Posted at 00:56 on 17 Jan 2012 by Pandora Blake
First published in FortheGirls.com erotic e-zine for women.
I was eight when I finally summoned up the courage to confide in my best friend. We'd shared all our secrets except one thing, and it felt like it had haunted me forever. Once I'd decided to do it, my heart wouldn't stop pounding. I leaned over the lunch table and whispered, I want to be spanked.
She didn't reply. I assumed she hadn't heard, and I couldn't bring myself to say the words again. It was years until I was able to talk freely about the desires I'd had since I was a little girl.
These days, I know I'm not alone. Lots of people are excited by the idea or practice of erotic spanking. It's not a new phenomenon, either the Kama Sutra contains an entire chapter on pleasurable ways to strike your lover.
What exactly is spanking?
Spanking refers to the act of slapping or smacking someone on the bottom. Some people like to be smacked on other parts of the body - such as thighs, breasts, hands and feet - and this tends to be subsumed into the category of 'spanking' too. It's also sometimes referred to as "impact play" or "corporal punishment", and is often grouped under the umbrella category of BDSM although liking spanking doesn't necessarily mean you'll enjoy any of the other kinks associated with BDSM.
A 2007 American study reported that 14 percent of men and 11 percent of women have had personal experience with sadomasochism, and even more have fantasised about it. The Brits have a little more data: an online sex survey of 850 UK adults in 2001 found 16 percent of women and 13 percent of men enjoyed bedroom spanks, and psychotherapist Brett Kahr's 2007 book "Sex and the Psyche" found 7 to 30 percent of British adults fantasise about spanking in one form or another.
Here's what spanking isn't: it's not unhealthy, it's not linked to past abuse or trauma, and doesn't mean you're mentally unwell. The therapeutic effects of spanking play with a trusted partner can be useful in seeking emotional release after a distressing experience, and some people have successfully used violent sex as a form of self-therapy to work through trauma, but for most people there is no connection. If it makes you and your partner feel good, you probably don't have anything to worry about.
If I like spanking, am I abnormal?
People have tried to categorise "normal" sexual behaviour for years, but there is no such thing as normal or abnormal when it comes to the colourful spectrum of human sexuality. Sex educator Charlie Glickmann puts it more bluntly - in his book, "nobody gets to be normal". Whether spanking adds occasional spice to your sex life, is something you only fantasise about, or is a core part of your sexuality, you are no more normal or abnormal than anyone else.
Some people (like me) start fantasising very young; even before puberty. For years I thought I was a freak, but as an adult I've encountered countless other people who had the same experience. Others discover their desires later in life, perhaps through reading, or a partner who's into it.
Sexuality is fluid, and varies over time and depending on circumstance. Tastes can change, and desires will ebb and flow. It's okay to try new things - don't dismiss your fantasies as a "phase" to be ignored. We can't help what turns us on. Whatever that may be, the healthiest thing to do is acknowledge it and accept it.
So what does this involve?
An interest in spanking can take all sorts of forms. If your lover has approached you about trying spanking, don't leap to conclusions about what this involves - there's a whole range of things to try. Roleplay, dressing up (everything from schoolgirl to courtesan), pretend punishment, punishment for things you've really done, affectionate and erotic spanking - the possibilities are limited only by your imagination.
Wanting to be spanked doesn't mean you have to be submissive in bed, and wanting to spank someone doesn't mean you have to be dominant (although they often go together). Some people never feel submissive but still like to be spanked from time to time - much as they might ask their lover to perform any other erotic service.
The person doing the spanking can be referred to as the "spanker" or "top", and the person getting spanked the "spankee" or "bottom". The same person can be both at different times; many people enjoy both angles. There are couples that play both ways, and others who have a single direction that works best for them.
Spanking overlaps with "power exchange", where one lover puts themselves in the other's power. It's called power exchange because it doesn't mean the submissive lover is powerless - they're just giving their partner permission to exercise power over them for a period of time. It's a great gesture of trust, and it makes both of you very vulnerable; not just the bottom, but also the top, who is probably worried about getting it right. This exchange of trust and vulnerability can be profoundly intimate.
The key in bringing any fantasy to life is enthusiastic consent. If your fantasies involve pretending that you don't want something, that consent has to be made explicit beforehand. Negotiation and communication are both crucial. Talk to each other: what do you like? What are you scared of? How do these ideas make you feel?
It can be helpful to check in with each other during play, too. The top could ask the bottom questions to get feedback on what works for them. Don't be afraid to take time out to cuddle and talk about your reactions.
A lot of people who like spanking don't actually enjoy the sensations at the time (after all, it can hurt!), but still find the whole experience very erotic. Nervous anticipation before a spanking can be highly arousing. Fear triggers adrenaline, and the brain produces endorphins in response to physical pain. Not only can a spanking get easier as the bottom relaxes and "warms up", but afterwards they'll feel a pleasant glow and natural high that can last for hours.
