What’s the difference?

I've been reading lots of posts lately, from Haron, from Mija, from Ree, and from Chris, and I've been wondering:

What makes a punishment a punishment?

I mean, really.  Many of us experience both spanking-for-punishment and spanking-for-pleasure, so how do we know the difference? 

For some it seems to be the force of the spanking.  A fun spanking is light, with implements we like, while a punishment is heavy, with implements we don't like.

For others, it's the position.  Fun spankings are in easy-to-hold positions (over a lap, on a couch/bed), while punishments are more strict (over the knee in a chair, the spankee must hold position).

In my case position and severity certainly matter, but not as much as for others.  My tolerance can be quite high, so severity doesn't necessarily mean
discomfort, and the position becomes at worst an annoyance.  In order for me to really feel like it's a punishment, I need to be in the right headspace.  It's all about the headspace for me.   To be honest, I think it's all about headspace for most of us–we just use different ways to get there.

So how do I get into the right frame of mind?  There are a couple of different factors that play into it.  Probably the most important one is my relationship with my disciplinarian–I have to be able to trust that person completely.  I have to know that he or she has my best interests at heart, will not take advantage of me, and truly accepts that discipline is necessary for me.  Once we've established that trust I'm much more willing to put myself in his or her hands.

After that, words become very important.  I have no use for outright humiliation, but for me, scolding is a necessary part of any punishment.  My physical tolerance is high enough that without the words to tether me to the situation at hand, I could easily float away on the sensation or barricade myself inside my head until the pain ended.  Reminders of what I've done ("Is that acceptable behavior, young lady?") or of my lack of control ("You can kick all you want, but you're not done yet") keep me grounded in the situation and are the concrete tie between my actions and the resulting spanking.   They are what make me sorry and they are what make a punishment a punishment for me.

I realize this differs for others.  For example, I know that sparkle can't stand to be scolded–even mild scolding feels humiliating and counterproductive to her.  So I'm wondering: what makes spanking a punishment for you?  Implement?  Position?  Tone?  Something else?  How do you achieve punishment headspace and how is it different than pleasure headspace?

17 thoughts on “What’s the difference?

  1. Mija

    Interesting post!
    By saying this, I know it’s going to sound circular, but what makes it punishment most of all, is that its meant as such. The degree to which Paul takes what we’re doing seriously and means it to be so matters more than anything else. In those circumstances, it doesn’t matter where my head is, at least to start. I can be trying to be playful, feeling resistance and resentment or immediately repentant — it doesn’t really matter. What happens still feels like and is punishment.
    Scolding is important to me beforehand, but doesn’t need to happen during, though it definitely functions to keep me in the moment. But more than anything it’s that the spanking / me and whatever has happened is being taken seriously. I guess that’s where the feeling of punishment comes from.
    PS. I couldn’t resist replying to this, though by doing so I’ve posted what is our 1000th comment. Way to go PB!

  2. persephone

    i agree with you that we all have different ways of finding the right headspace. just to take two of the things that you mentioned– i find scolding to be extremely arousing, and my tolerance doesn’t seem to be consistently low or high. i think that what makes the difference with punishment for me is the level of emotional intensity.
    scolding goes from arousing to grounding when it persists despite my discomfort. so, in role-play for instance, i may be scolded enough to feel submissively aroused. but in punishment i am pushed much farther than that. instead of “you were a bad girl” it becomes “you were a bad girl, weren’t you? and what did you do that made you such a bad girl?” and being forced to address the rule that was broken and really be in that emotional space where it’s obvious that i’ve caused displeasure and there’s no way out of it other than through punishment.
    and as for the physical… in play i can be spanked until i’m just on the verge of not having fun anymore, and that is still fun for me. but in punishment it goes well past not-having-fun. i guess in a way that is physical, but it’s the emotional aspect of it that gets to me.
    in play there is always a level of ‘fun’ underneath everything else, but punishment is seen through in a different way. play goes on until we’re done playing, but punishment goes on until it’s clear that a lesson has been learned. i MUST hit a certain headspace before a punishment will fully end. and just the loss of that locus of control is different.
    positions and implements don’t make that much of a difference for me personally, and i haven’t experienced tone as being too different between punishment and play– but it’s the lengths to which it’s taken that make a difference.

