Tuesday, 2 June 2009

A contradiction

On Uncle Agony I recently published an excerpt from a new ebook by Vivian called "How to Get the Spanking You Want" Asking for It, Getting It & Making It Better.

In it she explains why many women who crave a spanking may find it difficult to persuade their husbands do it. She writes that, "... modern men have, by and large, been raised to believe it’s wrong and abusive to hit a woman for any reason at all. Period. End of discussion. This is probably where your man’s head is."

A sub friend of mine who could not persuade her husband to dominate her described the issue to me in exactly the same way.

But I am a "modern man" in that sense. I was brought up like that too. I still believe it is wrong to hit a woman - or a man or a child. It is not something I would do. Except ...

Am I not the same man who wrote a recent post about how much I wanted to beat a woman, to watch her wriggle and squirm? A blogging friend wrote and told me she had been surprised by the post. Had she forgotten I was a Dom?

So can I be both a "modern man" and a Dom? How do I resolve the contradiction?


cutesypah said...

Life, particularly D/s & BDSM life, is full of wonderful contradictions, no?

Isn't it a contradiction that a professional woman, such as myself, WANTS a man to beat her in private, while, in public, she will not tolerate a man who questions her authority, her abilities, or her experience?

This question, imo, goes to the heart of the D/s relationship. You as a man were taught never to hit women. Yet, you meet up with a woman who craves that very thing which you both were taught is wrong. The level of trust required for the two of you to come together and to do that which goes against every moral and social rule you've learned, must be quite developed, and very strong.

And, at the same time, aren't you, as the Dominant, are bending to the submissive's wishes and desires? You must, at all times, control your urges to take the vanilla woman over your knee. It is only when you are accepted into a submissive woman's confidence, and are granted her trust, that you are able to satisfy that urge to bring both pleasure and pain to the one who craves the same.

Isn't it a contradiction that the one who is called "Dominant" may only act on his urges when in the presence of one who is called "submissive?" Isn't it the strength of the submissive that measures the depth of the D/s relationship?

Yet, at the same time, the submissive cannot delve the depths of her submission without a Dominant willing to take that chance, willing to face danger and possible expulsion each time he faces her fears, and challenges those moral and social rules forced upon her since birth.

As I've said before, who's really in control here? Again, the contradictions abound.

Truly, I believe the world is a far better place filled with sweet, wonderful contradictions!

Thanks for bringing up this great topic.

Sue said...

cutesy pah, in her comments, points to a basic and essential paradox that we create and then embrace when we engage with a trusted partner in a power exchange relationtionship dynamic. Reconciling strength and pride with submission/masochism or respect with dominance/sadism is at the very core of what we do when we create our intentionally unequal and deliberately imbalanced power exchanges.

It is that which is difficult for someone who has never done it or felt it to understand, especially when they try to match it up to commonly accepted social norms. That is precisely why I wonder why it is that you are so enamored of this book of Vivian's. As far as I can tell from everything she's written at her blog, she has never actually managed to create the dynamic of which she speaks. She is precisely that mostly vanilla "expert" trying to make intellectual sense of what it is that she sees of this dynamic, but writing without any (or much) actual personal knowledge.


Anonymous said...

I believe many things in our society are taken far to literally. My Father to told me not to hit woman, children (although I do recall him using his belt on me) or anybody really. I know however that what he meant was don't be mean or cruel. Don't use your physical size to bully people.

What I do with h, what he did with his belt and me, is/was none of those things. It is loving and inclusive of her wishes. My Father is long gone to this world but I believe he would be proud of me, literally.

Tristan said...

It's not the same thing as violence.
Striking in fear, hate, anger or spite are very different things from those rather ritualistic blows I make. The marks we both love so much (for different reasons) are put there within a very well defined framework that we both understand and accept.

It's just different.

Pygar said...

Thank you cutesy pah for your interesting thoughts. I like the way you have developed my theme. I recognise many of the other contradictions that you mention ... and may perhaps write about that soon. So thank you for stimulating those ideas in me.

Like you - I enjoy the world being full of contradictions. Otherwise it would get so very boring.

Though it could become much more simple.


Pygar said...

Thank you too swan for your thoughts. I think you identify the source of the dilemma in engaging in power exchange very clearly. As you and cutesy pah point out - there is a paradox here that I feel is at the heart of some of my own meandering thoughts of this.

I understand your confusion with me highlighting Vivian's writing. I am not a fan of "Domestic Discipline" myself - though I recognise many in the D/s scene have this as the basis of their philosophy. Also I am not keen on labelling as I know there is more that unites us than divides us.

However I have close sub friends - and have heard from many more - for whom the need to be spanked within a loving relationship is at the core of their own needs yet have husbands and partners who find the whole idea objectionable. I know they have tried with their partners with varying success. Some have started D/s relationships outside their primary relationships putting these at risk. I am sure that Vivian's writing about this could be helpful. That is why I published an excerpt in the "Uncle Agony" blog. I am sure constructive comments about it would be welcome there.

I want to link to to other blogs there which may provide useful resources for those searching for answers and would be grateful for further suggestions.

I hope that this blog can continue to be a place for vigorous and honest debate but that we can try hard not to get drawn into personal issues.


Pygar said...

Thank you Sir J and Tristan. I think that you are making it clear - as I would also want to do - that what we engage in is not abuse of women. It is part of a caring relationship and it could even be, as Tristan says, that the use of the word "violence" is wrong.

