Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Spanking as just kinda creepy

Gentle Parent - art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/I want to talk about an uncomfortable side of the spanking debate. I know it's an aspect of spanking that might not affect every parent or child who experiences spanking, but it needs to be put out there as a possibility.

It's the facet that spanking can be potentially sexual.

I found this article on Project NoSpank called "The Sexual Dangers of Spanking Children," by Tom Johnson, that goes into much more depth of why and how spanking can be sexual than I will here. It finishes off with a round of truly horrifying news excerpts of perverted sadists who have used spanking innocent children to get off. That's not even what I'm talking about here, though I take the author's point that as long as spanking is condoned at all, it provides cover for such sickness.

Most parents don't intend for spanking — and by that I mean hand or instrument to buttocks, whether bare or clothed — to be sexual. Most parents, including ones who believe in physical punishment, are not depraved in that way. Even though I disagree with those parents (and that includes my own), I don't suspect the vast majority of meaning anything sinister by their choice to spank minors.

But there is something inherently sexual in spanking, and I sensed that even as a kid. Which is why I call it "just kinda creepy."

It's all so contradictory, right? I was taught that my bottom is one of my "private places," reserved for only me to touch. Only, when my parents are angry at me, then they can touch me there. But not just touch me, but hit me, so that it hurts this "private" place. It's creepy, ya know?

As a prepubescent, it was especially odd, because I didn't know what real sex was all about. I mean, I was given some books when I was 8 and my little brother was on the way, but I didn't really understand it. Spanking and touching people on the bottom seemed like just the sort of naughty thing that people might do for titillation — little did I know at the time, that was actually true.

My parents actually spanked me for the last time when I was about five years old, but I didn't know at the time that it would be the last time. So every time I displeased them, I wondered, would they be hitting me there? And I would feel a white hot shame, a violation, at the thought.

I try not to write about sex much here, except in oblique ways, because I can't figure out how to do it in a way that's not awkward. So, in my typical awkward fashion, I'll say that, in practice, I am not awkward about sex at all and that my early spanking experiences have not irrevocably harmed me sexually. I am not a spanking fetishist, and I do not enjoy pain mixed with my pleasure. (And that's not intended as a judgment against those who do.) But...and this is a big but (get it?)...the rear end still is a (nicely) sensitive spot. So let's reserve it for its intended uses: sitting, you know, and you know #2 (get it?).

Here is a particularly good summarizing section from the article from Project NoSpank:

"Since children are sexual beings and since the buttocks are a sexual region of the body, we should question the propriety of slapping children’s buttocks. We generally understand that fondling or caressing a child’s buttocks is a sexual offense (even if the child does not understand it to be so). We also know that slapping an adult’s buttocks is a sexual offense (even if the offender does not get sexual pleasure from doing so).

"The question, then, is why slapping a child’s buttocks is not considered a sexual offense. Is it because spanking, unlike fondling, is physically painful and used to punish misbehavior? No, or painfully spanking a misbehaving adult would not be a sexual offense. Is it because children are less likely to be sexual targets than adults, less likely to feel violated, and therefore protected less strictly? No, or fondling an adult would be a far more serious crime than fondling a child. A more plausible explanation for this breach of logic is simply that the majority of people are unable or unwilling to believe there could be anything indecent about a practice as old, common and accepted as the spanking of children—something which nearly everyone has received, given or witnessed at least once. And since spankings typically come from esteemed or even beloved authority figures, many people are loath to question this behavior."

So, add this to your list of reasons not to spank. It might not be top of the list, and it might make you feel a little dirty just thinking about it. I want to emphasize again that I'm not suggesting that the average parent is thinking of sex during spanking. I just want to point out that the parent has no control over how it's perceived by the child being spanked. If the child finds it sexual in some disturbing way, then it is.

Creepy scarecrow backside courtesy
mario gonzaga at stock.xchng


Betsy B. Honest said...

I remember being spanked as a girl and I'm honestly still pissed about it. It was mean and the idea was, very obviously, to hurt me and make me feel ashamed of myself. My parents were very clear that bums and genitals were shameful parts that should only be touched for basic hygiene or for spanking. The idea certainly being to associate my bad behaviour with my bad bum and the bad feelings I was experiencing as I was being slapped there. Sheesh.

Now I find my little girl's bum to be very cute and sweet and I do touch it affectionately but respectfully. I spank (gently) and squeeze and pat it. We are very cuddly. I do not touch her genitals affectionately though. That's a basic hygiene area. So I would say the bum and genitals are definately not the same.

I do want my girl to grow up believing that her bum should only be touched respectfully and with affection. I don't understand why a parent would want to target a bum in any other way.

