What Makes Spanking Erotic?

(, , Serious, discussion)

An essay on what makes spanking erotic. (Approximately 8,043 words. Originally published 1999-04.)

A Flogmaster Essay

Created: Sunday, April 4, 1999
Revised: Sunday, June 20, 1999
Draft #1


(, , Serious, discussion)

An essay on what makes spanking erotic. (Approximately 8,043 words. Originally published 1999-04.)

This document is not finished; it may never be. I plan to continually add, modify, and expand on the thoughts contained within. Feedback is greatly desired. Do you agree? Disagree? Do you have suggestions for improvements, feel I've neglected important aspects, or are critical of my conclusions? Write me! I'll take all comments into consideration as I make revisions and addendums. I see this document as more of a spanking community collaboration than something of my own.

Now, I'm sure you've got some questions. Like why did I write this? What am I attempting to accomplish by taking on such an impossible task?

First, I did it for myself; I've been striving my whole life to understand this strange kink. (I say strange not because I think it's strange but because I find it strange that others don't understand it.) I usually attempt to "explain the unexplainable" through my fiction, exploring the nature of men and women, dominance and submission. But the other day it just seemed appropriate to try a non-fiction format. Here I could translate feelings into cold logic. I thought it would be interesting to see if I could actually explain the attraction of spanking to the non-spanker.

Second, I'm hoping this document will benefit the spanking and D&S community. Perhaps it will help those who, like me, before I discovered zillions of wonderful, like-minded people on the Internet, thought of themselves as alone, deviant, weird, and just plain perverted. Perhaps it will help the lonely spankophile, trapped in a vanilla marriage, wondering how to convince the spouse that he or she isn't completely insane. Who knows? If it can do any good at all, it's worth the effort.

For those reasons I've written this for both spankers and non-spankers, attempting to explain the psychological reasoning behind our mysterious kink to the former and exploring the erotic, passionate side of spanking for the latter. (Obviously that last is as difficult as explaining why you like chocolate or liver and onions. But I'm going to try it anyway. ;-)

The Flogmaster
flog at emailaccount.com


(, , Serious, discussion)

An essay on what makes spanking erotic. (Approximately 8,043 words. Originally published 1999-04.)

"What makes spanking erotic?"

This, of course, is the Big Question. The debate started thousands of years ago and will be continuing thousands of years in the future. Spanking is about pain. Pain is traditionally perceived as the antithesis of pleasure. Obviously, people who are into pain are perverted, warped. They can't be normal, because normal people aren't aroused by pain. At least that's the popular thinking.

But there are infinite types of pain just as there are infinite types of pleasure. At certain points the two intersect and overlap (so to speak). It becomes difficult to tell where the pain ends and the pleasure begins. It is this inherent contradiction that makes spanking so complex and makes the question troublesome to answer.

Also, there are so many forms of erotic play involving spanking and spanking-derivatives, such as D&S (dominance and submmision), S&M (sadomasochism), bondage, fetishes like diapers, bodily functions, feet, etc., that they often seem to oppose each other. Groups into one kink often find the others grotesque. Even within the general spanking arena there are many fractions, some quite vocally opposed to the others. There are the "severe" people, who want discipline to be cruel and bloody. Others find the spanking of children appealing, while the person next to them finds that horrifying. Others favor the traditional over-the-knee spanking with a hairbrush from a parental figure over say, a prison whipping.

Yet these are all forms of spanking. Even bondage and submission (i.e. slave games) are forms of spanking, though the actual striking of flesh may not be the primary goal. There is obviously something central to all these behaviors that cause sexual stimulation. Collectively we can refer to them as D&S Games, since dominance and submission are central of all the roles. (When I refer to spanking in this essay, feel free to substitute any variation of kink that pleases you; the basic principles of my comments will still apply.)

The goal of this essay, then, is to discover that central theme, the "soul," if you will, at the heart of spanking. What is it about spanking that makes it erotic? Since everyone's different, tastes vary with the wind, and the perspective of spanking changes dramatically depending on if you're watching, giving, or receiving, it's a daunting challenge to devise an answer that meets all comers. But that's what I'm about to attempt.

Obviously no one answer will meet everyone's criteria, so the only answer is multiple answers. The key is organizing the answers from the broadest and widest appeal to the narrowest. Sure, some may find that for them, answer #3 is the most accurate. Another may like #5 better. But that's not the point. I'm not attempting to answer the question "Why is spanking erotic to you," I'm trying to discover why spanking is erotic to humanity.

So we begin with the broadest category and gradually narrow our focus. Keep this in mind before disagreeing with me. Also note that I often refer to spankings in a male-female context, but trust that I'm writing in a general manner and no discrimination is intended or appropriate. Feel free to substitute whatever sexes you'd like.

We begin, therefore, at the bottom. Our first answer in the search for the appeal of spanking is "The focus on the buttocks."

The Focus on the Buttocks

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An essay on what makes spanking erotic. (Approximately 8,043 words. Originally published 1999-04.)