I do understand what he is saying there as although what we do clearly includes violent acts it is without any of the harmful intention that is associated with the word "violence". Perhaps we need to develop a whole new vocabulary!

- P

Vivian said...

Hi Pygar,

I wanted to take a moment to respond to swan's comment, if I may do so.

Since The Disciplined Feminist is framed in the context of my current (and particularly challenging) relationship, I tend to focus on that relationship exclusively as a "hothouse" for discussing some of the more abstract and thorny issues surrounding DD(plus, it makes for good drama...!).

As a result, it seems that swan has made the erroneous assumption that my experience with DD and spanking is limited to my current (and definitely challenging!) relationship.

I have over 23 years of experience in spanking and domestic discipline, starting when I was 19 and got up the nerve to (successfully, if rather awkwardly) ask my first real boyfriend to spank me.

Every relationship I've had since then has included spanking and/or domestic discipline, at all ages and life stages and with partners also at all ages and life stages.

In each case, I've learned a great deal about how to approach a partner about bringing spanking and/or DD into a relationship (which is the focus of “How to Get the Spanking You Want”) and in each case, have done so successfully.

In addition, I've spent the past decade in my "real life" doing professional-level academic and psychological research into male/female gender roles and archetypes, focusing specifically on issues of power and submission, This research has resulted in my serving, both my “real life” self and as Vivian, as a consultant on numerous projects over the past decade, including doctoral theses, journal articles, popular publications, documentaries and narrative films for mainstream Hollywood studios.

And of course, exploring these issues on the blog for the past three years (in the context of a particularly intense and challenging relationship due to factors largely external to the DD itself) has helped to focus my explorations enormously.

I do hope this clarifies any issues with regard to the background against which this advice is offered.

And thank you, Pygar, for supporting what I believe is a much-needed and worthwhile resource for our community.


selkie said...

ultimately at the core, it is the motivation for the "violence" - if done in anger, if done in visciousness, then it is simply abuse. If the point of it is to intimidate and wound WITHOUT the individual's consent and acquiesence, then it is abuse.

If it is a power dynamic entered into by two consenting individuals, with clear deliniation of what is allowed, what is desired, what is agreed to, then it is a DYNAMIC. And like any dynamic, the limits can evolve and change - but ALWAYS at the core there is an understanding that each cherishes the other and appreciates and welcomes the other's submission and/or domination.

Pygar said...

I do agree with you selkie that what makes violence acceptable in this context is the motivation - and the place of the violence within a dynamic where each cherishes the other makes it acceptable.

Although I can rationalise it in this way it still does not take away my underlying uncomfortableness with being able to be able to talk of acceptable violence. In other contexts I abhor violence. So what is it about me that gives me pleasure in using violence? I know there are many female Dommes but part of me wonders if there is something in the male psyche that inclines us to violence. I worry that if I am letting out those baser instincts then I am less of a civilised man.

It is not that I cannot justify the violence - it is my concern of what it might say about me as a man.

Does that make any sense?


selkie said...

it does indeed. D. and I were in the dynamic for most of our lives - and actively for 10 years - he struggled MIGHTILY with the dichotomy - he ABHORS violence in the sense of "bad" violence - and in particular, violence against women and children. He never really completely internalized the pleasure and soul-deep delight he took in beating what he loved.

More on this later - perhaps even blogworthy. from the perspective of the submissive as well.

A said...

In order to successfully do TTWD (This Thing We Do, call it what you will; DD Ds, BDSM, whatever) you must have the ability to hold and truly believe in two diametrically opposing beliefs at the same time.

Some people have this ability, some do not.

Those that lack the ability can view all this stuff we do as "abuse".

Those that can easily hold the two together at the same time can't understand the problem.

Maybe if more people thought about it in this way, they would have peace on the subject. :)

Pygar said...

Thank you selkie. I look forward to reading your further writings on this and will look out for them.

Thank you too Amber. It certainly is "a contradiction" if I am going to have to "have the ability to hold and truly believe in two diametrically opposing beliefs at the same time." Perhaps the problem is that I am too much of a rationalist!


oatmeal girl said...

"It is not that I cannot justify the violence - it is my concern of what it might say about me as a man."

The man I call Dominick on my blog spoke if this in the early days of our correspondence. He is a sadist who struggles at times with his urge to cause pain. If it seems to follow natural from sexual activities (like spanking a woman's ass when fucking her from behind in either orifice) then that seems acceptable. But he has a certain level of discomfort with his desire to administer pain in a more cold and deliberate manner - for example binding someone to a bed and taking a crop to her buttocks and thighs. He feels the internal dissonance with his image of himself as a decent human being.

This doesn't stop him, though. His needs drive him. And, like my Master, he will only beat those who willingly submit, albeit taking them a little further than they have been before or think they want to go.

FYI, he is now allowing me to reveal publicly the existence of his blog. I've always been quite taken with his observations and writing style. There's a link from my blog. (Sorry about that if I'm being out of line, but blogs by sadists aren't all that common.)

Pygar said...

You are not out of line at all oatmeal girl. It is relevant to the topic and readers may well be interested in looking at his blog.

Thank you for your constructive comment.


MasterA said...

I think oatmeal girl's brings up another very good point in all of this, in that, not all Doms are Sadists. They dominate through other means and do not use pain as one of their tools. I understand that this is not the norm and that most are sadistic in nature but this may be another reason a partner may have problems with spanking a willing sub.

Just a thought.

Pygar said...

Thank you MasterA. Your post and that of oatmeal girl have got me thinking about the nature of sadism.

I fell another post coming on!

- P