
stated, that marriage in the past was somehow invariably oppressive for women
is completely ridiculous.  Such a claim presupposes that men have only recently
come to appreciate the value of a peaceful life, pleasant conversation, a contended
home and a happy wife.  However even a cursory reading of literature shows
that actually very little has changed in at least the past three thousand years: 
Texts written tens, hundreds or thousands of years ago are today instantly recognisable
as love letters and lovers poems that could have been written only last week. 
Literature from across the centuries records the same pains, pleasures, hopes
and fears in every culture in every continent in every age.  It also records
that there have also always been contented marriages presided over by wise and
kindly men just as there have always been miserable marriages dominated by vindictive
and selfish women.  Human nature shows no signs of having changed and the
fact that there have been prominent examples of abuse from both genders does not
in anyway reduce the value, or the intended value, of the sort of marriage that
I briefly described.
“but it overlooks the fact that not all husbands were kind and
wise and benevolent towards their wives.”

Yes, and my remarks also overlook the fact that not all wives were kind and
respectful towards, or appreciative of, their loyal, hardworking and devoted
husbands.  What is the point that you are trying to make?


Personally I don't think it is constructive to refer to the abuse of wives
by men unless you are also going to remark on the failings of women.  Just
as the literature records that their have always been men who oppressively beat
their wives, so the literature also records that there has always been a proliferation
of deceitful, self-centred, dishonest and lazy women who gave good men grief. 
Speaking in general terms, it would seem that nothing has changed for either
gender.  The tediously common contemporary detractors of men rarely, if
ever, mention that perhaps some of the violent husbands had good reason to be
angry with their wives.  That doesn't mean that we need to condone marital
violence, but anybody who desires to have a greater understanding of the formation
of a good relationship would be unwise to totally ignore the failings of one
of the parties.

“The fact that neither law nor society views a wife as her husband's
property any longer is not something to be regretted, you only have to look
at places where women are still regarded as legally being under the authority
of their husbands to see how such a system is open to abuse.”

Why shouldn't we regret it?  Are contemporay marriages consistently happier,
more contented, more successful and less abusive than those of an earlier age? 
Are all the women with marriages based on contemporary expressions of equality
shining examples of joyous contentment?  You mention that a system where
a wife is under a husband's authority is open to abuse.  Agreed, but so
what?  Are you suggesting that a marriage where neither party has authority
is somehow not open to abuse?  Are you suggesting that women who are not
under their husband's authority are less abusive to their husbands than women
who are under their husband's authority?  Are you suggesting that the modern,
liberated woman is somehow less self-centred and less deceitful than her counterpart
of one hundred or one thousand years ago?  Are you suggesting that one
marriage model is better than the other?  Whatever it is that you are trying
to suggest, perhaps you could express it clearly and give it some context because
that might form the beginnings of an interesting discussion.  Merely remarking
that abuse happens is a little like remarking that sometimes people get headaches;
without knowing the exact circumstances it is hard to be confident about the
remedy.  Not all headaches arise from a blow to the head, and many of them
are self inflicted.

As far as I am aware, nobody on this forum, is, or ever has been, advocating
abuse of any sort.  On the contrary most people seem to be trying to find
ways to create constructive and wholesome relationships and resolve problems
harmoniously.  The fact that some people not participating on this forum
(and who are thus unable to explain their actions and circumstances so that
we can form a valid judgement) happen to have been (allegedly) abusive within
a particular relationship model doesn't seem to me to be particularly relevant.

Best wishes,

Is one marriage model better than the other?

Well, yes, that is what I was trying to say. I much prefer to live in a society where it is assumed that a marriage will be an equal partnership, than one where it is assumed to that the husband will be in charge, will have the right to tell his wife what to do, beat her etc. To be able to choose to accept your husband's authority, if that is what you wish, is sexy. If it was compulsory, it wouldn't be sexy at all. Voluntary sumbission is sexy. Compulsory submission isn't. And this site is for people who choose to be in a male-led relationship, rather than for those who believe that male-led relationships should be compulsory. I prefer a male-led marriage for myself, but I don't believe it's the only way marriage can, or should, be. I had the impression from your comment that you regretted the days when male authority in a marriage was compulsory rather than voluntary, but perhaps I was mistaken.

