All dressed up and one more thing to do

This picture* puts me in mind of one of my enduring favourites authority-lifestyle situations.

It goes like this: we are about to go out to a dinner party, or the opera, or somewhere nice. We’re both dresssed up. Just before we depart, she brings me the cane or paddle and readies herself — just like in the picture — for a crisp spanking.

It happens over the dress. Not a heavy session. Stiff enough for her to notice it all evening, but at the same time something she can well absorb without falling out of her hair-do or smudging her makeup. (Ed note: I don’t like heavy makeup.) Then we’re out the door.

Why at this exact moment? She’s looking glamorous, wearing something alluring. I find women particularly attractive in evening dress, doubly-so at the beginning of an evening when anticipation is running high. But there’s more. At this moment we stand at the threshold of the private-public divide. Once out there she’s her own woman in every way and I support that. In anticipation, this little moment is a grounding — a reminder of who she is in other ways, what her enduring structures are.

It’s erotic that, as we go about our evening, she has red stripes on her bottom that only the two of us know about. Our secret is so deliciously … near. And yes, I wouldn’t resist a subtle swat now and then to restoke the fire.

(* picture is from Girl’s Boarding School, free included in its ubiquitous wall-to-wall marketing.)

Lightness and heaviness (or should that be darkness?)

So last time out, I had a mild go at Taken in Hand for getting dull and preachy. Gratifyingly a few people have popped up in my email box to quietly agree. I hope it’s obvious that some of this was reflecting my own evolution, me being ‘in a different place’, although I do think, objectively, the site is not what it was.

Anyway in that post I threw out the idea that “discipline, domestic or otherwise, is serious business because it takes us very close to deep parts of the psyche… but somehow I’m moving on from needing it to be so damn wholesome.”

Let me add something to this because, to explain better, it not that the wholesome is to be shrugged off. It is that there is unreconstructed ‘non-wholesomeness’ to be accommodated too.

To explain: I’m in the cohort of ‘Tops’ who are troubled by oppression and inequality. I’m extremely liberal-egalitarian in outlook, including being shocked by violence and troubled by hitting anyone or anything, most of all a woman, which all sits very uneasily with a liberal world view. I would march in the streets against domestic violence. But I’m absolutely hardwired to spank a willing woman’s bottom (and not remotely hardwired for this to be reciprocated.)

So I  seek a framework of justification and integration. For example, I believe that structure is good, in life and in relationships. I believe a big part of what a male contributes to a relationship is to protect and provide, including providing guiding purpose, strength (real strength, not pumped up jerk strength), and authority. I know too that spanking provides intimacy like nothing else. It also provides very hot foreplay. And so on. I know that many men are wired just like me, and women wired the other way — if it’s a fringe world view, which I actually doubt, it is extremely common.

So I can intellectually and morally justify who I am (in this form of my life). That’s the “evolved” part. This accounts for a lot of what goes on on sites like TIH and many other forums — the elaboration of wholesome (aka heavy) justification of the adult M/f spanking relationship by both men and women, showing the many reason why it is functional not dysfunctional, and therefore is moral and good. I agree with the process and most of what is said..

But there is more. The truth will set you free and the truth is that something else seeks release and expresssion — a violent impulse, a sterner persona, a will to overpower, a totally unreconstructed instinct to “own” the woman through her willingly proffered bottom, to lash it, to see it  change shape as a mightly thwack overcomes it, to hear her gasp, to see her wriggle (but remain “as positioned” or else) in an absolute gift of submission.

That was hard to write.

I can justify this: real thrashing is very like ‘wild’ fucking: the deepest test, providing for the most intimacy, the strongest ‘contract’ of dominance and submission. I would add that events should not happen at this level every time, and when it happens I’m super-ultra-careful to use a soft-ish instrument. I have never caused even close to the kind of damage you see on some sites, and never would.

But … this is just justification again, the mental machinations of the wholesome, evolved, gentle spirit, searching for morality. The bald truth is there is a very dominant, testosterone-soaked, very unreconstructed, non-evolved ‘cowboy’ that rides this path at times.

I suppose, as long as this life force can be fruitfully harnessed (more justification, Alex) it’s better that it’s there than not. Welcome to the mysteries of life as a carbon-based biped on a spinning blue-green planet lost in quantum darkness. To life!

