Friday, October 17, 2003

Local Author Writes A Training Manual for Submissives

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #219, October 17, 2003)

The Twin Cities leather/BDSM community is full of creative, inventive, talented and resourceful people. If they decide they need something and they can’t find it anywhere else, they’re likely to just create it themselves. Having created it, they are then likely to share it with the rest of the community.

When Rich Hunt, also known as “Sergeant Major,” was asked by a woman to train her to be a submissive, he consented to act as her teacher. Then he realized that in order to teach her, he would need a curriculum. So he sat down and wrote a Manual for the Formal Training of a Submissive©. Now that he’s written it he is sharing it with the rest of the community by self-publishing.

On the cover page Hunt states that the manual was “written as a distillation of my thoughts and experiences.” He also says that the manual “is not intended to be all-encompassing or comprehensive, rather it is intended to provide the initial training for a newcomer to the lifestyle.” While it was written based on his experience as a heterosexual dominant and is oriented toward the female submissive, it can be adapted to other orientations and situations.

What exactly is a submissive, and why is training necessary? The manual defines a submissive as “a person who surrenders physical and mental control to another within an intimate lifestyle relationship but generally is in control of their life otherwise.” (This is different than a bottom, defined as “a person who is submissive during a scene, but not within other aspects of a relationship.”) Training is necessary because there’s a lot a submissive needs to know in order to be a good one.

The manual opens with a discussion of Dominant/submissive, or D/s, relationships. It should be noted that in a “Dominant/submissive” relationship both Dominant and submissive take pride in their own freely-chosen roles while respecting and taking pride in their partner. This is quite different from a relationship where one party is “domineering” (exercising arbitrary or overbearing control; tyrannizing) and the other is “subservient” (either cringing at their subordinate position or fawning and being obsequious).

Addressed to the Dominant acting as trainer, the manual includes a section discussing “Needs of a submissive” and also both a “submissive’s creed” and a “Dominant’s Pledge.”

A comprehensive glossary discusses the differences between D/s, B&D (bondage and domination) and SM (formerly sadomasochism, now increasingly referred to as “sexual majick”). It also describes the differences between the sometimes-confused terms “Dominant” (also known as “Dom” or “Domme”), “Top, “Master” or “Mistress” and “Sadist” on the one hand, and “submissive,” “bottom,” “slave” and “masochist” on the other.

Hunt wrote the section entitled “Formal Training?” to discuss the purpose and benefits of training and to address a common fear: that formal training will result in “negating spirit, subordinating individuality, creating some form of automaton who becomes less a person than an object.” Hunt counters that proper training accomplishes the exact opposite, “adding another dimension to [the submissive’s] complexity as an individual” and allowing them to “[set] themselves apart from the run-of-the-mill and those who have neither the personal inner strength nor commitment to take on the full meaning of who and what they can be.”

The “Training Syllabus” as presented in the manual includes learning about “the philosophy, psychology and emotional dimensions of Domination and submission” through reading, discussions and observation (a list of suggested readings is included at the end of the manual). Also taught are the execution and appropriate use of certain physical positions such as greeting and departure, honoring, offering, attending, attention/listing, and others. The submissive learns proper conduct in formal and informal situations, with special emphasis on demeanor, responsibilities and mechanics of domestic service. Other topics covered are negotiations and contracts, the use and care of dungeon/scene accessories, observation and analysis of scenes, and leather care and bootblacking.

If this all sounds like a kinky version of a finishing school—well, that’s exactly what it is. Apart from imparting theoretical and practical knowledge, training aims to increase the poise, bearing, self-confidence and pride of the submissive.

How long does this kind of training take? That depends on the student—Hunt’s preferred style of training is performance-based rather than time-based. Instead of setting a certain length of time for each phase of training, Hunt covers multiple training areas concurrently. The manual lists measures of performance for each area of instruction; when the submissive completes these performance measures to the satisfaction of the trainer, the training is considered complete and the submissive is released from the training contract. (Wouldn’t it be a benefit to society if our public schools could adopt the same type of approach? Wouldn’t it be nice if all the students were as motivated and dedicated as a submissive choosing to go through this type of training?)

The manual, priced at $12, is available directly from the author by contacting <>. At that price, and given the admittedly limited audience for the manual, Hunt probably won’t make major financial gains from this project. But that’s not why he wrote it—“I wrote it to pay forward, because I can’t pay back,” he says. “I feel obligated to pay forward and thereby honor all those who took the time to train me.”

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