Same as it ever was

>It also records that there have also always been contented marriages presided over by wise and kindly men just as there have always been miserable marriages dominated by vindictive and selfish women. Human nature shows no signs of having changed and the fact that there have been prominent examples of abuse from both genders does not in anyway reduce the value, or the intended value, of the sort of marriage that I briefly described.<

Dear LifeofCuriosity,

Thank you for writing this balanced view of marriage as it has always been. Whenever I read feminists studies reporting the historic and very real abuse of wives within the tradtional male led marriage there is never an acknowledgement that perhaps there were also many happy marriages where men cherished their wives. It always seems to me that these books are largely biased toward proving their ideological agenda. Whenever anyone now has the audacity to state their preference for a male-led relationship the naysayers are quick to bring up the historic injustices of how wives were mistreated by abusive husbands. In response, you very wisely pointed out, "Human nature shows no signs of having changed...". Although society has made many important legal and institutional changes in the last century to improve the lives of men and women alike, it does not change the human propensity for enobling virtues and/or acts of absolute savagery. We still possess somewhere deep in our soul the same strengths and failings we have always had as a species.

Whichever model of marriage we choose, what will never change is the equal responsibility that both parties have toward its success. I often read about the supposed superiority of the modern ideal of an "egalitarian" model of marriage over an antiquated, traditional male led marriage. It is folly to think that any model is superior if the two involved do not possess the inner individual qualities that make such a union a success. What concerns each of us here on Taken In Hand is how a male-led relationship satifies the deeply felt need that our natures call out to us to fulfill. Thanks again for so eloquently putting into words what I could not.

'marriage as it should be'

LifeofCuriosity didn't simply defend the idea of male-led marriage as one respectable choice among many: if that was what she did, there would be nothing to argue about. Instead, she strongly implied that only marriages that adhere to rather taxing levels of wifely subservience deserve the name, and she did seem to be hearkening back rather wistfully to the days when male dominance was enshrined in law. It was perfectly appropriate for Louise to point out that her vision of marriages in the past is romantic (romantic in the sense of over-idealised, not romantic in the sense of referring to amatory matters, as I thought was obvious from context).

Romantic

I do find being in a male-led marriage romantic in the amatory sense for myself, but I never lose sight of the fact that it never was romantic for many women who were forced to live in that kind of marriage whether they liked it or not. One of the main things that makes having a Taken In Hand relationship pleasurable for me is the piquant perversity of choosing to have this kind of relationship, choosing to submit to my husband when neither law nor social custom requires that I should.

But given that we all agree that it must be a choice...

...LifeOfCuriosity's idea of a relationship is very appealing, is it not? Well it is to me, anyway. I don't think LifeOfCuriosity is being too idealistic at all. It seems to me that if the two of you really want that kind of relationship and are prepared to do what it takes, there is no reason for pessimism. If you expect the worst, it is often a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you take a more positive approach to life, good things happen.

Who can live up to that?

"I mean regarding my husband as God? Leave it out"!

Oh Louise, you are funny! :-)))) I couldnt agree with you more.

But, as they say, each to their own, whatever makes ya happy! :-)

Grace :-)

*Sigh* People just don't get it

Many of the responses here are critical of the word "slave" being used, with all of the associated connotations—misery, mindless meniality, forced to do things against the will, etc. I understand that for many, it is a highly charged word.

But let me remind you that the Apostle Paul called himself a "bondslave". The difference between him and the people in "Roots" was that he chose to take on that role.

If a woman wants to give herself totally to a man, devoting her life to serve him, have him control her, and continually offer herself to him, it seems to me that the most accurate and exciting way for her to say that to him is, "I want to be your slave!"

This doesn't mean that the man should have the right to dispose of her or give her to some other man for group sex. That is the BDSM lifestyle, not Taken In Hand, and the man would be failing in one of his basic responsibilities—to protect and care for his woman.

As with all types of Taken In Hand relationships, this can and should never be forced or demanded by the man. It must be a positive, loving, thrilling, and exciting thing for both, otherwise it will never work, and should not work.

If a woman wants to be her man's "slave" of her own free will, because she is in an affirming relationship and wants to surrender in a more total way, then why would you argue with her?

slavery

I could never be a slave !I'm too strong-willed to be one in the first place! Most slave stories seem to depict a woman that is subservient to a man and does anything and everything he wants with no regard to her wishes and desires! There are plenty of things I am not going to do and I have to have some say as to how I am treated or how I engage in this lifestyle..Now on the other hand, if being a slave is what turned me on, then that would be a different matter...