But, anyway, this is the ‘badness’ that I’m talking about. The unreconstructed male that shrugs out of the cloak of acceptibility … which causes some, er,  shifting-up of personnell to make space for on the sofa of the liberal-egalitarian framework, I tell ya. I think the only way this integration can occur is through a certain lightness of being — some things cannot and should not be justified, they just ‘are’.

The bearable lightness of becoming evolved but unreconstructed

Through my ‘reader’ which subscribes me to a number of quality blogs in the spanking, domestic discipline and generally classic relationship field (more than I have time for, but I like to keep myself informed) ;) I found myself on the ‘Taken in Hand’ site which I haven’t visited for a long while. TIH was among the formative resources in developing my mindset and approach.

Actually, what lured me there was yet another ‘What if He Finds the Idea Shocking?’ post, to see if there was anything new to report, but there was not. I say: shock him and let him deal with it! Is that too irreverant?

As I look at TIH now, after years, I have to say I find the whole site a bit… ‘heavy’. Yes, I prefer discussion and imagination to a clutch of red-ass pictures, and run from the pant-pant (allegedly) spank photo sites, but now and then a decent picture does have a place. I get what the site is trying to do in its text-only approach; who it is trying to put off — fair enough — but photos and drawings often capture a state of mind singularly and unequivocally, and if tastefully done, why not? Even just to break up the tombstones of text.

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In that spirit I offer this one, just … because it really speaks to me. I interpret that warm round flesh pressing, nuzzling against the tight steel line as suggestive in every way.

And I find the new marriage bias of the TIH site a bit trying. Marriage is good of course, but clearly, both in fantasy and in reality, many perfectly effective and wonderful TIH-type relationships are not and should not be between married or even marriagable couples. The disciplining uncle, principal, policeman … and so on. While marriage and consensual spanking may go together; that doesn’t meant that unmarried and not spanking follows. (Recalling my philosophy undergraduate lessons: ‘if A then B’ does not always mean ‘if not A then not B.’)

And I realise I personally can no longer marinate myself in ‘What if he’s horrified by the idea?’ posts. Alright, it is an important topic, but I suppose one learns about the debates and moves on. That’s what I’m trying to say, and so this is not to ‘diss’ TIH — there is still a lot of good thoughtful stuff there. It’s more my own realisation of the many rich resources that have come about since its inception, not least all the wonderful blogs that my feed reader collects, that leave TIH looking a bit fuddy duddy.

And it’s also about my own progress, an evolving integration into a not unbearable semi-lightness of spanking being. Discipline, domestic or otherwise, is serious business because it takes us very close to deep parts of the psyche. Yes, one must be careful and one must communicate well. But somehow I’m moving on from needing it to be so damn wholesome. It’s that ‘evolved, but unreconstructed’ thing that I’m working on.

The apparel oft proclaims the man …

Following a now-quite old post here on why spank pay sites give me cause for pause, someone popped up in the comments box to helpfully point me to Spanking Tube. Thanks. Of course I already know about it. Yes, there are some real couples posting their own clips. But it is mostly a forum for the pay sites to show their trailers and the whole thing is set up by ‘Real Spankings’.

Anyway, not to say that the pay sites don’t do some good work (and I happily pay to see a movie or buy a CD in the vanilla world). It’s just not clear to me what the levels of real exploitation are, that’s all, and as much as I can find ‘play’ or chosen exploitation sexy, real exploitation is a huge turnoff. The thin, um, red line is crossed. And in pay-spank sites (as in all pornography) I often can’t tell whether it’s been crossed or not.

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Cargo shorts? Dude, like, c'mon

Anyway, thus cycling back to Spanking Tube after a few months and seeing what’s out there currently, I was given to the following thought. It’s clear that one can’t in the spanking world generally say “what is good for the goose is good for the gander.” The whole field has an awkward double standard: If she’s been bad she get’s spanked; if he’s been bad, well, what happens? And I’m not saying switching is the answer. It’s just a pickle.

