Love-hate relationship with the belt, cont.

It’s very common and understandable that spankees have a love/hate relationship with the instruments of their persuasion. What’s less fully articulated is spankers’ ambiguities towards their implements. In my ongoing quest to interrogate the mind of a Top – for myself most of all – I offer a thought or two about the belt.

First let me say that I’m set thinking on this by a great blog “This is How it Feels” by Poppy St Vincent, where she reposts the following (Real Spankings) picture and says:

“This is how it feels when he takes his belt off and you know he is going to use it on your bottom. It is a very scary feeling and it makes you want to curl up but you also want a cuddle and to sit on his lap but the problem is that half of you wants to run away for miles and miles and miles and the other half wants to reach for his strong arms and snuggle down in them so tight that no one other than him will ever even know where you are.”

It is a great picture! (For my taste I find Real Spankings a bit “obvious”. Yes, high on production values, but low on originality or insight. From what I’ve seen, from a distance, over the years it’s always a bit like a high school production — good technique, yet limited in mind and therefore somehow always pedestrian.) But, anyway, the point is that this picture escapes that. The push-pull of her emotions is uniquely captured.

Here’s the good and bad of the belt for me. The bad is in the ‘I’m-gonna-tan-yer-hide’-belt-removal which is inescapably (possibly in every culture!) associated with low-life scum. The image conjures the dumb swine with a beer in one hand and a fag in one other, stomach flopping out his shirt, who whose first resort to the problem of his crumbling authority is to yank his belt from it loops.

Each to his/her own – but, personally, this is an image I run from.

The good in the belt is that it is a great implement. It has the advantage of being part of the everyday rather than bespoke “kinky ware.” Also, assuming it is wide enough, it also provides a great whack at relatively little bottom damage. I find with a belt I can give a good, hot, bottom-thrashing, while knowing she’s actually … really… fine.

Spanking is sometimes a figure/ground study for me

Here’s a picture. It comes from (of course) the one and only Red Charls. Who else dramatises and photgraphs the D/s experience so expertly?

I have a complicated relationship with this image. (Therein I call it art.) I look at it one way and I see a defensless, nude woman under the rod of oppression. Then I look at it again and I see a perfect alignment of wills, a deep yearning for discipline, a most caring hand of authority.

One way; then the other way. Back and forward. My ambivalence, of course. My struggle with all this.

This is just like the figure / ground studies we all know. Look at this picture. Do you see the vase or do you see the faces? Vase. Faces. Vase. Faces. Back and forth.

What am I saying (other than the banal, how we look at things affects what we see)?

I suppose I’m really conscious of how “so-very-right” and “so-very-wrong” are remarkably two sides of the same coin, and how it is quite hard to get that coin to reliably land right side up. It’s not just a question of seeing the postive. It is about putting the positive there for all to see.

New theme, same old ritual fascination

Well, we all need a shakeup from time to time.  I’ve gone for a new look. It will be, I fear, a bit of “old wine in new bottles”, but sometimes old wine is the best. I’ve also been – how can I put it – nurturing my creative juices for a while, in other words neglecting this blog. Yes, over-busy at work, but also trying to decide what to do with it, that is, thinking through whether I want to write and place fiction here or just keep this as an ideas sandbox. I’ve decided to write. That’s the new wine.

I’ve also been thinking about whether to allow other people’s fiction to appear here – I’m thinking of someone who has been sending me the most amazing stories and is happy for them to appear on this site, specifically choosing me as an “ideal dom”. I’m very humbled by this, er, award, and if only she didn’t live in New Zealand! But anyway… on the one hand, this would allow a “submissive” perspective in — there are many other, better, forums for this. But on the other it would also showcase the kind of highly articulate feminist submissive perspective that is very attractive to, well, me. To repost it would say something about the thinking dominant and what it likes…

‘Only as hard as my mind and body need it that day to react’

I liked this take on severity: “It might come as a surprise to some of you, and it actually a little bit of surprise to me as well, but I absolutely do not have a severity fetish. Some people say I can take a lot. And the truth is yes, I can, but I don’t really want to. It’s a little bit like “I have been there, I have done that”. I much more prefer lighter play that I can savour and enjoy than hard play that I can only survive. As far as severity goes I need it only as hard as my my mind and body need it that day to “react”. – this from Kami Robertson’s On the Way of Exploration.

What is like about this is it reframes the “how-hard” question in terms of a means-to-an-end, not an end in itself. I think a lot of people somehow buy into the idea that doing it harder is to be strived for, it shows more dominance (or submission). It is an end to be aspired to.

(I don’t think spanking harder shows more dominance at all. Real dominance is mental-emotional, to be found in resolution, courage, forthrightness, etc., but that’s another story.)

The real goal in spanking — for me and I suspect most people — is not to do it harder. It  is to reach the emotional and erotic heights, and achieve personal closeness and alignment. A spanking needs to be hard enough to get “there”, but no harder.

