What Is Erotic Power Exchange?

Erotic power exchange is any situation where partners, of their own free will and choice, actively and willfully incorporate the power element in their lovemaking (and usually for a great deal in their relationship). Erotic power exchange is best known as either BDSM, S&M, D/s or sadomasochism, but these terms are all too limited, incorrect and all too frequently confused with stereotypes and forms of mental illness, which is why we like to call it Erotic Power Exchange (EPE).

The Holistic Approach

Allow us to quickly explain our view and approach. Not in order to try and force you into any direction, but to explain where we are coming from, so you will have a better understanding about the way, this online educational facility has been set up.

Erotic power exchange is a situation that incorporates – or often even encloses – spirit, body and mind and as a result will have an effect on each of these three areas that, together, make up the human being. As a result, we try to approach each area of the art of erotic power exchange on each of these levels who – in order to create the wholeness of the human being – are equally important and all deserve their, individual, attention.
Erotic power exchange can take any shape or form within a relationship. From little things like blindfolding her when making love to anything like 24 hours a day, 7 days a week servitude.

The shape and form it takes totally depends upon the fantasies, situation, preferences and boundaries of the partners involved. As long as it is informed consensual, safe, sane and voluntary it is called erotic power exchange. If any or all of these four elements are missing, it is called abuse.

Next, erotic power exchange requires a specific environment. Call it a biosphere, if you like. What it requires is a very sound, honest and sincere relationship, intense and open communication, trust, a lot of mutual understanding, an open mind, lots of love and care and a fair bit of creativity. Which does not mean the relationship necessarily has to be a long term one. Even within a one-night-stand or casual situation all these requirements must be there – albeit probably on a less intense level – to make things work.

People will often ask: what is wrong with straight sex? Why add things like power exchange. Well, there is nothing wrong with straight sex. But there are people – such as yourself – who want more out of their relationship. Maybe even more out of life. These are the people that will identify the power element, present in every relationship, and start to work with it, magnify it, play with it, explore and experiment. In every day life all of us have to deal with power. Your boss’ power or political power for example, but not all of us become bosses or politicians or even take an interest in management or politics. The same is true for power within the sexual/relational context. Some do, some don’t.

Giving away power to your partner can be an immense erotic sensation. Being tied up, relatively helpless and being launched by your partner into your own fantasies and dreams – some people call that sub space – can be thrilling, relaxing and revealing at the same time. Pain, tickling and all sorts of other impulses – when administered with care and skill – can pump up your endorphins, giving you the same sensation sports people will sometimes feel. On the other hand, the dominant partner will feel the adrenaline and serotonine flow freely through his or her body, giving them a very powerful feeling and very intense and caring emotion at the same time. No, the people that do it don’t need the power element to be able to have an orgasm or an interesting and rewarding relationship, but yes, they do need the power element to be present and used in their relationship.

An umbrella for lots of different things

Erotic power exchange is a very individual, personal experience. That is why it is very hard to describe what it is exactly. The only element all these people – and that includes you – have in common is the fact that – for their own individual reasons – they are fascinated by the power element in a sexual/relational context. What they do, how they do it and why may be completely different things.
Erotic power exchange is an umbrella argument. One couple may fill it in as tying her up in bed, another may be fascinated by the idea of a “strange” man walking into the bedroom capturing her and a third may have a relationship where he serves her in any aspect. Many others will look for the spiritual and personal growths, this may bring about. Others are in it for the kink. All of that is quite all right, as long as it feels good for you and it brings you what you are looking for.

Erotic power exchange is like golf: it is highly individual, you are the master of your own game and you are also your own referee.
It is entirely about what you want to do. You do not have to copy others. You do not even have to agree with what others do. It is your game, your thoughts, your emotions and your fantasies. It is what you and your (future) partner share. It is being able to explore the borders of your mind and imagination in a very safe environment.

To many people erotic power exchange is not just about sex, but a lifestyle. Most people that do it will recognize it as something very personal, something very much belonging to themselves. To many it is a way to express themselves.

