SM Mentoring FAQ (Frequently Asked
1. Q. What is mentoring?
A. Mentoring is "the most complex of all human
activities because it
involves and amalgam of teaching, counseling, negotiating,
supervising, coaching, persuading, and other personal and
interpersonal skills." U.S. Department of Labor's
2. Q. What is SM mentoring?
A. SM Mentoring is a partnership in which an
experienced SM player
(mentor) provides information, guidance and support to another
(mentee or associate). SM Mentoring is a powerful and popular
leatherfolk to learn a variety of interpersonal and
skills. Simply put, SM Mentoring is a process, a set of
and a relationship between two or more leatherfolk who share
to explore the heights and plummet the depths of SM
3. Q. What is an SM Mentor?
A. An SM mentor is a trusted, experienced SM player who
serves as a
counselor, guide, teacher, coach, motivator, sponsor, advisor,
referral agent, role model, and door opener. An SM mentor is a
leatherperson who has a sincere desire to enhance the success of
others in the leather tribe. An effective SM mentor is not only
experienced player, but is a supportive, patient, honest,
trustworthy, empathic, and effective communicator. An SM
facilitates the mentee's personal growth as an SM player and
member of the leather tribe by sharing experience, strength,
knowledge, skill and insights that have been learned through theyears.
4. Q. What is an SM Mentee or Protégé?
A. A SM mentee or protégé is a novice, newbie or simply an
or leatherperson who wants to learn more about SM and living in
leather through an intimate relationship with a more experienced
player or leather person. An SM mentee usually is open to
the whats, whys, and hows for living in leather.
Leather neophytes learn the unwritten protocols for living in
leather and working with the sacred fires of SM.
5. Q. What are the roles of an SM Mentor?
A. An SM Mentor can have many roles: SM Role Model, SM
teacher, SM Companion,
and SM Resource.
6. Q. What are the origins of SM Mentoring?
A. In the leather tribe, mentoring was the responsibility of the
Guard Elders who slowly exposed novice leatherfolk to the
and provided socialization. These elders attracted and
newcomers into the leather scene through the protocols and made
part of their "family," "clan" or later,
motorcycle club or
fraternity. The elders gave "advice for love
life and sex life; a
home-life with our own kind; a place to barbecue on weekends;
information about how leathersex worked; information on who the
responsible players in the community were, the protocols and
7. Q. What about Mentoring in the New Guard?
A. With the advent of the New Guard, with its focus on
(everyone can enjoy and have access SM and leathersex),
(the interrelatedness of SM with spiritual transformation), and
community (focusing on being part of a larger leather tribe that
many groups), new ways are slowly evolving to mentor a new era
leatherfolk in the art, spirituality and erotic ethos of SM and
8. Q. Who are SM Mentors?
A. SM Mentors can be fuckbuddies, friends, club brothers
relatives, coworkers, teachers, as well as historic or
personalities. Most often, an SM mentor is a more experienced or
older person who acts as a role model, teacher, challenger,
9. Q. Is SM Mentoring a formal or informal
relationship between a
mentor and mentee?
A. Many leatherfolk mistakenly conceive that mentoring in
was only of the informal sort as we now call it. In fact it was
anything but. The process was commonly contractual, though
just as a Master and slave would have a contract that outlined
relationship. The mentoring process followed a series of stages,
involved tests of ability and had a progressive but clear
between the novice and the more experienced player. You
can write a
formal mentoring contract that clearly outlines what will be
accomplished in the mentoring relationship.
10. Q. What does a SM Mentoring contract include?
A. In a formal mentoring contract, the mentor and mentee
enter into a mentoring relationship with a clear understanding
strengths and limitations of any mentoring relationship.
parties agree to commit themselves to work together in their
development as SM players and leatherfolk through a relationship
based on trust and openness, and by implementing an action plan
might include a vision statement, realistic goals and specific
measurable objectives, specific activities, and a timeline
periodic meetings (i.e., weekly, biweekly, etc.), as well as a
timeline for reviewing and ending the relationship, and finally,
ground rules for the relationship.
In the contract, both mentor and mentee agree to respect each
others confidence, work at building and maintaining trust in
each other, and
promise to be open and forthright with each other. Further, both
parties agree to respect each other's limits and desires IF they
engage in SM work with each other.
11. Q. What about intimacy (physical, sexual,
emotional, etc.) in
the mentoring relationship? Do mentor's and mentee's work
together? Is sex OK between mentor and mentee?
