Kinks in My Punishment Kink: The Feminist Question

As I’ve mentioned a few times both here and on my personal blog, this last year found me struggling a great deal with my punishment kink. Some of the concerns have been lingering beneath the surface since I first started exploring my spanking fetish. Others have developed more recently. In the end, however, it all came down to four little words: but I miss it. There’s a certain buzz I get from the profound vulnerability that comes with the punishment kink and the intimacy that vulnerability produces is nothing less than amazing.

I started chipping away at all these issues in one post but eventually realized that, even if I managed to write said post (which kept feeling more and more unwieldly), nobody would ever actually read it because it would be too damn long. 😉 So, I finally decided that it would be more manageable to write and read if I broke it up into a series of posts.

The first issue is one that has been a more recent question as the beginning of the year found me connecting with my inner Appalled Feminist.

It’s taken having a debilitating chronic illness and clashing with the Church regarding my first long term relationship to appreciate the level of oppression women not only have suffered throughout human history, but continue to suffer today, albeit most often in far more subtle forms. Most of that oppression is in the form of guilt and shame about our bodies, our spirituality, our work, our sexuality, our family responsibilities, our clothes, and a bazillion other things. Frankly, I just got tired of carrying around the guilt and shame. Of constantly believing all the "you should be doing this" and "you shouldn’t be doing that." Last winter I finally came to a point where I simply decided I just wasn’t going to feel guilt or shame anymore. Momentary regret, perhaps. But only insofar as it helped me think about how I might do something differently. Yet, how do you have a punishment fetish when you don’t feel guilt and shame?

Now, feminism in and of itself does not present a problem as having a punishment fetish is not necessarily gender specific. There are women who spank men. There are men who fantasize about being spanked by men (though they apparently don’t blog about it). There are women who spank women, including on this very blog. Yet overwhelmingly it’s men spanking women. Again, not necessarily a problem. Except that my Appalled Feminist can’t ever completely divorce the thousands of years of misogynist baggage that has accumulated along the way when I read anything related to Domestic Discipline, especially when at times it descends into true misogyny.

Most of the time it’s the stereotypes that bother my Appalled Feminist. The endless sagas of women who are routinely bitchy and thoughtless and need to be somehow tamed and structured by their always emotionally-stable and efficient husbands (because women never multi-task or have a reason to be bitchy, right?). Or the paternalistic and condescending discourse in which women have to be taught what is safe or proper or considerate as if they are eternal children incapable of figuring out those issues like other adults.

The point of feminism, of course, is to allow women to make choices about what’s best for them. But what if, my Appalled Feminist asks, some women have so internalized a patriarchal construct of women that they continue to make choices that perpetuates oppression? What if I have so internalized that construct that it’s affected my sexuality?

I don’t always have good answers for the questions my Appalled Feminist asks. But I have been able to help her reconcile herself to my punishment fetish by explaining a few things.

The punishment kink is about taking bad habits that everybody has whether they be men, women, tops, bottoms or switches and allowing yourself to be very vulnerable regarding this habit in a way that provides sexual synergy for both the top and the bottom.

In the punishment kink both partners (or at least it should be both) knowingly create a construct in which one is in a position of authority over the other that provides that emotional and sexual buzz.

On some level my sexuality expresses itself as a child in need of a parent. That doesn’t mean that I am a child. If I was, this whole construct would be entirely inappropriate.

Within this construct we speak and act in ways that would be cruel and unfair outside of the construct. Nobody ever really deserves to be hit with a hairbrush or forced to hold a bar of soap in his or her mouth (in fact, I’m always creeped out when someone will ask me if I deserved to be punished). But when we say we deserved it or our partner whacks us with a rattan cane, we are fully aware that we are acting within the construct we have chosen and actively participated in constructing.

On some level, guilt can also (and maybe even instead of) produce arousal or excitement, especially when connected to punishment, instead of just shame.

And ultimately that — women having control over guilt and shame — is a profoundly feminist act.

61 thoughts on “Kinks in My Punishment Kink: The Feminist Question

  1. Haron

    I don’t know, Natty, I’m so used to the absence of the Appalled Feminist (tm LOL) and her voice in relation to spanking, that it gave me quite a jolt that she may indeed need a few things spelled out to her.
    All can I say is – nicely put.
    The Stereotyping Idiots (tm too) may need occassionally clubbing over the head with tangible reality and diversity of disciplined women, of course, but letting the Appalled Feminist ™ out to deal with them can be quite an overkill and is bad for one’s libido. I’ll just remain an non-appalled, sex-positive (OK, spanking-positive) feminist 🙂

  2. Heather

    I’ve never posted here before, but I read the Punishment Book pretty regularly. But I felt the need to respond to this post specifically because I struggle with the issue of feminism, sexuality, and spanking, and – I even wrote a monologue about it, which I’m performing this weekend. Really scary, but an important issue to me.
    I’m far more embarrassed to admit that punishment excites me than to admit that spanking excites me because although I’m attracted to women and men, I’m only interested in being spanked in any context by men. For me, it’s a major problem because I end up being most attracted to men that are in control and want to be in control, but I don’t actually like being a submissive partner, partially because of my feminist ideals and partially because I’m not really a submissive individual.
    Anyway, I was really glad you brought up this issue. I, too, try to think in terms of spanking and punishment being non-gendered, but it bothers me that in my case, it is.

  3. Megs

    I think whenever spanking, discipline, punishment, BDSM in a M/f context becomes an issue for feminism and feminists (and I’ve heard lots of it), it’s similar to issue of women who are stay-at-home-moms or housewives. It always amazes me when people go on tirades, as though those women don’t have the right to choose that particular life for themselves. Embracing feminism includes (or at least it should include) the freedom to chose your career, your sexuality, your life. Which I guess is really what you’ve just said… so Hear Hear.

  4. amber

    I am sorry this is going to be short and blunt – I am old-fashioned and traditional – I thought I’d just add this another perspective.
    So, I am highly comfortable with the man working and me staying home with the kids, with submitting to his decisions at least for the most part (he makes better decisions most of the time, anyway). Feminism really isn’t a question and never was. There’s absolutely no reason for me to prove any equality with the man – cause there is no real equality, we’re made for our own unique vocations – I can bear children and make jams and pickles that are the thing of a legend, while he can do things faster and can do heavier tasks. (I guess we are relatively equal when it comes to butchering poultry.) We complement each other very well in that way.
    Don’t get me wrong – by this point in life I’ve made all the right choices regarding education, career, and lifestyle, I took advantage of every opportunity that came along, and this is what I chose. So, being a mildly submissive spanko fits right in.

  5. Sexy Sadie

    What a beautifully written essay! I think, though obviously as Amber points out quite correctly you do not speak for all women, you most certainly just gave voice to a huge number of us who may very well have been struggling with some serious inner demons in this spanking world. I hope you take it as high praise that I plan to copy this essay and send it to a few friends of mine in the community who I think might highly benefit themselves from the message! Thank you.

  6. Dyke Grrl

    Speaking as a woman who is spanked by a woman, and more specifically, as a feminist spanked by a feminist… Let me tell you, that inner appalled feminist definitely shows up in thinking about kink.
    Some of this is a legacy of both of us having been raised by second wave feminists (specifically, in this case, around the issue of being sex-negative). Although my adult sexuality has been predominantly shaped by the sex-positive, kink-positive feminists I began to spend time with in adulthood… there’s still that lingering fear that I’m being a “bad feminist.”
    Add in my inner appalled anti-domestic-violence activist, and things get really complicated!
    I hold tightly to my right to express my sexuality (and my *SELF*) in whatever ways work for me. But at the same time, I have these nagging worries about whether what I’m doing is coming from having experienced abuse, and if so, if being who I am is something I should be working on changing in therapy.
    Punishment is one of the harder parts to reconcile with my inner appalled whatevers. I have in person examples of really strong, fierce, self-actualized women who are lesbians, who are kinky, and who accept themselves in all their variations. The people I know who have talked about punishment specifically, though, have only been online. And somehow, that makes it harder to dispel the worries.
    This is a really thought-provoking post, Natty. Thanks!

