Thursday, October 25, 2007

This Thing We Do: Domestic Discipline vs. Punishment Kink Revisited

This post by Natty at The Punishment Book:

made me think more about my use of the label "domestic discipline" to describe the arrangement I have with my husband. What those words mean to me intuitively seem to mean something very different to most people in domestic discipline chat groups. So I figured it was worth examining more closely what this term means to me, as well as other, related words, like "submission."

I suppose when it comes to the lexicon of "this thing we do" (a phrase that I've garnered from The Punishment Book, and now Dyke Grrl's new discussion forum which I've added a link to under the "Forums" section), I've taken a more literal view on the words "domestic discipline." I've used this term as a shorthand for "this thing we do," out of a sheer desire to have a name for it. I suppose it makes me feel like I understand it better than I really do.

To me, "domestic discipline" refers to a relationship structure that incorporates discipline within the private sphere of the home. My husband and I actually have an egalitarian relationship. We make decisions together, and my opinion has equal value to his, unless it is a decision that is within the realm of either his or my expertise as professionals. He is an attorney, so I tend to leave the legal details of running the household to him. Basically, he and I accept more responsibility in the areas of life where we are the strongest, and defer to each other where we are the weakest. We seem to complement each other well that way.

The term that I've always had the most discomfort with is "punishment kink," because it seems to validate the arguments of the spankos who can't imagine using spanking for anything other than sexual kicks. To me, it implies that our discipline arrangement is nothing more than elaborate foreplay which is ultimately for the purpose of getting off. I'm not going to claim that there aren't aspects of this discipline relationship that can be sexually exciting. There is an element of eroticism embedded in it, but to call it purely a kink would be much too reductive. But, in fairness, my erotic inclination toward spanking likely paved the way for my preference for and comfort with this particular structure.

But when I am disciplined, it is real. Perhaps this is where I need to clarify my use of "domestic discipline" even more. There seems to be a general attitude in online domestic discipline groups that it is somehow "natural" that a woman submit, that she was "created to do so," and most annoyingly, "God commands her to submit." To me, this is all bunk. If I "submit" to my husband at all, it is by my own choosing, and for exclusively secular reasons.

In a way, what I call "domestic discipline" is, at its base, is no different from a healthy vanilla relationship, except for that it incorporates spanking. Ultimately, what discipline does for me in my relationship is keep lines of communication open at all times, and keeps me in a receptive frame of mind. Let me be clear: I love my husband more than I even know how to cope with at times. He is a good, honest, and loving man who deserves the best of everything in this world. I don't ever want to close my mind to his feelings or to his point of view. I want him to be very comfortable telling me what he thinks and feels at all times, even if he fears that it might hurt me. My hope is that, by telling my husband that he is free to discipline me with spanking, or however else he deems appropriate, that it opens the path for him to communicate freely with me. Instead of worrying that he shouldn't let me know something I did to upset him because it might hurt me, I want him to think, "Well, if she can take a spanking, then she can surely handle hearing my opinions."

This also helps me to stay in a receptive head space. There are days when the little annoying issues get to me. I start feeling like I do everything for him, and that he makes life a lot harder for me. He freely admits that he can be a difficult man to live with. My feelings aren't necessarily invalid, but that is beside the point. I don't want to allow those feelings to place a wedge between the two of us. Yeah, it is fine for me to grumble when I wipe up the huge mess he left on the kitchen counter again, but that's going to be as far as it goes. I'm free to tell him about my feelings, and he has always been receptive to them. But I will not allow myself to treat him poorly in any way, or fail to respect his feelings, merely because I'm annoyed by his sloppiness. I didn't marry him for his housekeeping skills. Knowing that I've given my consent for him to spank me if I'm disrespectful, or if I've broken one of the rules that we've agreed to, helps me to always stay mindful of my treatment of him, and of our relationship. When I fail to treat him as well as he deserves, it hurts me emotionally more than he could ever hurt me physically with a spanking. And the spanking, when it happens, helps us both to attune ourselves to each other's needs once more.