  3. Megs

    I agree w/ Mija in that “it’s punishment because it’s punishment.” Psychologically, I just approach spankings differently (and so does my b/f) when it’s for punishment. For one thing, I enjoy resistance play, so when it’s a “play punishment” I tend to fight it. Also, generally I’m already feeling very guilty and negative about whatever it is that I’m being punished for, so that changes things too. The other day I wore my uniform to surprise my b/f when he was coming home from a trip… we didn’t have much time to play w/ the concept because he landlord was home, but I had to be punished for something last night and he (my bf… not the landlord) asked me if we might deal with my infractions while I was dressed “properly.” It made me smile, and I know that works very well for some people, but I told him that I thought we’d better avoid that since it would turn it into a game.
    There are physical differences as well… when I’m being punished I know it’s going to hurt far more than play, and, more importantly, I don’t get a warm-up. For me, length is more important than severity. It can be unbelievably painful, but if it only lasts a minute it doesn’t really work as punishment. So punishments need to last quite a while, more specifically, much longer than I want them to. Generally I’m feeling guilty enough that I at least partially crave punishment, if a punishment ONLY satisfies that, then it’s not really punishment. I need to get pushed beyond the point of “ok that’s enough for me” into the point of desperation for the punishment to end.
    We do use specific implements for punishment, mainly because we’ve discovered that I hate/fear paddles and won’t use them for anything else. We have a wooden paddle, that’s used for the biggest punishments, and a lexan paddle for not quite as big punishments (lexan is supposed to hurt more than wood, but this one is so flexible it’s hard to get much accuracy I guess). We’re working on getting a lexan cane for when the landlord’s home (I can yell into a pillow I suppose).
    Sorry for the long-winded post, but there’s my response!

  4. Rob

    I have months rather than years of experience to draw on to answer this question. Since ‘punishments’ can range from a few quick smacks to a formal punishment session, it seems to me that the common factor in all of these is that I am being reprimanded over something I have done (usually ‘said’ actually). I consider it something other than playful because I am being asked questions like, “Did I deserve that response?” “Can you give me any reason for being so cheeky?”, and he leaves me in no doubt that he is displeased. Over time I have learnt to acknowledge my indiscretions rather than defend the indefensible, which has contributed to a more harmonious relationship. ‘Punishments’ are neither necessarily longer or harder. Being ‘told off’ and being in the ‘doghouse’ is what makes them different to a playful/erotic spanking. Whilst a light punishment spanking is never going to stop me being ‘cheeky’, I doubt that he has any hope of that anyway. The one ‘for real’ punishment spanking that I received, when I was in no doubt that the behaviour was never to happen again, was sound, but it was his words, and his displeasure, which left me in no doubt that it was never to happen again. The spanking occurred to reinforce that message.

  5. jovee

    Last time I commented I was waiting for ‘a punishment’ for, ahem, behaviour that, on reflection was truly deserving of punishment, but at the time of the behaving seemed perfectly reasonable… and it truly felt like a punishment in every conceivable way. 45 minutes of spanking- with various instruments- and having to wear uniform (honestly- at my age!) and the scolding, takes it into a different dimension.
    And I cried.For the first time during a spanking: because it REALLY HURT. And I’ve been so well behaved ever since then ( two weeks ago). And the reason it felt like a punishment- besides the intensity of it all- was the way he felt- he took my ‘naughty’ behaviour very seriously indeed.
    But- and it’s a big but (like my butt- but saying that is also a spankable offence- however HE does not read this, so I will get away with that one!) if I have to wait too long for the punishment it begins to seem unfair, because, during the course of waiting I have been very, very good…so really retribution for naughty behaviour needs to be reasonably prompt. Does anyone else have this time-lag ‘problem’?
    I also think that the after-effects of a punishment are longer-lasting than a playful one?
    best wishes from a very well-behaved Jovee

  6. Megs

    Jovee… I’m teeeeelliing. Just kidding.
    I definitely have the time-lag issue, though for me I tend to react differently… I’m MORE likely to misbehave because, hell, I’m already in trouble so what’s the point of being good? But yes, if I do manage to meet all my goals in spite of having far less motivation, I do tend to feel a bit put out because I had been good on the day in question.
    As for after-effects, I don’t share that… I tend to feel a bit subdued for maybe twenty minutes after a punishment (although that fluctuates depending on severity) whereas with heavier play I can be in “space” for an hour or longer.

  7. Amber

    It really isn’t different for me. It’s all terribly painful, highly arousing, always enjoyable in a masochist way, and is a source of much joy and sweetness. The humiliation of being exposed, scolded and disciplined is the biggest turn on. Sex follows much of the time.

  8. Janey

    Hello Iris
    Punishment for me is definitely a different realm. I know that I can’t manipulate S. Wide eyes and pleading looks won’t wash with him and will result in a very sharp tone of voice: ‘Do you want the hairbrush?’ This serious tone is real and I know that any giggling will be met with a severe reprimand and being told to go upstairs and ‘take that face off.’ All sorts of other emotions surface when I am being punished, I feel more shameful and guilty and submissive. I have to take my knickers down and humiliation is the order of the day. And as for the position – it is never comfortable !!!
    Love and hugs
    Janey XXX

  9. Iris

    Great comments, everyone! I’m sorry I haven’t had time to respond to all of them yet–this week has been kind of crazy. But I’m going to try to carve out a bit of time soon to respond.

