So last night, after returning from our six-hour visit to a local emergency room, I sat reading one of my favorite spanko stories while my husband blissed out on the morphine that was coursing through his veins.
Instead of horny, I got depressed. I've always had a bit of discomfort with the spanking stories that attract me, because I've worried that perhaps they indicate that I want to be treated like a child. A child is exactly what I don't want to be. But the hints of childishness are certainly present in these stories.
I tend to most enjoy stories about women who are taken in hand by some powerful and confident male suitor. The women are all used to doing everything for themselves, being mistreated by past men in their lives, and have come to resent being told what to do. The men are all apparently enormous and strong, while the women are all tiny.
I've always found traditional romance novels ridiculous because of how completely unrealistic they are. Yet in the corner of my mind, I do realize that the spanking romances are equally unrealistic... so why do I love reading them so much? I think it is because, no matter how exaggerated they may be, they do reflect certain emotional needs of mine, and probably of many other women too, given how many of these stories exist.
While I hate that these women are all tiny and the men all huge, to me it seems to be an outward expression of an internal feeling. It bothers me because as a feminist I recognize that women are starving themselves out of existence in order to meet this unattainable ideal of being waifish, while men are shooting up with steroids in order to become almost cartoonishly strong and muscular... It is as if as a society we're saying that, while men deserve to take up as much space as possible, women are worthy of very little space and therefore should strive to take up as little as possible. It is even reflected in how we tend to sit... men often lean back in a chair with their legs spread out in front of them, while women cross their legs, or even sit on their legs.
But the fact of the matter is, I do feel tiny, even though I might not be so physically. I feel much too tiny to master this giant world that is constantly throwing obstacles in front of me. I, like so many women, was taught to be a caretaker growing up. Now that I'm married, and my husband has been sick for nearly a year now, I've realized how overwhelming this role can be. It is not that I didn't understand what "in sickness and in health" meant when we took our vows... I vowed to be here in times like these, and I always will be. But it is incredibly difficult. And it isn't so much the catering to him, or the trips to the ER, or any of those things that make it so difficult - those are the things you'd fully expect when caring for a loved one. It is that he is so emotionally absent for me. I suddenly find myself feeling single within my marriage. Only, unlike when I was actually single, I'm single with a full-grown adult man to care for in addition to myself, and with no one to care for me.
On top of that are all the other responsibilities I have - I must be the sole homemaker, since Red is generally unable to help with chores or errands. I must work to fill in the financial gaps that his illness has left (he is able to work much less than he used to, leaving us with a lot of financial stress with the decreased income and the mounting medical bills). Also, I am still working on my graduate degree. As much as I've been wanting children, I am so glad that we do not have any yet. I simply can't imagine how I'd be able to take care of a needy child in addition to all of these other things.
I guess I should mention that I've been sick for the past month and a half too. My doctor has plainly stated it is because I'm under too much stress and my immune system is suppressed because of it. I'm exhausted and feel yucky all the time now, which only makes it more difficult for me to take care of my responsibilities.
I've heard so much about how domestic discipline is a reaction against feminism, that women are realizing that they just weren't made for equality and they need a man to take care of them. I respectfully disagree. Okay, perhaps a little less than respectfully... I think that is complete and utter bullshit. What women have now is not equality. Equality would be men taking on more responsibilities as home-maker and caretaker as women take on more responsibilities in the workplace. Men are simply stepping aside in the workplace to make room for their female colleagues, and then coming home and expecting their wives to do all of the work at home. (Of course, this is all MHO, and is not meant to apply to all men, just many.)
When I read about a strong man feeling completely justified in taking the woman he loves over his lap and spanking her silly because she is working too hard and not taking care of herself enough, it speaks to the part of me that is feeling overworked and overwhelmed. It seems to me that as a woman I'm expected to be an endlessly self-renewing font of caretaker energy. This just isn't possible. And when my doctor looks me in the eye and tells me that germs are bludgeoning my defenseless body because of stress, it makes me strongly desire someone who will step in and confirm to me and everyone else that my responsibilities actually are unreasonable. I work hard. I don't have the opportunity for a break, and I've had it ingrained in me that I don't deserve and shouldn't need one. I feel guilty for ever wanting one.
Nothing sounds so good to me right now as a lover who will step in and say, "not only should you not have to work this hard, I'm not going to allow you to do so because it is harming you. I care for you too much to sit idly by and watch you work yourself sick. Not only am I willing to take on some of those responsibilities, I am willing to take them from you against your will if need be, thereby relieving you of your automatic I-should-be-able-to-do-it-all-myself guilt response. I demand that we share responsibilities equally."
Jesus, what I want is a man who is so adamantly feminist that he'll stand up to the woman he loves at all costs in order to make sure that the two of them are equal...