Monday, 11 November 2013

Round Table Discussion: Feminism


I’m a feminist and I like to be spanked.

Is that a contentious statement? I would personally say absolutely not. In italics and everything. After all, if I reformulated it as “I’m a feminist and I like to do things I enjoy,” nobody would think it incongruous in the slightest. Yet the idea of a self-proclaimed strong, independent woman allowing herself to be spanked is problematic for some. Let’s step into the theoretical shoes of one such person and ask the obvious questions of the spank-happy feminist:

How can you enjoy being dominated? Being struck? Women have fought for generations to free themselves of exactly that!

If feminism, the core of it, is about anything, it’s about rejecting limiting, essentialist worldviews and definitions. Principally, rejecting the idea that gender can be used as a criterion of ability or worth and thus as a determinant of social status. That people can be categorised, and assigned roles and modes of behaviour, based on their gender. That might equals right. The triumph of feminism in the Western world means that these and other such ideas are now relics, falling ever further out of use, rather than living things, part of the everyday fabric of life.

My life isn’t perfect, but I am thankful every day that I live in a time and place far removed from the restrictive societies that so many women had to live within (and still do in many parts of the world). I am empowered in ways that such women could (and can) only dream of. I can choose my own pursuits; I can study, and build a career; I can be financially independent; I can choose my own partner and live with him as an equal. I might not always succeed in my endeavours, but I have the chance to try.

That’s great, but get to the point.

What I experience when I submit to a spanking is quite different to what less fortunate women experience in their daily lives. The key difference is, of course, the factor of choice; of agency.

The fact of the matter is that I get spanked because I like it. Because I want it. There is a world of difference between that and being struck against my will. The central maxim of TTWD comes to mind: ‘safe, sane and consensual’. This means that, even though what is done to me might look like a man physically and emotionally dominating a woman against her will (especially given my excellent acting skills ;D), in reality it is a man respecting his partner’s wishes and giving her pleasure. That he is a man and I a woman is, in a very real sense, immaterial: the dynamic of our spanking relationship would be exactly the same if my partner was a woman. Or a Martian, for that matter.

I think that a great deal of the misconceptions people have about spanking come from the still-extant association it has with domestic violence, an aspect of the social and physical oppression of women that was a deeply ingrained part of Western societies until the mid/late 20th century (and still an unhappy part of many women’s lives today). But of course the resemblance is entirely superficial; a matter of surface appearance. The motivations – the realities – behind the two acts are so different as to be incomparable. To someone who doesn’t ‘get’ erotic spanking the distinction is meaningless, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. (In just the same way, I don’t understand electricity, yet it still somehow powers my computer despite my ignorance).

To return to the question implied in opening – how can a woman reconcile being a feminist with being spanked, and humiliated, and all the rest of it? – I actually think of the matter in quite different terms, i.e. that there isn’t actually anything to reconcile. Far from representing any kind of diminution of my liberation, my being spanked is proof positive of it: it is precisely because I have the freedom to express my sexuality that I can indulge my various fetishes. Because I’m free I can dress as a little girl and be scolded and sent upstairs to await a beating with the belt. I can be taken by the wrist and pulled down across my partner’s knee. I can cry out as he spanks my bare bottom nice and hot and sore, and relish the feeling of helplessness that comes as the pain builds and he holds me in place despite my struggling.

I would actually be less free, less empowered, if I was prevented somehow from experiencing those things; if I had for whatever reason to go through life unable to express the desires that well within me. That the absence of the ‘violence’ needed to satisfy those desires would make me less happy is something that would confound some, no doubt, but I know myself best and I know what I need.

And that, to me, is the purpose and the gift of feminism (and every other empowering ideology): it represents a reclaiming of our own bodies, our own lives. It pushes the horizons of what is ‘acceptable’ back. It has challenged, and continues to challenge, overarching and dehumanising societal ‘norms’ and in so doing puts power where it belongs: in the hands of the individual. That I sometimes choose to use my freedom when in the privacy of the bedroom to roleplay as a maid and have my backside thrashed is in no way a refutation of feminism. Rather, it is a thrilling affirmation of it.

My body is my own. My sexuality is my own. I’m a feminist and I like to be spanked.

This being the round table, there are lots more takes on this fascinating subject to enjoy. Do please visit the following clever people if you haven’t done so already:

12 comments:

  1. That's an interesting point you brought up there
    :)

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    1. Thanks, Timmy - I'm glad you found it interesting!

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  2. I totally agree. It is very freeing to let your kinks out to play. If we weren't able to we would all be a lot less happy. If we never had feminists fighting for our feminist rights we would have to live existences where we couldn't request such things from our partners. And frankly, that would suck.

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    1. It most certainly would. Sexuality is a beautiful, complex, utterly personal thing, and its expression the most natural and healthy thing in the world. Any movement that has the individual's freedom of expression at its heart has to be a good thing.

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  3. One of the ironies about these kinds of relationships (especially if a woman asks her male partner to spank her) is that often it is the woman who makes the decisions. I think that plays very well into the points you are trying to make.

    Lovely, well-thought-out post, Penny. I think the most important thing is that you are comfortable with who you are and what you need.

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    1. Thank you, Ana. You're very kind. And I think you're absolutely right - being comfortable with yourself and your own needs is the most important thing, wherever you might be on the gender/sexuality spectrum.

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  4. I think that confident, independent , intelligent women like being spanked the most! besides Penny, you want to be spanked so are in control not being exploited.I think equsality should mean us all sharing our fantasies and letting out our kinky side

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    1. Absolutely, Mr X - sharing our fantasies and sharing pleasure is what it's all about, in my book!

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  5. I love reading your posts. I think we've all said the same thing in this discussion, it's a choice and we're more empowered for making it. To have that trust that you can ask for this then give yourself over so completely and get what you need out of it - then tuck your skirt down, button up the blouse and tuck those stray hairs away and head on with your day being a human being, a woman, independent, smart, strong - it's almost a perfect vision of feminism.

    Apologies for the giant sentence... post was worth the wait P.

    xoxo

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    1. Hugs and thanks, N - you're very kind and I love your sentences whatever length they are.

      I agree that there are commonalities between many of the posts, but then of course - as you note - so much of what we are writing about is centred around the issue of choice. And I think you encapsulate the core of it right here in your comment. But then you are a super-smart cookie :D

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  6. Hi Penelope! I think I missed your post, or you came in a little late? Anyway, GREAT POST, and I see what you mean about us being on the same page in this discussion. High-fiving you. :) Nothing to add. Well said!

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    1. Hi Elise! Yes, I was late with my post - sorry!

      Thanks for the lovely words :)

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