But there is one area where I feel certain goose gander eqivalency can and should apply — or at least, speaking for myself, I like to apply it — and this is in dress. I feel if she’s well turned out, in a nice skirt, with elegant heels and so on, I should be more-or-less in the male equivalent: proper trousers, formal shoes, collar shirt. If she’s  in an evening dress, with perhaps …mmm… stockings and suspenders (US translation: garter belt), I should be in a dinner jacket or equivalent.

The blog commenters are going to kill me, I know. (Just kidding, I love it!) I’m not saying one needs to dress formally to spank or be spanked, just that it’s meaningful if the couple dress more-or-less equivalently.

I feel it does two things. First it shows respect. We all want respect, dominants, submissives alike. It just takes different forms. A submissive doesn’t want respect in the sense of simple reciprocity (you spank me I spank you back) but she does surely want it in the sense of having her submission honoured, that is, honouring what she is giving, which is a lot. We dress up for client meetings or job interviews and so on to show respect. Taking the time and care to dress equivalently to her level of dress shows respect in that same way.

A bonus applies too: Dress helps put us both, dom and sub, into the frame of mind. That’s what the heels and stocking are all about. For my part,  I know I feel different in formal dress, real trousers, a suit, or even a tux. I feel more “executive”, a little more styalised in my masculinity, and I intuit that this plays a not inconsequential role in switching on feminine submissive fantasies.

“Just say no” to spanking as the Trojan Horse of debasement and abuse

I had the good fortune to have lunch recently with a fellow spanking blogger. It’s always really special to meet someone whose blog you read and with whom – by definition – you share important world view congruency. There’s so much you don’t have to talk about. And, paradoxically, so much to say.

One the things that came up – the main thing actually – is how many of the dominants out there are “just looking for someone to hurt,” and/or are abusive and demeaning to the sub. And how spanking gives them the veneer of respectability.

Now I’ve enough experience of life to know two things. The first is that there is no doubt this kind of behaviour goes on and many dominants are utterly unworthy of respect. The second is … they get it: respect, adoration, submission. So let’s not be naïve. It’s not hard to to see the difference between spanking as a firm, protecting ritual and spanking as proxy and cover for an abusive mindset. Demeaning and uncharitable cannot be misread as firm, empowered, and responsible.

So my interpretation is that there are many submissives out there who are not clear in their own mind which they want. Or putting it another way – they complain, but they reward abuse and disrespect, and return to it. Power can be addictive. So can “badness” (I’m told – me, I’d run a mile). And everyone knows, nice guys come last.

One of the things I’ve learnt by blogging out my point of view about spanking and traditional relationships is that, even in our specific like-minded community, folks really have different ideas and different preferences. I am becoming more tolerant of this. Personally, I really battle to understand submissives who reward erratic, disrespectful behaviour. But the human psyche and human sexuality is a deep mystery. I’d say “just say no” but that soundbite is taken. If being an abuser or “abusee” is your thing, get to it.

If abuse is not your thing, I offer the old maxim that power and responsibility go hand in hand. The more power one has the more responsibility one needs to show. (And vice versa – one can’t exercise responsibility without power.) I’m sure I’m no angel, but that’s how I see the whole activity: a power play, not a “power trip”.

Why domestic discipline is the hardest thing of all

It’s well known to anthropologists that props or devices facilitate special-occasion behaviour. People make a special time and place to do special activities, that often goes with special dress. In the world of kinky it works this way precisely. One puts on the black leathers, high boots, corset & lace, gets out the “toys,” dims the lights, has another sip of champagne, and becomes ready to immerse in an alternative reality. The process of transition from who we are and how we behave in the everyday to who we are in alternative reality is smoothed by adopting signals and codes of the alternative. We therein also keep it contained in its particular time and place.

Domestic discipline is typically done in everyday clothes, in everyday situations, in full light. There is no transitional “help”, nor containing devices. This is why it is, to me, the highest and purest of the spanking arts. It most clearly says: this is part of who we actually are, in the everyday, not just what identies we can inhabit in the dim half-light of alternative realities. It is authority integrated with the cups of tea and messy desks of real life. Because there is nowhere, psychologically, to “hide”, it is also the most psychologically risky thing to do. And therefore the most productive of real intimacy.

One can interpret pictures on many ways. To me these, below, tell the exact story. Picture credit: Kate’s Spanking World (defunct).

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