One common trend among spankophiles is that every single one of them is an expert on the posterior. I'd venture to say that most, if not all, were posterior-watchers from childhood. Specific preferences vary, and you could start quite a debate on the merits of this bottom versus that bottom, but the, uh, bottom line is that spankophiles love buttocks.

In society in general, the buttocks, especially of women, are considered a prime source of erotic material. While women's breasts no doubt define sexuality in this day and age, the buttocks are not far behind. (Sorry about that one. It just slipped in.) Television and movies are loaded with suggestive images of shapely behinds, women in tight skirts or skimpy shorts ("Dukes of Hazzard" anyone?), etc. Society (at least American society) basically tells young children that breasts and bottoms form the basis of sexual attractiveness. Thus, from an early age, we associate bottoms, especially bare or nearly bare, with sex.

In more recent years, it's become acceptable for women to publicly express thoughts on the attractiveness of men. For decades it was men who referred to women by such crudities as "She's stacked." Today, women in American media express no shyness at commenting (in an equally crudely manner) about the male sex organ or the male backside. ("He's a lazy bum, but at least he's got a great ass.") Whereas in the past women were supposed to be above noticing the male physique, today it's common knowledge that women lust after men in the same manner than men lust after women. Once again, this reaffirms the notion that bottoms (of either sex) are key to sexual appeal.

Spankings, in their purest sense, are devoted to the buttocks. Often the buttocks must be exposed: a dress lifted, pants removed. Generally the body must be arched or positioned in such as way as to allow easy access to the target area. A side effect of this procedure is that this enhances the focus on the bottom. Instead of the purpose of the spanking (presumably correcting misbehavior) taking center stage, the buttocks are in the spotlight.

Try this experiment. Think "spanking." What's the first image that pops into your mind? I don't mean a complete photograph, perhaps a mom with a child across her lap, but first hints of a vague picture connected with spanking. With most people, the image is that of a bottom. Spanking = bottom. Bottom = sex. Starting to make some sense?

Thus, even a non-spankophile can find the initial stages of a spanking arousing. There's the prime focus on the bottom, perhaps nudity or at least some degree of exposure, and the maybe some touching or fondling.

For many, once the actual spanking begins, however, the appeal wanes. This can be because of negative associations with discipline, violence, or fear of pain. The actual severity and circumstances of the spanking can make a big difference here. Mothers who might be horrified at the concept of spanking their own children might find it amusing if the target's a notorious brat who deserves every swat. Wives appalled at the thought of their husband taking them over their knee might be delighted to watch their husband's slutty secretary taken over his lap.

The point is that tastes do vary, and there are more flavors of spankings than ice cream. Just because one form of spanking does not appeal to someone does not make them a non-spankophile.

Everyone is aroused by spankings, at least at their broadest, most mild forms. Though the average person may be reluctant to admit it, there's countless evidence that spankophilia is a trait lurking in all of us.

Spanking references in mainstream movies and television abound (especially in older media from the 50's and 60's). Many of these are delivered in a playful, somewhat sexually suggestive format. The image of the bratty (but beautiful) girl finally getting her comeupance in the form of an over-the-knee spanking by her love interest is a universal one. We all cheer when she's spanked, laughing at her predicament, and we're relieved and jealous when she comes to her senses and delivers that first kiss to her lover.

Does this make sense on any level other than sexual?

I've been fascinated by spankings for as long as I can remember, yet from the first I kept my feelings hidden. There's always been a taboo on expressing sexual interest in spanking: you're perceived as abnormal. (Of course, as a young child I wasn't even aware that my interest was sexual, but I still instinctively kept it private.)

Yet it's okay for a man to spank his girlfriend in a movie.

Sure, you can try to justify it via the plot: the girl was a brat and needed some sense knocked into her, the man was the school headmaster and it was natural for him to turn to spanking when he needed to enforce discipline, etc. Whatever. Unless the movie spanking is a serious one involving juvenile punishment or physical abuse, you can be sure that the spanking is only there for sexual titillation.

What other purpose could there possibly be? You cannot tell me that the silly plots justify such an event. Most often the characters are of age, so there's little excuse for such a childish punishment. Are we supposed to believe that spanking our girlfriends will lead to her changed behavior and our respect and adoration? (Granted, among spankophiles this might be the case, but it can hardly be considered a common occurrence among the general populace.)

In mainstream movies, at least, the spankings are usually mild, somewhat playful, more show than pain, so the actual disciplinary benefits are minimal, if any. That leaves only sexual titillation. The spanking is, in effect, a form of flirting (both with the audience and the on-screen lover). It's a way of revealing the girl's character in a sexy manner, no different from the sexy wink, the licking of luscious lips, or the nude body artfully hidden by capricious bubbles in the bath.

If sexual interest in spankings was as perverted or as limited a minority as society would have you believe, these scenes in movies would make no sense. The only way they function is if they represent a broad, nearly universal appeal.

