Thursday, May 5, 2011

Bottom= Masochist?

Recently I saw a discussion pop up about if spanking is BDSM or not. This also brings up another topic, are tops and bottoms classified as sadists and masochists? Is spanking sexual? And yet another subject, is spanking abuse? This is a lot of subject matter and I've rewritten parts of this several times over. I hope that it currently reflects my thoughts in a somewhat cohesive manner. This is all based on my personal views as a mostly discipline minded bottom. I'm not saying what is right or wrong for anyone else. There are so many different ways that people have their lifestyle work for them and there is certainly no blanket answer to anything.

As to the first question, is spanking BDSM? Let's look to Wikipedia for a basic definition of BDSM.

BDSM is a continuum of erotic practice and expression involving the consensual use of restraint, intense sensory stimulation, and fantasy role-play. The compound acronym, BDSM, is derived from the terms bondage and discipline (B&D or B/D), dominance and submission (D&S or D/s), and sadism and masochism (S&M or S/M). BDSM includes a wide spectrum of activities, forms of interpersonal relationships, and distinct subcultures.
Activities and relationships within a BDSM context are characterized by the fact that the participants usually take on complementary, but unequal roles, thus the idea of consent of both the partners becomes essential. Typically participants who are active – applying the activity or exercising control over others – are known as tops or dominants. Those participants who are recipients of the activities, or who are controlled by their partners are typically known as bottoms or submissives. Individuals who assume either top/dominant or bottom/submissive roles — whether from relationship to relationship or within a given relationship — are known as switches.[1]

Based purely on the definition of that acronym, I think yes, spanking is part of BDSM. Usually at least one of those aspects is involved in a spanking scenario. Bondage? Does a top pinning my arm against my back so I don't reach back count? Discipline? Check. Dominance and Submission? Check. Things get skewed with the labels but one is giving the spanking and one is receiving the spanking so there often is some sort of power exchange in play. Sadism and Masochism? I'll get into that a bit later. I think those of us who are spanko-minded definitely have our own niche in the community but nonetheless are in that category.


That leads into all the labels. Top/bottom/dominant/submissive/sadist/masochist. I don't believe that a person can be simply classified by any term. It may help you more easily explain something to say that you are a "spanko" but that nowhere near tells the story about a person or what they may be into within the category of spanking. Even under the spanko umbrella which is under the BDSM umbrella, there's so many directions one can take. There are many different styles of play, top/bottom dynamics, etc. I call myself a bottom for lack of a better term. I'm the one on the receiving end of the spanking by that definition. Am I a submissive because I play the bottom role? Not necessarily. I do have some submissive aspects of my personality which can fit with the bottom role. I guess it depends on your definition of "submissive". I'm letting someone else take control and I submit to the spanking. Sometimes more easily than others... Lol. Maybe I just take issue with that term because of the incorrect stereotype it can have that if someone is "submissive" that means you can do whatever you want to me and I'll just go along with it. And that is certainly not true.

Sadomasochism broadly refers to the receiving of pleasure— often sexual— from acts involving the infliction or receiving of pain or humiliation. The name originates from two authors on the subject, the Marquis de Sade and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. A subset of BDSM, practitioners of sadomasochism usually seek out sexual gratification from these acts, but often seek out other forms of pleasure as well. While the terms sadist and masochist specifically refer to one who either enjoys giving pain(sadist), or one who enjoys receiving pain(masochist), many practitioners of sadomasochism describe themselves as at least somewhat of a switch, or someone who can receive pleasure from either inflicting or receiving pain. (from Wikipedia)

Does being a bottom mean I'm a masochist? I don't think so. It may seem odd that someone who consents to receiving spankings doesn't like pain, but I really don't. Again, this is different for everyone. Some people like playful spankings, and others may like the pain of a really severe spanking. For some it can be a way to relieve stress by letting their emotions out, and others find it erotic. The majority of the time my headspace is within the discipline realm. If the spanker can really connect with me and get in my head, that's what really makes it work for me. If I don't have that connection, then the scene isn't doing much for me. Being in the right headspace for it is important and the ritual of the spanking plays into that for me. When I think back on the scenes that have really gotten to me, I honestly can't compare how hard the actual spanking was to other times. That is not what I remember. What stands out in my mind is why I was being spanked and how I was feeling while it was happening.

