Erotic Power Exchange

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Erotic Power Exchange ( English: erotic power exchange , abbreviated EPE) describes a form of relationship within the BDSM scene that can contain sadomasochism, but focuses on the shift of sexual control from passive to active partner ( dominance and submission ).

Relationship concept and design

The EPE relationship concept can be largely equated with D / s (dominance and submission), the erotic-sexual aspect is emphasized, the partners are otherwise equal. The active partner does not intervene in the everyday life of the partner, but is only allowed to decide about his sexual stimulation and its success. Terms that emphasize the submissiveness of the passive partner (e.g. power model, feudalistic) are deliberately avoided. The term EPE does not define a basic relationship structure, no explicit emphasis on the durability of the relationship or the intensity with which the sexual exchange of power is lived. EPE is in contrast to Total Power Exchange (TPE), which goes beyond this and covers other areas of life . As in all forms of relationships that can be attributed to BDSM, it is highly individual and lives from the consensus on the design of the partnership. Usually the distribution of roles ( top and bottom ) is fixed and roles are not swapped between the relationship partners ( switching ) . The EPE relationship can range from a casual gaming relationship with occasional sexual encounters and hourly control to a permanent partnership with the EPE's constant spiritual presence, also known as 24/7 EPE. Within the sexual relationship, the spectrum of permanent ranges chastity to role play with frequent orgasms, often as part of a tease-and-denial scenario (Engl .: excite and deny) , and always the consent of both partners is the selected practices based.

Differentiation between EPE and abuse

Differentiating it from internal sexual abuse and / or domestic violence can be difficult for inexperienced outsiders, especially if sadomasochistic practices, due to their nature ( bondage , spanking , rape games ), are apparently carried out against the will of the passive partner. In order to make this distinction possible, various organizations have jointly formulated the VICSS concept.

  • Voluntary : All partners involved in the EPE should make the decision voluntarily and without coercion. Sometimes the coercion is not obvious, especially when one of the partners can expect or fear economic or social consequences as long as he or she does not agree to the other's wishes. As soon as one of the partners does not feel free in his decision, it is a question of compulsion.
  • Informed : All partners involved should make their decision based on correct information and be able to assess the situation and the consequences of the decision. There must be no doubt that the implications of the decision are clear.
  • Consensual : All partners agree to what is happening or should happen and have the opportunity to compare previous decisions with current feelings, reactions or information that is important to them.
  • Sane (reasonable): Decisions regarding EPE should be made with a clear head. Decisions made due to drug or alcohol abuse or rashly are not consensual.
  • Safe : All actions should be both physically and mentally safe. If one takes risky practices into consideration or one moves in border areas ( edge play ) , everyone involved should be informed about the possible risks, consequences and effects.

As soon as one of the mentioned requirements is not met, the VICSS concept is considered not to be met and according to this definition there is abuse. In a relationship that includes EPE, the distinction between abuse and EPE is difficult, especially in long-term relationships, and requires repeated critical questioning and evaluation of the practices and the context in which the practices are used.

Feminist discussion

The problem of demarcation between BDSM, especially EPE and abuse, as explained in the previous section, has repeatedly led to heated discussions between the representatives of feminism and the so - called sex - positive feminists since the development of the new women's movement (around 1968 ) . The former view it as an erotic charge of violence and power imbalances and / or misogynistic behavior, whereby only the (more frequently occurring) role distribution of dominant men and submissive women is considered. The fact that the reverse constellation and changing roles are also common is denied here. The mixture of sexuality and "violence" led many feminists to a complete rejection of such forms of relationship. By contrast, sex-positive feminists from the BDSM scene understand sadomasochism as a form of sexual self-determination and repeatedly emphasize consensual, voluntary and lustful submission and femdom as an expression of liberated female sexuality in which all female inclinations are legitimate.


  1. ^ The National Leather Association, The Dutch BDSM Media Information Center, The POWERotics Foundation


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