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Does Vanilla Equal Not Spanked As A Child
November 11, 2012 4:53 PM   Subscribe

Are spanking fetishes now mainstream sexual behavior or are they an untreated response to childhood trauma? "I think that avoiding raising one's children to be spanking fetishists is a good reason not to spank children. It is not that I view some particular set of sexual semiotics as intrinsically inferior to any other. It is because I believe that at least some forms of spanking fetishism are the direct result of traumatic repression caused by childhood spankings. Hence, to say "don't spank your kids because you might turn them into fetishists" is really just an abbreviated way of saying "don't spank your kids because this can evoke unintegratable emotions of hatred which your child will be forced to repress and which they may then cope with by eroticizing your spankings and spending the rest of their lives feeling frustrated because their pool of available sexual partners is so small, and feeling guilty and ashamed because of how your maltreatment of them made them hate you back when they were helpless and dependent upon you." NSFW previously
posted by Xurando (62 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
That might be a factor for some people, but if being whaled on turned you into a fetishist I'd be in a dungeon right now bapping people with wooden spoons and screaming about how they were miserable failures who were going to wind up on the streets. Then I'd sob and make them go to church for six hours.

That does not sound sexy.
posted by winna at 4:57 PM on November 11, 2012 [45 favorites]


So. um. Yeah. I think I was spanked like once as a kid? Maybe twice? And I like being spanked sometimes. I don't think there has to be anything complicated and involved; I don't feel like I'm working out any of my repressed issues when I'm getting my behind swatted. It's a way to trigger a lot of endorphin release and put my mind into an interesting place is all.

YMMV.
posted by egypturnash at 4:58 PM on November 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


no pain, no gain
posted by Senator at 4:58 PM on November 11, 2012


I suppose I could explain my interest in music as a response to the trauma of having to wake up at dark o'clock in the morning to go to zero-hour band practice in junior high, finally emerging now that many schools are canceling music programs. But I'm not sure I'd call it a fetish.

More likely explanation: we are now more culturally open to mainstream writing about sex. As fun as vanilla sex is, it is rather boring to read or write about. Writing requires embellishments, thus various fetishes. QED.
posted by b1tr0t at 4:59 PM on November 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I was spanked as a kid, and am not a fetishist of any kind, at least, none that I'm aware of.

Why can't I be normal?
posted by Mister Moofoo at 5:02 PM on November 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


If spanking caused spanking fetishism, there would be a lot more fetishists out there. That's just silly.

The Roiphe piece is interesting, though, and she makes a bunch of good points. I've only skimmed 50 Shades, but it's striking how different it is from the books she mentions like Story of O and Ages of Lulu in terms of both literary quality and the role of submission for the main character.
posted by Forktine at 5:08 PM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


As always: a fetish is generally understood to be something you cannot get off without, not just something slightly out of the mainstream that you enjoy every now and then. Spanking is not a new fetish among suburban housewives that demands psychological explanation, because no husband is being told "You have to beat me or else i can't have sex anymore"; it's just a convenient way for this author to kick up the pageviews by citing 50SoG and using titillating words.
posted by Etrigan at 5:09 PM on November 11, 2012 [14 favorites]


Are spanking fetishes now mainstream...

"Now"? Spanking has been mainstream for so long that children's comics in the newspaper reference it.
posted by DU at 5:09 PM on November 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was an incredibly well behaved child and spanked maybe a few times ever. I also was potty trained at a good time and had few accidents. I did spend time bound to a corner. I didn't have a dog I was responsible for training.

And yet my sex life consists of tying people up, beating them, peeing on them, training them like dogs.

To paraphrase Freud, sometimes a St.Andrews Cross is just a St.Andrews Cross.
posted by munchingzombie at 5:11 PM on November 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


Spanking has been mainstream for so long that children's comics in the newspaper reference it.

Children's comics reference spanking, not spanking fetishes.

Unless Family Circus has started working blue, and if that's the case someone send me a link.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:13 PM on November 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


"I'm not saying spanking fetishes are bad, but spanking fetishes are bad."

Gawd this kind of oversimplified correlationizin' is tiresome.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:16 PM on November 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think that avoiding raising one's children to be spanking fetishists is a good reason not to spank children. It is not that I view some particular set of sexual semiotics as intrinsically inferior to any other. It is because I believe that at least some forms of spanking fetishism are the direct result of traumatic repression caused by childhood spankings

Why not just cut to the chase? The goal here is clearly not to avoid raising one's child to be a spanking fetishist, because even if it's true that some forms of spanking fetishism are the direct result of traumatic repression, that doesn't mean all are. The goal is to avoid traumatic repression brought on by childhood spankings. So why not just say, don't spank your kids, because it's potentially traumatic? But you know, maybe by some complicated process being a doting nonviolent parent can lead to a spanking fetish too—with which this person should have no problem.