A. To play or not to play? is a question that the mentor
will discuss when they set the ground rules for the mentoring
relationship. Most likely, the mentor and protégé will
scenes together, for we manifest our innermost selves, express
WHAT of leathersex, and reveal our personal answers to the WHY
WHAT -- the meaning of SM in our daily lives -- during SM work,
is one of the main areas discussed in a mentoring relationship.
12. Q. Is there an order to the things to be taught
in an SM
A. The order of things to be taught depends on the status
of your protégé: novice, experienced, very experienced, as well as what
your protégé has negotiated with you in defining that areas to be
addressed in your relationship (goals, objectives and
13. Q. How does an SM Mentor select potential mentees?
A. Many mentors expect that the
relationship will operate in
their "comfort zone." To be in the comfort zone
requires a good fit
between mentor and mentee, that is the mentor has the SM
the mentee wants to learn and/or explore and the mentee and
are comfortable in exploring SM together. The mentor will
risk mentoring" since what your protege does reflects on
mentor usually wants a "high degree of success
is, the mentor/mentee personalities mesh and that they are
comfortable in working and relating with each other.
14. Q. How does a Mentor cope with betrayal in the SM
A. Make sure your mentee can be trusted with information,
this be technical, business or personal
information about yourself.
Likewise, be sure that you can be trusted with keeping similar
information about your mentees confidential. Breech of this
any form of betrayal typically ends the relationship.
15. Q. How does the mentor's self-identity (sadist,
switch, etc.) affect the mentoring relationship?
A. SM mentors are not necessarily Doms, Tops, Sadists,
Masters. Mentors and mentees are equals. In reality, as you go
through the mentoring process, there's no separation between
and mentees. As mentees face their beasts, so does the Mentor
his or her beasts. Doms and Subs, sadists and masochists
empty themselves and remain open in the SM mentoring
Being empty, means being truly vulnerable, something that Doms
subs alike must embrace, and for which we discipline ourselves
in a better position to receive. The sadist who is full of
cannot receive the gift of true masochism. The masochist who is
of himself, cannot be empty to receive the sadist. The SM Mentor
actually strives to appear less knowledgeable than he or she is,
in the process, commits fewer errors and mistakes.
16. Q. What is the difference between mentoring,
A. A Mentor is not a therapist, parole officer or
psycho-pharmacologist. A mentor does have keen
is a good listener, and usually spends more time listening than
talking in the relationship. While a mentor does use
as a counselor or a therapist, like asking open-ended questions,
mentor knows when to tell his or her protégé to seek
help to deal with certain issues. It is important for a
know of local Kink Aware Professionals to whom he can make
when appropriate. Finally, a mentor does not give any form
psychiatric drugs (valium, xanax, etc.) to mentees.
17. Q. Are there limits on a mentor's control?
A. An SM mentoring relationship is not an SM relationship
that is, power exchange and role-play is not appropriate in the
mentoring relationship. The mentor and mentee are equals, one is
dominant and the other submissive in the relationship.
equals, sharing a common leather journey
18. Q. Are there some good resources to help SM Mentors?
A. No one has written a handbook for SM Mentors, however
many books and websites available about mentoring in general.
excellent resource on the mentoring relationship is
Tao of Giving and Receiving Wisdom," by Chunglian Al Huang
Lynch, Harper San Francisco, 1995. An excellent website,
with links to
other mentoring websites is: "The Directory of Mentor Arts
Mentorship" at http://www.mentors.ca/mentor.html
19. Q. What is the most valuable SM technique?
A. The most valuable technique is being able to understand
fear the person has. What are they afraid of? Authority figures?
Their own inadequacy? That they don't wear the right clothes or
the right background and experience? Determine who they
are by what
they fear. Then work on what their fear is. Find a way to start
chipping at that area of defensiveness until they begin to
the fear and aren't defensive anymore. When they stop being
defensive, they start learning and coming into their own as a
leatherman or woman.
