To those outside of our spanking lifestyle, what we do could incorrectly be perceived as abuse. I wanted to talk a bit about that to reiterate the all important issue of consent. I've touched on some of this before in this post here, but I feel it is important and worth repeating.
This excerpt is from Ms. Margaret Davis' article on Play Vs. Abuse, found on the SCONY website.
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.
These are some of the qualities I've observed in a good top. They are stern but calm. At times, disappointed but not reacting in anger. Strict but controlled. Firm but caring.
I have shared various real life stories on here where I am led by the wrist and pulled over someone's lap or even yanked by the ear. To some that may sound awful, but NOTHING has ever happened that was not within my limits. I do have different limits with different people and all who I interact with are absolutely respectful of that. If they weren't, I would not still be playing with them. There's been a lot of joking with some of my friends lately about how "dead" I'm going to be at an upcoming party. One of my friends said that I'm only as dead as I want to be. And she was absolutely right.
Sometimes in the moment I may feel a bit resistant to what is happening, but it still comes down to consent. If I really do not want something to be happening, I will say so or safeword and know it will be respected. (You can see my previous post about safewords here.) I'm speaking from a bottom's perspective but the same applies to tops, of course. Both parties have to be consenting and either can opt out of anything they are not comfortable with and it should be respected.
Zelle of No Domme Blonde posted something a while back that really stuck with me. She wrote, "I'm in control but I choose to put you in charge." You can find that great post of hers here. To me, there is no difference whether you're dealing with a casual play partner at a party or someone you are in a relationship with. The underlying consent is always still in play. If I truly told my husband that I didn't want to do this anymore, that would be the end of it. And the same goes for him. It is a two-way street.
Sara of Finding Sara recently wrote a great post about mutual trust and respect that you can read here. It touches on the concept of the two-way street. One has to earn the other's trust and respect but also reciprocate that for it to work. When a top makes me feel safe and cared for and is respectful of my limits, it actually makes me more willing to possibly push my limits a bit or try things I didn't think I normally would because I do trust them. Funny how that works. If both parties do their part, it should lead to a win-win situation all around.
One final unrelated note, my friend Mr. A has just started up a blog of his own called A Consensual Spanker. He is an intelligent and interesting person who I look forward to reading more from. Check it out if you'd like. And welcome to the blogosphere, Mr. A!