What is a Leather Family?
An Afternoon with Master Jim, slave marsha, and Sir Cougar
By: Bushido Bard
Are all leather families the same? Is it required that everyone is poly? How do you define your leather family? To answer these questions I listened to the presentation given by Master Jim, slave Marsha, and Sir Cougar. Living in an M/s relationship, for over fifteen years together, Master Jim and slave Marsha recently included Sir Cougar in their family. Regardless of who joins, when you’re part of the family, you’re family. These three merged their leather journeys into the same path on December 31st, 2006.
So what makes a leather family? “First and foremost” they said, “you must consider what you define as family.” Ask yourself, what works best for you? Throughout the presentation we were told that no one way works for everyone; you and your family adapt and grow together. Perhaps the most important advice or lesson they have learned comes from the term “Ohana”. In the Hawaiian culture the word or phrase Ohana means a family bound together and not necessarily by blood. To Master Jim, slave Marsha, and Sir Cougar, this is not merely a simple term; it is a basis for their union.
Master Jim identifies as a father-figure or Daddy archetype; both the light and the dark aspects. He is considered the head or Master of the family with slave Marsha in service to him while Sir Cougar is in service to the family. Slave Marsha identifies as a FEM slave in service to her Master Jim and Sir Cougar’s girl. Her role in the family is to be the heart and emotion of the family; the keeper of the flame. Sir Cougar, a proud Marine, identifies as a leather butch and acts as the guardian of the family. Together these two women and one man serve each other and the family. To give an example of one family dynamic, slave Marsha is married to Sir Cougar and they are monogamous to each other, while slave Marsha serves Master Jim. All three serve the family in their own way, but different relationships exist within the family as well.
When forming your leather family they could not stress enough patience. Slave Marsha often said, “Take your time and give serious thought to who you are adding.” Master Jim and slave Marsha were still in a M/s relationship for several years when Sir Cougar entered their lives. Master Jim pointed out, “To me, a leather family is a union of leather people who share the same philosophies, goals and even values.” Sir Cougar and slave Marsha spent a great amount of time together and even got married before Sir Cougar joined the family. When Sir Cougar joined the original dynamic didn’t change; the M/s relationship between Master Jim and slave Marsha remained. Sir Cougar serves the family in a hierarchal relationship in regards to the family.
Regardless of what hardships or issues the family faces what is most important is communication. From time to time a family meeting will be called to discuss matters. Decisions are reached by consensus and how it will affect the family overall. This is why it is important to add members slowly and with great thought. Everyone in the family has needs and for the family to thrive those needs must be addressed. Constant communication and as slave Marsha put it, “listening generously”, is how leather families can grow together and flourish. If you add members too quickly, or if the family becomes too large, any issues that arise become increasingly harder to adapt to. In their experience some people will decide to become a family too soon, or a large group of people decide to join without great thought to the future. All three of them said at different points, “Grow your family slowly!”
Regardless of anyone’s reasons for wanting to form a leather family it must be done with forethought and understanding. If a problem arises, other members must stand up to more responsibility or take over various tasks until the problem passes. Unity within a leather family comes from mutual respect and a willingness to sometimes sacrifice for others. Sometimes family members may have to depart for a time or they are incapable of contributing for a while. Chores and other responsibilities are passed to others until balance is restored.
As the afternoon drew to a close, the three presenters answered various questions but they always stressed beginning slowly and not rushing to decisions. Above all they repeated the importance of “Ohana” and its meaning to them. Ohana, to Master Jim, slave Marsha, and Sir Cougar, means a family that is not just by blood but also one in which no one is forgotten. That is how they define family. Before you start or join a leather family you must carefully consider how you define and how you treat family.
Leather Lessons Learned… from my Mama
My mama, a huge part of my heart and soul, died a little over a week ago. I wrote some words to say at her
burial and as I’ve been thinking about and reading them again, I realized she was always teaching me some
very important lessons and values- honesty, integrity, loyalty, the importance of family and friends, love,
kindness and sharing, and much more.
As a proud member of the Leather Heart Clan, loyal friend, ethical champion of some hard causes, a kinky,
passionate woman and a passionate supporter of those I love and hold dear, I want to share some of what I
wrote to my Mama. She didn’t know it, but she was living Leather also. (I want to share some of what I wrote
to my mama last week, and the words in italics were written the past few days.)
“Literally, the first memory I have of you mama is me standing between your legs while you are brushing my
hair. You smell good, I feel happy and special. My little sis is sitting on the floor in front of us, I think she’s a
baby, and you must have just finished telling us a story because you said “and the lived happily ever after”.
Then you told me, you’re such a good, pretty, smart little girl and I love you. You can do anything!
To me, Leather family or individuals, even people in general, should make each other feel special, let them
know their strengths, build them up, let them know when they are proud of them. Be optimistic!
When I was 3&4 you taight me to play bouree with m&m’s, so I could learn my colors, & I developed a lifelong
love of cards; you taught me to swim, so I would turn into a mermaid at 14; how to pick a crab…
You wanted me to have fun, to be able to help myself & others, to be independent & self-assured. Use your
strengths to help others!
When I was in 2nd grade my sister misplaced her glasses. I marched to the principal and got them, marched
into her classroom and gave them to her. When I told you about it after school, you said “I’m proud of you xxxx,
that’s what sisters do, they look out for each other!
Let me repeat “that’s what sisters do, they look out for each other!” Or brothers, or friends, or aunts…, you
don’t have to be my blood, you are my family.
You were always showing me how special, how strong women were Mama! You and our Family and our
Friends were superheroes, mothers and friends, Wow! You told and showed me many times that “true friends
are the ones you can count on, no matter what!
Is there a lesson here? We hugged, argued, cried, we had fun, we laughed! And, we are friends to this day,
and for that I am grateful. Friendship is a precious gift, nurture it!
In high school I got in trouble for being too “independent”. I was a little scared to tell you, but when I did, you
said “xxxx, that’s okay,if you are standing up for something you believe in with your heart and soul, it’s okay!”
Dare to stand up, to have principles and morals, to be different, to be kind and have manners, to march to
the beat of a different drummer!
Husband one died. You consoled, you encouraged, you helped me to change and you never stopped loving
me. Another husband died. You were there for me in different ways. You told me time and again, you’re smart
and you’re tough and you’ll make it! We xxxx women do!
Leather family, blood family, true friends- wouldn’t it feel great to know you could change a person’s life just
by the things you say and do? You can! Support your family and friends through times good & bad!
Mama, you were a beautiful, smart, sexy, confident go-getter, spunky & tough, yet with manners and love! You
taught me so much- about life, love, the importance of family and friends! Mama, you were the quintessential
southern steel magnolia – silky, smooth, southern charm and manners on the outside but tough as steel inside!
I want to be like you when I grow up!