  10. Dyke Grrl

    Well, since Iris hasn’t had a chance to respond… ;P
    I agree that a punishment is different simply because it is a punishment. Much of the time, with us, a punishment spanking is quicker than one for play. There’s less of a warm-up, as well. Often, W. can make a punishment spanking also be a “release” spanking, so the aim is to get me to the point of letting go and crying.
    Another difference can be the implement used: the evil “loopy toy” is generally reserved for punishments; on the other hand, she can use her hand or a hairbrush or another implement I enjoy in play, but don’t enjoy at all as a punishment.
    My frame of mind is really important. If my mind-set isn’t right, then a punishment spanking really doesn’t help at all. And if my mind-set is right, it doesn’t take much to make a punishment effective. Some of it is things like scolding, or at least making it clear that my behavior wasn’t appropriate. And some is giving me time to make a mental transition (corner time, for instance). An even bigger part is getting a sense from W. that she is in control, so that I don’t need to be.

  11. Janey

    PS Iris
    I happened to mention this to S yesterday and his response was surprising.
    He said that as all you American girls are paddled and as I am so keen to read about your lives on this Punishment Book then I should experience the same. You know, sort of join forces so to speak. Personally I am not sure of the logic in that!
    But not wanting to incur his wrath and at his insistence I am therefore asking you what exactly a punishment paddling is like? Do you use a wooden one and is it VERY ouchy?
    I am thinking that I might prefer a leather one and maybe that would be kinder to my bottom. Not that S would that into account if he was determined to mete out what he thinks I deserve …
    Love and hugs etc
    Janey XXX

  12. Amber

    Janey – I consider myself a global spankee (hehe), if you will, so my appetites delight equally in paddles, quirts, crops, canes, and whatever else we can get our hands on. I have 4 paddles – a ruler paddle, a holey paddle, a walnut paddle and an oak paddle – I love the oak one, by the way – it’s also on the harsh side. Holes hurt a lot, I think. I never tried a leather paddle, so can’t tell you about that. It’s just so personal whether or not you will like it, but I recommend oak or walnut for texture. And, yes, it’s definitely ouchy.

  13. Iris

    It’s now been well over a week since I said that I was going to post “soon”–sorry everyone! (And no, I’m not worried that Chris will spank me for this: he’s only updated his own blog twice in the last six weeks or so. :p)
    Janey, I don’t know whether you’ve experienced your solidarity paddling yet, but I thought I’d respond anyway. I don’t know that there’s a difference between a punishment spanking and a punishment paddling (or a punishment strapping, hairbrushing, or rulering, for that matter). They’re all punishment. The sensations are certainly different, but as so many here have noted, a punishment is a punishment. That said, I *much* prefer leather paddles because of the sensation. Wooden paddles tend to dry out my skin and make it break more easily. Leather paddles can hurt like hell but in a different way–ok, perhaps I’m not answering the question at all. Amber probably said it best when she said “it’s just so personal whether or not you will like it.”
    Just be sure to tell S that American girls only get paddled gently and for fun! And never more strokes than we can handle. Must be a cultural thing. 😉

  14. Janey

    Dearest Amber and Iris
    thank you so much for your detailed responses. I don’t know what a ‘solidarity paddling’ is and I am not sure whether I should ask for one!
    Meanwhile, either way, wooden or leather – they both sound pretty awesome!
    At the moment S has taken to carrying a small tan leather strap (approximately 12 inches long) in his pocket. If I am naughty this strap just seems to appear from nowhere – just when I am least expecting it!
    Sometimes he puts it on the table while we are having coffee – without saying a word. That’s enough to have me quivering in my boots (lol).
    So, on second thoughts, maybe I should prolong any further conversation about paddles for the time being! Thanks again for your advice and guidance – precious stuff!
    Lots of love
    Janey XXX

  15. Rob

    If the leather strap being put on the table whilst you are having coffee has you quivering in your boots, just imagine what it is doing for the other patrons and those serving you! I got a smack whilst out walking with my husband yesterday and it certainly gave the guy who passed us on his bike a buzz. Now a leather strap appearing on the table….that must set their minds (and other body parts)racing for the rest of the day…….

  16. Mija

    I had to read this twice this morning and found myself laughing.
    Um, Janey sweetie, was that a slip or do you REALLY want to “prolong” further converstations about the paddles?

  17. Janey

    Oops Mija, how embarrassing!!! I meant to say ‘postpone’ not prolong. Yes, a Freudian slip there – and me with my MA – what would Stephen say!!!
    Lots of love and giggles
    Janey XXX


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