The word mentor gets brought up from time to time, and i have
been thinking lately about what a mentor is, and what sort of role should a mentor play in someone’s life.
Firstly, a definition of the word “mentor” taken from
- a wise and
trusted counsellor or teacher
- an influential
senior sponsor or supporter.
So a mentor is someone who offers guidance, support and teaching
and acts as a role model for the person being mentored.
A good mentor will not say “I
will teach you to be like me,” but rather, “I will help you to be whoever
you wish to be.”
How does a mentor fit into the world of BDSM – what types
of things should a mentor teach and what role should a mentor play in a person’s life.
And more importantly, what things should a mentor NOT do?
To be a mentor requires knowledge - not only of the subject itself
but also knowledge of communication and teaching. Someone may have a wealth of knowledge
and experience within the lifestyle, but without the skills to impart that knowledge, it can never be passed on properly.
A mentor must be a teacher, and trustworthy enough to be a confidante
where necessary, to be able to give guidance, support and advice, without prejudice and with an open minded view at all times.
To be a mentor means giving time. There is no point in saying
“I will be your mentor” if you then can’t find the time to do so.
Mentoring is not something that should be taken on without due
consideration of the effect it can have on your own life. The person being mentored needs regular time and sometimes spontaneous
time as well, if there is a question or a situation that needs addressing.
So a Dominant mentor in BDSM should have a good knowledge of the
aspects of this lifestyle, as well as skills and experience in play, and be able to teach these things to the person being
mentored if needed. Not all mentoring is the same, perhaps some may need full on lessons as well as the theoretical and the
advice, but there are situations where practical lessons are not needed.
A good mentor will encourage his or her protégée to seek out knowledge
from other places as well and may advise on books to be read or tasks that would be good learning curves.
A mentor role should not be confused with the role of training
a submissive or becoming someone’s Dominant. These are all separate aspects of life within BDSM… and there are
some who like to think that calling themselves “mentor” gives them the right to take advantage of and take liberties
with the person being mentored.
A mentor should not be engaging in play with the person being
mentored, as this changes the dynamic from one of Mentor to one of trainer or play partner, or potential Dominant.
A mentor should not
be imposing restrictions or punishments, this is NOT what a mentor does.
A mentor should, however,
expect some level of commitment – and not expect that the person being mentored will just take what he or she
thinks is needed and then walk away and not give anything back..
I have seen my Master in a mentor role, He is often asked to mentor
people and takes each request individually, considering whether or not He is the best person for the job, and whether or not
He has the time to give - and He does not always say yes.
He believes that the role of a Mentor is more than just being a teacher or guide, He believes that a good friendship base
is necessary for Mentorship, which is different to teaching…though has many of the same characteristics.
In other words, a mentor is definitely a teacher, but a teacher
is not necessarily a mentor.
So what is the difference?
A teacher teaches you a craft or a skill which can help you in
your life, whereas a mentor tends to help you determine your own outlook on life and on the world we choose to be a part of…a
mentor leads by example – a mentor is the person you strive to be like, to emulate.
A teacher does not get as involved in your life as a mentor, and
a teacher maybe teaching a room full of people, whereas mentorship is much more a one on one basis, which makes it more intimate
and more personal.
Of course there are also submissives who need mentors, a new and
unsure sub can be greatly helped by having a mentor or advisor, often this turns into a deep friendship between the more experienced
submissive and the new one.
From a personal point of view, I have been in a mentor role at
different times in my 5 years with Master Joe. It is from Him that I have learnt what I know, and can now pass on to others.
I love being able to communicate and teach, and to see people
learn and gain confidence from the knowledge I can give, is very worthwhile for me and very satisfying.
I am sometimes amazed at the fact that people consider me experienced
enough to ask questions and to accept my advice, but I relish it, because when I was new and just starting out, I had no one
to ask, no one to talk to, no one to discuss feelings and emotions with at all. I remember how I felt and I now believe that
my role as mentor gives back something to this community which has been so welcoming and friendly to me, and gives those who
ask me to mentor them, something that I never had.
I try to make myself available to anyone who may need a submissive
to talk to, though i do now take more care of myself to make sure that i do not get burnt out by trying to give too much advice
and ignoring any of my own issues.
There is often a lack of willingness to take on a mentor role,
which is a shame as there are many people who have much to offer the new people coming into the scene.
Unfortunately, there are a few unscrupulous people who sometimes
decide to be a mentor, and who do it for the wrong reasons, and without the knowledge or skills needed – it is this
minority group that can give mentorship a bad name.
It is my opinion that those who have a good mentor in the scene
should eventually be prepared to take on that role at some stage in their own future, so that the right values and lessons
will continue to be passed on.
If we can all give a little back then the community will flourish
As always, the opinions and thoughts expressed here are my own.
© Kim Debron 2009