For me this isolates a key source of frustration correctly: if how hard he needs it to be to get “there” and how hard she needs it to be to get “there” are not in alignment, there will be endemic frustration and, although tolerances can build I don’t see any solution to that incompatibility.

Speaking for myself, I need it to be fairly hot and hard to get there. A good hand spanking or paddle whacking, or strapping: enough strokes so her bottom is genuinely bouncing around and a decidely hot pink. (If she crumbles in the middle of this and ends the event, I am very frustrated indeed.) But if I get that, then I’m “there” and to go on would be pointless and a turn-off.

‘Consenting adults in private’, redux

I’ve been thinking about is whether its possible to come up with a better minimum code of ethical interaction for spanking (and D/s) relationships than the old standard: every practice is okay as long as it’s between “consenting adults in private.”

Consenting Adults in Private evolved from the gay rights world, and may not be quite right for D/s. It is more than apparent that a lot of unethical-by-any-measure (genuinely exploititatve, cruel) behaviour goes on behind the fig leaves of consent and privacy.

I’m greatly in favour of D/s broadly interpreted. I’m not in favour of real cruelty and exploitation (and I feel D/s is messed up by people who are cruel and abusive for real.)

I’m not moralising, nor trying to reign anyone in, nor get anyone else to do what I do. I absolutely appreciate the diversity of practice and opinion in our field. It is all about self- and other-exploration, so there must be freedom to explore. But I don’t think one can say: “don’t judge what I do in my house and I won’t judge what you do in yours”.

Think of it this way: despotic and criminal countries with human rights abuses galore always say: “don’t interfere in our internal affairs, and we won’t interfere in yours.” But in fact the abuses of children, women, prisoners, p.o.w.’s, disabled people, mentally handicapped, people of colour, gays and lesbians, and so on has forced charters such as the Internation Declaration on Human Rights, the Geneva Convention, and so on, which precisely say: “it’s not all subjective, cultural, relative. There is a basic human standard of behaviour ethical nations adhere to.” By the way it’s worth reading the Declaration of Human Rights, which can be found at this link.

I wouldn’t mind this kind of charter for the spanking D/s world. Something everyone could point to, which would glady tolerate the healthy diversity of interpretation and practice, but also flag real abuse.

So what might this look like? Here’s a beginning list:

1. Adults. No D/s interaction with anyone under the national ‘age of consent’. Note, I’m not saying 18. If the age of consent is 16, that means D/s is allowed. If that’s not okay, the age of consent should be raised. (Natural parents spanking children in a moderate way is no problem.)

2. Duty of care and consistency. The dominant must have the submissive’s interests at heart. This is hard to pin down – definitions vary – but I think we all know when it’s not there. There is a duty on the punisher to make sure the punished is not grossly physically harmed. This extends to mental health too. The rules can be strict, and the consequences severe, but the submissive should feel mentally secure, not subject to random witholding of the relationship or other ‘mind games’.

3. Absolute limits on the strike zone. What’s tricky about spanking is it’s hitting, and hitting is also the essence of abuse. We resolve this by saying some zones are smackable, others not. But, you might say, ‘what if she agrees to be punched in the face as part of her discipline?’ This would pose a theoretical problem, but in all my years I’ve never seen it nor heard of it. It can be safely dismissed. There are standard body areas, the bottom obviously (but perhaps also pussy, legs, and back too, according to preference) that can ‘belong’ to the Dominant (subject to 2 above.) But that doesn’t mean he should start the session with a few ‘backhands’, nor that she should feel this is permissible.

4. Freedom of association. This is the consent point. But I don’t think consent is the right concept because in D/s non-consent or partial-consent or overcoming-of-non-consent is intrinsic to the act for many. So a clearer principle is freedom of association. This means that a person should be free to walk away (physically, mentally, socially, financially) without fear of retribution.

5. Private. As with all sexuality and nudity, people who are offended or not interested have a right not to be confronted in a public place. The reverse applies too. Nobody should invade your privacy (subject to 1-4 above).

Think of it this way: the abuser is one who denies freedom of association (you leave me and I’ll kill you, etc); will hit his trusty sub any old how, possibly even in public; and disregard her actual, real physical and mental well-being. My little code of practice is a straight reversal of what troubles me, and I think, troubles most honourable people.

Anyway, I suppose I’m whistling in the wind. There will never be an International Charter of D/s Practice. But it maybe worth checking whether these minimums apply to you.

The gruff and the beautiful, once again the hands say it all

I’m a ‘hands addict’ because hands communicate so much. Strength, power, vulnerability, reaching out, exposing, protecting, caring. Once again hats off to Red Charls for being the site-of-sites for pictures that talk. Or walk the talk. Or walk the ‘no-more-talk’ …. you know what I mean 😉

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’.