Even if some spanking fetishes are the result of childhood spankings—even then there needn't be a present problem (unless you think getting off on being spanked is itself problematic), if the spanking fetishist otherwise has a life untroubled by having been spanked.
posted by kenko at 5:25 PM on November 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think that avoiding raising one's children to be spanking fetishists is a good reason not to spank children.

I gotta say here on a continuum of reasons not to hit your kids, this is right down there with "could ruin manicure" for me.
posted by smoke at 5:39 PM on November 11, 2012 [56 favorites]


Yeah, I just. If unpleasant traumatic childhood experiences were responsible for our adult kinks I would only be able to have sex in Hebrew school while eating overcooked broccoli.
posted by elizardbits at 5:53 PM on November 11, 2012 [37 favorites]


I know a LOT of spanking fetishists and most of them were not spanked as kids. Anecdata, but there you go. I also know a lot of cross dressing fetishists who were not forcibly cross dressed as kids.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:55 PM on November 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I fear I may be entering deep biotruths territory, but isn't part of it also that the brain processes pleasure and pain similarly, so mixing the two can heighten the sensation of sexual pleasure for some people?

I think society tries to rationalize fetishes and paraphillia by trying to point to some prior event in a person's life, when it's not always the case. I think it's just that we have animal brains that have built more and more on top of a basic foundation to the point that we're complicated in our heads. Thus, in all our variation and mystery of how our thoughts work, sometimes we have unusual thoughts and desires for no reason.

Granted, I am not a sex neurologist.

Given the fact that I and other people I know have preferences we have no understanding of the origin of, I think it's fair to say even if the majority of fetishists did have some history that lead them to rationalize a trauma or other event as a sexual expression, spreading the belief every fetish has some clear foundation from major life events unfairly stigmatizes those who have no "reason" to have those desires.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:06 PM on November 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Does everything have to be turned into a pathology?
posted by kcds at 6:07 PM on November 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


Does this mean that if you want your kids to grow up to be spanking fetishists you need to start spanking them now? But what if you think it's only okay to spank consenting adults? Does that mean you're dooming your child to a dull vanilla sex life as an adult?

I bet spanking fetishists are less likely to spank their kids than the general population.
posted by alms at 6:08 PM on November 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Also, the way the article implies parents can choose their kids' kinks makes me wonder: Which kink will help my hypothetical child get a full scholarship to Princeton?
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:09 PM on November 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


We have to spank our kids, otherwise we'll just end up raising a generation of TimeOut fetishists, which is unwieldy and otherwise kinda lame.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:12 PM on November 11, 2012 [35 favorites]


Does this mean that if you want your kids to grow up to be spanking fetishists you need to start spanking them now? But what if you think it's only okay to spank consenting adults? Does that mean you're dooming your child to a dull vanilla sex life as an adult?

I used to joke about how weird it is that S&M gear manufacturers and right-wing Christian "beat the shit out of your kids" discipline manuals have a common economic interest.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:12 PM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Which kink will help my hypothetical child get a full scholarship to Princeton?

Urtication.

OK maybe a stretch there but still ...
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:13 PM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, I learned a new word today.
posted by Apropos of Something at 6:14 PM on November 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


At least it would produce an interesting applications essay!

I am so glad I don't have to read college applications essays any more.
posted by catlet at 6:17 PM on November 11, 2012


I was never spanked as a child and as an adult I quite like it in a sexual setting.

So, yeah. This person is flat out wrong.
posted by Malice at 6:19 PM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


"How I Dominated Debate Club"
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:19 PM on November 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think that avoiding raising one's children to be spanking fetishists is a good reason not to spank children.

That is the product of a really twisted mind.
posted by gjc at 6:25 PM on November 11, 2012


So, yeah. This person is flat out wrong.