On the flip side of that, are tops considered sadists? Well, being the spankee here I don't know that I can give an unbiased response to that. Lol. I am not a top so am unable to delve into that perspective as easily, but I do know what some tops have told me about their headspace. One person who favors disciplinary spanking said that the most satisfying scenes for them are the ones where they feel they have really reached their partner and for that to happen, it's really more about the emotional and psychological aspects that go along with the spanking, not about how hard they spank. The spanking itself has to be hard enough to make an impression, but it's still only one piece of the puzzle. That hits the nail on the head for me. Of course, tops have as many different takes on what they get out of it as bottoms do. I'm just not as familiar with that side of things, so if you are reading this then please feel free to share your opinion.

 This is an excerpt from Ms. Margaret Davis' articles on Styles of Spanking and Suggested Ideas for Successful Party Spanking found on http://www.scony.com/.

 Pain is not as big a part of the punishment as people think. A serious spanking scene — one that makes a submissive feel humble and forgiven — takes carefully crafted mental and verbal skills that pierce their way into the heart and mind of the one who is over your lap.

Serious, intense pain and forceful hitting is not the most important component to a successful spanking. It is the intent, the style and the maturity with which it is delivered and received. A spanking is not an endurance test and no one is keeping score. The experience should be fun and pleasurable.



The next question, is spanking sexual? This seems to be the great debate of the spanking world. This is definitely a question that you could ask 50 different people and get 50 totally different responses. Some say that the act of having your bottom struck by someone else is sexual, period. I don't necessarily agree with that. Can it be sexual? Yes. Is it always sexual? No. For me, it's all about the headspace. As I mentioned above, I'm most often discipline minded when it comes to spanking. Things like being scolded and cornertime all play into the overall picture of a successful disciplinary spanking. The psychological aspects play an equal or even greater role than the actual spanking itself. So in those cases, it is definitely not sexual for me. On the other hand, can I enjoy a sensual or erotic spanking from my husband? Sure, if that's where my head is. One of the great things about spanking is the variety. It's not an all or nothing type of thing.

This brings us to the last subject. Is spanking abuse? This excerpt is from Ms. Margaret Davis' article on Play Vs. Abuse, also found on http://www.scony.com/.

The difference between Dominance/Submission Play & Abuse
D&S: A D&S scene is a controlled situation.
A: Abuse is an out-of-control situation.
D&S: Negotiation occurs before a D/S scene to determine what will and will not happen in that scene.
A: One person determines what will happen.
D&S: Knowledgeable consent is given to the scene by all parties.
A: No consent is asked for or given.
D&S: The bottom has a safe word that allows him/her to stop the scene at any time for physical or emotional reasons.
A: The person being abused cannot stop what is happening.
D&S: Everyone involved in the D/S scene is concerned about the needs, desires and limits of the others.
A: No concern is given to the needs, desires and limits of the abused person.
D&S: The people in the D/S scene are careful to be sure they are not impaired by alcohol or drug use during the scene.
A: Alcohol and drugs are often used before an episode of abuse.
D&S: After a D/S scene the people involved feel good.
A: After an episode of abuse the people involved feel bad.

I think a lot of vanilla people may have the perception that spanking is abuse. One more reason I wouldn't want to share this part of me with the vanillas in my life. It's not something that's easy to grasp or explain to those who aren't like-minded. They might think it's wrong or it's not healthy. I think it's greatly based on the trust you have with your partner and keeping it safe, sane, and consensual. Honestly, I believe that many couples into kink are better off than the vanilla couples. When you can share your deepest needs and desires with someone and play that out in your life together, it brings a whole new level of intimacy to the relationship that's truly amazing. I've experienced that firsthand.

I don't have all the answers. The bottom line is (pun intended) do what you enjoy the way you want to do it, be a safe player, and to hell with the labels. This has turned into quite the essay. Lol. If you are still reading, I hope you found it interesting.

12 comments:

Erica said...

Wow, we were of the same mind this week! But you covered the subject a lot more comprehensively than I did, which is a smart thing to do, since it's a controversial topic.

But yes, the hell with labels. Overall, I disdain them, and yet, the side of me that likes to pick things apart and play Devil's Advocate questions their definitions.

kitten said...

lea-
Thanks for the graduate level dissertation. LOL :) Honestly, I couldn't care less what you call me- as long as we're all on the same page about what we want and don't want, who the heck cares what we call ourselves??

bree512 said...

Wow Lea! Very heavy stuff! It doesn't matter. The only thing that matters in this case is that you are true to yourself, are comfortable with what you are doing and understand it, and you are not hurting anyone or yourself permanently, whether it be mentally or physically, by doing it.

It's not reality or real. It's a fantasy being acted out because we have a need to appease something bottled up in our head space that needs to be satisfied or dealt with in order for us to go on our merry way.

We try to rationalize and explain it by putting labels on it, but it's too complicated to pin point and give one specific label to.