I think I'm a very sexually healthy woman and certainly want my daughter to grow up with a healthy sense of her sexual self.

I don't think my parents would ever say such a thing in a zillion years about me -- I don't think sexual health exists for them as a concept. They were far more concerned, I'm sure, for my spiritual health which depended on them instilling what they would think of as a healthy sense of shame, including sexual shame in me, so that I could one day be a nice wife instead of a raging brat child.

Jenny said...

Good post, and the article you linked was interesting too. You're right--it needs to be said! No parent should be ignorant of this, so if they make the decision to spank they are fully aware of what they could be doing.

Lauren Wayne said...

Thank you both so much for your thoughts! I've been thinking even more about this topic since reading your comments.

I was musing on the fact that most cultures that I've seen (documentaries, National Geographics, etc.) that don't wear many clothes still cover the genitals but not always the bum or breasts. So it definitely means that a bottom isn't the same sexually as the genitals, which I'd agree with anyway, but I personally (and I think this is common) find a lot of overlap. It's sort of a matter of degree. Anyway, just thinking out loud.

Another thing I also agree with is that playfully patting my baby's cute little butt is irresistible to me. I also have to help him wipe when he poops. I'm imagining a natural phase-out of these things, until at some point he's completely in charge of his own rear end. On the other hand, I already don't do much touching of his penis, unless it's necessary for hygiene. So I think (see above paragraph) I do separate out the bottom from the genitals in terms of what's acceptable to touch frequently in a non-sexual way. I don't know if that makes any sense?

Regardless, of course, I totally agree that bums "should only be touched respectfully and with affection." Yes, thank you! Causing pain to that area (by a loved one!) is so shaming and violating.

And the idea of sexual health is very important. It is interesting how we who've grown up being touched in ways we consider inappropriate can still be healthy sexually, and I think a sign of humans' great adaptability. But I'm hoping maybe my child(ren) can be even healthier, without some of the roadblocks I had!

Anonymous said...

I read that article a while back and plan to do a write up on it myself sometime (how many times have I said that on your blog?). Anyway, I remember feeling very ashamed about being hit on my bottom--I remember being spanked until I was around 10 years old! But even worse than my bottom, my mom also spanked us on the inner part of our thighs, which not only is very painful, but I think a more sexual spot than the bottom! However, most of my pain was emotional--hurt feelings.

I don't know if spanking harmed me sexually, but I do believe that not enough affection from my parents hurt me sexually. We can't just not hit our children--we have to touch them in positive ways.

I have read that in most cultures spanking is considered abuse and it is even illegal in some countries. Was that in the article? I need to read it again. Interesting that you point out that most cultures (all that I am aware of) cover their genitals, but not necessarily other private parts.

Anonymous said...

I was spanked all over the "private" area, including my bottom, front and back of thighs, and my genitals. My mom just whipped away with the belt and it landed pretty much everywhere. She liked to have eye contact with me during a spanking, so she used the so-called "diaper" position. I had to lay on my back, naked, with my legs spread apart. She would then whip my crotch and buttocks with the belt. My vulva took the brunt of the punishment and it hurt more than you can imagine. I guess my mom was whipped that way as a child. My dad didn't approve and he always spanked me on my bottom.

I was very confused why I wasn't supposed to show my genitals to anyone or let anybody touch them, yet I had be totally exposed to my mother and allow her to beat me there.

I agree that spanking can be sexual and if you choose to spank you need to take the sex out of it as much as possible. I'd say leaving the genitals covered, and never striking them, would be a good start.


Anonymous said...

Kudos to you for posting on this "touchy" subject.

I personally think it is messed up to instill that if someone wrongs you, you hurt them (physically or otherwise). This is not a healthy attitude to have and we then preach to our children it isn't okay to hurt people. Seems a bit of a double standard, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

This thing is so cute... and relates!


Lauren Wayne said...

I didn't respond since forever ago? Eep. I guess it must have been just in my head, then. I was going to say:

Lisa: Ouch! I don't get why parents would want to sexualize spanking even further. And thanks for pointing out that positive touch, not just the absence of negative touch, is what's needed.

Kim: What I said to Lisa times a hundred. That is so sad that your mom felt the need to pass on such indignity and pain. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. Having broken the chain yourself is a good start, I guess.

Jorje: Yes! And that onesie makes me laugh.

Jon said...