  7. Meghann

    I’m old enough that I *was* one of those feminists of the 70s. (Okay, I was one of the younger ones, but still…!) There is an old joke about a knight who searches all over for the answer to a question: “What does a woman want most?” The answer, of course, is “her own way” or, put less childishly, the right to choose. And that is the point of feminism. We get to choose, each human for themselves. If this is what we choose, what we truly want for ourselves, for whatever reason — because it heals us, disciplines us, increases intimacy, or turns us on — then maybe it’s just fine.
    I also have worried that it was unhealthy because of the abuse I experiences. Then I realized, I’ve come a long way, and I can trust myself to know what feels hurtful and what feels healing. In fact, my own voice is the one that deserves my greatest trust, in regard to my own life. I may never understand why this is changing me, but I know that it is, and changing me in healing directions. Nothing matters more.

  8. sparkle

    Hmmm… My consciousness of how I feel about feminism has been developing in the last few years, too, mostly as a response to discussions in forums like this coupled with issues in my extended family.
    That being said, I hear what Natty is saying, and then what Amber is saying, and thinking you are saying the same thing. Amber, you say you are living in a ‘submissive spanko’ relationship and that works out just fine. But Amber, that works fine for you because you chose it. And I have made the choice to live in a relationship that is mostly traditional too. In my understanding of feminism, the point is that we’ve made the choice, whatever it is, to follow our own ways (as Meghann said). It’s okay because it’s my choice. And it’s okay for you, Amber, because it’s your choice.
    But it’s not okay if you’re in that relationship because society expects it of you, whether you want it or not, or because your husband forces you into it, regardless of your opinion. Just like it’s not okay for a man or a woman to be on a fast-track academic career because of the expectations and demands of others. It’s all about the right and responsibility to make our own choices, even if that choice is to entrust some (or all) of our decision-making to another.
    Beside the reasons Natty has given (particularly in the post she linked to) about subtle forms of oppression still extant in the population, I am coming to the conclusion that feminism remains an important theory and pursuit because we are not the last women who will be making these choices… that is, it’s terribly important to me that my daughter be able to have a choice and know she has a choice about what she does with her life, whether it’s get a graduate degree and then stay at home to raise children and be a housewife (which is how my mother sees my path), or to be a professional athlete or to become an academic or a newer version of Ellen Degeneres or Rosie O’Donnell.
    Heather, your description about being more embarrassed about the punishment thing only relating to men and not women struck a chord with me. It’s always bothered me just a little bit that I could never find the same level of excitement when fantasizing about bottoming/submitting to a woman that I could in a Male/female relationship. But I’ve been discovering and finding more and more kinky things that I can eroticize, and it is a new experience to me to find myself waking up to dreams in the last few months where I’m being spanked and/or punished by women.
    Dyke Grrl: I don’t know how our childhoods and society have affected our sexual identities, but I do wish the relationship was clearer. To some extent, I hope that understanding the relationship is empowering, even if you can’t or don’t want to change it.

  9. sparkle

    Argh. Dyke Grrl: Sorry about that last sentence, where I twisted the pronouns to pieces and still didn’t get it right. Let’s try this again..
    I don’t know how our childhoods and society have affected our sexual identities, but I do wish we had a clearer understanding of those relationships. My hope is that if we understood the causal relationships, we would find the knowledge empowering, even if as individuals we couldn’t or didn’t want to change it.

  10. Jovee

    I am a strong, independent woman… not necessarily a feminist…but in the workplace would be appalled to be treated without equality and everything else pc.
    I also get much enjoyment from this website and its PCs- Posted Comments.
    In my relationship… ‘PC’ also works very well- so long as it means: ‘punishing correctly’. I need a man to be stronger than me, take charge, and spank me when appropriate- those occasions when my ‘inner, naughty girl’ surfaces. This PC way (which I am new to) appears to negate any need for rows, and deals beautifully with my feelings of guilt and shame if I behave badly.
    Since ‘dealing with me’ also fulfills the need my top has -to spank me- it also gives me a kind of permission to let go and just be naughty, from time to time, without fear of driving my top away, just the tingling, anticipatory fear of PC – paddle and cane!
    I do have control – over the way I choose to behave- and therefore I control the consequences. And on those appalling occasions when I’m naughty by accident- such as the occasion of the inappropriately- timed text message, although the tingly fear is still there, there is no fear of raised voices, or cold hostilty. I know that he will calmly deal with the matter..and on these occasions, such knowledge causes me to be very obedient indeed…until the next time..
    If that is a kink, well it suits me fine and I’m proud of it!
    I’m not sure if the top reads this- and if he does will he be PC about my comments – ‘perfectly calm’?!

  11. Sexy Sadie

    I like that this choice we have made — all of us who are discussing this issue on this board — to participate in this activity, has brought us together with a common bond. Obviously we are all women of different lifestyle choices. But we are all very strong women in our own ways, all making the strong CHOICE to get punished. That is what I think is the important common theme of this discussion. Our strength is in our making the choice, and not having it being forced upon us (which would be abuse). It is clear that the women posting here, though sometimes perhaps struggling with some societal ideas of “right” and “wrong” or “good and “bad,” are clearly all ultimately strong and happy with their personal choices.

  12. Iris

    Natty, your post obviously struck a chord in many of us, and I’m no exception. I too, have an inner Appalled Feminist and she comes out to do battle with me occasionally. Fortunately, the more I talk about my needs and feelings and the more I hear from intelligent, articulate women who share those needs and feelings, the more she quiets down. Doesn’t mean she doesn’t get riled every once in a while, but I think I’m slowly convincing her that this is ok.
    Meghann, this really struck me too: “I can trust myself to know what feels hurtful and what feels healing.” Amen to that! When Appalled Feminist or Insecure Woman rise up to the surface, I go deep down to my core and look for what feels healing. Well said!
    Thanks, Natty, for inspiring such good conversation!

  13. Amber

    I wanted to add that while the term feminism per se irritates me – as an extreme reaction to the traditional 1950s housewife model – but I can see that there is a room for it, and extreme reaction is valuable to make a paradigm change in a society. In the same way, being a conservative Catholic, I value and respect the Protestanism as a force which brought about positive changes in the spirituality of the world in general. It’s enlightenment of sorts.
    I can also say that I come from the former USSR, and, moreover, from an Islamic republic, so female sujugation is a vivid issue there in some families. Just think of our neighbour, who threw acid into his wife’s face many years ago. I acknowlegde that having moved to US I enjoy the priviledges I never knew – it’s nice to be able to drive a car, to be able to vote and see it make a difference, and to be able to choose a career path a woman wants.
    I can also see that that same power which lead to female liberation led to the degrees of sexual freedom and independence than I see as harmful to the overall wellbeing of the society and the quality of life of individual people. I think that feminism is in part responsible for divorce race being so high and for abortion being legal. While I think that it’s OK to dissolve a marriage which was an obvious mistake from the start, I feel that some modern women (and men!) don’t value Marriage and Family as it should be valued in order to provide happiness and stability for children and the spouses. Because women (and men) feel more free to dissolve marriage and abort pregnancy, they don’t put the same degree of effort into making marriage and parenthood work. You end up with people in their 40s and 50s who have no partner in life, no strong bonds. Hence, loneliness, depression, and insecurity, which plague some modern women (and men). That of course, can also be produced by never having any choices in the first place (think Emilou Harris’s song “Lillian”).
    I guess it’s up to everyone to find their own balance in life. The bottom line is, I can see both positive and negative effects of the feminist movment, but, like many other liberation movements in history, it’s got its value and place in history.