For me, I call it being human - please forgive me.

bree

wordsmith said...

Hi Lea, glad I'm a speed reader ;-) What a tour-de-force, well done! Please send my diploma over. No point in trying to classify people, they never sit in their box properly - well, unless tied up LOL

Lea said...

@Erica, we certainly were! Thanks for reading!

@kitten @bree, indeed. I know many who don't even like the term "spanko" but I guess people revert to labels as an easier way to explain something to those outside of our interests.

@wordsmith, great now I have the Weeds theme song in my head. Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky tacky... I need to go resume Season 4.

bree512 said...

@Lea I don't need to explain the itch I have for spanking to someone on the outside. Those people will never get it. If they were capable of that, they would be on the inside or going towards the light at some point. (Poltergist reference inserted in last sentence if anyone is paying attention. Hehe.)

Hence the need not to have any labels. What is one's "centerpiece" is not always another's. It just compartmentalizes spanking to someone who is not interested or doesn't need it anyway. Why bother? They have already found there own niche.

It doesn't help newbies either. It just confuses the heck out of them and/or scares them. Keep it simple. For beginners, for imtermediates, for experts. Or even better: soft, medium, hard. Yeah.

As long as we, in the spanking world, communicate what are needs are, I see no need for these labels. It is what it is. (sound familiar?) Besides, it muddies up the communication of our individual needs between each other, when we truly need to be more specific and truly talk to each other about it. Simple words. I like this. I don't like this. Plain and simple. To the point.

wordsmith got it right. People never sit in their box properly anyway. You have the jumpers, the leaners, the straddlers, the tasters, the testers, the mood swingers, the dip my foot into the preverbial waters, etc. etc. See what I mean? Hehe.

Please! Someone tell me to stop! giggles.

I have a headache from all this. Does anyone have an aspirin? I will be quiet now. I need to rest from all this word mashing. Giggles.

I think I need a spanking.....

bree

Ursus Lewis said...

I consider the spanking universe part of the very large and very divers BDSM community. I agree with you, it's very hard to differ between top and dominant and bottom and submissive on the other side. For me a bottom has not always to be submissive and a top is not always dominant either. I like following descriptions:

BOTTOM:
A bottom is the lower role within a play session. Generally the person does not submit outside of the agreed upon time that both parties are enjoying the physical aspects of play. Bottoms have more control over what happens in the scene than other submissive types.

SUBMISSIVE:
A submissive is someone that submits in a relationship either part or full-time. This can involve only in the bedroom play all the way to live-in service. A submissive generally submits only to those they are in a D/s relationship with and are respectful of others outside of it. A submissive has roles and rules and structure to guide their interactions with their Dominant and with others. Most of the time they still hold a veto card called the safeword.

I see myself as a top (and sometimes bottom), but not as a dominant. I like the top/bottom dynamic, but not always. I'm not always "on". I do not seek a 24/7 D/s relationship. My partner would (and had to) be equal in all matters, with the exception I would like to turn certain behaviors into spanking plays.

On the topic about necessarily being masochist or sadist, I agree again. I don't feel like being a sadist while spanking somebody. Quite the contrary. Hurting somebody the wrong way was and still is my biggest fear. As bottom, I do not like the actual spanking. I like the anticipation and the feeling afterwards, but I do not like the spanking itself.

It's quite complicate. I still try to figure out myself. As I'm not able to fully understand myself, it's very hard to explain it to a spanko and almost impossible to do so to a vanilla friend. I do know, I like to spank, I like to top and therefore will continue to do so...

joeyred51 said...

Brilliant insights Lea and Bree. Also, thank you Urs for your comments on your perceptions as a Top. I have not met one top that I would consider sadistic. In fact, I consider them to be very protective and kind. Try to explain that to a vanilla friend.

Newt said...

Lea, T.Y.
I have never been one to live under the yoke of labels. Each person's path and experiences are true to them only. What is one's soft is another's to hard and visa versa. Sexual to some/Disipline to others/ both to many. This is stunning blog post.
Hugs,
Newt

Lea said...

@Newt, I agree. Even within TTWD, we are all so very different in what we want. And a gold star to you for making it through to the end! I know this is probably the longest post I've ever written. :-)

t1klish said...

I'm with you on not liking pain, but if I can get in the right "headspace" spanking can be erotic as long as it's not too painful, or too non-painful. But the mood is very important, or it just seems silly. I just wrote about this need for the mood to be set in a post at my blog last night.

Lea said...

@t1klish, Headspace is a really big thing. If I'm not in that right mood or place and start getting spanked, I'm a lot more likely to feel annoyed or resentful.