Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Don't know where to start

I think I might have ADD.  I'd originally intended to write several posts this past week and a half or so, but by the time I got one started, I'd come up with another pressing and timely idea, and then another. Hell I've re-written and updated THIS post several times. So to avoid burying the lede, yes, I will be discussing a piece written by Jillian Keenan about how spanking is a sex act, which is why it shouldn't be used to punish children.

But first... I was going to continue my short series on consent this week, discussing how there's an element of non-consent inherent in a lot of, if not most, spanking play, literature, movies, and archetypes:
"You're going to do what?!" 
"No please not on the bare!" 
"I can't take any more!" as she reaches her hand back to cover up her butt and the spanker grabs her wrist and pins it against her back before giving her more, etc...) 
Really any form of punishment contains an element of non-consent or coercive consent.
But I was going to try and contrast non-consensual element of spanking play with the discussion and awakening about sexual consent happening on college campuses across America, and probably going to comment about a George Will editorial from this summer on the topic.

Then I was going to follow that up with my thoughts on the question of whether it's okay to get turned on by elements of non-consent. Short answer: yes, so long as there's no real harm. 

Spanking isn't a turn on for everyone, obviously. It's sort of an inherently violent non-consenty fetish, but there are safe guards to prevent real harm: safe words in place so that when the spankee's squirming over a lap trying to avoid the blows of the hairbrush, both parties are reassured, deep down that they don't really want to get away; or there's the trust built up in relationships among consenting adults playing even without safe words; or there's the fact that you know it's a video involving payed actors (most spanking video producers film candid interviews with the participants); or... it's a fictional story you're reading involving made up characters and pure fantasy.

There are exceptions to my analysis of course, and that makes any discussion of a sticky topic like this that reaches a conclusion dangerous- even if it's in a fictional account, I don't want to read about underage characters* or extreme violence, and I'm inclined to reflexively judge those that do, despite the "no real harm done" rationalization.  And certainly not everyone into spanking is into punishment or any form of non-consent.  One lady I met with for spanking just liked the sensation and excitement. No role play, no lecture, no reason, just please spank my butt with your hand and don't talk.  She saw it as a cross between a massage and bungee jumping. If she were ordering a spanking hamburger, it would be bread and meat only, dry. That one person completely blows my theories out of the water.  It's hard to have any discussion about the spanking fetish because there are, well... shades of gray. (sorry!)

So while I was trying to reconcile these abstract concepts in my head, I started getting distracted by JLo's new video.

Speaking of music videos, then I started something about how I'm all about dat B-Ass, and I don't mean fishing. Er, I mean... I was distracted reading about the Scottish independence vote, and started writing a post complete with a discussion of the Scottish tawse vs. the English cane and how those implements were sort of personifications of some of the ideals, and countries, and of course I was going to throw in some Rick Perry Texas secession silliness...
Okay fine here are some images from that post that never was, from firmhandspanking.com something timely and Scottish for the female gaze, and the appropriately named http://www.mccustoms.co.uk/
But then... Holy Crap! Corporal punishment erupted as a conversation in America following the indictment of NFL Star Adrian Peterson for child abuse after his doctor reported wounds to his 4-year-old son.

I'm always horrified at stories in the news of abuse. This one was especially bad. He hit his four year old son with a switch and the son had bruises on his testicles. While I didn't see many defending the NFL star for this directly, at least one did, and there were so many comments and stories about spanking the last couple of weeks I could have blogged about it every day.

Of course, Slate magazine was on top of it. (A direct quote from my post from March of 2013: "As I've said before, in the past I've been surprised   just   how   many   stories   on   this  somewhat highbrow internet magazine deal with spanking.") Now Slate was hardly alone. Everyone was talking about it. But let's focus on Slate, and I'll get to why in just a minute.
These articles were fascinating to the amateur sociologist in me. But pretty much everything said about spanking everywhere paled in comparison to the shock and awe generated by the aforementioned piece written by Jillian Keenan about how spanking is a sex act, which is why it shouldn't be used to punish children.

It's a great article and I encourage everyone to read it. As I told someone else- it was like a blog post I'd want to write, if I could only manage to form complex thoughts into such a cogent argument.  And write like a professional writer. And research like a professional writer. And devote time to this blog other than late at night after I'd had a few.

Sorry, where was I? It was a great article, and I encourage everyone reading this to read it, and spend awhile taking a look at the links in there too. She made the case that spanking has been seen as sexual for a long time.
a scene right out of kink.com, but from the 5th century b.c.e., and there are other examples from the Renaissance and the Victorian era in England.
Then she goes through the biological and physiological reasons why butts are sexualized. I can't post every picture that she linked, because I don't want to pay for stock photos, but the S1, S2 nerve bundle that goes to the genitals also goes to your ass...  And the major blood vessels too. Your ass gets red from a spanking... guess where else blood is flowing? What's more, she points out a scientific article that confirms something I've tried to explore, about how arousal increases pain tolerance.