No, see, this person doesn't say that all spanking fetishes result from being spanked as a child, which makes the opposition to spanking fetishes, rather than spanking children, all the more baffling.
posted by kenko at 6:29 PM on November 11, 2012


Spanking is mainstream, spanking fetishes are like number 385 on the list of reasons not to hit your kid, and for someone who professes not to think that spanking fetishes are bad, they sure spend a lot of time talking about how bad it is to have a spanking fetish.
posted by Scientist at 6:35 PM on November 11, 2012


And seriously, they are saying that having a spanking fetish is bad (in part) because it limits your selection of partners? Try saying that about homosexuality and see how far that little line of reasoning gets you before someone calls you a big fat bigot.
posted by Scientist at 6:36 PM on November 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


We have to spank our kids, otherwise we'll just end up raising a generation of TimeOut fetishists, which is unwieldy and otherwise kinda lame.

*cough*
posted by dephlogisticated at 6:37 PM on November 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also, the way the article implies parents can choose their kids' kinks makes me wonder: Which kink will help my hypothetical child get a full scholarship to Princeton?

Birching.

No, wait. That's Oxford.
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:39 PM on November 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is potentially testable via statistical genetics methods.

Well, it's been sixteen years since Dugan wrote this. In all that time, has any evidence accumulated to suggest that he was right?

I'm deeply skeptical about the whole thing. His theory is full of metaphors and abstractions that might have nothing at all to do with the way the mind actually works in the real world. It's commendable that there are people out there attempting to think logically about how emotions, behavior, and other non-rational thingamabobs work. Maybe some day such efforts will lead to something useful in the realm of pervertology. But we're a long ways away. Remember all those shrinks who said that homosexuality was the result of children imprinting on the parental unit of the opposite gender? I'd say this is on par with that.

What was good about the psychoanalytic theories regarding homosexuality was that they moved the discussion from the faith-based realm (Jesus hates queers! Let us heal you with prayers!) to the scientific universe, where logic and reason had the upper hand and eventually won out. It took a while, but it happened. Again, I think the comparison is apt.

As a pervert who hangs around a lot of other perverts, I'm constantly struck by the degree to which shame, anger, punishment, and the like just don't figure into BDSM play. Having read books like The Story Of 'O' and stories about English governesses punishing naughty adolescents years before entering the real world BDSM community, I thought kinky society would be absolutely packed with emotional baggage turned into erotic fodder. Not so. You have to look long and hard to find that sort of thing. Most people I know regard it as something of a buzzkill. Oh, it exists, to be sure. It's just that it's such a tiny part of the landscape, I'm always suspicious when someone starts talking about it as if it's the main point of it all. To be fair here, though, I have encountered plenty of writings from within the BDSM community which suggest that there's something to the idea. But then, writings produced by the people in our community usually strike me as pretty heavy on the bullshit once they stray away from basic safety tips and firsthand experiences. We lean pretty heavily on the fantasies and the theories because... well, I'm not entirely sure why, to be honest. Maybe it's because we grew up on television and the internet. Maybe because we just don't have any answers for the larger questions (Why do we do it? Is this fucked up? Are we fucked up for doing it?) and the only answers we've heard out there in mass-media and sound about as good to us as they do to the rest of the population. By my estimation, at least a quarter of the kinky people who've read 50 Shades like it. I'd say that's proof enough that we've displayed a willingness to accept bullshit as having some relevance to reality.

You want theories? Okay. Here's one: Evolutionarily speaking, we're all pack animals. Animals that run in packs have hierarchies and the hierarchies often have something to do with sex. Which is to say, the alpha wolf gets to fuck whoever he wants. Everyone else gets sloppy seconds. (Or thirds, fourths, fifths, etc.) Naturally, in order for this to work in the wild, there has to be some sort of sexual arousal associated with this process of demonstrating who's dominant and who's submissive, right? Presto, BDSM is a result of evolution.

Don't like that one? That's okay; here's another. Fear causes arousal. I've known people who suffered from severe anxiety, and they were very horny people. Fear causes an increase in adrenaline, adrenaline can ramp up your sex hormones. So anything that tends to make your stomach quiver will make you wet or hard. This would explain why people are turned on by horror movies, vampires, and the like.

I can sit here all day coming up with theories. And none of them have a lick of support aside from some dime-store psychology that I based pretty loosely on some stuff I think I remember reading in some book a decade ago. But they're all about as well supported as Dugan's. Which is to say, they're supported hardly at all. Maybe they're true, maybe they aren't. No one knows.
posted by Clay201 at 6:44 PM on November 11, 2012 [18 favorites]


At least it would produce an interesting applications essay!

"I guess you could say I've always been 'ivy league' ..."
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:57 PM on November 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Children's comics reference spanking, not spanking fetishes.

Pretty sure Bloom County had at least one spanking fetish reference. Calvin and Hobbes had a "naughty vixens/nurses" movie rental that might have included spanking.

