My first spanking was at my 16th birthday party. My guy friends tackled me on the kitchen floor and took turns giving me 16 spanks. And maybe one for good luck. I don’t remember. Once freed, I was livid. I was mortified.
And I was totally turned on.
In the years to come, I got some playful spankings, during which I was always twisting, giggling, and trying to get out of it. My first serious boyfriend loved to smack me on the ass as a joke, as did my second serious boyfriend. The more I protested, laughingly telling them to stop, the more they did it. And getting playful spanks always, always led to making out. I look back now and see that both guys realized I loved getting spanked long before I did.
You could say I was in denial about my spanking fetish. It wasn’t that I thought slapping booty was abuse, nor was my starched WASP upbringing to blame. No, the problem was my feminist sensibilities. I realize now that the term “feminism” is vague and means different things for different people, but when I was younger, I assumed there was a way a feminist should think and act. So, even though I liked the feeling of getting spanked, I felt conflicted about giving up my physical power, thinking spanking wasn’t something an independent and opinionated woman should enjoy. Just how, I fretted, could a partner take me seriously as a thinker, a doer, and a creator when I wanted to be submissive to him? What if people think I’m weird or screwed up?
But my sex drive proved mightier than my hang-ups and spanking became a main course of my sex life—albeit a shameful one—in college.
And I was, by a few different guys who, to varying degrees, were down with giving me spankings. But I still felt kind of ashamed because they themselves didn’t enjoy it, but they spanked me anyway because they knew it made me happy.
When I was 21, right after I graduated from college, I began dating Brandon, a brilliant, charismatic, confident 22-year-old. I loved how his dominant, even arrogant, personality manifested itself between the sheets. (Really, the only place I could put up with such a personality.) I didn’t have to ask for him to spank or dominate me because he did it naturally, and I didn’t feel like I was “choosing” to be submissive. But when we broke up after nine months, I knew I wanted the next guy I dated to be dominant in bed, like Brandon had been. I did a little Googling about submission and spanking fetishes and discovered it was a lot of other people’s fetishes, as well.
Fast forward a few years, and a few sexually un-fulfilling relationships, to Charles, the first guy who made me feel like there wasn’t anything wrong or un-feminist about wanting to be spanked. I’d known Charles for years, so he knew about my feminist activism and the writing I do about women’s issues. Once Charles learned about my dom/sub fetish, he knew—and respected—how conflicted I felt. Charles wanted to spank a woman as badly as I wanted to be spanked, and that was what mattered to him. Plus, he’d struggled with apathetic partners, as I had, and he owned a paddle! Alas, Charles also had a girlfriend.
Not that that stopped us. No, we were selfish: Charles cheated on his girlfriend with me. But those few weeks were sexually charged, passionate and wonderful. And other than feeling guilt about the cheating, I didn’t feel ashamed about what we were doing. Getting spanked and dominated in bed by an enthusiastic partner was the most sexually liberating feeling of my entire life.
Eventually, Charles and I ended our relationship when he wouldn’t end it with his girlfriend. I talked with my therapist, Dr. B, about how the emotional part of the relationship hadn’t been right, but my sexual chemistry with Charles had been spot-on.
However, instead of addressing how disappointed I felt that my intimate relationship had ended, or why I was in yet another relationship with an emotionally unavailable man, Dr. B focused on why I liked to be spanked. She kept steering the discussion back to what being submissive must mean in the grand scheme of things. Did I think I was bad? Did I think sex was bad? Did I think I deserved to be punished? Was I working out my relationship with my parents? Was it oedipal?
No, I kept telling her: I wasn’t hit as a kid, I was never abused by my parents, I’ve never dated an abusive man, and I’d never hit my own kids. But week after week, she’d ask me these same questions, and I’d have to tell her, nope, I still don’t hate myself, and I still wasn’t abused as a kid.
Eventually, our therapist-patient relationship ended, too, when I realized Dr. B didn’t get it and likely never would. I’d gotten over my conflict, and there she was bringing it up again. I may be a submissive, but I wasn’t going to put up with my shrink’s judgment!
I’m still coming to terms with my feminist beliefs, and how they interact with my desire for submissive sex, especially my spanking fetish. At this point in my life, at 25, I finally feel comfortable choosing to be submissive in a relationship with a man in the bedroom, as long as he is choosing to behave in a dominant way and he respects me outside of the bedroom. My love of a good spanking is not a conflict for me anymore. In fact, I respect myself more than I ever did for knowing exactly what pleases me and not being afraid to ask for it.
It took me far too many years to realize that it wasn’t very feminist of me to police my own sexuality, to label it “good for feminism” or “bad for feminism.” It is what it is! After I saw “Milk,” the movie about gay rights activist Harvey Milk, I decided I wanted to be someone who completely owns her sexuality, even if it’s not mainstream. I’m not ashamed anymore, and I don’t have to pussyfoot around asking for what I really want: I absolutely have to be submissive and spanked often, if not all the time, in order to enjoy sex.
Even though my sex life is the best it has ever been, it’s more important to me that I’ve figured out how I define my feminism for myself. The thrills of a dom/sub relationship might not work for other women and men who use the same “feminist” label that I do, but I’m not worrying about them anymore. I know I can enjoy a bedroom dynamic which, outside the bedroom, wouldn’t be acceptable. And I can still call myself a feminist.