Unfair Punishment Spankingsby Anastasia Vitsky
Recently I have had conversations with several different people about the aftermath of punishment spankings, received within a domestic discipline (DD) relationship in which the head of household (for purposes of this discussion 'head of household' refers to the disciplinarian who may or may not be married to, living with, or in a sexual relationship with the person being punished) has earned trust from the disciplined partner. One of the topics discussed was whether such a spanking could be considered unfair. The fairytale version of a punishment spanking is probably something along these lines:
Afterwards, you go about your daily life feeling happy, secure, protected, and disciplined. Your relationship is closer. You are more relaxed, more peaceful, more at ease with yourself and everyone around you. However, let's now consider another potential scenario:
- You do something wrong, knowingly or unknowingly.
- You get spanked for it, willingly or unwillingly.
- Much crying and 'ouch'-ing later, all is forgiven and restored. Peace reigns.
- You maybe do something wrong, knowingly or unknowingly. You think that the other person was just as wrong as you, perhaps more so. Or you know you did something wrong but are sure that the other person isn’t understanding the situation. Maybe you broke a rule but there were extenuating circumstances. Or perhaps you think that your partner wasn't clear about expectations.
- You try to explain. Or argue. Or convince the other person that this is just not going to work. Or you submit to the punishment in body but not in spirit. Or you truly don’t understand (or are not told) why you earned the punishment in the first place. You spin in agony not knowing how to prevent future recurrences.
- After the spanking, the case is supposed to be closed. Your partner says that it is over. Not for you. You are angry at getting spanked, tearful at needing to be spanked, confused about what you did wrong, defensive/frustrated/unhappy/depressed/needy/withdrawn. You are upset, but you don’t want to get another spanking so you stuff it inside. Or you let it simmer with irritated comments.
- More than likely, you earn another spanking. Or you withdraw completely (perhaps getting a spanking for that!) and there is distance between you and your partner. The distance might hurt less in the short term, but it will mean a lot of hard, painful (for both of you!) work in the future to restore your relationship balance.
Please forgive me for stating the obvious, but punishments hurt. They are supposed to, otherwise they would be called rewards. An effective punishment is something that you truly hate, do not want to incur again, and jerks you to a quick stop.
Punishments are so powerful that they can have unintended side effects. Resentment, anger, deception, withdrawal, and lowered self-esteem are all issues that may arise after a punishment. We generally like to picture ourselves as capable human beings. A punishment, especially if it is for something that we genuinely did not try to do or genuinely tried to prevent happening, can ignite any or all of these responses.
The wonderful thing about being an adult (rather than a child who screams, "I hate you!" after a punishment) is that we can consciously choose to work on our responses to a punishment. After or during a punishment, if we are angry or resentful etc., we can stop to ask ourselves why. Are we angry at our partner for punishing us? Or are we angry at ourselves for needing to be punished? Are we angry thinking the punishment was unfair? Or are we angry that we did something wrong and needed to be caught?
There is a gentler version of this response, usually for people who want to please, and it goes something like this:
- You do something wrong, knowingly or unknowingly.
- You get spanked for it.
- You are devastated at needing to be spanked, feel horrible about yourself, and lose confidence in your ability to do what you need to do.
- You give up, consciously or unconsciously, and earn a similar or even the same consequence again.
Accepting discipline, accepting consequences, and accepting responsibility for your actions is never weak. Never. It takes great strength and character to stand in front of someone else (okay, perhaps lie across his or her lap) and say, "What I did was wrong. I am sorry, I accept punishment for it, and I will do my best not to let it happen again. Please help me."
Is it any wonder, therefore, that people who willingly and consciously choose to be in an adult disciplinary relationship tend to be the strongest people around? To be disciplined and punished as a child is one thing but we all know adults who were not disciplined as children and sorely (or un-sorely) needed it, right?
I've focused above on punishments which were considered 'unfair' primarily in the sense of the knee-jerk, angry response that accompanies a great deal of punishments, whether the actual punishment was actually fair or not. However, many truly unfair and downright unjust (as in morally reprehensible) punishment spankings do exist. DD is a great vehicle when used properly but when used badly, it can be little more than a smokescreen for abuse. Yes, I said abuse.
When the person being disciplined claims that a punishment spanking is unfair, this can mean any number of things including:
- It hurt my bottom and my feelings, and I am upset.
- You didn't do this in exactly the way (such as using the right implement/position/number of strokes/setting) that would make me happy for exactly the reasons I find acceptable, and I am going to make sure you know of my displeasure.
- I acknowledge that I broke a rule or did something wrong, but I made an effort not to do so or to complete a requirement. My effort should be good enough, so the punishment is unfair.
- I am legitimately angry or upset about a certain portion of the issue that got me punished, but I refuse to accept responsibility for my accompanying inappropriate behavior (shouting, throwing a fit, sulking, storming off, refusing to communicate, breaking rules deliberately, etc.).
- I feel childish or dependent in being made to follow discipline, and I am going to show that I am my own person.
- My head of household is not punishing me in a way that fits my expectations, so I am angry and confused.
I think it's fair to say that the bulk of DD power struggles fit somewhere within the range of these reasons. Does that mean the head of household is always fair, always correct, always kind, or always in the right? No. But that is why we call it “submission”.
I suggest that the difference between the examples quoted above and a truly unfair punishment spanking is that the latter involves fundamental violations of personal boundaries and dignity. Here are some possible examples:
- I clearly said that this relationship should remain non-sexual (and no, DD relationships do not all have to be marital or sexual), and the head of household is touching me in sexual ways or repeatedly making sexual overtures/innuendos despite my requests to stop.
- The head of household repeatedly punishes me in ways that make me feel bad (examples might include name-calling, hair-pulling, face-slapping, public humiliation, or threats of abandonment) and says it is my responsibility to say if I don’t like something.
- The person being disciplined (yes, they can violate boundaries, too) goads me into punishment but then blames me for doing it. Then he/she criticizes me for what I try to do and insists that I should follow what someone else is doing.
- The head of household uses DD as a way to make me give up or start something that I find morally, ethically, or personally wrong (such as accepting a relationship with my husband's affair partner).
- I am in fear of or have experienced physical injury due to the spanking. While everyone’s pain threshold and acceptance of marking differs (some mark at a hand spank and others very little even with a heavy paddle), punishment spankings should inflict the necessary amount of physical pain without causing any damage. Sorry, "But it's going to hurt a lot!" doesn't count. Spankings are supposed to hurt.
- The head of household chastises/shames me for a violation that I have already been punished for instead of forgiving me for it. (An exception would be to explain why a new rule/restriction is put in place or why permission is being denied for a request.)
- The head of household does not give me any emotional support (which may or may not include aftercare - lack of aftercare for a punishment is a feature of some DD relationships) or instructions how the person being disciplined can avoid similar punishments in the future. Or the severity of the punishment so far exceeds the original transgression that it inspires terror rather than learning.
There is no universal extensive list of boundary-violating punishments and some people might be fine with one or more of the above examples. Also, no matter how careful or responsible the head of household tries to be, it is possible that the boundaries of the person being disciplined may be violated. "It's not fair" needs to be reserved for situations in which it truly is a game-changing affair. You might remember the story of the little boy who cried wolf...
In short, it is always possible for a punishment spanking to be unfair. If so, it needs to be addressed. But in order to be listened to during this crucial moment when a punishment spanking actually is unfair, the person being disciplined needs to refrain from pulling the fire alarm when someone lights a match.