Do we see mainstream movies of men sniffing their girlfriend's feet? Rarely. Yet there are many who are aroused by images of feet. But it's a tiny minority, whereas the appeal of spanking is universal.

These days, actual spankings in movies are rare. Mostly this is because the feminist movement has created an environment where spankings imply violence against women. A woman spanking a man is fine. In fact, I see jokes about that on television all the time. (The most recent was a promo for a new David Spade movie where a beautiful girl's dog runs away to a park and she scolds it, "You ought to be spanked!" So Spade eagerly quips, "Hey, I was at the park too!")

Spanking for discipline reasons has also taken a bad rap, with psychologists deploring the practice as "violence against children." Generally when you see children spanked on screen today, it's done to portray cruelty and child abuse.

With media spanking references on the decline, you might think that reflects society's declining interest. But on the contrary, interest is growing. There are still tons of mainstream spanking references. There are the obvious: verbal hints and jokes, the occasional threat, and the squeeze or slap to the tush (usually followed by a slap to the face from the woman).

Jokes are popular, as they are a light way to introduce sexual tension between two characters. The spanking reference is obviously sexual, but delivered in a joking fashion it becomes more amusing than threatening.

There are also countless ways spanking is expressed more subtly. This could be a character's glance or the camera's focus on the pert buttocks of an attractive person. The exposed buttocks are a popular comedy routine, especially for men. For women, an often-used procedure is to exaggerate the focus on her ass, such as making her bend down to crawl into a tube, or having her bend over to pick up a pencil while male bosses stand around and leer.

Purists might argue that such images have nothing to do with spanking and are simply capitalizing on the erotic nature of the buttocks. If the purpose of the scene is only to show off the body I'd agree, but most often references like this are designed to humiliate and embarrass the target. Since embarrassment is a critical part of spanking (see the next section), these references fall closer to the spanking tree than away from it. Furthermore, such events are often preceded or accompanied by verbal spanking comments.

I'd argue that subtlety is an important part of any sexual arousal. There's some debate over the degree to which we learn sexual arousal or it's taught to us, but there's no question that a society has tremendous influences on what its culture perceives as sexually attractive. Subtle references affect the subconscious in degrees we cannot predict. Young minds, growing up with a barrage of sexual images, naturally are influenced. If shown tight curvy bottoms in a sexual context, a lad will learn to appreciate tight curvy bottoms. Sexual context is a loose concept: a single comment, camera angle, or facial expression can sexualize a seemingly innocent situation. Consciously we may not be aware of it, but our minds are busy storing information and images for later comprehension.

I'd go so far as to say that even the good old-fashioned passionate kiss is often used as a symbolic spanking. How many times have you seen the man grab and forcefully kiss the unwilling woman, who slowly melts in his arms and soon is kissing back just as forcefully? (Sometimes it's more than a kiss, or leads to making violent love.)

On the surface, this could be construed (especially in today's legal system) as rape. After all, the man is forcing himself on the girl. The girl resists initially, then complies. Sound familiar? It's the same scenario as the lover spanking bratty girlfriend in the old movies. It's just that kissing is more politically correct today than spanking.

Why is this symbolic rape sexually stimulating? It represents a boundary, a Forbidden Zone. Crossing it takes us into unchartered territory. The unknown is always scary, yet also stimulating. Mystery attracts and repels us. We think to ourselves, "Of course I don't want that to happen to me..." but then we wonder what it would be like.

The tension between sexes (or two individuals) is powerfully erotic. Often there's denial of true feelings, or the feelings are so disguised or hidden it's difficult to see reality. Look at a classic televsion show like Moonlighting. How many of us ached, week after week, to see Bruce take Cybil over his knee for a good pounding? (Or perhaps it was Bruce over Cybil's lap -- there's no question it could have gone either way.) Even for the non-spankophile, isn't a spanking what was subconsciously desired?

For instance, when Bruce or Cybil got in a good quip that burned the other, the audience cheered. In effect, what we saw and what we were cheering about was one swatting the other's tush. "That's a good one! Hit 'em again!"

Some may argue that sexual tension is erotic on its own -- it has nothing to do with spanking. Sure, sexual tension is often found in vanilla sex, but as a way to spice it up, to add an element of danger. What is the danger? Crossing that Forbidden Line! At minimum sexual tension threatens physical violence. That's what makes it exciting, dangerous, and taboo.

I'm not saying that sexual tension is spanking, but that it has many of the same elements as spanking, only most people wouldn't want to admit it. Think about the dialog in spanking play, where one plays the brat and taunts the other. Is that so different from Moonlighting dialog?

Today the physical violence that spanking encompasses has made spanking politically incorrect. At the same time, the sexual freedom of the nineties has brought sexual spanking into (somewhat) acceptable behavior. My point is that spanking is much more than mere violence -- it is part of who we are as sexual creatures.

Embarrassment and Humiliation

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An essay on what makes spanking erotic. (Approximately 8,043 words. Originally published 1999-04.)

