One of the chief benefits of submitting to Domestic Discipline (DD) is its ability to teach in a safe, private and loving way, lessons that make life in the "outside" world easier to handle.
In my case, I have a particularly difficult time dealing with situations in which I feel talked down to and put in a position I feel is beneath my abilities, skills and age. Now everyone, to some extent, has problems in this situation, but I tend to have an extreme emotional reaction way beyond reasonable irritation. In the past, my responses have ranged from yelling insults at the other person off to to bursting into tears to quitting a job I needed on the spot, and any number of other things that are, at best, immature and self-destructive, and at worst, abusive.
In short, I have a problem, I realize, with humility.
Since beginning domestic discipline with my partner, however, I find that the real world's lessons in humility are a bit easier to take than they used to be. I find I'm becoming more able to apply the lessons of humility I learn through the corrections I receive at home to my outside life. And as a result, I believe my life and my emotional health are improving.
Domestic discipline is largely about teaching and learning humility. Baring my bottom and bending over for the paddle is humbling. Standing in the corner with my pants down and my reddened bottom on display is humbling. Thanking my partner for my discipline on my knees is humbling.
But no matter how humbilng, fundamentally, these experiences are safe. I know he won't do anything that is dangerous, abusive or traumatic. I know that we're operating in a system with clearly agreed-upon boundaries. I know that as humbling as my discipline is, I am loved, respected and valued -- perhaps now more than ever because I am demonstrating to him on a regular basis that I am serious about improving our relationship and becoming a better person.
The key is that, in a safe, controlled situation, I am able to practice humility and learn that not only is it not as awful as I always thought it would be, but being humbled is actually empowering. That's the paradox of Domestic Discipline that critics and outsiders fail to see, and perhaps the biggest surprise so far about living a DD lifestyle.
Unfortunately, the Ring Wing/Christian perspective too often uses Domestic Discipline as a tool to keep women from claiming their power, as a reason why they should remain "beneath" men. But I believe that true Domestic Discipline is all about helping a woman to own her true power.
Although I often dislike receiving corrections, when I rise from them (quite literally, as my partner and I have a closing ritual which involves him lifting me back onto my feet), I feel stronger, more capable, more...whole. I respect myself for being willing to take responsibliity for my mistakes instead of defending them, denying them or covering them up. I feel proud of myself for having taken my discipline well (assuming I have, which doesn't always happen). I feel a sense of relief that I've paid honestly and fairly for my mistake. And, at least for now, I still feel a sense of surprise and pride that I was able to conduct myself reasonably well in a humbling situation.
Of course, the consequences of mistakes in real life are, unfortunately, generally not quite as safe and clear-cut as they are in Domestic Discipline, but DD allows me the constant opportunity practice accepting consequences and being humbled by my imperfections in a low-risk situation. And I'm able to take the confidence I build at home and apply it to situations that aren't as safe or as clear-cut.
A few weeks ago, I'd messed up fairly badly in my professional life. Normally, I would have dealt with the situation by either coming up with an elaborate excuse (both for myself and for my colleagues) about why I haven't really screwed up and it wasn't my fault. I would have lived in constant shame over what I had done and it would have become a low-grade stressor of unresolved guilt and feelings of inadequacy. And a small part of me would have lost some respect for my colleagues for having been gullible enough to let me "get away" with my cover-up.
This time, however, I realized that the feelings I was having about stepping up and taking responsiblity for my mistake professionally were much the same as those I had about taking a correction at home -- nervousness, guilt, shame, embarrassment, fear. And it occured to me that if I could take a spanking for a mistake, I could certainly handle whatever repercussions I'd face in the real world -- likely not nearly as embarrassing as a spanking is!
So I took a breath, braced myself and faced up to what I had done. I acknowledged responsibility, took the pain and embarrassment that came from having messed up. I humbled myself by letting myself be imperfect. And I survived. More than survived, actually. Instead of those nagging feelings of repressed guilt and shame, I felt free and clean. And strong, because now I knew I could survive a mistake without having to cover it up. And instead of feeling contempt for colleagues whom I had manipulated, I felt that I could (eventually!) look them in the eye again.
For me, these experiences are powerful proof that, despite what detractors might claim, Domestic Discipline does not demean a woman. It empowers her, makes her stronger, more powerful, more effective.
