533. BDSM: WOPE vs. WIPE

WOPE and WIPE were a couple of acronyms that I created in 531. Discussion Topic Write-Up: Some Major Style Differences within BDSM.

What they mean:

  • WOPE = BDSM WithOut Power Exchange
  • WIPE = BDSM WIth power Exchange

From my own perspective I consider this to be one of the largest differences between the styles of BDSM relationships that people engage in.  How relevant this writing is to you may depend heavily upon the style that you prefer, the philosophy/voice of the guides that you may have learned from, and/or the composition of your local scene.

The majority of current BDSM guides, as well as my own local scene tend to practice WOPE.  Local scenes that are more “old school,” people who have been in the lifestyle for longer, and/or those with interests in living D/s as a lifestyle tend to practice WIPE.

Why this is such a great contrast is because newer guides and many BDSM communities take a very hard-line stance on consent.  In doing so, they unintentionally narrow the scope of BDSM and if you interpret the teachings literally, WIPE cannot exist in a consensual form within a WOPE-oriented community.

Generally speaking, WOPE BDSM relies on a handful of tenets:

  • All BDSM activities are negotiated and require consent.
  • The duration of the BDSM activities are negotiated and require consent.
  • BDSM activities can be terminated at any time by either party with the use of a safe word.
  • BDSM activities should abide by SSC (or at worst, RACK).
  • Neither submissive nor dominant should feel pressured or compelled to take part in activities that they do not want to.
  • When these negotiated activities are taking place, it is known as a “scene.”

The BDSM practiced with WOPE is one that provides opportunities for people to have their needs met or engage in mutually enjoyable activities in a safe and controlled environment.  The teachings are such in order to avoid a multitude of potential problems:

  • Shielding subs/bottoms from predatory doms/tops.
  • Keeping people safe from harm.
  • Protecting reputations within the community.
  • Minimizing community drama by clearly defining what is and is not okay.

This is a good and legitimate way to do things.  It is the method that I think should be most strongly recommended for newbies.

It is not the only way that things are.

One of the problems with the rigidity of WOPE is that it does not really allow for a healthy existence of WIPE.

By definition, a relationship involves power exchange when the submissive partner relinquishes some level of control to the dominant partner.  Conversely, this also means that the dominant partner wields some level of control over the submissive partner.

While this control may take a number of forms, one of those most common uses of this control takes the form of rules determined by the dominant that the submissive must follow.  If the sub breaks these rules, they may face consequences, often in the form of a tangible punishment.  While the rules may not be active at all times, this violates the WOPE principles by not requiring specific consent each time the rules go live.  Also, the punishment for rules violations, assuming it is something that the sub does not enjoy, would constitute an activity that the sub would not want to take part in and their inability to say, “no,” to the punishment also violates consent guidelines.

Seeing as this is the most basic form of WIPE, the more extensive WIPE dynamics inevitably breach WOPE consent guidelines to an even greater extent.

However, it is erroneous to think that all WIPE is wrong and that the people who are engaging in it are somehow breaking moral and ethical laws that are meant to be sacred.  WOPE fails WIPE in a number of ways:

  • WOPE tends to assume that consenting adults are incapable of knowingly making an educated decision to engage in WIPE.  e.g. “If you knew you what you were getting into, you would never agree to it.”  Someone who engages in WIPE might counter with, “I agree to it because I know what I am getting into and this is what I want.”
  • WOPE tends to assume that people engaging in BDSM activities will do so with numerous casual partners, often with those they have not had time to properly vet.  Many people that engage in WIPE do so with a singular partner with whom they have intimate knowledge of and shared extensive experiences with, in an ongoing long-term relationship.
  • The WOPE BDSM principles can become a hard-line mantra for people to the extent that their followers may actively judge and reject those who engage in WIPE.  This actively flies in the face of anti-kink-shaming stances as well as “there is no one true way” philosophies.

