For me, the paucity of female dominants creates another problem. Specifically as much as I argue against the idea that a mentor is a requirement, scarcity allows for definition of the role by the few, and this is a role with very few people in it indeed, the most vocal of which are paid to dominate.
So from the outside, way back before I got heavily involved in doing it, the whole thing looked, not like a barrel of fun and horniness, but somewhere between goth playboy bunny and indulgent girlfriend.
The pageantry protocol and fetishware do no help to an outsider- while femsub gets constant reinvention (even if standards referenced by The Story of O still hold pretty fast for something first published in 1954 and translated to English in the mid-sixties). There is also, paradoxically a lot more agency of actual women in building the fantasy. Gor might have been the wank of a male philosophy prof, but everything from Story of O through to 50 Shades has a female author getting her wank on, and one mustn’t neglect all the stops along the way in the highly fertile genre of romance, heavily seeded with women writing for female consumption.
One of the confusing things about kinky sex, is that the term “train” is used without much explanation When we talk about someone in a D/s relationship, especially in an erotic context, “training” is often put under extreme focus- And in stories and porn, the dominant will often train someone to submit, or train someone to serve. Teacher/student or Trainer/animal are really popular role dynamics
Logically, if you’re new, it may feel like the next step is to find a dominant to show you the ropes. And if you got introduced to this, you may decide that being “trained” by a dominant is a good idea. On the flip side, as a dominant, you may be ultra nervous if you’re starting out, or feel like you don’t deserve to be a dom until you have experience.
So, should you offer yourself up to a dominant on an apprenticeship basis?
No, not really. This isn’t to say that mentors and educational resources like work shops are a bad idea, but the first thing a noob runs out and does should not be to find a dom. Experienced people can teach you all sorts of positive things, but looking for a person specifically to train you as a sub to either learn to be a submissive or learn to dominate is not a good idea because it will be hard to find someone to take you on, and it will severely limit you when you learn.
The problem with “training” is that in practice, people experience D/s as part of their general relationships. Of course this might sound like a perfect idea- I mean if you’re vanilla (not kinked) and a virgin you would want to get a boyfriend or a girlfriend, right? Of course it’s a good idea to find people that you connect with to experiment with! But when you’re new to kink, waiting until someone takes you on to start learning is like trying to experiment with sex without knowing anything about birth control, which orifices to use, etc….
1) It’s not safe for you. In practice, kink is usually pretty safe, at least on the same level that vanilla sex is pretty safe. You usually won’t get badly physically hurt if you mess up- at least if you don’t go into the complicated or painful stuff. However there is no central regulating board of kink. Any damn fool can call themselves a dominant. They can claim any number of years of experience and make any grand claim of skill they like. If you learn about what you like and find reasonable first, it is easier for you to know when you should be rolling your eyes at pompus Lady DoomWhip or Master DemonShovel.
Besides, ,ot only could you pick up all sorts of stupid or abusive ideas (eg, a submissive always obeys all dominants), but you may have a problem giving informed consent. That is to say that you will be able to consent to trying something with a clear understanding of what it is and what its effects might be.
2) There aren’t that many promiscuous people looking to “train” out of the goodness of their hearts. As I said, for many people, D/s is a love or sex thing. A lot of people, myself included, are happy to talk about kink, but we are not so happy to give our favours out freely. It can be highly personal to connect with someone and a purely training relationship presupposes lots of single/poly doms who just live to indulge random people’s kinks.
Besides, if you’re happily married, this leaves you rather high and dry if you can only get initiated through dropping monogamy. Because most kink is happening between normal couples, not in the stricture of apprenticeships.
3) There is no such thing as universal training. People are delightfully different. There are many ways to do BDSM, and all of the correct. Generally when a dominant does train someone it is to serve in the manner that that person finds pleasing.
For example some people really like anticipatory service, that is, someone who will figure out what the dom needs without being told, while other people only want obedience based service. Some people are really into fussy protocol, while others don’t care if you walk ten paces behind (or whatever) as long as rope, or feet (or whatever) are involved. Playing with people is a good chance to experiment, but even individual subs respond well depending on what happens.
4) Not everyone is a switch. This is particularly important to the concept of becoming a dom through learning. There is a concept that you will get a better intrinsic attitude to submissive psychology and limits if you actually try it. In practice… there isn’t one set way to approach it, and more to the point, if you’re lacking submissive tendencies in some way you won’t get much to extrapolate from. A serious masochist, for example, trying to apply that to a “sensual” submissive won’t get very far, and if all you feel is bored, frustrated and uncomfortable that’s going to give you funny ideas what subs like.
So it’s not wrong to look for mentors and people to experiment with, but you shouldn’t muddle D/s training with learning.