Living M/s: A Book for Masters, slaves, and Their Relationships is a collection of writings by Dan and dawn Williams (the hosts of the Erotic Awakening podcast). They’d been in a power exchange relationship for more than ten years when they compiled and wrote the book in 2011.
Master Dan’s writing is well-reasoned and reasonable. I can only hope that the people who need to read his advice will do and will take it to heart—the scene needs more people like him. His pieces are useful to slaves, as well, because they give you an idea of what makes a good Owner versus what you’d be better off avoiding.
slave dawn’s writings spoke to me on a level I find difficult to express. Multiple times I found myself thinking that this was a person who absolutely ‘got’ me—or at least an aspect of me that others wouldn’t. It’s one thing to be accepted and loved by your friends (and I’m not denigrating that for a second), but it’s another thing entirely to see someone else’s words and realize they completely understand you. They get it.
One of the things dawn and I have in common is that we don’t like playing chess.
This is from an essay called, fittingly, “Playing Chess”
Some ask me why, if I’m such a strong person, I would allow myself to be in a power exchange relationship. For me, the answer is simple: I don’t like, nor am I good at, playing chess.
What does that mean? I don’t like the power struggle. In my previous relationships, I was the standard vanilla wife. Everything was about who would ‘win’ and who would make the decisions… What color sheets should we buy? Well, he wanted black and I wanted purple, for example. … If I changed my mind to black, I couldn’t say anything because I’d be giving up my ‘position’ on the chess board and he might see that as a ‘win’ later to be used against me.
How we spent money: a chess move; what movie we saw: a chess move. I just didn’t like it. And since it was about strategy, I couldn’t believe the answer if I asked him what movie he preferred, because the response was usually: ‘It doesn’t matter to me.’ Then, after the movie, he’d say: ‘You know I don’t like that kind of movie. I can’t believe you took me to see that. You should have known better.’ Then, all the friends would be told how it was my fault for taking him to a stupid movie. A price was paid, and a lesson was learned: not to trust what I was told.
Many, many individuals live in relationships where chess is the normal, everyday game. They either like it, or maybe they don’t know there are other options. I learned that I don’t thrive in that atmosphere. It always felt like there was a hidden agenda that I just didn’t get.
dawn then goes on to say that she and Dan built complete honesty into their relationship from the beginning. If one of them says they don’t care about a movie or color of a rug they genuinely mean it. Also, there’s no strategy in terms of, ‘You got what you wanted that time so now I get what I want.’ It’s two people helping one another be their best selves.
I love dawn. dawn understands me. Just say what you mean, people. And two people in a relationship and clearly on the same side! Revolutionary!
I think that need and appreciation for precision and transparency is why I like the idea of contracts. Perhaps it’s also something to do with being a writer. Either way, another part of the book that I found highly useful was the section about contracts. Lots of good information there. If you take the view, ‘I belong to my Master to do with as he pleases and don’t need a contract,’ then skip that chapter.
There were other parts that spoke to me and I loved the entire book, but those two pieces stood out.
Onto technical specifics.
The book is broken down into sections with several essays in each (excepting sections on different styles of being Master and slave and different types of slaves, which are one essay each). Sections include:
Terminology and lingo
Defining what it is to live an M/s lifestyle
Differences between abuse and power exchange
Different styles of being Master and slave
Different types of slaves
How to create your own power exchange relationship
Being a Master
Being a slave
A brief section of personal essays from a rocky time in their relationship that shows a TPE takes effort and commitment but is also something that answers something within a person.
Writings about running for Leather titles and Dan earning his cap from his peers in the Leather community.
They write the way they speak—it’s easy to hear them reading these pieces on their show (I don’t know if they’ve done that). It makes reading the book like an extended podcast where they give advice on how to run a successful, thriving power exchange.
Mixing personal stories with practical advice, Living M/s is a must read for anyone in, considering or curious about power exchange. I cannot recommend it highly enough.