22 January, 2007

Spanking again

I've been thinking more about the spanking/abuse thing, and realized a big source of my discomfort in talking with people about it.

It's not just the association between spanking and abuse. (Although I was pleased to read yesterday about legislation in California that would make spanking young children a criminal offense!)

It's that the people I know who can accept spanking between consenting adults see it as something sexual, and I agree with their belief that my young parts should definitely not be having sex. So if they are getting spanked, and spanking is either sexual or abusive, then what we're doing is wrong no matter how you look at it.

And the thing is, it's definitely the younger parts who need spanking. Not all, or even most of them. But one of the little kids, and a couple of the teens, really feel better if they get spanked occasionally, and it helps them to feel safe, and to cope with their feelings, and to let go of feeling bad about having done bad things.

There are also a couple of adult parts who feel much better, and are better able to let go of guilt over having done things that I shouldn't have (or, more often, forgotten to do things that I should do!), if I get a spanking.

And, of course, there is the adult part who likes spankings as foreplay.

Okay, so I've lost where I was going. I think it's mostly that there's still a lot of struggle with perception, and it becomes harder as I think about the different ways that I expect people to think about spanking. My friends that I'd talk about this with might be kink-friendly, but they tend to hold pretty strong views about how children should be treated. And I agree with them, kind of. Children shouldn't be spanked... and yet, I know from deep personal experience that I have some children and teens inside me who really do need to be spanked, and so I have a lot of confusion about the best way to deal with that.

On the other hand, my doubt and confusion aren't stopping me from requesting, or W. from giving, the occasional spanking. Neither are the doubt and confusion keeping those spankings from helping me to feel more centered and at peace. So there is that.


Vivian said...

I think what's missing in the discussion of whether spanking children is abuse is the question of degree.

Mis-use any disciplinary tool and it becomes abusive, but that's the fault of the parent, not the tool.

Of course children shouldn't be spanked as hard as adult women are; their bodies and pain tolerances are very different. But that doesn't mean they shouldn't be spanked when they need it.

If spanking is a boundary that our inner child craves this deeply, that's because real children crave that kind of clear, no-nonsense discipline as well.

It's a shame that we've allowed a few parents who abuse (literally) the power of spanking to ruin the benefits for the rest of our children (and us, when our society pays the price of a generation of undisciplined children who grow into selfish adults).

-Viv "The Disciplined Feminist"

Jigsaw Analogy said...

I agree that it may be possible for some parents to spank without being abusive, but I think that's along the lines of "some thirteen year olds can be safe drivers."

This is to say, yes, there are exception, but I'd rather say "no" in a blanket statement, because it's not something I perceive as necessary, and while some might do a good job, too many others would not, and there are very good substitutes available.

There are, in my opinion, in regard to external children, far better ways to create structure and boundaries than spanking; ways that don't lend themselves to abuse, and that don't misuse adult's advantages in size and power.

So it becomes complicated, because I firmly believe in not spanking actual children, but want spankings for myself. But, in the end, I am (technically, at least) a consenting adult, and that makes a whole lot of difference.

Wintermute said...

I'm not going to venture into the spanking of
children argument. I simply don't believe
that children should be spanked and I'll leave
it at that without going into more detail.

When it comes to adults and spanking, it is of course
an entirely different issue. An adult playing
out a childhood spanking role is really indulging
in a scene from the land that never was. Spankings are
not fearful impositions of power by and adult,
forced on a child, but loving discipline that the
person being spanked needs.

The child part of you, those fragments that are
left from childhood is not a child, but the echoes
of the child that once was. The spanking scenes fill
what I sometimes think of as a hole left over from childhood.
The person spanking you is not a parent, but someone
fulfilling a parental role in disciplining you.
The role is there but the pain and complexity of the adult-child relationship
is not.

And yes, for many of us spankings are tied right into
our sexuality. Even these parent/child roleplay
spankings. Perhaps this is because our sexuality
was forged from some of these same contradictions
that left these fragments that still haunt us as adults.

For me one of the most disturbing things about
being a spanko is that I find real accounts of
childhood spankings titillating. Yet it is as if
I see the scene through two views. One is the titillating fantasy view, the other
is the view of reality, where I see a child being
beaten and an adult enforcing authority through hitting.
I think it is important to understand these two
views: the fantasy and the reality.

When your lover treats you like a bad girl
and spanks you, it is a spanking with childhood
echoes from the land that never was. The childhood
roles are there, the archetype
but not the reality.

Perhaps if you can see this difference, between
the archetype/fantasy land of never was spanking
fantasy and the real world that existed when
you were a child playing out these fantasies will not
bother you as much.



Jigsaw Analogy said...


Thanks for your thoughtful comment. It's a process I'm working through, and part of it, right now, involves accepting those child parts as more than echoes, at least for the present. But W and I are still working through it, and coming to terms with what all of this means in our relationship. We're making progress, which is good.

Mija said...

Someone emailed asking me about this the other day -- nice to see it touched on here.

Personally it's very hard for me to understand how it can be so clearly illegal for adults to non-consensually physically punish other adults and still be questionable whether adults should be able to hit (because however it's constructed, that's what spanking is, hitting someone) children as punishment. We don't give floggings anymore to prisioners -- even if it might be more effective and result in less crime.

Moreover, the adults I know who weren't spanked as children (my husband among them) are to a one happy and responsible people. It's always seemed like a lazy way of parenting, and one that tends to backfire in some rather nasty ways.

Add to that, I don't think spankings are needed in child raising and the prospect of one tipping into abuse makes the risk not worth whatever short-term change there might be in behavior.