  14. Haron

    Iris, when you put Appalled Feminist and Insecure Woman together in one sentence, something suddenly clicked for me. I realised that my Appalled Feminist only ever shows up to be appalled on issues about which I feel insecure.
    Thus, I’ve long ago reconciled my feminism with the choice to be disciplined, it’s more of a domain of Contentedly Purring Feminist in me; it’s one of the few issues on which I’m confident in myself.
    However, as soon as we touch on my points of insecurity – such as that I’ve chosen an artist’s carreer over using my degree in a profitable way, or that I don’t have very much in the way of practical life skills – here comes my Appalled Feminist, waving her hands, urging me to go and get a job NOW, because generations of women faught for my right to the 9-5 slog.
    Funny that she gets so Appalled only when I feel insecure…

  15. Iris

    It’s funny that you connected Appalled Feminist and Insecure Woman so tightly, Haron. I’d really thought of them as separate identities until you remarked on how they show up together. And they show up together in me too. 🙂 (See, this is why I love discussion with articulate, intelligent women!) Punishment for me is something that largely goes in Contentedly Purring Feminist mode too, until my needs start to feel overwhelming and then I wonder why I *need* it so much. And then AF and IW show up.
    I think another important aspect for me has been having role models who are Contentedly Purring themselves, in whatever they’ve chosen: kink, art, ministry, stay-at-homeness, etc. When I have seen one or more women who are confident and serene with their choices, I feel free to be confident and serene with mine as well. Because I know that a confident and serene Iris is exponentially preferable to an insecure and needy Iris.

  16. amber

    Hi Haron,
    Atagirl! Don’t let those “pressures” to get you – if you want to be an artist, it’s so very important not to let them influence you. I am sure you know that – it’s the choice you seem to have made. My father in law says “do what you love and the money will follow.” And it’s true.
    I wanted to share my experience a bit since I can relate to you in that way – the issue of having had academic success and choosing to not use that lucratively – for the sake of a greater good – both J. and I are well familiar with that. He went to two of the most selective schools in this country (one of which was THE most selective) for graduate and undergraduate degrees, but he chose to be a school teacher in his hometown and a farmer. A number of years ago he chose a small American college in the Balkans over Harvard for the last two years of his undergraduate career, plain and simple (and that’s how we met). Don’t get me wrong, he uses every bit of his natural intellegence and education in his daily work in the private high school he started 10 years ago as a high school junior, and now is an assistant principle there, as well as a teacher of many subjects. It’s just that we don’t drive an SUV, and it’s fine by me.
    Same is true for me – I am quite talented and could have gone to more school, but I wanted to live in the country, learn how to can and make jams , and live in a strong, small-town community. When I met J., he shared every single one of those values – we learned that about each other 5 minutes into the very first conversation we had, and three years later we were married. I wanted to have babies and believed that a day-care was not an option for us. Plus, I wanted to be around the farm and grow and preserve my food. So that’s how I got to be “a farmwife.”
    Most of my friends were deeply puzzled by my choice, including my NY-city Jewish relatives (also immigrants from my hometown). They did very well here – my girl-counsin is a corporate lawyer in NY-City, with degrees in Business and Law from Duke. That’s the kind of people who are my family. Every time my great-aunt would call me up, and the same is true for my mother, they ask me if I really like it? If I still like it? Still like it?
    Luckily, on top of learning many new skills I learned since I moved to the country – from bread baking to deer butchering, I am able to use every bit of my natural intellectual gift, which is languages, as a free-lance translator, translating non-fiction and academic papers from four other languages into English (something I can do with my laptop without going down the driveway).
    So, I consider myself fully serene and validated in every one of my choices, including the choice to have a blistered ass.
    Again, I apologize that this post is long and not exactly on the original subject, but I thought it would add a bit of perspective.

  17. Natty

    Wow! I was hoping this was going to encourage discussion and well, it certainly seems to have done so.
    Appalled Feminist is a bitch and kills the libido like nothing else. But as Haron and Iris pointed out, she comes out to help in times of insecurity. Sadly, she had to come out for me last winter in order to deal with the very distinct bias against women in medicine, particularly in the way my illness, ME/CFIDS, is so often defined — usually by men — using distinctly misogynistic discourse (i.e. we’re all just hysterical women trying to have it all — no joke, they will really say that). Unfortunately, once she was out, it was like, oh shit! Now I’ve got to explain this whole punishment kink to her! Fuck! LOL
    But, well, it appears that having to explain it to her has produced something helpful for others, which I’ve very happy about indeed. Actually, I’m just really happy that I’ve felt well enough the last couple of days to articulate one of the many topics swirling around in my head during all these months of laying in bed. I think this is the most detailed essay on spanking I’ve written in about a year and a half. Yay for thyroid medication, whey protein, and supplemental support for my dysfunctional mitochondria!
    Regarding your distaste for feminism, Amber, I don’t want to get into a semantical argument but I think it’s unfortunate that it is so frequently misunderstood as trying to make women the same as men. Mija has often pointed out here, at her blog and on the usenet group where most of us met when the subject of feminism and BDSM comes up, that *equal* does not mean *same.* Feminism, as Meghann, Megs, and Sexy Sadie point out, is simply the right to choose. That men and women are equally capable of choosing for themselves what is best for them. I do not believe that all women are the same or all men are the same and certainly don’t believe that men and women are the same. But just to be clear, I reject categorically that one gender is inferior to the other. I don’t necessarily think you disagree, and as a feminist, I not only respect your decision to be a farm wife, but believe, as sparkle suggested, feminism is about ensuring that you have the right to make that choice free from coercion in any form, including pressure to live up to whatever ideal anyone has about what smart women do.
    Very clever use of PC, Jovee. 😉 Nice to see someone who is Purring Contentedly — to invert Haron’s phrase — with her kink and sexuality. I am curious, though, regarding your comment that “punishing correctly…appears to negate any need for rows…” How so? To be honest I always feel nervous when I hear people using spanking to keep from having rows. I mean, obviously you and your partner know what works for you two. But sometimes I get the sense that others use it in lieu of having to sit down and talk out the hard issues any relationship faces.
    Your feeling embarrassed, Heather, about your punishment kink is very common. Lord knows it’s much more embarrassing for me. I mean, it’s one thing to say you’re kinky and like to be spanked. But we are putting ourselves in a subordinate position when we chose to participate in some sort of disciplinary regime — an exceptional act that makes us profoundly vulnerable. To then talk about that to others who don’t understand it makes us even more vulnerable. And, well, there’s only so much vulnerable I can handle, ya know? Btw, very interesting point about the bi/hetero issue with spanking and so cool about the monologue!
    “Punishment is one of the harder parts to reconcile with my inner appalled whatevers.” So, so, so true, Dyke Grrl, as you write so poignantly about on your blog. As I mentioned, the feminist question is only one of several issues that conflicts at times with my punishment kink. One of them, like you Meghann, is a past history of abuse. But I loved the way you put it: “my own voice is the one that deserves my greatest trust, in regard to my own life.” Finding that voice is the most empowering thing I think any of us can ever do.
    Lordy I think I’ve written more than I did in my post. Okay I don’t think I’ve forgotten anybody…

  18. jovee

    This really is an amazing discussion. I too went down the school teacher route- much to my mother’s disapproval who thought I could and should make money…but I wouldn’t change anything, since it has been so rewarding in so many ways.
    Natty, the comment I made about ‘negating’ the need for rows’ . Well, this is still early days, he is very steady, and a perfect foil for my somewhat volatile nature..he has a calming effect which is so soothing. I think I should have used ‘squabbles’ instead of rows, because yes, one day I am sure that ‘heated verbal disagreements’ will happen, and yes, it can be very healthy. But we do discuss deeply, in fact I am facing a deep discussion ( gulp!) in the not too distant future. And interestingly, I think I should confess that I have thought ‘I would prefer to be spanked than have the sort of discussion I am facing’- which certainly proves your point! So I shall be very brave *sigh* and discuss…
    However, you have now prompted me to think that in past (all non-spank)relationships, such talk about ‘hard issues’ has been avoided by both parties -by the ‘ex’ who would not talk, and by myself, in the knowledge that broaching ‘deep issues’ would lead to a row because of his unwillingness to talk.
    As I said, I am new to this, but I now feel that I am in an environment/ relationship structure where it is safe to ‘let go’ ie/ let feelings out, and safe to talk about ‘deep stuff’- that is, safe to be ‘completely me’, as opposed to the insecure ‘little girl’ who wants to please at all times. And that sorry state of affairs came from childhood abuse- emotional abuse by my mother, and an environment in which I wasn’t allowed to show any negative feelings, nor were real issues ever discussed. I can see the links, but hey! it sure has taken me a long, long time!
    Sorry- gone on far too long, but you have all been so thought provoking. Many thanks from Jovee, in England, (9.32am- and I should be working!)