There are other benefits for me as well. Having this structure helps me to deal with my insecurities. I've always had a "good girl" complex. I fear mistakes. I don't mean that I dislike mistakes... I mean I fear them. They have an unlimited and unpredictable potential chain of consequences. Mistakes leave me feeling incredibly vulnerable. Having this discipline structure in place is like having guardrails on either side of my path. If I start behaving disrespectfully, or if I start to disregard the rules that we've mutually established, then the discipline helps me get back on track. It also means that I don't have to fear making a mistake unwittingly that could potentially hurt our marriage.

Last night, Red and I were discussing my need for discipline. When I break a rule and know I'm going to be punished, I tend to get very upset with myself. I generally cry.

Red asked, "doesn't it make it worse to have these rules, because it gives you more fear of the ways in which you could screw up?"

"No," I explained. "It makes it better. Without clear rules and consequences, I have no way of knowing where the limits are, when I've crossed them, or where the unpredictable negative consequences will end. If I know where the limits are, then I can do my best to steer clear of them. If I do screw up and break a rule, then the consequences are limited too. I get punished, and then I am forgiven." The rules may seem superficial at times, but they protect the really dangerous zones. If I get a spanking for having a temper tantrum, then I'm not even going to have a chance to come near becoming a heinous, uncaring bitch of a wife who is steering full speed ahead into divorce.

I have a very good thing with my husband. I want to treat it with care so that it will last for a lifetime. When I say things like, "I submit to my husband," it doesn't mean that I'm a mindlessly obedient wife. It means that I do everything I can to put his needs ahead of my own, and to love him in the way that he deserves. I know that he does the same thing for me.

So I guess, the best way I know how to say it is that when you add (my notions of) "domestic discipline" and my "punishment kink" together, what you end up with is "This Thing We Do."


Serenity Everton said...

Welcome to Blog-land, Rose. :) I just wanted to note that your StatCounter says... I'm the 2nd visitor. I'm honored, and little jealous of #1!


Natty said...

He he -- and you thought you didn't have anything to blog about... ;-)

Alas, I'm number 7, but hey, that's still one of the first 10 to welcome you, right?

As for the term punishment kink, I like to use the term because there's the designation of punishment as opposed to foreplay or an act that is intentionally erotic, and the word kink or even fetish because it is something that is eccentric or deviates from the norm (which, I think is good!) and has at the very least a sexual undercurrent as well as is an object of preoccupation or fixation. Like you, punishment for me doesn't involve sex, or at least, there is no intention of sex when announced and carried out. Yet punishment is in a way a form of sex even if there is no penetration. And it's far more intimate than conventional sex. While I may avoid punishment and dislike it a great deal while I'm in the midst of it, the idea is very arousing in the abstract or in the remembering of the punishment (along with a lot of other warm fuzzy feelings).

I look forward to more thought-provoking posts!

Anonymous said...

Rose you have some wonderful things to day about Dd, and I look forward to reading more! Sara

Rose said...

Sparkle - thank you for the welcome! You may have been the 2nd visitor, but you were the FIRST to comment! :)

Natty - Thank you also for the welcome! :) Sometimes I wonder what it is that makes us want to find the correct "label" for TTWD... I suppose all of these terms are equally valid, the trouble comes in with the different connotations that each person attaches to them. Sometimes it is amazing how remarkably ineffective language is as a communication tool! Maybe that's another thing that I value so much about discipline... there's no mistaking my husband's meaning when he's got That Look in his eye and that awful paddle in his hand...

Sara - thank you! I do hope that you'll continue to visit! And I also hope that I continue to find things to blog about! :)

Nelle said...

Excellent post! I've been thinking/writing about the same things, but I love how you laid it all out here.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for writing about this.

Rose said...

K - Thank you so much for commenting. It made me reread my own post, which I think is something that I needed to read today.

Nelle - I'm so sorry for not responding to your post earlier. I'm about a year late, but that you so much for commenting!