Beyond the sexual appeal of the buttocks, the next most powerful association with spanking is embarrassment and humiliation.

Spankings are embarrassing and can be profoundly humiliating. Even as adults, few people wish to discuss their childhood discipline, especially if it was difficult for them. Spankings remind us of our failings, and who wants to be reminded of our mistakes?

But why is embarrassment and humiliation sexually stimulating?

The most obvious reason is that humiliation is humbling. Arrogant people are not attractive, even if they have reason to be. But even the most unattractive person becomes more attractive when humble and contrite.

For instance, the other night I caught part of a movie on pay cable. Two seconds into the first scene, the girl was naked. She was a pretty girl, but I wasn't especially attracted. She had gotten naked so quickly and seemed so unmoved by it, that I, too, was unmoved. Later, however, when her husband discovered her and her lover, she attempts to cover herself with a sheet. He yanks it away, forcing her to stand with her hands and arms shielding her body. Suddenly I felt myself becoming interested. The girl was embarrassed and humiliated, ashamed. Her head was bowed, her cheeks pink. Her entire posture was one of submission. I became aroused. Here there was less bald nudity, yet I was more excited!


Humility arouses our compassionate nature. We identify with the "victim" and that binds us together. When we see the girl, standing there desperately attempting to cover her breasts and sex with her limbs we can relate. We know how vulnerable she's feeling. We understand her awkward and shameful situation. We sympathize. We empathize. And naturally, once we empathize with someone, we cannot dislike them. No, we defend them! Every slight attractiveness is magnified, every flaw diminished. The average becomes perfect, the ugly, beautiful. Suddenly, our lust is aroused. We long to hold, to protect, to caress.

Ever wonder why innocence is so attractive? The common scientific thought is that innocence represents youth, and youth represents health, which represents reproductive capability -- something the animal part of our brains desires. We are mere animals seeking to procreate.

But innocence is attractive even in the elderly. The sweet old grandmother getting fleeced by the con artist arouses the rage and passion in all of us. Our sympathies flock to the innocent, regardless of physical beauty or age. The warm feelings generated by such a defense is not far from arousal -- it doesn't take much to turn the tide. (For an excellent example, rent the amazing movie "Harold and Maude.") The innocence doesn't even have to be real; it's what we imagine that counts.

My favorite director, Alfred Hitchcock, is the master of the creating the illusion of innocence. It was his secret to success. Look at all the incredible women in his films. He was unparalleled in his ability to portray beauty on the screen. Other movies had beautiful women, sometimes even the same stars, but they never had the qualities of his films.

One quote I read said that Hitchcock, unable to make love to his beautiful stars in real life (for a variety of reasons), made love to them on the screen instead. That's a portion of the truth, certainly. But there's more. Hitchcock understood that for the audience to find a woman attractive we had to sympathize with her. Even if she was evil, we had to feel sorry for her. Imagine feeling sorry for a stunning woman like Grace Kelly! Ridiculous, right? Yet we did. In other movies we resent the star's beauty. In Hitchcock movies we weep at the tragedy of her circumstance and long for her to be happy.

Hitchcock once said that the most beautiful woman was one who looked like a saint on the outside, but was ready to go down on you in a taxi. Now tell me: isn't that the epitomy of sexual stimulation? The genius of Hitchcock is that he was able to capture that inherent contradiction on screen. All of his women look like innocent angels, yet all of them reveal a darker side. So on the one hand we sympathize and long for their deliverance, yet on the other we see their true slutty nature and we just want to fuck them like an animal.

Innocence is a form of submission, just as is humiliation. Submission puts the power into the observer. Power in the observer is an erotic thing. The thought of "She's so vulnerable I could do anything to her now!" is tremendously exciting. It's also a sobering responsibility, which makes it all the more powerful. We sense the power, we try not to rush things, to ruin everything. We are careful. It brings out our sensitivity. We caress. We are gentle, soft, and deliberate.

The realization goes both ways. The submissive realizes their vulnerability and accepts it, giving up the power and accepting whatever the other desires. That's an astonishing act of selflessness. There's truly nothing more erotic than someone giving up their very will! It's the ultimate act: what else do you have to give that can't be taken?

Like a ping pong ball whizzing across a table, picking up speed with each volley, the erotic power of submission and dominance build on each other, growing stronger and stronger. The more powerful one becomes, the less resistant the other. The attractiveness between the two increases proportionally as they crave to sustain such a powerful linkage. It's more than love or mere lust. This is true respect between the individuals, honest realization of what's at stake. One giving the ultimate gift, the other receiving. There can be nothing more precious, nothing more erotic.

Body Stimulation

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An essay on what makes spanking erotic. (Approximately 8,043 words. Originally published 1999-04.)