  19. Rob

    Natty: You have opened up a very meaningful discussion, and if nothing else, it is really comforting to know that we all grapple with the ‘appalled feminist’ within us in some way. As someone who is very new to acknowledging my spanking kink, and then a few months later, having a bit of a rethink due to “appalled feminist” thoughts, I can only say that the many moments of comfort and sheer bliss that come from a discipline relationship cannot be replaced by any other thing in life that I know. I often feel that I have stumbled upon the elixir of life, and that I carry around a secret that I would love to share, but dare not.
    There are definitely concessions to be made, but perhaps most of those are in our head. My guess is that our partners probably encourage us to be everything that we would want to be, but maybe are a bit afraid to be at times. Women carry around so many insecurities about everything really – their value, their achievements, their mothering, their appearance. Guys struggle to understand that. They tend to love us just the way we are. There is so much attention, so much affection and so much love to be had in this kind of relationship. If we play our cards right, I think we are in the best place to achieve whatever goals we set ourselves.

  20. angrylittlegirl

    Okay I am reading this post and all it’s responses sort of holding my breath.
    I was a rather militant feminist in my youth (clinic defenses, kiss-ins on cathedral steps and all) and at 32 am still an anarchist. I think coercion is wrong, that noone should EVER force another person to do anything. Yet I want someone to spank me until I cry, and keep on doing so even if I’m begging them to stop, when I feel like I’m “bad” which is like, all the time.
    I’ve never managed to have a real discipline relationship. No one has ever made me feel really “punished” because no one I’ve been with has had the heart to go that far. I’ve not many any true tops in r/l…and as I’m known for my outspokeness, strong and radical ideas, and complete lack of fear of men, how would they find me?? I met a man online recently who was going to be my disciplinarian, and I backed out on him because he was sexist and making rules about swearing based solely on my gender and it freaked me out.
    I think this is a really fucked-up society, and that power and relationships are very distorted by this. I can accept that this combined with certain aspects of my childhood have made me who I am, and that sometimes one just has to be themselves even if it doesn’t make sense. I’m not unappreciative of contradictions, in fact I love them…but I hide this part of myself anyway.
    That was long and all about me, sorry. I read this blog all the time and I’m fairly envious of all of you and your relationships. Thanks for having this here to give me something to think about and help me feel less alone.

  21. Nelle

    Let me say first that I love this discussion and I love this site! I came looking for just such a discussion about a month ago and I am thrilled to read such intelligent thoughtful comments from all of you. Thank you all for being who you are, you are perfect!!
    I’ve been married for 10 years and spanko much longer, so I was surprised when insecurities reared their ugly head recently, and I needed to reexamine everything all over again. It was a really really dark time for me. Luckliy in doing that work I rekindled something my relationship with my husband and we both are having a fabulous time. So I suppose my point to add is that examining your sexuality- and who you are as a woman in our culture- is always worthwhile and always positive and always invigorating, though often very very hard. And when you post about it here it is a real lifeline.
    A note to angrylittlegirl, I found my dream guy the old fashioned way, we met, started dating and then before we had sex I sat him down and laid it all out (ok, it was immediately before we had sex for the first time so he was ready to agree to anything) It was hard, super hard, to expose my self in that way but if it works you’ve got a wonderfully open relationship from the very beginning. Best of luck to you!

  22. Rob

    I haven’t met any true tops in r/l either, but I have found that if someone loves you it is amazing how willing they can be to be everything that you need them to be. I have to think that if it beefs up a woman’s libido, then they’ll be inclined to consider the proposal positively. It seems to me that some women are pretty good at creating constructs and recognizing that there is an intellectual side of their brain and a primal/feminine side of their brain. In the same way I think men can be good at recognizing those two sides of a woman too. I have had lots of conversations with men, including my three sons, about what men want in a woman and I keep getting the same answer – they want a woman who is kind. Turns out we both want the same thing. Very best wishes.

  23. amber

    Hi, Angrygirl,
    Treasures are found in the most surprising of places.
    I would like to second what Rob said – you don’t have to have a kinky man to have a high-intensity kinky play, although it’s certainly a bonus if you run into one. Most likely a nice guy will go along with the kink and learn a few things along the way, as did my 100% vanilla, conservative-Catholic, small-town America Upper-Midwest farmboy husband, from the land where women are strong and men are goodlooking. All it takes is a man who’s a good sport, as well as mutual trust and commitement, and dedicated cultivation. As does any relationship. In my case, took over 5 years. But I was willing to wait.
    I agree that it is hard to tell a vanilla man that I like to count my lashes and call him Sir and have my palms strapped – he goes like “Huh?” That’s the first time you mention it. But you just keep pitching it at him, and I believe the guys do become comfortable with what seemed inconceivable at first. He always makes fun of me first time I suggest some new fantasy, and doing certain things is hard for him. But only the first time I mention it. So far, he has incorporated all of my kinky dreams into a wonderful reality. For example, 3 years ago, we were getting amourous and I asked him to spank me pretty hard with a belt. He obliged, but was upset in the end, cause this was the first time he bruised me, while I thought it was the hottest action we’ve had (we were 23 then). Now, that was quite a shock for him, as he is a rather gentle man with good self-control. These days, however, he has no problem hitting me until I am quite seriosly in pain and bruising me (within reasonable limits). The point I am making is that people do evolve and their perspective broadens, and it’s OK to start with a vanilla guy, if you happen to fall for one. But if you run into a kinky one, all the better.
    Good luck.

  24. Haron

    Something’s just occurred to me while I was posting a link to this conversation on my and Abel’s blog.
    Do you folks think that the Inner Feminist is more likely to be Appalled by your need for punishment if you were a feminist before you decided you were into punishment, than if you knew you were into punishment first?
    If that makes sence?

  25. Dyke Grrl

    Haron–that’s an interesting question. My coming out process re: spanking was rather long (I fantasized about spanking and self-spanked long before I read any feminist theory, for instance). My AF ranges from celebrating my ability to find pleasure/release/calmness in my body to being shocked, just shocked, at the things that turn me on. And I don’t think it has to be a gender thing–my partner is a woman, and I’d say that 98% of my fantasy spankings come from women as well.
    angrylittlegirl–at least for me, it took a whole lot of trust and talking and working through the hard parts to get to a point where my partner was able to give me a punishment that felt like a punishment. And even so, there are times when it doesn’t feel “real” or meet that deep need for surrender. And there are times when, for whatever reasons, we’re not actively doing spankings of any kind, let alone punishments (what?! Tops have their *own* needs and emotions?!?! How COULD they?!). I think it works better if you see it as an ongoing process. Look for someone you’re compatible with first, and then start working through the other issues. It’s a long process, and it’s really a lot more confusing than fantasies.
    This really is a great discussion.

