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.