I'm trying to get the word out that supports this blog. I'm a married man who only late in life sought and recieved pro help for a spanking fetish from childhood spanking. I've been taught it happened from the mix of shame and sexuality going on in my mother's ritual partial baring and genital exposure of me along with the trauma of the hand spanking that followed. At the time I had no idea what sexual feelings were but I felt something very pleasant as she slowly in buttoned my pants, took them down, and then the same with my underware. A spanking fetish is a form of sexual addiction. Here are comments from another woman from a child abuse web site,
http://www.child-abuse-effects.com/can-childhood-spankings-be-administered-because-of-or-lead-to-a-spanking-fetish.html, they both like are were willing to speak out about this very self loathing and painfully shameful fact about their sexuality being damaged by spanking. I owe all the children in this world who are suffering from spanking this attempt to be a lone voice in a social world living in denial and locked in lies of religion that spanking is harmless and neccessary to raise well adjusted children.

Dec 29, 2009
No longer hiding
by: Carrie

Aaron, what you went through is not unique. I experienced the same feelings, but much earlier. I'm not even sure a child has to be spanked themselves to develop such a fixation -- I'm pretty sure some develop it just from seeing their friends spanked or being exposed to it on television. Old cartoons are full of spanking; I had some very odd reactions to Looney Tunes when I was little. Of course, I couldn't tell anybody. I knew all about sex; my mother was a nurse and made sure I had the facts of life down straight at a young age, but I couldn't equate these feelings to sex, and had no idea what to call them. Even if I did know, I would have been too ashamed.

It should be noted that my mother, far as I can remember, never spanked me. She was the parent I adored, the one I obeyed, the one who could quell my rare misbehavior with a stern look and a sharp, "Carrie." My stepfather, however, used spanking freely. He never bared our bottoms for it (that I can recall, anyway) or hit us with anything other than his bare hand, so they weren't particularly painful. But the humiliation was great, and my confusion was greater -- spanking for me was unpleasant, but fascinating in a sick way I couldn't articulate. It didn't feel like punishment. It felt like -- like -- I can't even describe it now. It felt like I was taking part in something shameful. (I was, of course; it's just that I wasn't the one committing the shameful act. Took me years and years to figure that out.)

I thought I was alone until a couple of years ago, when I read somebody's comment in an advice column and it led me to a website not unlike this one. Apparently this sort of thing is distressingly common. Plenty of people develop confused sexual feelings as a result of physical punishment, especially on their bottoms, as children. And there are people who, consciously or subconsciously, act out their own sick desires on their kids -- I know that if I spanked my daughter, I would be physically aroused by it, though children themselves are not arousing to me at all. I have many reasons for being against spanking, but that's at the top of the list.

Be strong, all of you. It's all we can do. Spanking is not an issue people are inclined to take seriously; I've been laughed at for bringing up my side many times. But if we don't speak against it, this is never going to change, and our numbers will continue to grow.

Lauren Wayne said...

Thank you, Jon, for sharing your experience. It's so important yet challenging to get the word out about these (common but unspoken) reactions to spanking. I know some of my earliest sexual fantasies, before I even fully understood what sex was, revolved around spanking. So why would spanking be something I want to do to my son? Thank you for being brave and vocal.

Anonymous said...

You are very courageous to have written about this subject. When I brought it up, years ago, to a couple of friends, they shot me down cold. I suppose that neither of them were affected in the way I was by childhood spanking. I don't think there were more than 15 or 20 total incidences of this in my whole childhood, but I remember each one very vividly. I was about 15 when I realized that I found spanking sexually arousing -- I was reading a kids' book that had a spanking scene in it and it almost made me have an orgasm just reading it. (Sick, I know, hence the anonymity). Many years later, I have never told another living soul my shameful secret: that I have rarely ever had an orgasm without fantasizing about spanking. That is the lasting damage done to me. I will never have a normal sexuality ever in my life. I have accepted this tragedy and have a happy life anyway, and fortunately I have never been tempted to spank my children (which as another commenter noted, would be involuntarily physically arousing to me, which is so sick it makes me want to throw up). I am glad they will be spared the permanent damage done to my sexuality when I was a child.

Lauren Wayne said...

Anonymous: Thanks for your comment. I definitely think it's an individual thing whether it affects people this way, although it's too bad your friends couldn't understand your point of view. I'm with you in that spanking was one of the early things I found sexually arousing — making it off-limits for that reason among others for use with my kids. I'm glad you're breaking the cycle with your kids of these weird and contradictory associations of punishment and pleasure.

Zoie said...

Thank you for including this post for Spank Out Day. This is an element of spanking that I had heard about before I had kids and thought, "How creepy!" I hadn't read more because I knew I would never spank. I think I'll be following up on this because it is something I'm concerned about for my sons and their body autonomy.

I shudder to think about this being done to out kids. I cringe at the dominance and power that can be instilled in children without regard to what that means for them as human beings-both as kids and as adults.

The Spirit Molecule said...

You hit the nail right on the head.

The Spirit Molecule said...

You hit the nail right on the head.

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