  26. amber

    Yes, Haron, that could make sense.
    I too have been a spanko since I remember myself. It was 100% part of who I am from the very start.
    As to the right to choose, if that’s how you wish to define feminism, I guess it was there to begin with, I didn’t have to fight for it too much, given my particular family situation and my character. Also, I have been an independent thinker for a long time, since early years in high school, and what society expects me to do have been the least of my concerns, at least when it came to making those life-changing decisions, as you can see.
    Plus, I wanted submission more than anything else and still do, so radical feminist ideas stopped at the threashold of my self without ever making it inside.

  27. Mija

    As I wrote to Naty earlier, I’ve got some almost-related thoughts on this that are long enough to be a post of their own. Hopefully I’ll be able to get my act together and post an entry sometime in the next day or two.
    As to Haron’s question… no I don’t think so. For me, I’ve always identified as a feminist (certainly since I was 10 or 11). My great-grandmother was involved in the sufferage movement*, my mother in the 1960s/70s civil rights movement and through that the US feminist movement commonly called the “second wave.” I’ve worked / studied in women’s studies and feminism going back to my undergraduate days. There has never been any question for me of not feeling “equal” to men or expecting that any partner I had would see me as his (or her) equal. It seemed as much a given as my eye color or politics
    At the same time, I’ve had spanking fantasies going back to when I was 2 and 3 years old — literally as far back as I can remember. They’ve never been especially sexual (except they’re totally erotic to me) maybe because they pre-date my own sexual development. I have experienced shame associated with my spanking desires, but they were generally connected (as Dyke Grrl writes about) with the concern that they were reflections of abuse that had occurred in childhood and with my first husband / sexual partner’s extremely negative reaction to my telling him about them.
    I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I came out into the spanking scene at the same time my first real efforts feminist scholarship were written.

    *true but funny. She never argued with her husband, who didn’t believe women should be allowed to vote. But when women got the vote she voted the first 2 elections exactly opposite of him, noting that now he would perhaps understand what it was like to have his own vote / voice taken away. He agreed with her that he’d been wrong, but also commented that despite her university education, it had been impossible for him to imagine a world where women could be counted on to vote.

  28. Rob

    That was a reality check Mija. So much has been achieved in a couple of generations. My grandmother and mother both made a choice to begin their own businesses, and both worked very hard. I guess I rejected that option for myself when I decided that I wanted to be there more for my children, in spite of being well educated. That was often a painful decision for me as I worried about being ‘worthless’. You know, all those insecurities about being JUST a mother. Now my daughter has finished school and I find my contemporaries worrying a bit about what we call ‘girl power’. (Maybe it is because I am a tad older than most of you but we never use the word ‘feminism’.) We hope the message hasn’t been too strident and that they will get a sense of balance in their lives. My daughter went to a high achieving academic school but the real her is an artist. I put in countless hours assuring her in her final year that she had to be herself, to embrace who she really is. And I’m proud to say that she is doing that.
    In my own life, like Mija, I have had spanking thoughts and fantasies for as long as I can remember, but it took me far too long to be comfortable with talking about it. Two things put everything in place. 1. a surge in libido brought about by a testosterone implant (I wish you could visit my doctor Natty – your faith would be restored) 2. the internet, most specifically this site and Haron and Abel’s blog. I quickly learned from them all that I needed to know – that love and spanking can most cetainly go hand in hand. And I’ve never looked back. I can’t thank you all enough. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

  29. Natty

    Spanking/punishment definitely pre-dates my feminist awakening. I was fantasizing about being spanked from the time I was a little kid.* However, as I talk about in more length in the link to my non-kink blog, I always used to sort of considered myself a post-feminist as I never really thought about myself being a woman as opposed to a man. Stayed completely away from anything related to gender studies, except when required in methodological courses.
    But having other people — and yes, almost always men — make decisions about my body that landed me in the emergency room with blood clots in my lungs or having to be catheterized, or watching as — again, mostly men — were defining my debilitating illness in terms of “hysteria” just as they had with diseases like Multiple Sclerosis before, suddenly woke up the here and now AF.
    Now, I should say I do have some wonderful male and female physicians. Unfortunately, as it’s a multi-systemic illness, I have to see a variety of physicians, some of whom are just plain misogynist assholes. And while my GP may be great, the men at the CDC or the NHS getting to decide what makes a “real” illness still get to decide a great deal about my body.
    “I think this is a really fucked-up society, and that power and relationships are very distorted by this.”
    Amen, angrylittlegirl! If there’s one good thing that’s come from having this illness (and believe or not, there really are a few), it’s that I’ve been able to see that a helluva lot more than I ever did before. But seeing it was like eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. For awhile I wondered if I’d ever get back into the Garden of Punishment again! 😉
    Another one of the good things that happened because I was sick was that I met my partner while languishing in chat rooms bored sick in bed. And thankfully, he actually had a greater feminist consciousness than I did having grown up with several older sisters and taking women’s studies in college. Those guys are out there, though admittedly are fewer in numbers than the “you must talk like a lady” asses. But, personally, I think it’s a lot easier to work with someone who’s already into spanking than to try to convert someone.
    *Very interesting point, Mija, about your spanking interest being non-sexual possibly due to it appearing pre-sexual development. What was interesting was that my spanking fantasies have mostly been very non-sexual (indeed I didn’t know there was even a connection between sex and spanking until I typed “spanking” into google about seven years ago – no joke!) until this last year as I dropped my punishment kink for awhile. I wonder if that is part of why some of us develop a kink in which real punishment plays a primary role, while for others it’s strictly sexual play (I’m thinking of the endless arguments at SSS about punishment v. play…)?

  30. Dyke Grrl

    Interesting thoughts on the links between spanking/punishment and sexuality.
    I certainly was very “into” spanking long before I awakened as a sexual being. In fact, I first tried masturbation because I decided that self-spanking was too noisy for me to feel comfortable doing it in my college dorm room (it was a single, but the walls were a little thin).
    So for me, they’re intertwined. The main thing is, either because I’m just kinked that way, or because I associate sexual feelings with spankings, my body gets very aroused when I’m spanked. After a punishment, my brain certainly isn’t aroused, but the body gets turned on regardless. And there is nothing so hot for me as a play-punishment spanking. An *actual* punishment spanking doesn’t make me want to have sex, but a play one? Oh, HOT!! I’m very turned on by safe, sane, consensual power play. (And I’m incredibly, stunningly grateful for the way that safe, sane, and consensual sex made it possible for me to actually discover healthy ways of being a sexual adult. If it weren’t for s/m, I don’t think I could even have vanilla sex. Take that, you anti-kink healing from abuse books!!)
    As for feminism: I don’t remember a time when I specifically “awoke” to feminism. I do remember being rather surprised when I got to college and found that there were women who *didn’t* consider themselves to be feminists (I mean, beyond the fact that I’d assumed any woman who felt she deserved to be treated with respect as a worthwhile being on the planet, I was at a *women’s college*, the kind of place that was training women to be scientists and researchers back in the 19th century! Why go there if you’re not a feminist?)
    I grew up with lots of strong female role models, and I knew perfectly well that women still faced oppression, so it made sense that feminism was still needed. For me, the awakening was in realizing how utterly interconnected oppressions are, and in beginning to understand how they hold each other up and maintain inequality in society.
    Oh, yeah, and the really shocking (I mean this non-sarcastically) concept that people would be oppressive *even when they were informed they were being oppressive*. It amazed me to realize that, huh, people *benefit* from having unfair power in society. (And here I thought they just hadn’t understood they weren’t being fair.)
    I’m not sure whether I’ve thought about my own experiences in the medical world in terms of gender before. I’ve had about equal experiences with male and female doctors (come to think of it, in re: fibromyalgia, the only medical professionals who saw what was going on were male). My experience there has been way more about body size, which is a whole ‘nother can of worms.
    Shifting over to “good things about chronic disability/illness,” I’d say the main thing I’ve gained is a greater awareness of my body; and part of this whole mental health thing I’m also dealing with is learning to listen to my emotional as well as my physical needs. And spankings definitely come in there. One thing with the MPD is that I’ve realized that if I pay attention to which part is needing a spanking, then it’s easier to communicate the “right” kind of spanking that will actually make me feel better, rather than exacerbating an already difficult situation.
    Okay, enough about me. I am really enjoying seeing all the different things people are saying, and they make me want to talk a lot in response.

