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.

spank-art

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.

How to get the spanking you want: talking taboo

I’m delighted to do a bit of promo for one of the most intelligent, insightful bloggers around – Vivian at The Disciplined Feminist – who has written a 2-part spanking book “How to Get the Spanking You Want: The Complete Guide to Asking for it, Getting It & Making It Better,” available through this link.

Explaining the book on her blog she says: “Of all the emails I get asking for advice, well over half of them are from women (and some men) who want their husband or boyfriend to spank them, but don’t know how to ask, and this question seems to pop up a lot on spanking and DD forums, too.”

I haven’t read the book yet, but the topic has me thinking: why is spanking hard to ask for? (I strongly suspect that Tops want to ask for it as much as Bottoms want to, but the Top mindset is less likely to be actively advice-seeking.) More particularly, why is it hard to ask for in a world where it has become relatively easy to ask for many kinds of kink? Egged on by Cosmo and others, it is quite fashionable to ask to be corseted or tied up, or to use various toys and costumes all under the banner of “spicing things up”.

But spanking (real, hard, non-nonsense spanking, not the pat & giggle stuff) is a much harder thing to raise. I think it is because Spanking Is Violence.

As a man, one experiences very heavy socialisation from an early age to constrain violent impulses. Agression is channeled out of us in every way (other than on the sports field) which is absolutely correct of course. Anyone who hits another person is a criminal. And all the more so with regards to girls – you never, ever hit girls.

To me this is key to why spanking is hard to ask for – because it runs heavily against our socialisation. For him, asking the uninitiated, he is breaking this heavy social taboo. Psychopath! For her, asking the uninitiated may be mistaken for the equivalent submissive pathology: the desire to be hit, hurt …

In fact, spanking is okay (great!) because it is highly ritualised, that is, has associated codes and rules which define actions and limits (the key ones are bottom only + consensuality). It is okay exactly in the sense that other code-constrained violence, notably contact sports and martial arts are okay. These also allow and imply consent to violence-within-the-rules. The rules make the violence productive rather than destructive.

This suggests a way to approach the how-to-ask conundrum. Whether you are a Top or a Bottom, the key to overcoming the taboo is to stress that spanking is rule-based violence, that is, “productive” violence. It produces such things as discipline, intimacy, mentoring, nurturing, eroticism, couple harmony and so on. (It is deeply significant that sex is codified violence too – it is precisely the *rules* surrounding the practice of taking a woman, overpowering and penetrating her, that make it socially acceptable and delightful. Without the rules, it’s rape.)

Well, that’s my 2c. I’m looking forward to reading what Viv has to say, and have little doubt that she has sorted out this question better than I have.

No Safeword for Spanking. (I can’t believe I just said that.)

I find that in a few short posts I’ve challenged a lot: brutal spanking, and spank pay sites, and problematic spanking definitions. Of course I appreciate the alternative perspectives and preferences others have, and my goal is not to criticise. What I read just gives me something to push against, to better articulate where I stand.

So here’s another challenge: the idea has come into spanking that the submissive should have a “safeword” which, when used, brings the scene to a close. (Apparently sometimes also a “slow down” word.)

Now readers of this blog will know I particularly eschew brutal acts, and would never participate in or advocate any unsafe practice.

But let’s think clearly about safewords. Where does the safeword or safe signal idea come from? From the world of BDSM of course. It is absolutely crucial in bondage/gagged situations where the submissive can be choking or have airways blocked, or otherwise be struggling in a life- or limb-threatening situation which the dominant thinks is part of the scene.

How does this transpose into spanking? Classic bottom spanking is intrinsically a safe practice. It can leave a very, very sore bottom, but from a serious safety point of view there’s no real risk. As long as she’s not heavily bound or gagged, a spanking safeword is redundant.

That leaves use of a safeword if it “gets tooo much”. Sounds reasonable. But at what cost?  A safeword puts the key decision about how-much-is-too-much into her hands. It is asking her to take responsibility for her welfare (and if she gets too sore, by implication it’s her fault). To me the absolute essence of spanking is he assumes the decision as to what is necessary, and applies it, while she shows her trust in his leadership by submitting no matter what. Responsibly handling the key decision of how much and when to stop is precisely how he builds her trust. If he can’t manage the responsibility she should find someone who can, rather than take over the decision.

So I say spanking works best when she has – at the time – absolutely no say over what or how much she gets. Outside of the scene the couple should articulate their preferences and limits, but even then, if she is to be punished she should not have the right to decide when it’s over.

There is one exception. A safeword does facilitate non-consensual fantasy play. If a couple wants the particular fantasy that he is spanking her against her will, a safeword in the background allows her to vocally beg him to stop, implore him to stop, demand that he stop, even physically resist him, and not mean it.

Just another spanking blog?

One of the things that blogging allows, encourages in fact, is to put one’s private journal online. So here goes. What get’s me journaling, primarily, is the need to reflect on adult spanking and consider my role and preferences. Many things are obvious in life. But this topic is not. So I find myself thinking about what I find interesting, and erotic, and difficult, and incompatible with me. And I think better when I write, or at least writing it down forces me to think it through.

Having said that, this blog will be about everything I muse on. As I say in my “About,” I don’t believe in erotic divorced from the rest of one’s life and existence. In fact the point of blogging, to me, is to work on integration. I have a life of many interests and passions, and spanking-discipline is just a part.

The other thing is, I want to get blogging, finally, to do my bit and show my appreciation for the many wonderful, thoughtful people in the spanking community (there are many who are not so wonderful, but more of that later.) However, on the whole, over many Web sites and b-boards and blogs, I’ve come to regard the people I come into contact with as something special, a community with a particular earnestness, integrity, and reflectiveness that one doesn’t see everywhere in the “sex” world. Many write very well too. So I want to acknowledge and be part of that. That motivates me.