While much of spanking is exercised in the mental arena (hence its incredible power), it ultimately is about physical sensation. Stimulation to the physical body in the form of caressing, squeezing, and light slapping is appealing to just about everyone. Touch (pain) focuses the attention of the mind to the area afflicted. The more aware you become of an area, the more sensitive the area becomes. (Just as the second or third round of love-making is often less passionate but more pleasurable: you are more aware of your body parts in those later rounds.)

Spanking, at it's simplest, is nothing more than extensive touching. It's about sensuality, caressing, lusting after body parts. It's about sweet curves, secret openings, awkward positions. Spanking, in short, is foreplay.

Spanking doesn't have to be restricted to the buttocks. Slapping, squeezing, pinching, or kneading the breasts, for instance, can be tremendously arousing. Some people find foot whipping to be erotic. Others directly strike the anus or sex. The point is that the location and degree of contact is variable and entirely up to the couple involved. Eroticism can come simply from the physical sensations themselves.

Remember, the sensitive spankee feels more than pain: there's the feel of the flesh itself, often bouncing heavily when struck; there's coldness, heat, wetness, gentle breezes across exposed flesh, sweat and other body fluids; there's fear, shame, anticipation, dread; there's warmth, companionship, pride, and love. With so much happening simultaneously it's not surprising that often the signals of pain and pleasure become confused and it's difficult to tell if something actually hurts or feels good.

Note that spanking works both directions: the spanker also feels extensive physical stimulation. A dominant spankophile will tell you there's nothing better than the feel of warm, freshly-spanked bottom flesh against the palm. Often it's the dom who spends more time rubbing the tush than the spankee would like. (An experienced spankee will tell you that start-stop-start spankings are worse than continuous ones.)

Even if the dominant uses an implement (such as a paddle) to conduct the spanking, there are still many sensations. It's astonishing how much anatomical information can be conveyed in the vibrations running through a paddle and up your arm. Sometimes such sensations can be incredibly erotic simply because they are so different.

Often the sensations during a spanking are overwhelming. There's too much info for the mind to parse and thus the spankee slips into a sort of inner space, a dreamlike state scarcely conscious of the real world. That's why spankings are often more enjoyable afterward than during the actual application. Afterward, there's plenty of time to savor the sensations, to ponder the pain, to rub the sore flesh. For some, the spanking isn't very pleasurable -- it just hurts. Only afterward, with the bottom glowing and red, are they capable of deriving sexual stimulation from the pain. Feeling the heat or welts left from the spanking is a way to relive the spanking without it overwhelming you. Since the effects of a severe spanking can last a long time, it's like being able to enjoy an "Everlasting Gobstopper" (a jawbreaker candy from the classic children's novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) for days and days, taking it out when you don't need it, and popping it back in when you're ready for another "fix."

Childhood Regression

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An essay on what makes spanking erotic. (Approximately 8,043 words. Originally published 1999-04.)

Spankings are a childish punishment. When used by sexually mature adults, spanking helps us revert to our childhood. Spanking evokes images of the child-like, the virginal, the innocent, the helpless. Again, our compassion is aroused as we identify with the victim.

One of the reasons spankophiles often dress as children for their play (the most common is the classic schoolgirl uniform) is not because they are secret pedophiles, but because the costuming makes the scene more believable and helps in the regression process.

The real question is why regression to childhood is sexually stimulating. One might think that this would be determined by the person's background and childhood experiences, but there seems to be no pattern there. For instance, both adults who were spanked as children and those who were not can be equally attracted to childish spankings scenarios. Perhaps in the one it's a longing for what they never had; in the other, a desire to return.

However, that is a simplistic analysis.

In reality, every adult longs for the innocence of childhood, at least a little. If that childhood was troublesome, one longs for an idealized version of childhood. Most adults rarely examine or explore this desire. A middle-age crisis, for instance, is often nothing more than a longing for misspent youth. By covering up and disguising this truth we exacerbate the problem.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to be a child again; only as an adult do we have the proper perspective to understand our youth. Understanding who we were and where we came from and what we missed is important to understanding ourselves today.

Many people attempt to regain their childhood by doing foolish things like buying a fancy sports car or having an affair with a younger partner. Others find themselves returning to their childhood home or hometown, looking up childhood friends, or visiting their old schools or teachers. But that's a long, circular road and the trip is often unsatisfactory.

Spanking play offers us a shortcut: laying over someone's lap and having your bottom spanked takes you back to your childhood instantly (even if you weren't spanked as a child). It's a cathartic experience, and imminently healthy.

As children, we are vulnerable, innocent, trusting. As adults we are defensive, cynical, and wary. Our adult logic won't allow us to completely regress to that idealistic child, but it's healthy to play at it. It provides a relief from the stressful responsibility of adulthood. This is especially true for those who've had traumatic experiences: they are usually less willing to open up and trust those around them. Regressing to an innocent, guileless child is a powerful way to relax those tense cynic muscles and take off the masks we wear as adults.