Among my considerations.

I've considered giving myself to be virtually a slave to a worthwhile man and I believe that with the right man I'd willingly do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted it. It would be wonderful to me to be married to a man who did not take no for an answer and, frankly, if I could find such a man I'd never been inclined to deny him. It'd be nice to find him!

Thank you for this calm, quiet description of what I lived

I can only take your site in small does. The articles often make me cry, because they remind me of what is gone.

Thank you for adding a commonsense, calm quiet description of slavery to this website. The word "slave" tends to inflame or terrify many people, your words are helping to calm that distress, I believe. I agree with you that it isn't the words you use to describe yourself or your relationships that count: it's the reality that you live and how well that reality fits with what you, in your heart and soul, really need.

The description of slavery you give in this article is very similar to the reality I lived for sixteen-plus years. There are too many points to comment on extensively so I'll focus on just one:

The idea that you must obey no matter what or you can't be a slave puts all the responsibility for control on the woman and leads some men to develop the unrealistic expectation of zero resistance and complete obedience no matter what they ask of the woman. But being a slave doesn't give a woman super-human powers of unquestioning obedience any more than it makes her subhuman.

In my relationship, obedience did have the highest priority, it was essential to the relationship, but my master put it to me this way: he told me at the beginning that all he expected from me was that I do my very best to obey him at all times and he would do the rest. His emphasis was on my desire and my trying, not my actual success or not. This took the pressure off me to be some perfect person that I could never realistically be. And, compassionate and understanding man that he was, his interpretation of "trying your best" was a lot looser and more forgiving (and a lot more realistic) than my own. One of the biggest problems I had as a slave was my tendency to deeply chastize myself for not being better at it. Over the years he slowly taught me that this was not a very productive or happy attitude to have, and I am enormously in his debt for that.

The great majorty of dominant men I encounter in bdsmland are still pathetically stuck at this very basic and mistaken idea of slavery meaning absolute, perfect, inhuman obedience. I believe strongly that this is because such men are not really dominant at all, but for various reasons need to pretend to be. Because they can't back up their self-claim with dominant actions or attitudes, they assume the sad but very common "to be any good, the slave has to dominate herself" stance, as this takes the onus of responsibility and control off themselves and (as you say above) places it squarely on the submissive's shoulders.

Who cares how it manifests itself?

What a fascinating thread. Several points to summarize, it may be easier also to put some of these in their own thread:

1. Traditional marriage as defined in patriarchal religion does seem to be defined similarly, except with the caveats that there were few other alternatives. In today's world, if the man wants to absolutely rule the household and the interpersonal relationship while the woman goes out to work, that could be arranged, as long as the husband really understands the stresses of the work life and understands the need of his wife to network and make business relationships work, devote time to the company functions, etc.. Certainly "marriage" as it was traditionally defined had immense merits and worked well enough to create all the world's existing civilizations.

2. The question of the marriage contract can and should be separated from the question of whether God "is male" or "has a thingy" or whatever. That idea is ridiculous, except insofar as C. S. Lewis correctly pointed out that God would be, if male, the ultimate male, and if female, the ultimate female. If God were female that would make all of us utterly male by contrast and (he was implying) therefore fighting and plundering and strutting and competing all the time. Whereas if God were male we would all be relatively female by contrast and would engage at worst in scenic catfights and that aggressive girl-girl kissing that's so popular on the Internet. In other words, it's more peaceful if God is male and we are all kind of in awe and terror at his potential abuse of power, and his imposition of logos (or word or law) on us. Dad is less forgiving than Mom, for good biological reasons, so imprinting God on us as Big Dad not Big Mom has advantages in controlling us. But that is politics and has nothing whatsoever to do with how we should run our marriages.

3. There's no counterculture implication nor politics one way or the other in Taken In Hand, and we probably should avoid the political debates in discussing it. Given that human slavery is a phenomenon that genuinely exists in brothels using kidnapped women and children, even in our developed nations, however, I believe it is contingent on those who use the word "slave" not only to make clear that they're not talking about those people, but to do something for those people, such as donating or volunteering for the cause of eliminating human slavery worldwide. If someone hassles you about the degree of dominance in your sex life, hassle them back about the amount of good charity work they do to free actual slaves in the real world. They'll have done zero, so, you have it on them, and, you have undone at least a bit of the confusion you introduced into the language by using "slave" sexually.