20. Q. How do I become an SM Mentor?
A. The best way to learn how to mentor is to be mentored.
SM mentors (giving, teaching) are continually open to being
(receiving, learning). To be a good SM teacher, one must be a
student of SM. To be a good SM student, one must learn well what
or she will teach other leatherfolk. Thus the crux of the SM
mentoring process is the dance between mentor and mentee, where
is involved with giving and receiving. To be a SM mentor, one
able to transmit, with compassion and clarity that which he or
has learned well as an SM novice or mentee. In SM mentoring,
individual is interdependent in a relationship of mutual
compassion, love and respect, in an atmosphere of openness,
communication, and loyalty. It is an egoless dance that
to be empathic, to dig deep within ourselves for a selfless
reflection of the other person's state of mind and reasons for
or inaction putting yourself in your mentee's boots, so to
We are one with our partner in an SM Mentoring relationship; we
and embrace each other in all the human dimensions; neither one
the guru or shaman or Master, because each has a wisdom that
21. Q. What should an SM Mentor do when his or her protege
be on the wrong path?
A. Get your mentees to agree with your style of
clearly what you will do if your mentee seems to be on the wrong
path, or if they isolate, or seem to have fallen into depression
burnout. The style and mode of intervention should be
when the ground rules for the mentoring relationship are
22. Q. How does an SM Mentor handle the stress of
A. Don't keep your feelings bottled up. Talk to other
Dump it all out. Be sure to balance your mentoring and other SM
with personally satisfying SM time in the dungeon or your SM
Understand that you have to provide the initial energy in the
mentoring relationship. The Mentor is the source. You plug into
mentees and get them going. But after a while your mentees have
give you something back. Your protégés should be as energetic as
so that the mentoring relationship will click and move forward.
Mentoring has to be a real reciprocal re lationship.
23. Q. How does a mentoring relationship affect the
A. Recognize that SM Mentoring is a process that's going
both of you.
An SM mentor needs to understand that in the process of
or she is going to change as much as the person being mentored.
can't come in with this notion of, "Oh, I'm just going to
today. It's not going to affect me." It's going to
affect you in a
lot of different ways. Initially, you might think, "I'm
just going to
tell them what to do and they're going to do it."
mentors are not Doms, Tops, Sadists, Gurus or Masters. Mentors
mentees are equals. In reality, as you go through the mentoring
process, there's no separation between mentors and mentees.
SM mentoring is not just more work you do in the leather tribe.
Mentoring is a relationship. With any real relationship, you'll
to put all of yourself into it. You and your mentees will
you explore each other in the mentoring relationship.
24. Q. How much do I have to reveal my own soul to my proteges?
A. Be honest about your own personal brokenness, feelings
inadequacy, and weaknesses. If you do not share yourself
with your mentees, if you don't make yourself vulnerable to
your mentees will not fully reveal their innermost hearts,
and desires, fears and concerns with you in the mentoring
Don't be afraid to be honest with your mentees and challenge
25. Q. What are appropriate expectations of the Mentor in
A. There are three basic expectations that most mentors
their protégés. It is appropriate and necessary that the mentee
be trusted with information, whether this be technical, business
personal information about the mentor. The mentor expects that
thementee has a desire to pursue SM and the leather lifestyle and
make an effort to do so. The mentor expects and will receive
constructive criticism and feedback from mentees.
26. What are appropriate benefits that an SM Mentor will
from a mentoring relationship?
A. Through the mentoring relationship, a mentor can expect
receive many benefits, namely, access to information he/she may
otherwise not have; visibility/recognition for the mentor when
is perceived to team up with "winners"; access to the
network; opportunities to learn from mentees; a better
of yourself when trying to help others; a fresh perspective; a
feeling about yourself; better use of your own mentor by being a
mentor to others; and finally, "reverse mentoring" by
the mentee on
issues or techniques which the mentee can share with the mentor.
27. Q. What are appropriate expectations of a mentee in an
A. A protege can expect that the information shared is
honest feedback; help with the politics and culture of the
tribe -- "how to get things done"; enhanced stature
via the mentor's
good words to the right people; protection; problem-solving
assistance with the benefit of the mentor's experience; and the
creation of "opportunities" where the protege's
abilities and success
28. What benefits can a protege expect to receive from an
A. The protege in an SM Mentoring relationship can expect
the following benefits: the benefit of the Mentor's
working on new SM experiences, techniques, ideas or decisions;
feedback and direction on where to concentrate improvements to
expectations; advice/help with SM techniques and safety
access to mentor's network; help in determining what is
and/or appropriate behavior is for various SM settings; access
information he/she may not otherwise have; cheerleading,
and support from the mentor; improvement of skills (technical or
interpersonal); emotional support, such as tips on balancing SM
and personal life, dealing with stress and burnout; and finally,
someone to "vent" frustration to without fear of
reprisal or breech