The Master and Slave relationship is based on an authority-exchange structure having as core value of service and obedience. The participants may be of any gender or sexual orientation. A Slave is a specific type of submissive. The Master and Slave relationship refers to the relationship between the individuals involved, and does not necessarily require any specific sexual acts. Though sexual activity is part of the relationship; the sexual aspect could be conventional.

A Slave could also be a masochist, but this is not always the case. The relationship uses the term Slave because of the association of the term with ownership rights of a master to their Slave’s body, as property or chattel. Both Owner and Slave see the Slave as human property. This is not a figurative concept but a literal one: The Slave makes a choice to live in voluntary servitude, and therefore lives out a commitment to obedience.

The Owner assumes ultimate responsibility for the well-being of another human being.
The Owner is the final decision maker in all things, except whatever he or she may have chosen to delegate to the Slave as the Slave’s area of responsibility. There is no part of the Slave’s life or being that the Owner does not have the option to control, if he or she wishes to do so.

There is an agreement that the Owner will in fact control and command the slave to an extent determined also by the Owner. Occasionally Slaves are indeed sold in this sort of relationship configuration, and the Slave in question – if they wish to remain a Slave – goes obediently ( happily or not) to the new Owner.

While male “Owners” will usually be referred to as “Master,” whether or not female Masters are referred to as “Master” or “Mistress” may depend upon whether they identify as following the Leather or S&M path. The Master and slave or owner and property relationship is entered into only on a consensual basis. Some participants regard the relationship as sexual role-play, while others enter into the relationship on the basis of a highly committed, long-term submissive lifestyle.