A definition of Erotic Power Exchange

Probably the most dangerous thing to do is to try and come up with definitions of erotic power exchange. Usually this will lead to furious discussions. However, the POWERotics Internet discussion group (one of the largest in its kind) managed to agree on a definition that seems a workable one as well as one that a large group of (Maledom/femsub oriented) people can agree upon. This is the definition, agreed upon by this group, plus the relevant notes about it.

* Erotic power exchange is defined as: voluntary and informed consensual acts of power exchange between consenting adults.
* Voluntary is defined as: not having received or being promised any – financial or non-financial – incentive or reward in order to try and coerce or force any of the partners involved into actions they would not consent to without such reward or incentive; not otherwise being forced or coerced (either through physical, mental, economical or social force or overpowering) into actions any of the partners involved otherwise would not consent to, of the own free will of all partners involved.
* Informed consensual is defined as: partners involved – prior to the act – have chosen voluntary to enter into acts of erotic power exchange and all partners involved – to the best of their knowledge – have made a serious effort to establish all other partners involved have a reasonable level of understanding of both the activities, they consented to, as well as the potential consequences and risks of such activities.
* Adults are defined as: of legal age in their area or country. Should such legal age be under 18 years of age, adult is defined as 18 years of age or older.All of the above may sound a little over the top to you – and in fact, to a certain extent we agree. However, it IS the first ever attempt to come up with a definition that is workable and that, although probably a little bit too “legal” for those inside the community, makes perfectly clear where the lines are drawn between consensual erotic power exchange on one end and abuse or outright sick or criminal behavior on the other.

Stigma & Truth

There are all sorts of knockdowns on the subject of erotic power exchange around, all of them often used by legislators as well as others who oppose erotic power exchange. All of these are based on assumed psychological or psychiatric “knowledge” or “facts”. The fact of the matter is that none of these are actually true or proven. We have collected the most common ones around and compared them with the real facts.

“Once you start, you will want more and more”

This is what pseudo-experts will introduce as the “stepping stone theory”.

In other words, once you have tasted the effects of, for example, pain, you will want more and more of it and it will end in excessive behavior and addiction. In fact there is no “stepping stone theory” (the term originates from research into the causes of drug-addiction in the late 1960′s and by the way the theory didn’t work in that area either) as far as erotic power exchange is concerned.

Fact number two is this. Like almost anything about erotic power exchange, there is hardly any serious and published scientific research on this subject. Next, nearly all research commonly referred to as being about EPE has been research done in individual cases or extremely small groups. Any conclusions, based on such research, are not valid for the entire group for simple statistical and mathematical reasons only, if nothing else. Research has predominantly been done by psychiatrists and psychologists – into cases that almost all relate to direct questions for help or significant health-related problems. And the objective of almost all of these articles is to promote the therapy of that particular therapist. General sociological research in the area of erotic power exchange is rare and, if available, has been done predominantly in the gay community or with such small – and country or area specific – research groups that it is impossible to draw any general conclusions in a responsible way.

Fact number three is that the reality of erotic power exchange shows an entirely different picture. People who are into erotic power exchange will usually start to experiment with it and in this experimental phase will usually want to explore all possibilities. As time progresses their emotions will settle down, pieces of the puzzle will fall into place and their wants and needs – once explored and identified – will settle down to the level that usually corresponds with the fantasies people originally had.

“The need to go into power exchange always hides a traumatic experience”

This knockdown is based on Freud who, as we all know, tried to explore the relationship between all sorts of human behavior – not only the sexual behavior – and (early) childhood experiences. His method is called psycho-analysis and in modern psychology is considered outdated and largely irrelevant.
Although it is a fact that some people who are into erotic power exchange have a history of abuse or childhood trauma, a general connection has never been established. What may be true in individual cases most certainly is not true as a general argument. What research did establish is that there are no significant differences between the number of people with traumatic experiences in the erotic power exchange community than there are in any other group.

More recent research points to both genetic influences as well as to a creative and inquisitive mindset as factors that may be of influence to the development of erotic power exchange feelings and emotions. However, this research is far from finalized and in fact again is only limited to individual cases, like most of the scientific research done in this area.

