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A Spanking Fetish Without the Cliche Emotional Baggage

Tue, Nov 13, 2012

Advice, How To, Pop Culture

photo via flickr

We don’t often read the “Modern Love” column in the New York Times Sunday Styles section these days — when you’ve been in the biz as long as we have, it’s easy to get cynical and feel like you’ve heard every story about love and sex there is to tell. But  this past week’s column, “Finding the Courage to Reveal a Fetish,” leaped out at us. Sure, every publication under the sun (not to mention your mother-in-law’s book group) is discussing kinky sex in the wake of Fifty Shades. A light spanking here, a pair of fuzzy handcuffs there — it’s practically de rigeur.

But this article in the Times delves deeper, emotionally, than anything we’ve read recently: It’s about a woman who has an honest-to-god spanking fetish, and what happens when she falls in love with someone who doesn’t really get it. She explains: “While there is a strong erotic element to my kink, sex is merely a side dish to the more absorbing entree of the spanking itself.” More importantly, though, the article is about someone who has an honest-to-god spanking fetish — and zero baggage to “explain” it away. She wasn’t abused as a child or spanked by a Catholic school teacher; her mother didn’t let johns use her as a human ashtray, a la Christian Grey. She’s just a woman who thinks a little differently about sex and spanking. Which is how we’ve always preferred to think of kink: it’s not deviant or wrong or immoral or “fucked up” or nuts, it’s just different. And when you compare that to the alternative — missionary once a week under the covers with the lights off — who wouldn’t want to get a little kinky?

The article is also about what to do when someone you love is kinky (or when you’re kinky and someone you love is vanilla… and you can’t just whisk them away on your private jet or buy them a new car to win them over). Because while it would be nice if every spanking devotee found a soulmate who was equally into red cheeks, life isn’t always so neat and tidy (though, thanks to the internet, it’s getting increasingly easier to do this!). And not everyone is going to fall in love with a Red Room of Pain the way that Ana did in Fifty Shades.

In the end, the author of this piece told her fiancé in writing:

I’m a writer, so I wrote it down. And as I translated my feelings and memories into these words, I took control of a desire that has controlled me for most of my life. I felt comfortable, confident — even celebratory.

For about three days. Then ancient insecurities, as they always do, crept back.

“Coming out of the closet” isn’t the right expression. We’re not in closets that can be left in a single step as the door clicks shut behind. “Coming out of the house” might be better. Or “coming out of the labyrinth.”

In our different ways, we all just want honesty and intimacy, right? We’re looking for the people who will love us, even when it’s difficult. Or uncomfortable. Or painful.

I always share my writing with David, and this time would be no different.

“This is hard to show you,” I said as I slid my laptop across the bed. “Also, I’m worried that my paragraph structure is confusing.”

As he read each page, I felt the clicks of a dozen doors closing behind me.

“I love you,” David said when he finished. “You’re so brave. And there is nothing wrong with your paragraph structure.”

Click.

This is not the end of the story, of course — far from it, in fact — but it’s a pretty hopeful beginning.

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2 Responses to “A Spanking Fetish Without the Cliche Emotional Baggage”

  1. figleaf Says:

    “Which is how we’ve always preferred to think of kink: it’s not deviant or wrong or immoral or ‘fucked up’ or nuts, it’s just different. And when you compare that to the alternative — missionary once a week under the covers with the lights off — who wouldn’t want to get a little kinky?”

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    I absolutely hate the idea that it’s “kinky” to enjoy consensual percussive caresses in the general genital area (with or without emotion-enhancing drama or role-playing) whereas it’s “normal” to desire only sex with lights out, under the covers, man on top, only to ejaculation, for reproduction only.

    Or as I like to put it, the Victorians produced two kinds of extreme constraint-oriented sexual fetishes: bondage & discipline and missionary.

    The amount of baggage society takes on in order to justify and/or enjoy either is way out of proportion.

    Final parallel between the two — sex is beside the point! As the author says “sex is merely a side dish to the more absorbing entree of the spanking itself.” Same must be said about Missionary sex. Which means both are actually great for people for whom intercourse isn’t that big a deal. (Or else is too big a deal to feel comfortable with.)

    Anyway, good for the author for coming “out” about it both to her partner and the general public. And good for you two for getting why it’s so important that we stop pretending most “kink” is actually… well… kinky!

    figleaf

  2. Irene Says:

    It bugs me a little that sex under the covers with the lights out is seen as necessarily insufficient. People do sometimes choose that consciously, just as they might choose to blindfold each other in order to get greater concentration on the sense of touch. And an objection to drafts is not the same thing as prudery.

    I really liked the way Jillian Keenan teased out the difference between an actual spanking fetish and happening to enjoy the sensation of being spanked. But I don’t so much like the implication that there are hierarchies in these things, that some folks just aren’t really serious about it. “Over the last decade it has become fashionable in certain millennial circles to announce an interest in bondage or other forms of sadomasochism. The implications are often tame: A couple buys handcuffs, experiments with hot wax, and tosses in the occasional spanking.”

    Well, but who’s to say that’s tame? Maybe for them it wasn’t. After all, reading Tom Sawyer sounds pretty dang tame to me, but Keenan found it very hot indeed.


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