Even the greatest leaders (perhaps especially the greatest leaders) among us know the value of humility as a tool for strengthening character. Nelson Mandela and Vaclav Havel both developed much of the strength and wisdom that allowed them to become spiritual and political leaders of their countries during years spent in prison, being humbled day after day after day by the indignities of incarceration, extended "corner time," if you will. Learning to be humble and maintain one's self-respect at the same time seems so central to the idea of spiritual and moral character that it may be a prerequisite for developing inner strength.
The problem is that in today's culture, it's very difficult for an intelligent, empowered, feminist woman to find safe ways of experiencing humility that don't compromise her professional or social standing. Domestic Discipline provides a loving, safe, consistent and private means of experiencing and practicing the humility required for success in life. And taking some spankings and corner time seem a small price to pay for the opportunity to live a fully empowered, self-realized life.
One of the chief benefits of submitting to Domestic Discipline (DD) is its ability to teach in a safe, private and loving way, lessons that make life in the "outside" world easier to handle.
Abuse is nonconsensual. Domestic Discipline (DD) is consensual.
Abuse comes from a place of rage and emotional sickness. DD comes from a place of love and respect.
Abuse is about cutting off communication between two people. DD requires constant communication between partners.
Abuse is about lack of self-control on the part of the abuser. DD requires a high-degree of emotional control on the part of the disciplinarian.
Abuse is initiated by the abuser and women do not ask to be abused. DD is almost always initiated by the woman, who requests this lifestyle from her partner as something she wants and needs.
Abuse has no limits and is therefore life-threatening and dangerous. DD has defined well-defined and negotiated limits that keep both parties safe at all times.
Abuse can occur anywhere, anytime on any part of a woman's body with any weapon. DD occurs in private, and corporal discipline is confined to safe areas of the body with safe, traditional disciplinary implements only.
After an abusive episode, a woman feels terrified, exhausted and worthless. After a DD disciplinary session, a woman generally feels safe, relaxed, loving and empowered.
Abusers put on a "nice" face in public, but are cruel in private. Men in DD relationships are good men in public and in private and strive to treat their partners and others with respect at all times.
Women in abusive relationships are afraid of their abusers. Women in DD relationships are not afraid of their partners.
Women in abusive relationships are taught that they are worthless. Women in DD relationships are taught they they are precious, worth loving and important.
Women in abusive relationships "obey" their partners out of fear of abuse. Women in DD relationships "obey" their partners out of a genuine love and respect.
Women in abusive relationships suffer from low self-esteem and lack of confidence. Women in DD relationships seem to experience an unusually high level of self-esteem and confidence.
Abusers will not stop the abuse if it causes trauma. Men in DD relationships will immediately stop any discipline if there is evidence of traumatic reaction.
Women in abusive relationships become increasingly more helpless. Women in DD relationships usually become increasingly empowered.
Abuse flourishes ONLY in the absence of love, trust and respect, while DD is a choice that can only be made out of love, trust and mutual respect.
A prominent, self-proclaimed Domestic Discipline (DD) "expert" has recently published a book in which he claims that humiliation is an essential element of DD. (*see link at end of this article)
And while it's true that this expert has a lot of value to say about DD, his view on humilation in DD is dangerous, abusive and ignorant. It's also a fundamental misunderstanding of what DD is about.
LDD is about humilty, not humiliation. This same "expert" claims the difference between the two words is just "semantic." Well, okay... given that "semantic" means, er... what a word means, that would be about the most accurate thing he's said on this subject so far. Humiliation and humility mean different things. One is appropriate to DD, the other is not.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines "humiliate" as: "to lower the pride, dignity, or self-respect of." (from: www.Dictionary.com)
But DD is not and should never be about lowering a woman's pride, dignity or self-respect. As soon as DD becomes about any of those things, it's no longer DD, but an abusive relationship. If a woman (or a man) is in a relationship in which she feels humiliated in ANY way, this is not healthy, this is not empowered, and this is most certainly not DD.
Some would argue that DD is about lowering a woman's pride, but there is a fundamental difference between false pride or arrogance, and pride. DD is often about stripping away a woman's false pride, or arrogance, which is unhealthy and usually covers up insecurities that can't be addressed until the false pride is removed.
But pride, true pride in who we are, is essential to our dignity as human beings, and learning to make choices we're proud of and to act in ways we can be proud of is one of the most powerful benefits of DD for a woman. Those of us who practice DD from a feminist, progressive standpoint -- and I think a case can be made that this is the only healthy way in which it can be practiced -- know firsthand that when DD works, it creates a heightened sense of power, self-respect and pride in one's choices.