Another – relatively new – area that may play a role is the influence of endorphins. Endorphins are hormones, natural opiates, produced by the body and commonly known as “emotion” amino acids. Different mixtures of different types of endorphins will create different emotions. Some of these mixtures are created as a result of fear, stress and pain. What role they play when it comes to the development of erotic power exchange emotions is yet unknown.

“The need for power exchange points to a stern upbringing”

Again a “semi-Freudian” misconception and based on one case of one man, researched and published about by Freud.

The fact of the matter is that most of the people who are into erotic power exchange have had a perfectly normal youth and upbringing and the majority come from families where sexuality was a subject that could be discussed freely and openly. Again there may be individual cases where people had a stern – or sometimes very religious – upbringing but whether or not there are any connections between upbringing and erotic power exchange emotions in general is yet to be determined and probably very unlikely as far as the development of the emotions as such is concerned.

“People into erotic power exchange can not find full sexual satisfaction in other ways”

This is an outright lie, based on research done in cases of excessive clinical sadism and masochism (i.e. the mental illnesses). It is true that the severe mental distortions usually described as sadism and masochism may (but not always do) show this type of behavior. Erotic power exchange, however, has nothing to do with mental distortions but with perfectly normal erotic/sexual behavior between perfectly normal, well-adjusted, responsible adults.

People into erotic power exchange will usually consider their feelings and emotions important and will identify erotic power exchange as a lifestyle, but that does not mean they have a compulsive need. The lack of compulsive behavior in fact is what separates erotic power exchange from clinical sadists and masochists.

In fact in many cases people will identify their erotic power exchange emotions as entirely different from sexual emotions or – for example – an orgasm.

“Dominant men are just male chauvinists”

The fact of the matter is that the majority of dominant men are very caring, loving and open minded people – as are most dominant women by the way. The position of the dominant in erotic power exchange by definition requires a lot of understanding, caring, trust and most of all a great interest in the wants and needs and emotions of the submissive partner. What to the outsider may seem a very strict, direct, powerful and maybe sometimes somewhat aggressive looking macho man in fact is only role play, using symbols and role behavior but underneath is almost always a very caring person.
The average submissive partner, when asked, will usually describe the dom as understanding – generally knowing more about his submissive partner than (s)he does (or did) him or herself – supportive, careful, loving and protective.

“Submissive women betray the movement for women’s rights”

Being submissive and allowing these emotions to come out is a very self-confident statement and decision as well as a difficult and scary process. Submissive women are usually very self aware and are making very conscious decisions about their submissiveness. They are anything but “doormats” and have – generally speaking – gone through a long process of identifying and accepting themselves as well as their submissive feelings and emotions.

Just as dominant erotic behavior is not an indication of general dominance, neither is submissiveness an indication that the (wo)men will display submissiveness in every day life. Usually they will be anything but submissive, although it is a fact that as long as submissive emotions have not settled down, submissive women especially sometimes may have trouble separating some of their submissive feelings from other things.
The argument itself originates from hard line feminist activists who – predominantly out of fear for unwanted influence – try to separate women from other opinions than the ones such activists have.

“People who are dominant in every day life are submissive in bed and vice versa”

Sexual/erotic behavior is usually not an indication for any other form of social behavior, neither are there any proven links between the two. Dominants can have both dominant as well as non-dominant positions in every day life and the same goes for submissive’s. A female executive can be submissive in the bedroom, a male nurse can be dominant. The above statement is a classic example of stereotyping, mainly based on pornography and stories from prostitutes who – through indicating they have “socially important or significant customers” – in fact try to market their profession and often use arguments like these in a rather naive effort to gain more social acceptance and respect for their trade.

