Consentual Nonconsent and Other Issues of Equality

Over on "My Bottom Smarts" Bonnie asks the questions:

  1. Is it possible to be submissive and equal simultaneously?
  2. Does the fact that you submit to spanking negatively impact your standing in your relationship?
  3. Do you or your partner view you as the lesser member of the relationship, or are you equal in all things other than spanking?

Bonnie's answers are great — I wasn't sure how much I had to add.  However, the issue of equality and inequality in discipline and punishment relationships comes up quite a bit so I thought maybe I could put a bit of a PB twist on the questions, so to speak.

This issue is one that's been discussed quite a bit over the years on soc.sexuality.spanking, especially as directed toward those of us that do real punishments. That is, if Pablo has the power to punish me, how can we have equal status in the relationship. especially given that I don't have the same power over him?

The answer is, in part, that this only an issue if the word "equal" is taken to mean "same."

In reality, Pab's "right" or "power" to punish me in our relationship only exists because I want it to be there — there's nothing in our society's laws that gives one adult that sort of authority over the other.  There's no court Pab could appeal to should I not want to be disciplined any longer.  However much I may have consented to nonconsensuality, the consent is there and we're both aware of that.

Further, we think of ourselves as partners — as equals.  Getting married has been odd in part because I have a hard time remembering to refer to Pab as my husband — I tend to introduce him as my partner as I did for 8 of the 10 years we've been together and only then correct myself and name him "husband."  For me, "partner" is the more meaningful term.   It feels the more honest and accurate as to how I feel about him.  In saying this I'm not in anyway denying our marriage or saying that I don't feel like being married has brought us closer.  But "partner" somehow feels connected in even more ways than a word that just means "spouse." 

I had a husband once before but Pablo is the only partner I've ever had or wanted.  This wandered a bit, sorry.  I'll maybe try and clarify it a bit more later. 

12 thoughts on “Consentual Nonconsent and Other Issues of Equality

  1. Nelle

    This is such a great quesiton and I bet there is a different answer for each person. I can see my self answering it several different ways. I’m going to skip the answer that has been covered already- that we are equal in the relationship overall in that we are both consenting adults. Those are true of course. But I also have two different and conflicting points of view.
    First, submissiveness: I often struggle with the knowledge that as the one who initiated kink in our relationship. I am the one who requires it to function sexually. Its not an exciting new flavor or an exploration for me it is the definition of my sexuality. Not so my husband; though he enjoys it its not central. So in some way I demanded or required him to be a top to be with me, I was assertive and well, dominant in that instance. So looking at the big picture it feels false to call myself submissive at all.
    On the other hand… I would not say I am equal in a very real way. I am completely submissive during our private interactions. We have an age differnece that makes it very easy to play up the daddy/girl thing and it is not really a choice of roles to play, its who we are. I simply don’t view him as my equal or as the equal of younger guys. My deference to him, his protectiveness of me, that was there before we began to explore our sexuality together and there was never any quesiton that he required some things of me too- which were pretty complimentary to what I needed and really turned me on. It is consentual non consent, I agree, but my sexual submission is such a big part of our relationship overall that it colors our relationship overall…One way to look at is would be that I am equal in all things that involve us as a family, but I am equal in nothing that involves us a a couple.
    Is this negative for our realtionship? No way! Two adults being proactive in having their needs met feels empowering to me. I don’t want to be equal- maybe that’s the real point here.

  2. Megs

    I’m drawn to this topic because many of my friends are psudo-kinky but none of them have a “punishment” kink and I’m always reluctant to explain or talk about it with them because I’m afraid that they won’t get that my fiance and I ARE still equal. We have the same type of non-consensual spanking (and sex) that has the standing consent beneath, but I don’t think the unspoken consent is the reason we’re still equal. I think the main reason is that we don’t take anything for granted. He’s a top and I’m a bottom and it works for us amazingly well but we’re constantly aware that this is OUR solution and that it’s an agreement between us, not something automatic or assumed. I think there are kinky couples that do not have this type of in-equality, and it’s intentional. People who want to have the D/s assumed, a constant. Or at least I don’t perceive say master/slave relationships as being equal, but that could just be because I miss it from the outside, and that their relationship is as equal as mine. Ok, done rambling.

  3. Rob

    This is a great discussion and I’d like to offer a bit of a different perspective. I read this morning of a couple who celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary tomorrow. She wrote, “He is the head of the family, but I am the neck. And you can’t move the head without moving your neck.” Well she’s got it all figured out, in my opinion. The girl who gets the spanking she didn’t want, or told off verbally, finds herself in the proverbial doghouse. But it is the rare man indeed who does not also find himself in the doghouse sometimes – and then watch out for that ‘hangdog’ look. Men hate being there. So, is the situation completely ‘equal’ if the girl gets spanked? Well probably not, but that doesn’t mean that power doesn’t flow in both directions.