This is a problem.  This is a big problem.  Why is this a problem?  Because people seek WIPE.  By removing it and/or making it impossible to practice it openly in a BDSM community, several important things happen:

  1. The people with long-running WIPE experience and buckets of wisdom to share either hide their dynamic or remove themselves from the community entirely.
  2. There is no one there to educate people on or act as support groups for those who engage in WIPE dynamics.
  3. People will still seek WIPE but are forced to turn outside the community, where there is no guidance for it, no support of it, no education about it, or regulation of it, in order to find it.

The additional result is the formation of “movements” that create their own flavor of the WIPE dynamic well outside the BDSM community.  The principles they decide upon are not founded on ideas seeking to keep people safe or protected in any way.  Is this better?  It certainly isn’t safer.

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19 thoughts on “533. BDSM: WOPE vs. WIPE

    1. An example of WOPE: person A and person B agree that A will strap B down to a spanking bench and hit them with 4 devices that they have agreed will be used. This will continue until person A decides that the scene should end, although the scene can also be terminated at any time if B says “red.” If negotiated beforehand, there may be some cuddle time between A and B as aftercare in the scene’s immediate aftermath. When it is over, there are no further obligations between person A and person B unless a fresh set of negotiations occur.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Gotcha! Thank you. So it’s play only… no BDSM dynamic aside from a particular scene. I see the benefits to that. I engaged in a melding of the two when I was unattached. Negotiating a scene and dynamic for that scene before play. There were my one timers and those I played with routinely. Each scene was negotiated and we’d reverse back into friendship/equals after the scene was done.

        I find myself drawn to power exchange as the main element of the relationship. My kinks come to play almost extensively from the dynamic itself.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, there is no D/s. I see it as a viable choice for people to make, especially to get certain needs met while waiting to find someone that they really connect and fit with or when learning about the lifestyle.

          As someone that is also drawn to power exchange, I am not really a fan of how it has been wiped out of sight in my local community (I have attended ~10 groups recently, none of which validate power exchange as an actual thing).

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I just read a few blog posts on another site written for subs which totally dismissed the D/s power exchange as anything real or it exists soley in the bedroom. I was flabbergasted!!!!

          I find it sad that there isn’t validation given to this dynamic!!! They don’t know what they’re missing. 😦

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Nearly every recent guide I read will have a section that says what D/s is, but pretty much everything else they write is consistent with the WOPE tenets I spoke of in this post and negates the concept of D/s. I don’t know why they do this aside from just thinking there is no safe way to teach D/s. Leaving that empty knowledge gap is more unsafe, though.

          Liked by 1 person

        4. Very much so!!! I am naturally submissive and have fallen prey a few times to Dom energy without knowing what it was. I found myself in situations and relationships I had no business being in because I didn’t have the knowledge or skills to protect myself. I was fortunate to meet a few really good Doms who taught me about good vs bad Doms, safety, and how to choose a partner. It’s far worse not to have this information available.

          Liked by 1 person

        5. If I may add, WOPE was/is essentially a *kinkster*, this is something I watch for when researching and reading other blogs. There is no D/s dynamic as fur previously stated. It’s great for determining kinks and casual fun but in no way can really support a D/s lifestyle.

          Liked by 2 people

  1. This was a better breakdown and description of WOPE vs WIPE fur. I know 531 was more of an introduction to the terms, but this is gold. You are correct in stating that many of the local communities support WOPE as consent is hammered over and over. Yes, it is extremely important but, to me, it seems to beat a dead bush. It screams of “I don’t trust my partner”, maybe I’m biased but the whole point of my dynamic with pet is that he DOES trust me to make the right decisions. He knows I’m human and may make a mistake but ultimately I call the shots.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, J.
      It does get hammered over and over, but it seems like every other week someone new shows up and gasps while asking, “you mean they’re supposed to ask if I am okay with something and I’m allowed to say no?” I have seen that enough to know why they put it in place. With that in mind, I find it the most boring chat topic you can ever imagine if it happens to be a discussion munch.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. It has reached a point where some communities write off WIPE as something that newbies think exists but isn’t supposed to. I don’t know why things have to get so polarized and binary aside from it being simplified so that people can feel right without having to think about what else is out there.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. The key point of that statement… people (in general) are lazy. The answers are handed to them on this platter so why look for anything else. Yeah I’m a bit jaded.. haha

          Liked by 1 person

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