This is one of the reasons pain can be an important part of spanking. For some, just the act is enough. Others need the stimulus of intense pain to push them over the edge into childhood. The release of pent-up emotions -- anger, fear, grief, even happiness -- through all-out sobbing is tremendous. It's a complete breakdown, an absolute loss of control. You just cannot stop weeping. It's healthy -- sometimes vital. Have you ever known a person who's grieving but won't admit it to themselves? Those people can go for years or even decades before they either break down and sob or have a breakdown and end up institutionalized (or worse).

As children, we're allow emotional release. We can throw a tantrum, fling ourselves onto our bed and kick and scream and sob. We're allowed to cry. As adults, those releases are taken away. Through regression, we can be children again and those behaviors are permitted. The effects of such a release are astounding.

This is one of main reasons so many powerful men find submission attractive. It's not so much the loss of control they crave, but the freedom to emote, to let others take responsibility for them, to be children. In modern American society the male has no outlet for emotions; he's supposed to be an emotionless rock. Women, on the other hand, are perceived as flighty, emotional beings, breaking into weeping for no known reason. Since so many women have methods of emotional release, childhood regression isn't nearly as significant for women as men.

(An interesting study to conduct would be to see if there are more submissive women in modern society than in the past: as more and more women take on the modern feminist agenda of becoming male [not literally, of course, but symbolically] and lose their right to be emotional, they should find childhood regression an important method of emotional release that's necessary for sanity. I have noted a number of strong feminists in spanking circles who admit there's a seeming contradiction between their sociopolitical views and their submissive sexual tendencies; regression explains their situation exactly.)

Note that so far I have focused on childhood regression entirely from the submissive's viewpoint. That doesn't mean the dominant doesn't also regress, just that the regression's of a different form.

For the dominant, there are several aspects to regression. One of the most important is safety.

One of the first things children learn to do is to play. Pretending is a huge part of becoming an adult. Children love to pretend to be adults. This is a vital part of healthy growth because it allows the child to explore the adult world with a safety net: if the adult world becomes overwhelming or dangerous, the child can retreat back to childhood and reality.

Pretending is a marvelous thing. It's a contradiction: it's not real but we think and act as though it is. It's crazy, really. Absurd. Yet our minds accept it. Somehow we can imagine things real enough to relive and actually experience the emotions involved within the pretend event, yet there's still a part of a brain that's aware that it's all just a simulation.

That safety net is vital for progress. The ability to pretend and imagine is at the heart of growth and vision. If we couldn't imagine alternate realities we'd have no ambition, no drive to improve our situation. We'd still be in caves drawing on walls with charcoal sticks. We'd have no tools, no machines, no science. The key is that imagination gives us the ability to experience a form of reality safely. If we could only experience such things if they were real, there'd be little adventuring beyond our doorstep. It's only the inkling that there might be something good out there, the hope or dream of something better, that drives us forward.

What does this have to do with spanking? Everything. Spanking isn't about reality. Spanking is about pretend. And within that pretend is the safety net that it's not real. Anna's website has a great comment on this, what she calls the "fake detail." (See her essay at http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Agency/6164/index.html). Describing a posed photograph she writes, "It's because it's fake that I like it." And that's exactly it. What spankophiles are after is the illusion of reality, not reality. (We want reality in the sense of tactile contact -- the feel of palm against flesh -- but not reality in the sense that the submissive has really been abducted by some sicko and taken to Saudia Arabia where she's raped and tortured on a daily basis. The fantasy of that might be nice, but it's nice because it's a fantasy, not despite of it.)

The fact that we know our playacting isn't real is what allows us to do it. This goes for both the submissive and the dominant. A true dominant doesn't want to hurt the submissive, but wants to give the submissive what they can't give themselves (i.e. humiliation, intense pain, bondage, etc.).

(The truth of the matter is that all submissives are really "topping from the bottom." It's the submissive who runs the show. The dom's just there to cooperate. Sure, the dom's ostensibly in control, but it's all at the submissive's will. For the submissive, it's the unpredictability of the dominant that makes the show exciting and mysterious.)

For the dominant, the pretend aspect of spanking play allows the freedom to be in control without risk of making a mistake. With any kind of control comes tremendous responsibility. Often people fear that responsibility, especially within relationships.

(This is how I interpret the Bible's comments on wives submitting to their husbands. I don't interpret it literally, but I believe what it is saying is that one of the two in the couple must take responsibility for the couple. It could be either one, but it must be one. The couple cannot be equal in this -- there cannot be two captains of the ship. That responsibility is a duty and burden, not a privilege, so don't take it as a license for wifebeating. What it's really saying is that the responsible one is there to make sure that the family gets fed, has clothing and shelter, is safe and protected from physical harm, etc. Both partners have duties, but only one has ultimate responsibility. It's the duty of the other to submit and accept the decisions of the captain as final.)

Within spanking play the dominant can pretend to be in control. This can be an empowering experience. Remember, in spanking play there are no winners and losers -- both sides win. It's like playing cowboys and Indians as children: sure, the traditional ending has the cowboys tying up the Indians and "winning," but that doesn't make the cowboys or the cowboy players superior in any way. After all, the script was written long ago -- the outcome is known before the game starts. There's no strategy in a game like that. The point of the game is that it's fun playing either the repressed, embattled Indians or the macho cowboys.