Spanking fetishes are basically the "lol sex" of the children's world. They can't talk about "real" sex, so they have some guy want some woman to spank him.
posted by DU at 7:08 PM on November 11, 2012


Unless you are talking about the "would like to" vs "can't do anything but" distinction, which seems a bit fine to draw even in an adult context.
posted by DU at 7:10 PM on November 11, 2012


What a fucking load of bollocks.

The author has conveniently ignored a century of actual psychological research, in lieu of their little "theory". Yay.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:03 PM on November 11, 2012


I was raised to be a spanking fetishist but despite all of the studying, the tutoring, the years at Miss Sterngaze's Correction Academy and playing lead every year in our school's annual production of 120 Days Of Sodom I just never had a knack for it. I did major in Spanking Fetishism at the only second-rate state school that accepted me but I barely graduated and now I work in IT. I broke my mother's heart.
posted by Blue Meanie at 8:09 PM on November 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think people eroticize experiences or things that seemed exotic, foreign or shocking to them as their sexuality emerged more than they eroticize experiences and things that seemed routine and unpleasant to them.
posted by knoyers at 8:58 PM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


These things aren't necessarily fetishes. The Kama Sutra has a whole section on slapping around your partner while you're having sex and it's not really about reliving childhood discipline scenarios. A well-timed slap on the ass can enhance an already overwhelming sensory stimulation.

In cultures where sexual pleasure is forbidden, guilty pleasures are enjoyed. Ultimately there, the desire to let go, to forget about the need to monitor your pleasure, trumps simple absorption in sensory stimulus.

I wrote a paper about this. And made some etchings. Would you like to see them?
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:17 PM on November 11, 2012


dephlogisticated: "*cough*"

Gonna be honest, this was an engrossing but tough read. Author's a feminist but seems to have a lot of gender essentialism and has written three books all of which assume man-spanking-woman is the only kind of these relationships that exist?
posted by Apropos of Something at 9:39 PM on November 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Almost all the people I know who are into bondage or BDSM grew up in incredibly repressive religious households. Go figure.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:06 PM on November 11, 2012


Almost all the people I know who are into bondage or BDSM grew up in incredibly repressive religious households. Go figure.

Spurious correlation. There's no shortage of people into bondage or BDSM in the UK. Almost none of them grow up in repressive religious households because we just don't care about that stuff.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:44 AM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Almost all the people I know who are into bondage or BDSM grew up in incredibly repressive religious households. Go figure.

FWIW, I grew up in a relatively free-spirited, non-religious environment.

Don't get me wrong. I went through a lot of bad shit. I had an emotionally abusive step-mother and later when I lived with my mother, she basically lost her mind. I won't go into more detail but as far as religiously or sexually repressed, I for one did not have that experience growing up and I'm a pracitioner of BDSM.
posted by Malice at 2:58 AM on November 12, 2012


Does this mean that if you want your kids to grow up to be spanking fetishists you need to start spanking them now? But what if you think it's only okay to spank consenting adults? Does that mean you're dooming your child to a dull vanilla sex life as an adult?

Generally those who are 'vanilla' don't tend to see that as a problem, finding plenty excitement in sex itself...
posted by Dysk at 3:51 AM on November 12, 2012


dephlogisticated: "*cough*"

Gonna be honest, this was an engrossing but tough read.


Amen. Also, have to admit I'd never heard of the TimeOut fetish/behavior thing. I'm going to try it with the next set of morning-talker house guests.
posted by amorphatist at 4:49 AM on November 12, 2012


Spurious correlation. There's no shortage of people into bondage or BDSM in the UK.

Furthermore, nor is there any shortage of people who grew up in repressive religious households in the US. My personal anecdata: Dom/mes and subs alike that I've encountered have come from such disparate backgrounds and upbringings that it may be possible - bear with me - it may be possible that there is a myriad of reasons why someone ends up kinky; the variety of upbringings may even indicate a kink as a preference not necessarily bound by environment.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:51 AM on November 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Tentacle fetishists. What the hell happened in their childhood?
posted by Devonian at 5:13 AM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Spanking has been mainstream for so long that children's comics in the newspaper reference it.

Opus: oh no, that's impossible, I compose those ads myself.

not sure if Bloom County is a childrens' comic, exactly...
posted by dubold at 5:15 AM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have to say that this smacks of the fetish version of slut shaming.
posted by jason says at 5:39 AM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


> As fun as vanilla sex is, it is rather boring to read or write about.

