Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Dominant Trainer

One of the stock heroes in BDSM fiction is the male Dominant who has "trained lots of subs." His background is usually a throwaway one, like describing a fictional hero as rich, without actually presenting a tabulation of his true net worth. Training experience is supposed to give the hero kink cred: such a Dom has to be really good at what he does. His Domliness is so overwhelming that he'll show the BDSM virginal heroine (and presumably the BDSM virginal reader) a great time.

Okay. In real life, a Dominant's creativity is usually valued more than his experience, so what does having "trained a lot of subs" really mean?

If a Dominant has had a lot of subs, that's different than having trained a lot of subs. Ethical "training" means private teaching, like conducting workshops on some aspect of BDSM. Here the Dom teacher is a friend of the sub. Being principled, this trainer Dom does not have authority over the sub--or else it is a D/s relationship, not a trainer-trainee relationship. It goes without saying that this interaction cannot involve sex--or even real emotional involvement. The Dom is charged with training a sub, not his sub. Altruism is the ethical trainer's only reward.

But can you really train people? I think not. You train animals. The processes, mechanics, protocols and emotions involved in kink are normally far more complex than commands to sit or roll over. And they are highly specific to the couple. Subs and Doms cannot be interchanged: mixing and matching of people is a crazy concept. What might please the ethical trainer has no bearing on what will float the boat of another Dom.

The idea of a special school where Dominants train submissives or slaves is alluring. The Story of O, by Pauline Reage, and the Marketplace Series by Laura Antoniou are prominent fictional examples. But the dynamic is fantasy. No one can train somebody to be another person's worthy submissive. There is no universal BDSM rule book that can prepare a sub for a different (and future) BDSM relationship.

Unhappily, the fantasy of "sub training" sneaks into real life, ensnaring the innocent. There are plenty of self-described Dominants in the community who offer to "train subs". These men are not interested in training anyone. All they really want is to "get some". A supposed Dom who brags about having "trained a lot of subs" is the BDSM equivalent of a man claiming he's "fucked a lot of women." Suddenly "training" goes from darkly forbidden and dramatic to just plain slimy.

There are better ways for a curious newbie to get some face-to-face individual help. For example, one good choice is to ask an experienced sub or slave to mentor her. Begging a Dominant for private lessons on how to be a sub is asking for trouble; even an ethical Dom has a potential conflict of interest.

There's a clever April Fool's joke on Etsy (a kind of online artist's colony) now. This Etsy shop, called To be Read, is owned by the prestigious Dear Author review site. The shop offers to "sell" handmade, one-of-a-kind book reviews. An A review is way cheaper than an F review. It's especially funny if you're familiar with Etsy. Dear Author Etsy. Since the shop will probably disappear May 1, I offer this link, too: Cached Dear Author Etsy

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