“Erotic power exchange is dangerous”

There are all sorts of stories around about accidents, that happened during erotic power exchange sessions. The most “famous” one around is the story about the man who – after cuffing his wife to the bed – climbed the nearest cupboard in an effort to jump on her, broke both his legs, fell into the locked closet and the couple had to wait for two days before help arrived. This story – like many others – is around in almost all countries and – like nearly all others – is a tall story. Of course, anything one does without sufficient knowledge can be risky or even dangerous. The truth of the matter is that safe, sane, voluntary and informed consensual erotic power exchange is perfectly safe, provided people know what they are doing.

Early Recollection

The vast majority (over 50 percent) of the people actively nurturing erotic power exchange emotions recollect fantasies about power role play at an early age, prior to their 18th birthday. Just about half of this group (in other words 25 percent of all BDSM-people) recollects having such fantasies before the age of twelve – quite frequently as early as six or seven.

Research by the POWERotics Foundation shows women usually recollect erotic power exchange fantasies and emotions earlier than men on average. Recollections of fantasies and emotions before the age of 12 for example are more frequent (24%) in the female group (men 16%). Very recent recollections, after their 18th birthday, are more frequent in the male group: 22% as opposed to only 5% in the female group.

There are no real differences when it comes to the importance of personal fantasies. Between 40 and 45 percent of both groups indicate that it have been these fantasies that triggered their erotic power exchange emotions. The same goes for the influence of books and general media on the development of such emotions. Around 20 percent of both groups indicate this as a trigger. There are, however, big differences when it comes to the influence of the Internet. Almost twice as many young women (15% opposed to 8%) name the Internet as a trigger of their emotions, whereas almost twice as many young men (11% versus 6%) say they have been influenced by pornography. It is important to notice however that the influence of both the Internet and pornography are only of minor influence, when compared to other triggers such as private fantasies and general media.

Young women in general consider erotic power exchange of a greater importance in their lives than young men. 53% of the young women consider it to be either a very important or the most important thing in their lives, whereas 44% of the men consider it important but have other priorities as well. Slightly more young men (12%) than women (10%) see erotic power exchange as just a kick.

Health Care Reform: Looking Towards 2014

With 2014 fast approaching, both small and large employers have a laundry list of items to review in order to ensure compliance with the Affordable Care Act. Below is a short list of 13 key points to keep in mind when assessing medical plans, insurance coverages and heath care programs:

Individual Mandate – US citizens and legal residents are required to maintain minimum essential health coverage for themselves and their dependents or pay a penalty for noncompliance. Individuals who are not offered affordable coverage through their employer may receive financial assistance (subsidies) to help them purchase health insurance.

State-based Exchanges for Individuals and Small Groups – In each state, a new marketplace, also called the Exchange, will be established for individuals and small employer groups to purchase compliant health coverage. Exchanges are expected to begin accepting enrollment by October 1st, for an effective date of January 1, 2014.

Health Insurance Marketplace Notice – Employers are required to provide the notice to all employees by October 1, 2013 and to each new employee at the time of hiring thereafter.

Pre-Existing Conditions – Limiting of benefits due to pre-existing conditions is prohibited in all plans.

Benefit Waiting Periods – Employers may not impose a waiting period greater than 90 days for most states. However, California law AB 1083 goes into effect January 1, 2014 which states that the waiting period in California can be no longer than 60 days.

Insurer fees – New fees will be imposed on health insurance carriers. At renewal, carriers should explain the cost impact to the renewal rates for fees they are passing on to the employer.

Rating – Modified community rating will be implemented for coverage in the small group market. Rates may be surcharged up to 50% for tobacco use. A maximum 3:1 premium ratio takes effect on age-banded rates.

Wellness Program – Wellness program incentives may increase to 30% of the cost of coverage for a reward-based program.

Small Group redefined – Small Group will be redefined as 1- 100 employees in most states. However, it will remain 1-50 in California until 2016.

Small Employer Tax Credits Available Only in Exchange – Eligible small businesses that purchase coverage through the exchange may apply for a tax credit of up to 50% of the employer’s contribution toward the employee’s health insurance premium.

Essential Health Benefits – Insurers of fully insured Individual and Small Group plans are required to provide coverage for Essential Health Benefits (EHB) in 10 benefit categories. Employers need to ensure that plan documents are updated for this provision.