  31. Megs >

    “I’m incredibly, stunningly grateful for the way that safe, sane, and consensual sex made it possible for me to actually discover healthy ways of being a sexual adult. If it weren’t for s/m, I don’t think I could even have vanilla sex. Take that, you anti-kink healing from abuse books!!”
    That’s a really good point Dyke Grrl, and one that’s often overlooked I think… it may be just luck, but I’ve noticed that among my kinky friends relationships are in general several notches healthier and respectful (in both directions) than the majority of vanilla relationships. I think that’s for two reasons. First: a combination of reactionary paranoia and probably scandalous harmful incidents caused the BDSM community to adopt the Safe/Sane/Consensual slogan as an almost religion. All three are brought up frequently and earnestly in most kinky circles. Second: because such effort is placed on negotiation, and because our interests are so much… broader, people in the lifestyle are more inclined to have open communications. Even those of us who squirm and balk at having to confess this or that are far more likely to realize that our partners are not mind readers (even if we wish they were) than are our vanilla counterparts.
    angrylittlegirl- I sympathize completely. It always amazes me when people talk about meeting their love online… mainly because my experience with online kinky people has been so negative. Most “tops” online haven’t a clue. Once I abandoned the online scene I was amazingly lucky to meet someone who was not only a top, but who also respected me and considered me an equal. I’m not interested in being subjugated. If you’re going to meet someone from online I’d suggest rather than looking for a “disciplinarian” look for someone who’s just looking to play and have fun. Even if what you really want is punishment someone who is self styled as a “disciplinarian” is so much more likely to be one of the clueless Doms. If you can safely explore some lighter play a more serious relationship might develop… and it would give you both time to be ready for it. Just be super extra careful and make sure to tell somebody where you’ll be and for how long etc….

  32. amber

    Ditto, Megs.
    Vanilla sex ain’t no sex at all but consumption of my body by a man. But punishment – now, that’s the way for him to love my body and my soul too. It’s sexual, even if no actual sex is involved. It’s loving “in the way that feels right,” to quote from the “Secretary.”

  33. Nelle

    Haron, your point is fascinating. I certainly wasn’t a feminist first, thought that has never occured to me before. Looking back it seems like I was always my kinky self- where did that come from? Catholic school?:)My family? Maybe it just springs naturally from me.
    I too fantasized about spanking as a child by age 7-8, certainly before I had any clue about sex. My favorite game to play with my neighbor was that we were teenagers being hit with a belt for staying out too late- This game was very seperate from actual spankings I recieved as a child- that was never any fun. At this age I played kidnap and bondage with my barbies- I didn’t know about rape yet, it was just exciting for me to have the Kens hit the barbies and tie them up. Also at this time I had a “boyfriend” the toughest, buzzcut, knife carrying elementary school kid on the block. Again, nothing remotely sexual- no touching even, we’d climb trees or throw rocks and say we liked each other- but he was kinda scary and I got a buzz just from being near him. I guess I’ve always loved machismo in all it’s consentual varieties.
    Dykegirl you write: If it weren’t for s/m, I don’t think I could even have vanilla sex. I agree, absolutely. I never had a sexual climax with a partner until I met my husband, though I certainly tried vanilla to no avail. Though we do sometimes have vanilla sex now I have never had an orgasm with out at least imagining myself being spanked,(the spanker can be male or female in my mind) and anyway vanilla sex in the context of a kinky relationship is not really very vanilla because my mind is definitely not in a vanilla space, and maybe has never been.
    Natty you write: “I wonder if that is part of why some of us develop a kink in which real punishment plays a primary role, while for others it’s strictly sexual play” This concept is interesting to me too, though I don’t even know how to define my relationship in this way. I’m not sure where the boundary between one and the other is. I am really submissive sexually and I have never set any boundaries or talked about a safe word- for me this would feel controlling and detract from the authenticity of my submission. I am not saying that these are bad things but I feel very safe where I am and feel lucky I don’t need them- my point is that I may be spanked, tied etc for any reason or none and it is all good for me. I do love really being punished for a real transgression, those are the very best times. But I am always aroused during spanking play or not, its never punishment in the sense that I don’t like it.

  34. angrylittlegirl

    Oh my god can I really TALK about all this???
    I also had spanking fantasies from an extremely young age. I was seldom spanked as a child, and I specifically remember being dissapointed when I was- it didn’t hurt. I had a best friend when I was 11 with whom I played endless variations on the theme of one of us pretending to be John Stamos or Jack Wagner(yeah, that’s what should REALLY be embarrassing for me huh?) and the other a runaway getting spanked by said soap star.
    I didn’t associate it with sex though. I remember getting crushes as I got older, thinking about them spanking me but having no real interest in kissing etc, and being concerned about this.
    So I suppose it predates my conscience feminism, although the fact that girls could do anything boys could was a value I was raised with. I started expirimenting with women (I’m bi) at about the same time I started calling myself a feminist, and I was lucky enough to see some really positive by and for lesbian erotica that embraced spanking as well as a number of things I’d never even thought of. So the fact that I got off on spanking was always okay, it’s more the fact that I want, like, an authority to actually punish me in a way that is not really about sex that I’ve found disturbing.
    Thank you, Nelle, Rob, amber, megs and natty for your responses. I’m not sure I’ll ever be in the type of relationship I want to be, but I know I’m done being in types I don’t want to be in. So many times when I was talking to the potential disciplinarian I wanted to talk to ask somebody advice but couldn’t…your feedback means a lot.

  35. Nelle

    I love your John Stamos game! LOL! Since you found someone to play with you back then, I am sure its just a matter of time until you find someone for now.

  36. Natty

    ::hanging my head:: I have to admit to being one of those people who didn’t call themselves a feminist for a long time. In fact, I remember being surprised that people still did. It took having a doctor shove a tube up my infected urethra without any anesthetic to make think, gee, maybe there’s something to this feminism thing.
    And yeah, I definitely think about spanking without sex, but definitely cannot think about sex without thinking about spanking. Indeed, I’m not sure I could even orgasm without my ass being involved on some level, especially as I’ve never had completely vanilla sex.
    “Oh my god can I really TALK about all this???”
    Hell yeah ya can! And that’s some real womens lib. 😉

  37. jovee

    Hell! tube up your urethra with no anaesthetic…wincing in sympathy…
    And agree with your sentiments entirely, Natty, in second paragraph…
    And I don’t really think of myself as a feminist, just a strong independent woman. Not sure if it’s the same.
    I do wonder if this urge to be spanked is a kind of link to cave man days when cave man (allegedly- how do they know-is it depicted in cave art?)) would drag his woman into the cave by the hair and then…
    Sorry if that sounds incredibly silly in such an intelligent debate, just wondering, though, if I have a gene that links all the way back to such times when the strongest hunter showed his strength in such alpha- male ways? And hence have genetic programming to relate to the dominant male? Especially as I like my top grabbing my hair…
    Ok, just ignore feeble contribution..on the other hand, if it’s in our genes, no need for any angst? regards
    Jovee- ( it’s been a long day, and the weather is awful here!!)