4. Biologically, males have more difficulty not looking or chasing other women. All males, not just human males. Also, males think about sex more often and seem more emotionally affected by not getting it, often in potentially destructive ways. In an avowed monogamous relationship, males do seem to need some way to assure themselves that they aren't going to be held hostage by their own sexual needs. I have never quite understood the logic that says that one locks up one's genitals with another person, then that other person can deny sexually satisfying them, and deny them other recourses, and this is supposed to be fine forever potentially. In real life however we know males wander, and this spreads diseases and so on. So if this kind of relationship keeps men from wandering, that's great. Historically, it does seem to be the cost of entry. Give a male something he can't easily form with another female, and he may stay. There's no evidence that people cheated less in the past when these rules were in effect when they had opportunities, but few had opportunities—villages were small and tight-knit, men and women very segregated, and without going to professionals, it just didn't happen. But in an age of HIV/AIDS and so on, if there is a chance of making more men more satisfied with monogamous relationships, that would really save lives. So that is a strong moral argument that outweighs any of these language or cultural reasons. If the word "slave" has the desired effect, fine. We all know it only counts until he makes some dangerous or immoral demand. And in real slave owning cultures, there were limits: slaves had property, they could buy their way out, there were definitely rules on what they could be made to do, and murdering others was definitely not one of these things. Whoever's saying this knows little history, not even as much as those Wikipedia trolls.

6. Biologically, females are invested far more in mating, and suffer from parallel anxieties about abandonment and whether they've really chosen "the one", that elusive "Mr. Right", who must be Satan I think since only he would have the looks, cash, eloquence, sexy wise words, and connections some women seem to demand. It may be a service to women to let them CHOOSE a situation where they can at least TEMPORARILY FEEL as if they have no choice, at which point their best biological option was to utterly submit, please, give joy and hope not to be killed after sex. This seems to be the root of these rape and capture and probably most discipline and bondage fantasies—to create the illusion of helplessness in the woman's mind so that she STOPS COMPARING HER MAN TO SOMEONE RICH AND FAMOUS AND POWERFUL AND PERFECT at least for long enough to make them both sexually happy. Also it seems unlikely that anyone would tie someone up and then abandon them... so probably this is relieved also by the bondage scenes. If he tied you up, he likely wants to keep you. In this sense bondage is like an embrace...

7. But to actually make commitments as deep as are being discussed here, would also be exciting in spiritual ways, in particular, leaving behind the feeling of trying to do things that the other is no good at. It is like trying to bind together to be one being, and that's hardly the province of Taken In Hand alone. You give up certain rights, and certain recourses, and maybe certain types of friends, but that is true in all significant relationships of all kinds. What's different here is trying to outline what a "male-led relationship" would look like without all the dross built up from a patriarchal farming culture and a military-industrial history. Getting it back to sex and bliss and safety. Permanence even.

8. People really should be clear about whether they're talking about control of the sex life, or interactions socially, like who the couple's friends are, or what. I think it's abusive to ask anyone to give up any friend unless that person has made clear that they do not respect the relationship and intend to break it up, or wish it was broken up, or report the couple to cops, or whatever. Such people are pretty rare. I also think it's social edicts that are most likely to feel OK at the time, but then have long term effects that do damage. It is fair on the other hand in this kind of relationship for the man to control how the woman dresses, how she behaves towards him in public. Once when a drunk girlfriend was demanding I eat the head of a crawfish in my pasta, and kept laughing at me when I refused, I threw her over my knee in the restaurant, at a table of several friends, and gave her a hard spanking there on the spot. We got some astonished looks at the other tables, but at my table, they raised a toast. And I was very solicitous and gentle towards her bottom the rest of that night. Why would I not be? She was very affectionate for days. So if I'm willing to risk silly nonsense calls to cops or social workers from any random stranger in a restaurant, why in the world would I care if her friends did the same? I am stronger than that, and all real men are.