Manuel the gardener placed his burning phallus in her quivering quim.
posted by jfuller at 6:50 AM on November 12, 2012


Tentacle fetishists. What the hell happened in their childhood?

Calamari for dinner?
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:50 AM on November 12, 2012


Tentacle fetishists. What the hell happened in their childhood?

Accidental aquarium boner.
posted by elizardbits at 7:08 AM on November 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I can't believe anyone would think you would pick up a fetish for only one clear reason going back to their past. It's like that Hitchcock movie where the guy remembers the childhood trauma and *poof,* phobia gone. Anything as deep-seated (so to speak) as a fetish is going to involve a number of things about the way the cookie crumbled, in terms of your psychological development.

I do think, in terms of spanking, that there is a certain amount of denial about the fact that you're hitting in child in an erogenous zone, that sexual stimulation can take place and that there may be unowned sexual motives involved in doing it-- or at least that people may be repressing their own sexual associations with it when they do it to a child. Philip Greven and Ian Gibson have discussed these issues with regard to their respective cultures (UU and UK; very different).
posted by BibiRose at 7:14 AM on November 12, 2012


Jillian Keenan actually has a column about this in the latest NYT Modern Love which I think does a good job of balancing "fun and games" against "damaged and dark."
posted by BibiRose at 7:19 AM on November 12, 2012


Jillian Keenan actually has a column about this in the latest NYT Modern Love which I think does a good job of balancing "fun and games" against "damaged and dark."

I agree, though that's actually the first link in the FPP.
posted by Forktine at 7:22 AM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


...feel somehow fucked over because having been spanked has limited, somehow, my pool of available sex partners?

Ah. So that's what it was. I thought it was my breath. No, wait, I don't get into spanking.

Back to the breath theory.
posted by mule98J at 7:31 AM on November 12, 2012


aquarium boner

...I know what those words mean, but not in that order.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:50 AM on November 12, 2012


I'm pretty skeptical of conclusions that are tied into a presumption that our youth is supposed to be a key point at which our adult fixations begin. As a kid, I existed in a sort of hypercharged parallel reality of fetishy desires and practices, from the detachable fur stole that I bought at a yard sale and used as a sort of peculiar sexual security blanket for the penis to the many hours I spent with a friend barely avoiding death by embolism because of a misunderstanding on our part as to how literally the word "blowjob" was meant to be taken.

Like most of my misbegotten life, misconceptions were taken to extremes and experiments drifted into the territory of mad scientists, which is how I know exactly why masturbation and Tesla coils should never, ever mix. Worst of all, when my Sunday School teacher sat us down to explain to us in lurid detail that he likely meant to be a warning about what child molesters were and what they wanted, I should not have gotten flushed and tingly there in the basement classroom of the church, and yet, there I was.

I spent a great deal of time in my homemade hot pants in 1981, feeling very frustrated that the assistant pastor had misled me as to the prevalence of molesters. If there's anything left in my psyche from those long-gone days, it's probably a lingering irritation that I couldn't even get molested when I was still young and lean and tempting in my homemade hot pants, which doesn't bode well for the possibility of my ever taking advantage of my state's newly approved same sex marriage rules.

If any of those absurd moments had an effect, it's probably the lessons learned from those early failures, like when I found out the hard way that, when using a trial-sized bottle of mouthwash as a primordial butt plug to add a certain zesty secret thrill to a humdrum day in the eighth grade, it's probably a good idea to empty it out first, lest one suddenly have an unexpected and almost unbearably minty experience in the middle of social studies class.

These days, I'm as dull as dishwater, albeit with a certain conservative flair (if I do say so myself), but I've long since been spared the social horror of having to rise gingerly from my seat in a show of unbelievably disciplined nonchalant bravado and walk to the restroom in a mincing, pained minuet of clenched composure with a colon full of Aquafresh, so maybe the influence comes from learning what not to do in one's wayward youth.

"Are you all right, Mr. Wall?"

"I'm fine. Just going to use the lavatory."

"Umm...by all means."

"Thank you. Won't be a minute."
posted by sonascope at 12:46 PM on November 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


That Roiphe piece is such bullshit crap.
posted by latkes at 3:42 PM on November 12, 2012


I hope these journalists don't find out about alt.sex.stories. Kink, coming into YOUR HOME, at 56K!
posted by thelonius at 5:19 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


That Roiphe piece is such bullshit crap.

This is universally true of her work. If she's ever written anything worth reading, she's kept it a deep secret from everyone.
posted by winna at 7:21 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


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