  38. Megs

    jovee- I doubt there’s a caveman connection, if only because there are many many men who like to be dominated by women… which as far as I know was not common in cavemen days. But who knows, maybe there were ancient versions of Dommes even way back then… after all they were wearing some pretty trippy animal print leather. If there’s a genetic connection I imagine its more like the genetic thread that contributes to someone’s homo or heterosexuality… if there’s a gay gene why can’t there be a kinky gene? I know there’s no possibility of upbringing as a major factor for me, the earliest spanking fantasies I can REMEMBER are from when I was four or so… but I was never spanked or even threatened with physical punishment as a child.
    I’ve never really considered myself a feminist… I embrace most of the ideals of feminism but for me feminism brings to mind militant close-minded women who strove so hard for equality that they went right over the other side of the mountain. The struggle was necessary, but I’ve known enough “true” feminists to be put off the label.

  39. persephone

    wow… there is so much here that i don’t even know what to type now that i got to the bottom. it’s a fascinating discussion. i’m so used to discussions of feminism turning into bashing of feminism… it’s wonderful to read such an intelligent, sensitive debate.
    i think i can safely say that i have been a feminist as long as i’ve been into spanking, and both date back to preschool age. (i actually remember watching commercials for board games on tv, and getting mad that the kid who puts his arms up at the end and says “i win!” was always a little boy.) and when i got old enough that it wasn’t appropriate for men or guys my age to talk to me like i was a little girl, i had this crazy barrage of feelings– on one hand, enraged at being condescended to, particularly if i knew it was because i was female, and on the other, absolutely loving it, possibly even despite and because of that reason.
    of course, i agree whole-heartedly with the conclusion that it is our CHOICE that makes us good feminists and strong women, and we can always decide to resolve our misgivings about our kink with that mindset.
    but i think it’s vital that we consider the points that natty brought up in her post, the thoughts about the place of women in the past, about the gender disparities in tops and bottoms, about the misogynistic tinge to close relatives of what ignites our passions. and this is the feminist in me coming out, in educational mode– i just thing it’s so important that we’re aware of these things, that we KNOW and teach our children that gender equality is still an ongoing task.
    i am a therapist and my belief about our kink, based on the way that i was trained, is that it was born out of an early childhood experience. not necessarily a trauma, but just something that happened that was frightening (even if it wasn’t meant to be) or difficult to assimilate. we didn’t know what to do with our feelings about this event(s), so instead of repressing them (potentially unhealthy) or denying them (also potentially unhealthy), we turned the event into something pleasurable (definitely healthy). it’s this kind of thinking, which i strongly believe to be true, that makes me feel really good about this aspect of my sexuality. everyone has issues from childhood… what better way to deal with them then to turn them into something that is so engaging, fun, pleasurable, and can bring you great intimacy?
    of course, psychodynamics isn’t an exact science, so i can’t say that i even know for myself what the exact event was, or whether it was a series of events (still trying to decide whether or not i would want to know). and i also wonder about the role of society and culture… i too prefer to be spanked by a man, prefer to submit to a man, and in a roleplay situation kind of get off on being condescended to because of my gender, being objectified, or on being given “traditional” feminine tasks to follow through on or else (all things that i would go ballistic about if they happened to me outside of roleplay).
    i guess i don’t have a conclusion to all of that. but i do think that we should be proud of the choices that we make in our lifestyles, glad that our subconscious minds gave us something fun to do with our issues, and aware of the gender dynamics that exist within our own bdsm community. many thanks for this awesome discussion.

  40. Rob

    Persephone: Now you’ve got me (and I’m guessing everybody else as well) thinking about my very early childhood – what could it have been? It must be deeply in the psyche b/c I haven’t a clue. It must have been so early on, b/c the thoughts were there at about 5 or 6 years old. And if they occur to comfort us, societal norms and expectations must be extremely demanding, because it takes most of us a long time to accept/acknowledge them. The positive power of forums such as these on the internet cannot be exaggerated. The last few days of this conversation have been totally engrossing (my reduced productivity is best not mentioned), and very informative. We are all very lucky to have found this support. Three cheers to Natty!!!

  41. angrylittlegirl

    I sort of think it’s just a sexual orientation, like straight or gay. I don’t think there’s a reason anyone is such, it is what it is. Especially hearing all these stories and about how everyone started looking “spank” up in the dictionary as soon as they could read etc…sounds a lot like people talking about clues to their homosexuality in childhood.
    Of course, schoolgirl uniforms and the fact that certain words are sooooo fucking hot are completely related to the society we live in. It would be interesting if some brave sociologist somewhere could do a cross-cultural study on this…

  42. Lurky

    I’ve got to agree with the “it’s just there” philosophy, like our sexual orientation. I’ve never been spanked as an adult, I know I got spanked as a kid a couple times though I don’t remember it, so it’s just the idea that gets me going.
    But like others have said, I would be drawn to the nursery rhymes with spanking in them and read them over and over. There was a certain book where a boy gets a spanking that I would read. I pretended about spanking with other girls on the school bus in kindergarten. I don’t think something traumatic happened and I turned that trauma into finding spanking erotic.
    Feminism is no longer about being a militant, man-hating, bitch (I don’t think that was the point when it started either). Unfortunately women now associate feminism with that image and will vehemently deny being feminist, even though they are. Like someone else said, it’s about choice and about wanting to be treated equally. About fighting violence and inequality against females all over the world. There are extremists of any ideology. Would you stop identifying yourself as a Christian because of militant, religious extremists?

  43. Natty

    “but i think it’s vital that we consider the points that natty brought up in her post, the thoughts about the place of women in the past, about the gender disparities in tops and bottoms, about the misogynistic tinge to close relatives of what ignites our passions. and this is the feminist in me coming out, in educational mode– i just thing it’s so important that we’re aware of these things, that we KNOW and teach our children that gender equality is still an ongoing task.”
    Exactly and I think that’s a lot of what prompted me to write this post. Like Haron’s AF, I think most of us in the spanking community assume a lot of the stuff in my post, but a lot of times my AF isn’t so sure and needed to have it spelled out so that I could be conscious and aware of what is going on. And it is indeed that being conscious and aware that I think is so important.
    “I sort of think it’s just a sexual orientation, like straight or gay.”
    Yeah, I’m inclined in that direction as well. I think sexuality is such a complex phenomena that it’s impossible to answer the nature vs. nurture question.
    “Three cheers to Natty!!!”
    LOL! Um, er, uh ::blushing:: well, thanks Rob. I’m thrilled to see that it’s stimulated so much thought and fruitful discussion. And um if you’re still feeling in a generous mood, might I direct you to my blog?

  44. Rob

    Maybe any label is at risk of being misunderstood. If we asked here if everybody was in favour of ensuring the rights of women (ie fighting violence and inequality against females all over the world), there would be consensus. With all the progress achieved for women in the western world, I think that many people now look to a kinder, gentler version of ‘feminism’ – one that looks at both men and women and how things can be better for everybody.
    I’d like to think that acceptance of who we are, (with kinks or without) is part of that gentler, kinder community.

  45. Dyke Grrl

    This question of how people understand what it means to be a lesbian reminds me of the first year I was a teaching assistant. I was running a discussion section, and the topic for the week was feminism. And all but one of the girls in the class (erm, young women) kept saying, “Oh, no, I’M NOT a feminist!” as though being a feminist were something bad.
    And then they would say things that agreed with all of the principles of feminism. So, utterly perplexed, I thought to ask a question:
    “What do you think a feminist IS?”
    And one girl calmly said, “A feminist is a butch lesbian who hates men, doesn’t shave, and doesn’t care what she looks like.” The other gi–young women nodded in total agreement.
    Ahhh. This explained why they were unwilling to identify as such.
    I think much of the bad press feminism gets has been spread by people who aren’t feminists–as though we’re saying women wouldn’t be allowed to wear feminine clothes, or they would be forced to serve in the army, or not allowed to stay home with kids, or whatever. There may be some feminists that believe that, but I think they’re incredibly rare. But there are anti-feminists who *say* we believe that, and they’re quite loud (whether or not they’re rare).
    Just ’cause I’m a feminist doesn’t mean I’m going to make men and women use the same bathrooms! (Although, if there is a long line to the women’s, and none at all to the men’s, I’m not gonna frown if you switch lines!)
    And I think I agree that kinkiness, like sexuality, is most likely inborn. Admittedly, I do have a sister who is also kinky. But I’ve got six siblings who *aren’t*. And we went through many of the same childhood experiences, so if that alone were the cause, then we’d all be queer and kinky. (Okay, I admit the reasoning is a little flawed there, but it still works for me.)