Now what follows is anecdotal evidence, but it makes the physiological arguments expressed in the article ring true to me.  Once upon a time, I was only interested in spanking women. Then I decided to be on the receiving end of a spanking for a couple of reasons, well, mainly one: I wanted to make sure I could take what I was dishing out.  But a funny thing happened- I experienced the endorphin high I'd only heard about before. It was surprisingly sexually arousing. If for no other reason, than by my experience being spanked as an adult, I'd say it's a sexual act.

Then Ms. Keenan starts making the argument that spanking children is harmful, and links to another article discussing a study in which a bunch of children were exposed to a stressful situation (strangers giving them a math test) and then had their hormone levels tested via cheek swabs. Most of the kids, when faced with this stressful situation, had elevated levels of cortisol- it's what makes you stress and your palms sweaty. However, the girls** with a history of harsh physical discipline, when faced with the same stressful situation, instead had elevated levels (triple the level) of oxytocin- the hormone that alleviates pain when aroused, or generates warm and fuzzy feelings. That's mind blowing. Don't spank little girls, or you'll mess them up for real.

I think that study should get a whole lot more attention. It might help explain why women stay in abusive relationships. Which brings us back to the NFL and... nevermind*** not going to add yet another topic.

Again, an amazing article.  While I generally agree with it, and it was generally well received by the spanking community, apparently it was not as well received by the general public.   Several days after it's publication, while the article had fallen off the front page of Slate, it was still the #2 most shared article of the week.  Those on twitter more than me reported that the author received death threats.

While I generally agree with the article, and truly admire the fortitude and emotional strength of author for writing it and posting it, and there's a big part of me that just wants to cheer her on, and I'm glad others have done so... I feel the need to quibble just a bit. Not even going to say it rises to shades of gray, but maybe off-white and dark charcoal gray? I wish I knew her well enough to actually debate this.

A) I've spanked my kids 4  times. I remember each, because they troubled me. Looking back, maybe I'm rationalizing but I think I did the right thing. Run out in the street without looking. Try to play with/stick something in the electrical socket. Let Mommy or Daddy tell you to come here and you look at us defiantly, we count to three and you don't come running, they need to know there are consequences. Now in two of these incidences, it was a "spanky hand" because they were in diapers. I don't regret may actions as a parent and do not think they were sex acts in any way.  It was a way of getting the attention and making it clear with little ones who are just developing the ability to reason that they absolutely should not do things like run into the street without looking or stick things into electrical sockets.  We never had those problems again, and now that my kids are at the level I can reason with them I won't spank them again. However, and I hate to say this but, has Ms. Keenan ever had toddler boys?

B) here's the dark gray part... The first spanking stories I ever read on the internet involved teenage girls getting spanked. I liked them, and was all "holy shit?! there are stories like this out there?!!" I truly think there's a love/hate relationship with an authority figure giving a spanking for most spankos.  Some spankos like to use words like "Mommy" or "Daddy." Having said that, these desires for spanking or being spanked are at the core of their sexual being. And they (we) don't want to think that those feelings are weird, or sick, or wrong.   I think there's a natural tendency to condemn that which doesn't align with one's worldview.  I'm not saying that spanking kids is right, just that spankos are the first ones to say it's wrong, and that should be expected.

Okay I promise I'll either get up to date, or post some light hearted stuff soon. Until then, enjoy these footnotes:

*As a complete aside, there are two major online free repositories of online erotica: Storiesonline.net allows underage stories, while the larger Literotica.com does not. Fortunately Storiesonline has a much more detailed system of categorization so that one can avoid underage content. On the other hand, the prohibition against it on Literotica leads to probably half the stories beginning with some version of "I'd just turned 18 and so had my high school sweetheart..."  One exception I'll mention is a great story I read years ago on Storiesonline by Al Steiner called Aftermath. An Armageddon type comet hits the US, survivors are few, and a guy that lost his family rescues a 16 year old girl and well... but the fact that she's underage becomes a necessary plot point in that because she is underage and they become a couple, they have trouble being accepted by other survivors.

** there was no discernible difference in the hormone levels for harshly disciplined boys faced with the same stressful situation.

*** yes one day I'll learn how to use footnotes in blogger. But it's ridiculous that an ESPN writer was suspended for 3 weeks for saying in a podcast that the NFL commissioner was lying about having not seen the video of an NFL player punching his girlfriend unconscious, when the preponderance of the evidence  appears to make it clear that he had, while the ESPN guy that tried to defend him and made comments about how she may have provoked it got a 1 week suspension, and the initial suspension of the NFL player was only 2 weeks.

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