Too many people (especially those unfamiliar with dominant-submissive society) assume that the dominant is the "winner" and the submissive the "loser." This is taking things too much at face value and not understanding the powerful dynamics at work behind the scenes. These are roles, not real life. It's the fact that they are roles that allows the couple to do the things they do.

Another important aspect of childhood regression for both the dominant and submissive is the Follow Through. Just as parents often hug their children after spanking them, many sexual spankings, if not all, are followed by periods of caressing and cuddling. This is the aspect of forgiveness at work. The punishment has been administered, the sin is then forgotten.

For the often repressed dominant, this can often be a safe, acceptable way to express emotions. For the often overly-sensitive submissive, this can be a safe way to receive love. In both cases, emotions are expressed that each partner would have had difficulty expressing in their traditional, real life roles. The Follow Through offers security, release, and closure. Note that in some scenarios the exact nature of the Follow Through is muted, perhaps no more than a quick smile or gesture, but it still happens. The submissive wants to know that their performance was pleasing, and the dominant wants reassurance that the submissive enjoyed the scene.

One of the most important concepts of childhood regression is the notion of unconditional love. Rational adults, of course, know there is no such thing: all love is a two-way affair, dependant on the behavior of both parties. But the concept of unconditional love is a powerful one. We all crave it. We are all afraid of making a mistake and losing love; unconditional love eliminates that fear.

As adults we know we desire an illusion. Children, however, have no problem believing in illusions. They trust implicitly. There's nothing closer to unconditional love then that of children. Children have yet to experience loss. They have no understanding of the fragility of love. (Keep in mind I'm speaking of the idealistic image of childhood, which is what people always regress to.)

When we regress through spanking therapy, one of the benefits we gain is the illusion of unconditional love. For a few brief moments we can forget deadlines, human meanness, and the risk of loss. For a few brief moments we are children again, idealistic, innocent, and pure. During that time nothing can penetrate our shields and remind us of the pain of reality. Instead we focus on true unconditional love and unconditional acceptance. We can never stay in that illusory state for long. Eventually reality penetrates, but for a short period we are truly happy -- a bliss that can only be achieved through mental experience, as the reality of any experience is never up to what we imagine.

That's the power of spanking.

Dominance and Submission

(, , Serious, discussion)

An essay on what makes spanking erotic. (Approximately 8,043 words. Originally published 1999-04.)

I've written about the significance of dominance and submission as it pertains to childhood regression, but there's another level of D&S that's strictly adult.

There's an ambiguity to traditional relationships that isn't found within spanking play: it's very clear that someone's on top and someone's on the bottom. For many there's a release within this structure. Instead of playing power games where neither is sure who's in control, the relationship has a predefined definition. It might only be temporary -- but that non-permanence is often what allows the role-playing to function.

For people traditionally in control, there's release in letting go all control, and the reverse is also true. Losing all control is appealing because it involves trust. We all desire a lover that we trust as much (or more) than ourselves. Trusting someone is incredibly difficult, and thus, creates incredibly powerful bonding. In turn, closeness can be incredibly erotic.

An often overlooked aspect to trust is that for trust to occur, the submissive must be pushed. If I have no fear of heights, ordering me to climb a ladder involves no extension of trust. If I fear being exposed, however, asking me remove my clothes can involve a tremendous amount of effort and an extension of trust. The levels and nature of pushing is different for every person; it is the dominant's job to understand the submissive and push appropriately.

Many non-spankophiles do not understand this. A few might find a mild spanking somewhat erotic, but once they see real pain in progress -- actual marks or bruising, for instance, their interest becomes revulsion. This revulsion is learned, not real. People act revolted because they believe society expects them to act that way. Spanking, once it becomes violence, is considered abuse.

But spanking does no good unless the subject is pushed. Pain, real pain, is frightening to just about anyone -- even spankophiles. That's the whole point. If it wasn't frightening, it wouldn't push you. Most people have such a low pain tolerance that just a few slaps is enough to push them. But others need the challenge of the severe pain of whipping or caning. Only then is true trust needed and formed.

Non-spankophiles shouldn't be bothered by such behavior. There's nothing that says they must participate. But they shouldn't lie to themselves and pretend that they are bothered by something that's consensual and agreeable to both parties involved. They should learn to think of the pain as nothing more than a test: if accepted and passed by the submissive, trust and love are extended to new levels. (Remember, it doesn't have to be pain. It can be any behavior that the submissive finds challenging. Pain is simply more obvious and universal.)

Dominance, on the other hand, can be an aphrodisiac simply because of the power it gives you. There's stimulation in knowing that you have someone else completely in your power. There's also a link of trust, the love and admiration and respect gained from knowing someone trusts you enough to allow you that control. It's a fantastic gift and the true dom knows its priceless value.

