Please note: This post includes information about my personal sexuality. Family members and others who don't want to read about that, please hang up now. This piece was originally published on the Blowfish Blog.
I mean, spanking. Please. How seriously can you take it? Yes, sure, there are thousands of psycho-socio-philosophico-political treatises on hundreds of forms of sexuality, on intercourse and bondage and sex work and masturbation and so on. But getting your bare bottom paddled? How are we supposed to ponder it and not fall into fits of the giggles?
It makes it hard to talk about. Heck, it makes it hard to think about. It's much easier to talk about vanilla sex: it's "normal," it's safe, you're not revealing yourself as a pervert if you show an interest in it... and because it's so common, it's easy to think of as important and serious. And it's easier to talk about hard-core kink as well: there's this gravity that comes with heavy sadomasochism, a sense of danger and power that makes people take it seriously, even if they don't approve of it.
But spanking is right on the border between the two. It's just transgressive enough to make you feel like a freak -- and it's just un-transgressive enough to make you feel like a dork. You can beg your partner to beat you, or stand over them with a whip in your hand, and feel like an outlaw and a rebel. But it's very hard to say "Please spank me" and not feel at least a little bit like a nerd. When you're bent over someone's lap with your pants pulled down, or caressing someone's bare bum getting ready to give them a good smack, it can feel like a crowd of invisible vanilla people is standing alongside, cringing and saying, "Ew, gross, you're into that?" -- while a crowd of invisible sadomasochists stands next to them, rolling their eyes and saying, "Oh, puh-leez. Give me a break." You get the silly feeling from both sides of the vanilla/pervert spectrum.
And of course, the childishness of spanking can help make you feel like a fool as well. Spanking is so rooted in childhood, and it brings on all those childish feelings of smallness and unimportance, naivete and powerlessness. No wonder it's hard to talk about seriously. Even thinking about it can make you feel like an embarrassed nine-year-old.
But here's the thing about spanking. This sense of silliness, of triviality, of childish shame, is closely intertwined with its pleasure. If you can let the silliness be, and even go with it, it can actually make spanking more pleasurable.
I'm not just talking about the potential hotness of humiliation and smallness. Sure, that's a factor: even if you don't get off on heavy-duty humiliation, feeling small means feeling vulnerable, which can mean feeling open and touchable, which can mean feeling hot and sexy. And of course, if you have play-acting fantasies with a childhood streak -- schoolgirl or schoolboy games being the classic example -- then the embarrassment and smallness of spanking can add to the immediacy of the scene.
But that's not what I'm talking about here. What I'm talking about is the connection between silliness and playfulness. The fact that it's hard to take spanking too seriously can create a certain freedom to simply enjoy it.
The thing is, sex -- both vanilla and kinky -- can often feel so very serious, all fraught and intense and laden with meaning and consequence. And while that can be lovely, it can also be a burden, adding this lead weight of self-consciousness and anxiety that really doesn't help the proceedings.
But when you're doing something that's inherently silly -- whether it's dressing like a cheerleader, playing barbarian conqueror, or getting turned over someone's knee with your bottom in the air -- it relieves some of that tension. Sex that feels trivial and dorky can also feel light and giddy and exuberant. Frivolity and playfulness can make sex feel less like a test or a drama, and more like a goofy game that you both love to play, a conspiracy of pleasure that you're in on together.
Sure, the silliness of spanking can make you self-conscious and anxious as well. There's nothing like feeling dorky to make it seem like the whole world is staring at you and writing critiques. But if you can accept the dorkiness and spank anyway, if you can allow yourself to feel goofy and turned on at the same time, it can relieve some of the portentousness that can come with the intensity of sex.
What's more, because it is right on the border between kink and not-kink, spanking can feel like a safe doorway between the two. It makes it possible to tap into the darker world of hard kink without being overwhelmed by it. It can make you feel both a little bit wicked and fundamentally safe. And that's a very good place to take off from. Some hard-core sadomasochists turn up their noses at spanking and other light kinky play for this very reason; I believe "tourism" is the charming terminology for it. But... well, fuck them. They're idiots. It isn't a competition.
And when you come right down to it, any kind of sexuality can look pretty darned silly. When you think about any type of sex too closely and imagine what it might look like to visiting space aliens, it all can seem outrageously, mortifyingly ridiculous. Now, you can deal with the absurdity of sex by simply ignoring it and not letting it get to you. And there are times when that's the right thing to do. But there are times when it's completely appropriate to accept the absurdity, and revel in your inner dorkiness. And when you're whipping yourself into a sexual frenzy by spanking a bare bottom or getting your own bottom spanked, that might be a good time to start.