Mandatory Coverage for Clinical Trials – If a qualified individual is in an approved clinical trial, the plan cannot deny coverage for related services. Employers need to ensure that plan documents are updated for this provision.

Deductible Caps – Small group plans have limits on deductibles for fully insured, non-grandfathered plans at $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for families.

If you have any questions regarding this information, or general ACA and health care reform inquiries, feel free to contact us for more information.

7 Common Health Care Reform Questions

Health care reform has emerged as the number-one topic among small business owners in 2013. While the economy remains a concern, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, has confused and confounded even the most educated and well-versed employers. As the government continues to present new rules, guidelines and clarifications to the law, business owners continue to scramble to keep up. Here we present seven questions commonly asked by employers.

Question #1: The individual mandate in 2014 means… you must have health insurance by Jan 1 2014 or that you have to have coverage before Jan 1 2014?

Answer: The Individual mandate is effective January 1, 2014. You must have health coverage for at least 9 months in the calendar year to avoid the penalty.

Question #2: How many states have so far filed and received approval for establishing their state exchange?

Answer: 20 states have so far set up their own exchange that will meet ACA requirements. Several of these states include New York, California, Kentucky, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington.

Question #3: So EVERYONE needs insurance, correct? Do all employers – even those with only 10 employees – need to provide employees with state exchange information?

Answer: The federal agencies implementing Health Care Reform issued an extension on January 24, 2013 for the required Employer Notice to Employees on State Exchanges due by March 1, 2013. The employer notice has been postponed until later in 2013, probably late summer or early fall.

Question #4: What if a person has multiple jobs at two or more employers? Who is on the hook, if anyone, for providing health care?

Answer: If the employee works greater than 30 hours per week on average at both employers than both employer are required to offer affordable coverage. The employee may select either employer plan or a state exchange plan. If the employee is not working 30 or more hours the employer is not subject to the mandate to offer coverage.

Question #5: What is the employee has multiple jobs at the same employer and it is more than 30 hours?

Answer: If a large employer they are required to offer affordable coverage or be subject to penalties.

Question #6: Is there any penalty for reducing jobs to < 30 hours to avoid this?

Answer: No, there is no penalty if an employer reduces hours below 30 to avoid offering coverage.

Question #7: What will be the benefits for a Non-Resident Alien?

Answer: Aliens who are “lawfully present in the United States” are subject to the health insurance mandate and are eligible, if otherwise qualified, to participate in the high-risk pools and the exchanges, and they are eligible for premium credits and cost-sharing subsidies. ACA expressly exempts unauthorized (illegal) aliens from the mandate to have health coverage and bars them from a health insurance exchange. Unauthorized aliens are not eligible for the federal premium credits or cost-sharing subsidies. Unauthorized aliens are also barred from participating in the temporary high-risk pools.

These is no question that as we approach January 1, 2014, the date in which the individual mandage kicks-in, employers will have more and more questions about Obamacare and health care reform. Employers are advised to meet with a health care insurance professional to discuss the important issues at hand.

Health Care Exchanges Are Coming!

Health care exchanges, also known as marketplaces are due to become operational in each state on Jan. 1st 2014. Open enrollment for the exchanges is set to begin Oct. 1st 2014. Anticipation has been building towards these events ever since the health care bill was originally signed into law. There has always been opposition to the law for various reasons. And there are still those who doubt the readiness or the ability of the exchanges to meet this timetable. They point to delays and changes in the law as evidence of this. However, the reality as we know it today is that these milestones will be met.

For now there are a number of things that everyone should know about the exchanges.

1. There are three different types of exchanges: state run, federally run and joint exchanges. The assumption is that to the buying public the structure of the exchange should be fairly transparent. In other words, it shouldn’t make any difference. They all are required to be run similarly.

2. Premium subsidies will be available for individuals who purchase coverage through the exchange. The subsidies will be base on income and will be applied to immediately offset the cost of coverage. All recipients of a subsidy will be required to reconcile when they file their tax return. So depending on what their actual income was for the year, they may receive additional subsidy or they may owe an amount if they actually earned more income than estimated.

