On Representing the M/s Title

There’s been a lot of conversation around our statement about our choice to not use Master/slave language for ourselves. Many are wondering how we can fulfill the obligations of our title without those words. Some even ask if we’re breaking up or (gasp) transitioning to a vanilla relationship (spoiler alert: we aren’t!). So, in the interest of transparency, we want to put your mind at ease about a few things:

1. Of course, we affirm you can identify yourself however you like, it’s your identity. We are sharing our relationship journey,not kink shaming anyone.

2. We can not and do not speak for Black folks on this matter, and recognize a great diversity in opinions on this. We are sharing our own relationship journey. As queers and dykes, we understand the beautiful important work of reclaiming words.

3. We know what we do is not trying to replicate or look to chattel slavery, it is a beautiful deep calling that for us is spiritual and profound. The words happen to be the same.

4.We have learned that despite our good intentions, these words can cause hurt, and we care about that hurt.

5. We decided to drop the Master and slave from our titles (you can just call us Mx. Rook and little, hunter, boy, or just rook). We’re also going to be way more careful about using those words in general leather spaces. This doesn’t mean we will stop our education or visibility in those spaces, our classes will just be rephrased to talk about “Ownership dynamics” instead of “M/s dynamics.”

6. We take our titleholding commitment seriously. We feel it would be dishonorable to step down before the year is complete since we have committed to serving. Part of that commitment is to sharing our personal authority exchange relationship journey.

7. We have been in conversation with the South Plains producers since before making any announcements, and they have been incredibly supportive of our personal journey around this. We appreciate their insight as folks who have been in the M/s community for many years.

8. We love our lineage and our community. We are passionate about hierarchical relationships and have deep respect for the title system. Nothing about our relationship has changed except the words we call each other.

9. We want to continue this conversation and apologise for any hurt feelings, shock, or discomfort you felt watching our initial brief statement. We are learning and growing all the time. We wish we could be having these conversations in person, we wish we could have told you individually first. Thanks for being understanding of our strange and unprecedented times that push everything so social media.

10. We appreciate that this community values respect, integrity, and inclusion. Thank you for respecting our way of practicing our ownership relationship though it may look different from yours.

So, how will we represent the title?

According to the IM/s Judges Handbook, the International M/s pair is chosen to be visible as one individual healthy M/s or O/p relationship. We were proud to be chosen as International Master/slave 2020 by a panel of judges whom we admire. We are committed to sharing what is happening behind the scenes in our dynamic, not just on the surface. Sharing our thoughts about the impact of using the words “master” and “slave” has been a way to be transparent about what is really happening in our relationship right now. We don’t know what the answer is; we don’t yet know what other words we’re going to use in the long run. There aren’t great, easy answers here or the community would have found them already. But we are asking the questions, and curious and open about what everyone has to say.

We are proud to be in an authority exchange relationship. We are not embarrassed or ashamed. We are oriented this way, and living better lives because we are in this partnership.

We are proud to be rooted in the M/s community, and we love being part of the traditions, leather values, and embracing of change that happens in radical communities. We would not have such a strong dynamic if it weren’t for the support from and knowledge in the M/s community, and we are extremely grateful for all that we’ve learned and continue to learn. We are in this for the long haul and plan to continue our title journey with you.

We are excited to continue teaching workshops on authority exchange dynamics. We are gearing up to visit more MAsT chapters too; it is exciting that online meetings make visits more accessible. Our class “The Art of Ownership” is about the wide range of authority exchange relationships, from Victorian to Leather, from something you do on the weekends to 24/7 long-term ownership. It is designed for general leather events and folks new to authority exchange, but is full of theories and charts that are fun for experienced folks, too.

So how will we serve this title system without those words? We will continue to share our journey on Facebook and Fetlife, just with other language to describe ourselves. That’s the only thing that’s changed. We will continue teaching classes and creating support groups and fun activities online.

Our schedule for the next few months is:

August 3 – Unlearning White Fragility through BUTCH Voices (rescheduling for September)
August 16 – Unlearning White Fragility for Leatherfolks through Portland Bad Girls
August 20 – Kinky Virtual Game Night
August 27 – Leather Couch: Topic TBA
September 10 – Leather Couch: Jack Thompson – IML AMA
September 24 — Roles & Responsibilities webinar
October 15 – Leather Couch: Jesbian & Teagan – Leather Lust
October 22 — Feminist Sadism is not an Oxymoron webinar
November 12 – Leather Couch: Raven & Joshua – Polyamory & Power Dynamics
November 13-15 – teaching for Leather Reign – Ownership as a Spiritual Path
November 19 — The Protocol Game
December 3 – Navigating Family & Authority Exchange Relationships
December 17 – Goal Setting For D-types
January 21 – Leather Couch: Tomo – Navigating the M/s Relationship Plateau
January 28 – Kinky Virtual Game Night
February 19-21 – FLAME Conference (we will apply to teach again)
February 25 – The Satisfied Submissive webinar
February 2021 – Leather Couch: Master Jim, slave marsha, Sir Cougar, Topic TBA
March 2021 – Leather Couch: TBA
Monthly Nonbinary D/s Discussion group – dates TBD

We are still available for workshops, panels, and discussions; please email us both at [email protected] if you’d like to invite us to your event or group.

Published by Sinclair Sexsmith

Sinclair Sexsmith (they/them) is "the best-known butch erotica writer whose kinky, groundbreaking stories have turned on countless queer women" (AfterEllen), who "is in all the books, wins all the awards, speaks at all the panels and readings, knows all the stuff, and writes for all the places" (Autostraddle). ​Their short story collection, Sweet & Rough: Queer Kink Erotica, was a 2016 finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. They identify as a white non-binary butch dominant, a survivor, and an introvert.

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