  46. persephone

    dyke grrl, i loved your story… i’ve been shocked too about those kinds of things– i could never imagine why people thought feminism was so bad. i used to work for a domestic violence agency and teach high school students about dating violence… these kids would frequently call me a “femi-nazi.” and really, i was barely speaking outside of my curriculum, just giving them the info on what dating violence is and how often it happens and what to do about it. scary.
    it was when kids would come up with arguments like “they like it!” that my own interests and issues would be activated. it was easy to redirect them and say we were talking abuse, which is non-consensual. but i would have to shake through my personal reactions as i said it.
    rob, i also like your view of the “kinder, gentler feminism,” and most of what i understand about feminism does exactly that. it is, i guess, the anti-feminists that dyke grrl mentioned who turned us into something that no one would want to be.
    i am used to my perspective about the source of our feelings being rejected… there seems to be something about the idea that is too much for most people, and i understand that. we all need to be comfortable with the meaning that we find in things. just to clarify, though, whatever the event would be is probably something from earlier than you would remember, and it very possibly isn’t a trauma but just something that happened that was hard to understand at the time. something you saw or witnessed even. i was looking the word up in the dictionary as early as i could read too, but i’m talking much earlier than that.
    the mind is really powerful and also powerfully affected by things that happen to you, especially when you’re very young. i am amazed by this even in myself– years of sex, touching, whatever, with no orgasm, then several years of orgasm only with vibrator when fantasizing about spanking, and now, today, i can orgasm on command without any physical stimulation. THAT is powerful. but it’s the kind of thing that happens with the process i described. anyway, i know it’s not a popular position to take but do as you will with the information. 🙂

  47. persephone

    just was thinking and wanted to add– anyone familiar with “free to be you and me”? it’s an great album and little movie for kids to teach gender equality, i think from the early 70’s.
    here’s a little poem from one of the tracks (from memory so it may be a little bit off):
    my dog is a plumber– he must be a boy
    though i really must tell you, his favorite toy
    is a little play stove, with pans and with pots,
    which he really must like ’cause he plays with it lots.
    so perhaps he’s a girl, which sort of makes sense
    since he can’t throw a ball and he can’t climb a fence.
    but neither can dad, and i know he’s a man.
    and mom is a woman and she drives a van.
    maybe the problem is trying to tell
    just what someone is by what he does well.
    hopefully that’s not too far off-topic. perhaps my early feminism was based in part on some of the messages i got from this album, and from my mother who introduced me to it. 🙂

  48. amber

    Well, thank you, ladies, for putting me straight in my understanding of feminism. I guess I always associated it with a rather militant kind of philosophy.

  49. angrylittlegirl

    I just wanted to say amber, that your post about feminism and how it relates to your “old fashioned” values, and how different strengths compliment each other in a relationship got me thinking.
    I am divorced, and I left when my son was still a baby, but daycare was never an option for me either. Just wasn’t right for us. I found another (albeit very unconventional) option so I could be home with him and still support us (just barely, but enough:)). And a lot of the very strong women I know, who identify as feminists, are making the same decisions.
    I think a big part of “gentler feminism” is this idea that “feminine” qualities are just as valuable as masculine, regardless of who posseses them. As in, intuition is as valuable as logic but not valued by our society, just as making money is more valued than growing one’s own food or being tuned in to and present for one’s child. Which doesn’t mean that only women can do these things, it means the fact that women have traditionally been the ones to do them has made them less valuable to our sexist society. I think honoring the desire to be near one’s children, and nurture them the way you feel in your heart they need to be nurtured, is a very brave choice in the context of this society, and a very feminist one indeed.
    So that has nothing to do with spanking, but then everything’s connected right?

  50. Megs

    “I would be drawn to the nursery rhymes with spanking in them”
    Down by the Ocean,
    Down by the sea,
    Johnny broke the bottle,
    and blamed it on me.
    I told ma,
    Ma told Pa,
    Johnny got a lickin’ so Ha! Ha! Ha!
    How many lickin’s did Johnny get?
    One! Two! Three! Four! Five! Six! Seven! Eight! Nine! TEN!

  51. sparkle

    I’m going to sound so naive … but I’ve been wracking my brain for hours and… *what* is a “gi–young”?
    DG: maybe you should send me an e-mail since you obviously didn’t want to spell it out! All I can think of is the context of ‘valley girl’ or an Irish ‘D4’ or an ‘OC girl’, but I can’t work out what the word actually is supposed to be!

  52. Lurky

    I think she was going to call the female speaker a “girl” again, but corrected herself to say “young woman” since those were college aged people.

  53. Nelle

    I am fascinated by your explanation of kink developing from an early unexplained experience- I can not contradict that with my own experience- in fact my experience could be interpreted to confirm it- and I find it very troubling. I am currently studying to be a therapist as well- could you provide a bit of info about the author of this theory so I could look it up? I love reading research and have access to a university library so I’d love to read up on it more if you could pass any more info along- thanks!
    Speaking of spanking in chidren’s rhymes- my guilty favorite childhood book was “The Lonely Doll” (1957) which I checked out of the school library over and over. A naughty doll gets spanked by a Daddy teddy bear who who afterward explains that he still loves her- it was just the greatest thing. I was surprised to find it still on the shelf at our local library- though I definitely did not read it to my kids!:)

  54. Dyke Grrl

    Sparkle–Lucky was correct. I was just being silly (and remembering the strict social rule at my women’s college that we went to a *WOMEN’S COLLEGE* and not a “girls’ school.”) So at 18, we called ourselves women, and no matter how young those female students may have seemed to me… well, they probably also considered themselves women. (It’s amazing how much younger eighteen looks from your 30s!)

  55. Sexy Sadie

    This is the most amazing panel discussion from a post I have ever seen. Natty, you are a goddess among women, and my new hero. All the women who have posted here, I adore you, and I will continue to watch your posts on this and the other blogs. Yes, Amber, this is what feminism really is in the 21st century! Not so bad, huh? I do think you might just be a part of it.

  56. craig

    Hello. I am posting for the first time. I have a question that is a spin on the “femenist” question. I consider myself a femenist man or pro-femenist or whatever. I understand that the most femenist way to be is simply to let women make their own choices. I am cool with that and accept that in the context of a relationship between two people, almost anything done in a respectful and consensual manner is acceptable.
    Here is where is my question:
    I am submissive and like to be spanked by women. Idealy I would like this in my sex life with my lover. I don’t have a lover now. I want to be spanked. Is it wrong of me to pay a mistress or something to spank me? While it is not sex, it makes me feel like I am going to a prostitute. While I will not condemn prostitutes, I would not go see one because I think it is contributing to a negative thing.
    I wonder if I can jive paying a woman to spank me and my liberal femenist beliefs. what do yo all think. Thanks.

  57. Natty

    Personally, I don’t think there’s any problem at all. The dommes I’ve known enjoy their work a great deal and frankly, I don’t even believe there is necessarily a problem with paying for sex so long as both parties are doing so of their own free will — and there are women who really do so because they choose to. While some elements within the feminist movement believe prostitution is always wrong, others have taken a more sex-positive approach (see
    While this is regarding men paying to spank women, you might also consider this recent discussion over at Adele Haze’s blog:
    Hope you find the right lady to take you over her knee. 🙂

  58. persephone

    i haven’t been checking back here so i’m sorry to have left your question hanging! i’m going to email you my further thoughts on this so we can chat if you want. 🙂


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