For some, the eroticism of spanking comes not from nudity, humiliation, or childhood regression, but solely from powerful trust that forms between a dominant and a submissive. This trust is similar to the intimacy of love-making, but stronger and more intense. It is why spankophiles often seem to form incredible ties almost instantly. It's one of the most powerful aphrodisiacs known to humanity and it explains why spanking can be so addictive.

Purges Guilt

(, , Serious, discussion)

An essay on what makes spanking erotic. (Approximately 8,043 words. Originally published 1999-04.)

Everyone experiences guilt. Guilt, despite its dismissal in modern society, is a surprisingly powerful emotion that shouldn't be ignored.

We feel guilty over things we did, things we didn't do, even things we had no control over, like the death of a loved one. Often guilt is pointless and unhealthy. Often it's a warning we try to pretend isn't there. Either way, guilt needs to be purged. Like a nasty infection, if left untreated, it will fester and grow more serious with time.

Adults have many methods of dealing with guilt. These range from rationalization to denial to acceptance. The problem with most of them is they don't work. You can't rationalize something away that isn't logical (like guilt over your parent's divorce). You can't deny you've screwed up when it's totally obvious (like the fact you haven't spoken to your daughter in fifteen years). You can accept that you did something wrong, but without consequences (like punishment), it often doesn't feel like you've been cleansed.

Few people seek out spankings specifically for repentance, but there's no doubt it's a part of the spanking experience. Accepting a spanking is a way of accepting your guilt and admitting a wrong. It's a wordless exchange, similar to the first step of a Twelve Step program but without the publicity. One tends to justify the pain of a spanking as the punishment for something, whether minor or major. The spanking allows us to purge the guilt, which can be tremendously healthy.

For some submissives, spankings are always a form of punishment. These subs either come up with mistakes deserving punishment or invent wrongdoings. Either way, the purpose is to be spanked for something; a spanking has to have a reason. There's still an element of sexual play involved, but it may not be as significant as for other people.

Enhance Pleasure By Tempering Arousal With Pain

(, , Serious, discussion)

An essay on what makes spanking erotic. (Approximately 8,043 words. Originally published 1999-04.)

Sex gets better with experience. Part of the reason is the understanding between the partners, but wise people know that most important is developing the ability to control your sexual climax. Timing is everything in sex. Arousal takes time, but the longer the wait the bigger the payoff, so patience is a virtue in this game.

Still, knowing what you should do and doing it are two different things. One of the key benefits of spanking is the distraction it provides. A good sexual spanking consists of much more than just being put across a lap and having your bottom slapped. Spanking is all about arousal and anticipation. A spanking should be preceded by lots of sexual hints. The pain of the spanking should temper the arousal to keep the climax at bay. This process greatly extends the period of sexual excitement and pleasure, culminating in a mind-blowing climax far more powerful than with traditional sex.


(, , Serious, discussion)

An essay on what makes spanking erotic. (Approximately 8,043 words. Originally published 1999-04.)

Okay, let's be frank. Adults spanking each other is a bit ridiculous. There's an inherent silliness to such play. (This is one of the reasons spankings are often ritualistic and formal.) Release of awkward tension through self-mocking or tongue-in-cheek humor is quite common among spankophiles. Spankophiles never take their play as seriously as their critics.

A side effect of this humorous aspect is that since humor is a known aphrodisiac, the amusement of a spanking is in itself arousing. Humor tends to relax the players and neither partner takes the whole sexual process too seriously. It's obviously all in fun.

(Another interesting study would be to catalog the rates of impotence among spankophiles and compare them to non-spankophiles. I predict that impotence among spankophiles would be significantly lower. This is because impotence is generally a psychological problem, usually cured by relaxation and communication between the partners. In short, not taking sex so seriously it interferes with performance.)

People who traditionally don't think of themselves as spankophiles, but might be tempted to engage in playful spankings, do so because of the inherent humor. They recognize the game and play along, and find they enjoy themselves immensely. It may not be something they crave and wish to do every week, but the occasional spanking can be a delightful way to spice up their sex life.


(, , Serious, discussion)

An essay on what makes spanking erotic. (Approximately 8,043 words. Originally published 1999-04.)

I've covered a great deal, yet I've barely scratched the surface. There are many variations and fetishes I've left unmentioned, and I'm sure people would point out certain aspects to spanking play I've neglected, like the effects of ritual or dealing with the endorphine rush that accompanies intense pain. But those are elements of spanking only true spankophiles can appreciate; I'm concentrating on exploring spanking in its broadest, most general sense, looking at how spanking can be erotic to anyone.

In truth, spankophiles aren't so different from other people. Just like an extreme skier appreciates the adrenaline rush of flying off an ice-covered peak more than your average three-weekends-a-year skier, spankophiles simply appreciate spanking on a different level than average. Everyone finds something titalating about spanking; it's just that for spankophiles, spanking is everything.

The End