3. The coverage plans available will be similar to plans you can purchase outside the exchange. All health insurance will be required to have certain mandated coverages after Jan. 1, 2014.

4. If you have health insurance now and like that coverage you will be able to keep what you have, if and only if, your current plan complies with all of the ACA coverage requirements. If it doesn’t you may be required to purchase a new plan with your insurance company that does meet all the new standards. Although the requirement for large employers to have coverage is delayed until 2015, the individual mandate to have coverage effective Jan 1st 2014 has not been delayed. The first year penalty for not doing so is 1% of AGI or $95.00 assessed at tax time. It increases after that.

5. Small employers will be able to purchase group health insurance in an exchange called Small Business Health Options Programs (SHOP).

6. Most underwriting will be eliminated and there will be no waiting periods for pre existing conditions; however, enrollment will only be able to take place during open enrollment and if certain life events cause changes in your status.

7. Brokers and agents will be able to sell insurance policies inside the exchange, but only those who have completed the training and certification to do so.

There are many other details that need to be considered when shopping for health insurance inside or outside the exchanges. It is a very important decision. You need to seek the advice and guidance of a qualified benefit consultant to guide you through the process. At least that much will not change.

This information has been provided by Mark E. VonMoss, Manager Financial Services Div. of The Insurancenter.

What Health Care Reform Means For Infertility Coverage

The Senate version of the recently enacted health care reform does not provide any obvious, direct relief for couples looking for infertility health insurance coverage. Upon closer inspection there are areas where our friends in Washington have taken away, and places that show a glimmer of hope. Much will change over time as more details begin to emerge. Take a look at what can be learned from a high level overview of the bill.

I was interested to see what help the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” offered, if any, to couples facing infertility. One can learn very interesting things by downloading the 2,409 page PDF document available online. Adobe Acrobat provides a handy word search feature that allows us to quickly see what, if anything was done to address the needs of couples trying to conceive.

So I typed in a number of keyword phrases, and got the following results: Infertility: 0, IVF: 0, Fertility: 0, In Vitro Fertilization: 0, Assistive Reproduction Technology: 0

Okay so it seems that the new law does not provide any obvious direct help for couple trying to conceive. Is there indirect help? Let’s try typing in “pregnancy” as see what comes up. We find twenty one entries; now we may be onto something! The entries break down to these categories:

  • Establishment of a pregnancy assistance fund to help pregnant and parenting college students.
  • “A sense of Congress” to study the mental health consequences of women “resolving” pregnancy.
  • Funding tied to state-established goals to reduce teen pregnancy rates.
  • Personal responsibility programs designed to educate adolescents on abstinence, contraception, and sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) as it relates to oral healthcare.
  • Removal of cost share for counseling and pharmacotherapy for cessation of tobacco use by pregnant women.

It seems we are out of luck once again. Funding and attention are allocated to preventing pregnancy, and keeping already pregnant women healthy, but nothing about helping get people pregnant.

Flexible Spending Accounts can be very useful for infertile couples. Pre-taxing helps lower costs for the very high level of unreimbursed medical expenses associated with infertility treatments. Let’s see if the bill provides any help in this area? The news is not good. Health Care Flexible Spending Accounts contribution limits have been capped at $2,500 for any plans with tax year’s beginning after December 31, 2010. It still makes sense to utilize your FSA to keep costs low, but a $2,500 limit does not make much of a dent in a $15,000 IVF payment.

Let’s not give up yet. There are those state run health exchanges to examine. Their principle purpose is to provide some level of coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions. The funds by nature lose money for the states that currently run such programs; which means your benefit may exceed your premium. Each state is given some level of flexibility it how it will set up and run its exchange. Perhaps there may be something for infertility hidden amongst these exchanges.

And then there is prescription drugs: 136 mentions, and a few that aren’t related to Medicare (the program for people over age 65). Perhaps we can explore these topics in another article. Stay tuned.