Reactions to a spanking vary. You might end up feeling floaty, relaxed, sociable, euphoric or horny. You might release some tension that you've been holding on to, have a cry and feel better for it. Like physical exercise, spanking can ground you in your body. Some people find it helps them process difficult emotions. If you've played hard or tested your boundaries, it can leave you feeling exhilirated, with an increased self-confidence, and awareness of your own strength and courage.
Some people sit on their desires for years or even decades, but receive a positive response when they finally open up. The fact that something is important to your partner (and, even better, makes them desperately horny) can be enough to spark an interest. Neither of you should do anything that makes you feel truly uncomfortable, but don't let shyness or social conditioning stop you from trying something new.
How to get started
- Read blogs. There are loads of great blogs about spanking, most of them written by women. My Bottom Smarts has lots of information for newcomers and links to other blogs that are worth exploring. You can read about other people's experiences, ask questions, get ideas and reassurance. I know several people who first confided their spanking fantasies anonymously on some spanking blog or other - and ended up meeting play partners and friends for life. Besides, sending your lover a link to a blog post can be an easy way of telling them what you like...
- Watch porn. There's a lot out there, but again, blogs can be a good place to start. If you're concerned about the consent aspect of spanking videos, a lot of performers have blogs which might help reassure you. SpankingTube is free, and includes sample clips from a lot of sites, as well as amateur clips produced by couples at home.
- Show your lover some erotic writing, pictures or video you like, and see what they think. Ask them about their fantasies - you might find ideas that work for both of you.
- If your partner isn't sure at first, try not to pressure them by mentioning it repeatedly. However, a flirty text or email telling them what you want them to do to you never goes amiss. Emphasise how turned on it would make you. Few people can resist the desire to indulge their lover - and your enjoyment might be contagious!
Taking the plunge
So, heart in mouth, you've confessed your fantasies - or listened understandingly while your lover confessed theirs. Well done you! But how to bring those fantasies to life?
Firstly, don't be put off if you feel a bit foolish. Let's be honest - spanking can be hot, but it's also somewhat silly. Recognising that silliness doesn't have to be a show-stopper - it's called "play" for a reason! Getting the giggles is fairly common; in fact laughter is a key part of a lot of spanking roleplay, and cheeky banter can be as much fun as the spanking itself.
There's no need to rush out and spend loads of money. Contact between hand and bare bottom can be the most intimate of all.
Start out with some kisses and cuddles. Massaging and rubbing the bottom feels great, and can make the spankee hungry for more. The round lower half of the bottom is an erogenous zone, and spanking can stimulate blood flow to the whole region and increase sensitivity in the scrotum or vulva. Begin gently, with lots of reassuring strokes and rubs. Alternating harder spanks with light caresses can keep the spankee guessing and all their nerve endings tingling.
Admiring comments about the lovely appearance of the spankee's posterior might help them feel relaxed and confident. If you're the spankee, give your lover lots of positive feedback and show them how horny it makes you.
Either way, don't be shy about expressing how you're feeling, or asking questions. It can be hard for the spanker to tell what effect they're having. One idea is to set a scale of 1-5, where 1 is "not hard enough", 3 is "just right" and 5 is "much too hard". Check in with each other frequently.
Positions and practicalities
The spankee lying over the spanker's knee is traditional, and allows for lots of intimacy and physical contact. It can also make the spankee feel pleasantly small and vulnerable.
Another favourite is for the spankee to lie facedown on the bed with some pillows or a bolster under their hips. Some people find the sensation of having their bottom lifted highly erotic - and it presents an appealing target.
Be careful about hitting too high or too low. Don't hit someone's genitals unless they've explicitly said that's what they want. It can also be dangerous to hit the lower back where the kidneys are, especially if you're using an implement. And the backs of the thighs are extremely sensitive - some people like this, but ask before you smack.
Spanking someone with your hand for the first time can be hard work - and surprisingly painful for spanker as well as the spankee! It gets easier with practice, but in the meantime, if you're having so much fun you want to step it up a notch, you can work wonders with household items like a smooth-backed hairbrush, a ruler or a wooden spoon. Many people love the warm, sensual feeling of being spanked with leather, but I'd advise aspiring spankers to practice on a cushion before they use a belt on their lover, as they can be difficult to aim. You can buy leather paddles on the high street, in the same sort of price range as a vibrator.
Sounding good? Whether you like giving or receiving, spanking can be a vibrant part of a healthy sexuality. If you start to explore your kinky desires you'll end up thinking in new ways about your preferences and boundaries. For many people this results in an enhanced understanding of their own desires, better communication with their partner, and an increased awareness of consent. Even if it turns out that spanking isn't for you, these are good things to think about. But you'll never know until you try.