  4. sandy

    I feel submissive yet equal. I like what you said: “… Pab’s “right” or “power” to punish me in our relationship only exists because I want it to be there …”
    Is it accurate to use the metaphor two “equal” halves to the same coin? In my relationship with Rad, it’s not 24/7 master/slave or D/s or Head of Household (or whatever other arrangements are out there). It’s more like he can spank me when he wants to, sometimes for punishment, sometimes just because he wants to. It’s fine with me because it turns me on; we’re both getting what we need and the fact that I don’t “get” to spank him is irrelevant.

  5. Dyke Grrl

    Heck, I’d say we’re even equal *in* spanking! Not that W. gets that many spankings, because she doesn’t enjoy them (much) and I don’t enjoy topping (much). But I don’t know that which end of the implement you’re on has that much of an impact on your equality.
    Does the fact that I sometimes get spanked as discipline make me less equal in our relationship? I don’t think so. I get these spankings because it is something I’ve asked W. to do, to help me be more balanced and whole. Perhaps if she had forced me into that role, I would not feel equal. No, come to think of it, if she had forced me into the role, then I would probably have left her.
    Maybe my relationship is different, because W. wasn’t into spanking at all, let alone discipline, before we were together. So it’s always been clear to me that 1, I can ask for it to end any time, and 2, that it’s consensual (even if, like most of us, I have second thoughts immediately before I receive a punishment!).
    I think there’s this, I don’t know, literary tradition, in which the spankee is the irresponsible, impulsive one in the relationship. I don’t think that necessarily holds true irl. In my relationship, I’m the one who remembers to pay the bills, do the housework, balance the checkbook, buy groceries, keep track of important things, etc. But I’m also the one who gets really wound up and unable to let go of my various failures to be perfect; a spanking helps me to feel closure and let go, start over fresh.
    So do spankings make me less equal? No. Do disciplinary spankings make me less equal? Absolutely not.
    I would say simply that different is not the same as unequal. Are oranges and bananas unequal? Or, perhaps more to the point, are men and women unequal?

  6. sparkle

    I’m working 80 hours a week this week and next. Looks like things will ease up job-wise and we’ll have/be moving temporarily into an apartment in our new town mid-July.

  7. Terri

    Glad to hear that things are going well Sparkle! You haven’t blogged in forever and I was hoping things were going well 🙂

  8. Rose

    Glad to hear that you are doing okay, Sparkle. I’ve been missing reading your blog. Best wishes to you, Chris, and the Princess. I look forward to your return!

  9. anastasia

    I’m a little bit shy writing a comment because I have enjoyed your writing so much, particularly your “-ing” stories over on Laura’s Spanking Corner. I read each of them over so many times that I probably have them memorized! Not to mention that the “Little Miss Naughty” story made me chuckle with laughter. I like your sense of humor. (Sorry to sound too much like fan mail, but as a writer myself I try to pass on feedback because there are some days when it means a great deal.)
    I enjoy reading this blog, although I get a bit confused trying to follow the links to all these interconnected sites! I’m new to the spanking writers’ scene and thought I would finally post a comment instead of only silently reading.
    If it’s not too presumptuous, I’d like to say that submission makes me (personally, although of course that can be different for everyone) less than equal–but only temporarily. I assert my power as an equal in submitting to/asking for punishment, and then I temporarily give up that equality in exchange for the cleansing, emotional release, and relief of a spanking.
    I will look forward to more posts. 🙂

  10. dawna

    To me, equality means being an equally valued participant in the relationship.
    By providing the discipline, nurturing, and structure that I crave, he GIVES me the love and security I have always wanted, but never found before. I feel so cherished in this relationship. That is a huge thing. The very things that the vanilla world deems demeaning or the makings of an unequal relationship are the very things that bring me joy.
    I can’t even understand the concept that because he does the spanking/discipline/punishment, I should also give it in return in order to be equal. I think that is that equal-means-50/50 thing again. Even in vanilla relationships, 50/50 is rare, momentary, and fleeting. Relationships are fluid, and hopefully the partners will complement one another.
    My own concern when looking for this type of relationship was to be sure I really knew and trusted my partner. I know Floyd loves me. I know he will never use disciplne/spanking/punishment to damage me or our relationship in any way.
    In truth, I feel like the luckiest person on the planet. I think he gives me way more than I will ever figure out how to give him, but I’ll keep working on it.


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