So, as a spanko who uses spanking for both erotic and disciplinary purposes, I'm always asked how a spanking can be punishment if I'm turned on by it. The question is certainly a reasonable one, and one for which I don't know if I have a full answer. But I can tell you from experience that spankings can be erotic, they can be punishment, and they can be erotic punishment.
Erotic spanking isn't something that I have to explain to most people, and certainly not to other spankos. The vulnerability and exposure to one's partner can be very sexy and exciting. The rubbing, and the wandering hands can certainly be arousing. Lighter swats and slower, firmer ones can provide wonderful stimulation. And the reason for it is simply that it feels good to us, it excites us, and it is a part of our love-making. It's all good... except the pain. I'm not a masochist. But the pain is usually necessary for much of the pleasurable aspects to occur. So it is worth it.
Erotic punishments are generally the same... many spankos play at punishments. Most of the spanking videos I've seen depict punishment scenarios. In personal scenes, a woman might don a schoolgirl uniform and bend over for her authoritative "instructor." My husband and I don't roleplay personally, but we still have erotic punishments... For example, if I playfully sass him, or tickle him, he'll certainly pull me over his lap and spank me - often quite hard. Once, he gave me a spanking with the remote control (the closest "impliment" at the time) that left me bruised and sore for a week.
The domestic discpline and punishment spankings are the trickier ones. The fact is, there are very few women who are willing to incorporate spankings as a form of discipline in their marriage (or discipline at all) if they are not first turned on by spankings. So is the whole discipline arrangement an elaborate kind of foreplay? Perhaps in an indirect way, yes. But punishment spankings are punishment. They are real and to be avoided. Ultimately, my husband and I are serious when it comes to discipline.
I've done a lot of thinking about this. There are all kinds of insecurities that come with a punishment kink. Most people have little reaction to a spanking fetish, but many people, spankos even, will think you're twisted if you get spanked for punishment. There are the constant, and generally unsuccessful attempts to explain it. Quite frankly, I'm tired of explaining it. Those who do not understand it will likely never understand it. And those who do may never be able to explain it, but they will also tell you that no matter how contradictory it may seem, it is real. It is what it is, and we've just got to struggle to come to terms with it.
But as for the erotic vs. discipline question... I'll give explaining it another shot.
Spankings hurt. Even the erotic spankings hurt. I am not sexually stimulated by pain. Therefore, it is not really the spanking itself that turns me on.* What does turn me on is the intimacy with my husband, the touching, the giggling, the teasing, and most of all, knowing that he is excited by me too. There is a special aspect of vulnerability to spanking that, for me, is an expression of love for my husband. It plays on a different set of difficult-to-describe emotions than intercourse. There is little, if any, power exchange play involved in intercourse. Sure, there is some vulnerability to it - you are naked and doing some very intimate touching - but ultimately, both partners are equal.
When I allow him to spank me, I am telling him physically that I trust him with my whole self. I am lying face down, and usually cannot easily see what he is doing... Now, for an abuse survivor like me, this is a huge deal - I'm taking a submissive, vulnerable posture. I'm at a physical disadvantage. I would not be able to defend myself well, should he choose to actually hurt me.** It is quite possibly the only time when I can honestly say, "I don't know what is going to happen next, I can't control it, and I'm okay with that." For me, that brings powerful emotions that I honestly cannot name. Partly, there is a sense of relief. It is the only time that I relax my defenses in any significant way. Another part is that it is incredibly healing to trust a man and have it turn out as a positive experience. But there is more to it than that that I don't know how to define.
Although I enjoy erotic spankings, I do not enjoy punishment spankings. They hurt. I feel badly that my husband is unhappy with me. More often than not, I cry. I'm embarrassed that I'm being punished. There is no sexual gratification involved with the spanking.
But there are positive aspects that, when taken all together, result in me being more relaxed, focused, and ultimately attracted to my husband (hence, the indirect arousal.)
First of all, there is the motif of cleansing, the journey from transgression to forgiveness. I've never been good at self-forgiving, so for me, that journey acts as a kind of instruction... I've done something for which I feel badly, I pay a price, and ultimately, I am forgiven. When I hurt a friend, I apologize to them, and hopefully they forgive me. But I have a bond with my husband that I've never had with anyone else. It hurts me much more deeply to know that I have hurt him. So making my way to forgiveness is a much steeper climb. The spanking is a climb we take together, that I ultimately feel brings us closer.
But being punished also makes me feel loved (I may not recognize it at the time, because I'm wallowing in my own misery, but ultimately, it does). To know that there is someone who loves me enough to pay attention to the things I do and step in, even against my will if necessary, and stop me from doing something destructive, is awesome. (I mean "awesome" in the literal sense, as something that inspires awe. Although it is "cool" too.) It is a powerful gesture for a man to make to risk rejection, or worse, criminal charges, by spanking me when I deserve it. To be worth that risk for someone... well, to me, I feel amazingly loved. It also tells me that he trusts me as much as I trust him.
Sure, you could argue that a crazy or abusive man would be equally willing to take that risk. You'd be right. But remember, we're only talking about my relationship with my husband, and our discipline relationship is something that we continually discuss and negotiate.
Ultimately, going through such a powerful experience (punishment) with my husband, becoming more connected with him, trusting him by placing myself physically in his hands, and having him trust me not to betray him... that is what leads to the sense of arousal. It is not the direct, physical, sexual stimulation of an erotic spanking, but it is an emotional arousal that results in a similar contented buzz. So, domestic discipline and the punishment kink are both present. They are not the same, but they are certainly connected.
Whew. I sure hope that makes sense. :)
*In case it isn't clear, all of this comes from my subjective experience. If you identify with it, great! If you think I'm wrong, that's cool too. To each their own. I'm not trying to speak from a place of authority. I have none. I am only trying to work through my own thoughts and feelings.
**This isn't actually a question - my husband would never abuse me in any way. I'm simply trying to say that willful vulnerability is not intuitive for an abuse survivor, or for any woman, for that matter. It has special significance.