January/February 2002
Some Thoughts as a Teacher
by Snake-eyes

Growing up the way I have, I have learned various things, ideas, and concepts people take their entire lives to figure out. Or perhaps, as my mentor put it, "Son, they simply got a later start on it." But nonetheless, some get it and some don't.

I am currently training a group of four submissives and two dominants. I oversee the scenes and play that my students partake in as well as their discussions and various other 'lifestyle' activities. In my group of submissives, the youngest is 18 years old (do some thinking back to remember the 'attitude' and 'ego' you might have had at that age). The oldest of my submissive pupils is 42 years of age. My two dominants are the ages of 28 and 33 years. As for the author's age, it's been guessed from 30 years of age to 50 years of age. As you can see, there is a plethora of ideas as well as temperaments. What my 18-year-old pupil might think about submission and how far he should submit to whom ever he chooses to submit to, is entirely different from my middle-aged students; their ideas are completely different from my older students.

When I first took on these pupils, I gathered them all together for what became our 'weekly session.' This included both dominants as well as all four submissive and I asked them one of the very first questions I was asked at the age of 16, when I began to 'seriously' learn about BDSM.

"What is dominance? What is submission?"

I instructed them to write down their thoughts, opinions, etc without the use of a dictionary. (I encourage my students to use the 'gray matter' between their ears. The more they use their brain for their own thoughts, the safer and stronger they'll be in the end and on their own.) After writing on the questions at hand, their instructions included reading their responses to the rest of the group. I have them an hour to write. While this amount of time may not seem like enough time to write on these questions to some of the readers, or to a person who has been 'involved' in the lifestyle for some time, to a person who is 'new' or knows very little about the BDSM lifestyle, it can seem like an eternity.

Finally, after an hour of watching the concentrating masks and scribbling pens, the timer bell ran. Each one then, read their answers to the rest of the group. There were various reactions to each response read, from the 'understanding nod' to the 'what the hell' or 'why the hell' looks. But each student listened and each read, uninterrupted.

It was time from my 18 year old to read and he read his one and only sentence response to the question. (He had spent the rest of the time drawing on his paper.)

His response was: "Dominance is control. Submission is giving."

I heard various sighs and I could 'feel' the eyes roll from the other of the group when they heard his answer. He quietly let his head drop as well as his paper, and he let out the infamous sight we all give when we think or feel we've disappointed someone else. Quickly, I had him pick up his paper, as well as the rest of the students. I told them to write down the following letters upon the top of their papers: R-E-S-P-E-C-T. I proceeded to teach them and tell them the following rule that I have learned while being involved in the lifestyle. It's a rule my own submissives follow and it's a rule I've been following since the age of 15.

'Respect every one and every person you encounter, no matter age, sex, race, etc. Always respect them, for you haven't worn their shoes. Various things can happen when I person walks into a relationship with respect towards another person. And, always use terms of respect while speaking or listening to them."

"Yes, Madam." No, Ma'am. Mistress. M'Lady. M'Lord. Sir. Master. Brother. Sister."

I've had to, since that first session, have various lessons on simple 'oral' and 'physical' manners towards others. I'm not as strict on my students as my mentor was with me. Of course, they have a lot more 'common courtesy' than I did while learning. More often than not though, my students learn by repetitiveness and observation of my manners. How is it that various people make pre-conceived notions about people who are within their own lifestyle? How is it that people look down upon, what some call 'childish' questions within this lifestyle? How is it, that we are so quick to welcome 'newcomers' to the BDSM lifestyle, yet we look down upon ideas of younger adults and/or older adults in the lifestyle, new or old to BDSM? How can we look down upon ideas and opinions of the open-minded people or the ideas that we don't agree with? How can we be so critical of one another in this alternative life?

So many various and similar questions with one simple connecting answer. The lack of respect that is taught or in some cases, not taught. (Ironic isn't it? Everybody wants that respect, but how many are willing to give it?)

Why it is not taught? Or why is it only taught to a certain level in some cases?

Because a dominant only wants his or her submissive to respect them and their ways, wants and/or pleasures? ('Beware of the 'ignorant possessive' dominants, for they will only lead a submissive to heartache, pain and confusion.') "The stronger the respect shown for others, the stronger the respect grows in any relationship at hand."

"Respect can only grow stronger and broader. If respect is lost, it was never truly given to begin with."

If a poll was taken to find out the number one characteristic of successful BDSM relationships of any sort (friendship, involvement, etc.) most would probably say one of the two big 'C' words: Communication or Consent of a mutual interest. While these two things are imperative for any relationship, how can these two things exist without respect on both ends of the dominant's end of the rope as well as the submissive's end of the rope?

How can anybody in this lifestyle think that they know everything there is to know about this lifestyle? To think you are a level above the next dominant or submissive simply because you practice it daily, monthly, weekly, yearly shows a lack of respect for the other brothers and sisters in this lifestyle. Sure, there will be disagreements among us, but to agree to disagree shows a simple kind of respect that is often overlooked.

The lifestyle that we all find ourselves taking part in is a lifestyle most people don't understand or will never understand. What separates this lifestyle from the 'vanilla' life, there is that chance that life will become stagnant and mundane. This isn't a bad thing, but where is the chance to grow?

That is, essentially, the basic root and base of the BDSM lifestyle; growth. Their si always room for growth, in fact that is what dominant and submissives should strive for. Don't get the author wrong; the physical sense of submission and domination is always a good thing. Without respect in general though, how would we grow and how would we learn to take part in and enjoy the physical sensations of the lifestyle? How would we teach each other and how would we learn from each other?

Respect. Growth. These are infamous words from his lifestyle (or any other lifestyle that we choose to follow) that we often overlook. Basic words for the basics of BDSM. How can a person learn to add without first learning the numbers? The author will leave the reader with these words to think upon in any spare moment they wish to use upon thinking of the lifestyle.

"The best way to learn to get into the pool, for a beginner, is to get into the water, one step at a time before jumping head/feet first into the water."