What is D/s? In D/s, a submissive is obeying, serving, or being controlled by a dominant. What is M/s? In M/s, a slave is owned by a master.
There is much more to both D/s and M/s than that, but no agreement about what. Some of these disagreements are about form, such as what a collar symbolises; but some are about substance, such as the purpose of a D/s relationship. Using the same names for many different types of relationship perpetuates confusion, causes unnecessary arguments, and makes it harder to find like-minded people.
Instead of using these disputed terms, this manifesto outlines a new structure to describe relationships, O&P (Ownership & Possession), that is nevertheless built from familiar D/s and M/s concepts.
1. What is Possession?
Central to O&P is the concept of Possession: having control and use for one's own purposes of that which is possessed, involving some or all of the rights associated with property ownership. This is asymmetric and unequal in status. While the submissive is in the dominant's possession they are fundamentally there for the dominant, obeying the dominant, and subject to the dominant's decisions. The dominant is the submissive's superior, just as an employer is their servant's superior. The unambiguous, honest, and hierarchical nature of O&P provides clarity about what is to be done, and who is to do it, without the manipulation and unstated quid pro quo of so many relationships.
2. What is Ownership?
Possession may be limited in time or scope, but Ownership is the enduring and veto-less form of possession, in which possession has been maintained long enough and deep enough that it has become ingrained, resulting in the enslavement of the submissive, as a slave. Since this is a gradual, overlapping process, it is usually easier to talk of Ownership & Possession together as O&P.
3. Consent derives from property rights
O&P is defined in terms of property, and so uses property as its ethical foundation. People are born owning themselves, under the guardianship of parents. As adults, people have the right to hand over some or all of their self-ownership. Respect for property rights requires that O&P must be entered with the freely given informed consent of the submissive.
4. Responsibility for maintaining property
As with all property, if it is not looked after over time, the ability to use or own it is lost. For this reason, needs cannot be left unaddressed over time, by the definition of "needs" themselves. Maintenance of property demands responsibility, and in O&P this is a cardinal virtue of dominants and owners.
5. Respect other people's property rights
In O&P, respect for property also informs relations between people outside of their relationships. For example, protocols and etiquette treat unattached submissives as independent people, governing their own lives, and not subject to other dominants; equally, protocols and etiquette acknowledge the status of submissives in other dominants' possession, and do not presume, for instance, that submissives can still make decisions which are now in the hands of their dominant. Respect for inanimate property is also the basis for the ancient customs of hosts and guests, in both the domestic and public spheres.
6. The House embodies the relationship in property itself
In O&P, the house is the embodiment of property relationships in the form of property itself. Whether they are mono or poly, households, headed by dominants, served by submissives, and visited by guests, provide a more structured form of domestic relationship than, for example, a vanilla marriage. This structure and hierarchy promotes a life of worthwhile purpose, under the authority of a responsible and competent dominant.
Being served is one of the principal reasons why owners and dominants invest their time in establishing O&P relationships. Service is not limited to domestic work and sexual use, but can also include companionship, acting as a social secretary, managing accounts, improving the house, and learning new skills. Service reinforces the difference in status between servant and master, and provides opportunities to overcome feelings of false entitlement and misplaced pride. And yet good service is also something to take pride in providing, and a submissive who serves well is someone to be proud of.
8. Dignity as a guiding principle
Dignity, and the need to avoid undignified behaviour, are guiding principles for owners and dominants, and promote the stability and proper functioning of the household and its interactions with people outside. Maintaining dignity requires the avoidance of lying, cheating, lack of effort, or breaking one's word. It also means not compromising on one's own freedom, including making oneself dependent on others because of lack of self-discipline, and not compromising one's self in the face of resistance from submissives and social pressures from outside the household. In short, it is beneath an owner or dominant's dignity to engage in unworthy behaviour.
9. Authenticity is required for a sound foundation
O&P relationships strive for authenticity: that is matching the external face of things to their internal reality. Deceiving others or ourselves makes everything we do a hostage to future revelations. Embellishing our relationships or living fantasy lives masks the real issues we have to identify and overcome.
10. Rituals symbolise Ownership and Possession
Rituals are used to reinforce and maintain feelings of Ownership and Possession. As an ancient symbol of slave ownership, collars are of particular symbolic weight in O&P. Wearing a dominant's collar signifies that a submissive is in the possession of the dominant. Beyond that, its meaning is determined and stated by the dominant, whether that is a simple "handle on the neck" of a submissive currently in their power, or a collar showing Ownership that is worn for years without removal.
Tanos, 3 Sep - 7 Dec 2009
Possession. Ownership. Consent. Responsibility. Respect. House. Service. Dignity. Authenticity. Rituals.
O&P (Ownership & Possession) is a new structure built from familiar D/s and M/s concepts, defined by the O&P Manifesto.
There is an O&P discussion group on Fetlife.
The O&P Wiki contains articles about O&P and related D/s, M/s, and BDSM topics.
You can also follow O&P on Twitter.