9. Beyond control of the sex life and some associated social and cultural activities, why in the world is household management at issue? One would hope that the couple has brains about what "control" belongs where, and can understand that she might be a financial whiz at budgeting but not at all able to do the shopping properly, and he might be an ace bargain hunter but will blow his limit without a clear budget in front of him, the specialization of labor seems no different in the Taken In Hand than in any other marriage. I have had deep and committed relationships with brilliant soulful women, several of them, and I must say that one of the best moments I can remember was when my girlfriend (I hate that word) came up with the solution to a problem we kept having: we'd order in a restaurant, and my meal would always be far better than hers, because I travelled a lot and knew how to pick the restaurant's best dish off any menu. Her solution was: I'd order TWO dishes, and then when they both arrived, SHE'd pick the one she most liked. She had absolutely no ego problems with the fact that she couldn't read menus, and I had absolutely no problem at all with always getting the second-best thing on the menu. If I was really sure, I could always order two of the same thing. But this is just smart tasking...

10. Why in the world do we keep confusing TPE and simple sexual fetishes? They have nothing to do with each other. I can laugh and joke and flirt with a brat, and in fact do call a lot of female friends that, whether or not there's any sexual interest or chance of any. It's sometimes empowering for women to think that rules don't apply to them, and so, having someone authorize certain types of useful rule-breaking (environmental activism, leaking abuses of process in NGOs to the press, political maneuvering in the back rooms to get a woman nominated) is helpful IF that person is known to be ethical and not to authorize such actions lightly. If they go too far, they can "deserve a spanking", but this is all just sex-charged language laid (heh) on top of ethics negotiations.

It emphasizes and reminds us of masculine vs. feminine roles in society and helps us remember to play to strength. When they need me to show up in a suit with perfect hair and flash my mathematics degree, software resume, and wry smile, I do that too. That's service. But it's all to support causes that we mutually support.

Why would it be any different in marriage? We do what we would not otherwise do, not for each other, but for the common cause. Antoine St. Exupery: "Love consists not of gazing at each other, but in gazing outwards in the same direction." If that direction's clear, and if the relationship gives both parties self-love, inner peace, and a sense of direction, who cares how that manifests? Only if the sense of direction is harming others should we care.

From that perspective, I'm more concerned about a couple's ecological footprint than their mating habits. So I sure don't care if they use the word "slave" (or even more "degrading" words) in the bedroom. Sheesh.

So-called "property, ownership, possession" all come with as many obligations and risks as rights. Anyone who is unable to comprehend that, is an irresponsible owner, and one of the most dangerous things to give them is a slave.

New to the site

When I was first shown this site I reacted with horror. Not because of the content which i didn't even look at but simply the name and subject of the site. I was physically abused as a child and teenager by my father, and 'taking me in hand' was his expression for his violent, bullying treatment of me. So I recoiled, hating the very idea of what the site might include.
I am in a relationship with a man I met on the internet, which has been influenced by our mutual involvement with D/s and Gor, but is really neither of those things. I refer to myself, as he refers to me, as his slave, which I know doesn't suit everyone but it fitted us at first and still fits us. I call him Master, and again it suits us though I know it doesn't suit some. Being his slave is, to me, a wonderful thing. I adore the thought of being owned by him, being his and obedient to him, being possessed by him. But I always had an issue with seeing myself as a submissive. I am, in many ways, a strong woman. My job has placed me in a dominant role and I am good at it. But I also long to serve and please, and within our relationship I have found what I truly desire.
He allowed me time and listened to my explanation—once I could rationally explain my reaction. And then I looked again.
Since then I have read a lot of the articles and although the expression 'taken in hand' still send a shivver down my spine, the content showed me it was far from my previous experiences. I realised that I was not the only woman to desire the control of a man and yet be myself and not a doormat.
From the first day I met my Master I saw in him what I had been searching for all my life. Also what I had denied to myself, hidden from myself, and struggled against for all my adult life. I saw a man whom I ached to please, a man at whose feet I would kneel, and whose authority over me would be absolute. I also knew he would not abuse that authority; with him I feel completely safe, wanted and loved.
I have previously had two failed marriages, both of which I tried to control, and both of which fell apart because of my behaviour I am sure. Perhaps neither of those men had the force of personality my Master has, I don't know, maybe I just never allowed them to show it. I have a lot of baggage and a lot of bad habits—at 53 perhaps it would be odd if I didn't. But I am working to overcome them, not because I am forced to do so, but because I deeply desire to be a better woman, a more supportive and loving partner, and soon I hope to be the wife my Master deserves. One who loves and respects him, who submits to his leadership happily and one who longs to give him everything.