When I submit to discipline for my misbehavior, I am proud. I'm proud of having stepped up and taken responsiblity for my actions. I'm proud of having been vulernable and soft enough to accept change and to learn lessons that help me become a better, more productive, empowered human being. And I'm proud of being able to work through an issue with my partner in a safe, sane and loving way that benefits our relationship (and therefore my life as a whole).
Yes, submitting to discipline is embarrassing, especially for a grown woman, "embarrass" meaning primarily "to cause to feel self-conscious" (www.dictionary.com) Being spanked and put in a corner, being "grounded" or made to write lines definitely causes me to feel self-conscious -- of my misbehavior and the consequences of it.
And that's the point ofLDD -- to provide a safe, sane way of processing through our natural, healthy guilt at our misbehaviors with a loving partner who wants to help us to grow as human beings. Intentionally doing anything to a woman that erodes her self-respect is never healthy or appropriate, particularly when the very purpose of discipline is to teach us greater self-respect.
Humiliation is an abuse of power. A good teacher, parent, mentor or professor might teach an errant (or arrogant) student lessons in humility, but show me a teacher, parent, mentor or professor who relies on humiliation to teach his lessons and I'll show you a man in authority abusing his power for the sake of his own ego -- a man who should be summarily removed from power.
DD is not about humiliation. Abuse is about humiliation. DD is about humility -- or the state of being humble, defined as "not arrogant or prideful." (www.dictionary.com). Humility is a good thing. Humility is a lack of arrogance, an empathy with our fellow man, and an acknowledgement of our fallibility as human beings. Humility is about learning to treat those around us respectfully, to honor their boundaries, and to pay a just and reasonable price for our mistakes. Humility is about not believing that we are too good to pay for our mistakes. Humility is about understanding that we are not above or better than any of our fellow human beings, and that it is therefore never appropriate to disrespect, hurt or offend another.
DD teaches us humility by providing a safe framework for learning these lessons -- the same lessons taught by enlightened spiritual leaders throughout the world.
Virtually every true spiritual tradition (meaning not manipulative cults or extremist distortions of established religious traditions) sets forth the practice of humility as a cornerstone of enlightenment and spiritual awakening. To my knowledge, there are no legitimate spiritual traditions that suggests that humiliation is the way to spiritual growth.
The blog in question can be found at http://lovingdd.blogspot.com. The article on "Humiliation" appears not on blog, but in his book "Advanced Loving DD," and can be accessed by clicking on the link to purchase the book and reading the first chapter.
Word of warning: As I said earlier, there is much good in the thoughts and writings on the "Loving DD" blog. It's definitely worth reading and I personally have found many useful insights there (I found his posts on male/female energies to be particularly insightful). That said, there are some warning flags that bear considering when reading his blog -- please read my article "Cautions about the Loving DD Blog" for more details.
One of the more comprehensive sources available online regarding Domestic Discipline (DD) is the blog "LovingDD" (http://lovingdd.blogspot.com). The author, who goes by the unfortunate psuedonym of "Mr. Loving DD," has a lot of helpful insights into this topic and I would recommend reading his material. (Speaking for myself, I've found his posts on male/female energies to be particularly insightful).
That said, there are some warning flags that bear considering when reading his blog and since posting to his site requires me to reveal what I consider to be inapppropriate personal details, I thought I'd share them here in hopes that they will help anyone interested in learning about DD.
1. He refuses to provide any details or information about his background and experience with DD or his relationship status. While, unfortunately, anonymity is an unfortunate necessity when posting on this topic, anyone who claims to be an expert on a subject has, I believe, an ethical responsibility to divulge enough information about his experience and background to justify taking him as a credible source (especially in an area as controversial and potentially volatile and sensitive as DD). If he's really an expert, he should have no problem posting a bio detailing the source of his expertise. And if he's just a normal person who believes he has something useful to share (like me), that's great -- but he still has an obligation to disclose his background to so that people can evaluate his material in the context of his experiences.
2. He's written literally hundreds of pages on DD and discipline (and self-published two bookson the subject), but we never hear one word from his partner. Perhaps this is because he doesn't have one and is merely speculating and engaging in wishful thinking without any "field experience" to back it up? Hard to say, but without her perspective, it's a bit hard to take his more extreme positions seriously. (How about a post on how SHE feels about the difference between humiliation and humility?)
3. He frequently encourages the women who post on his site to call him "Mr." and "Sir," and has started a somewhat bizarre trend in which women debase themselves to him as part of their "discipline."
4. He has recently begun requiring women who wish to comment on his articles to his site to post the intimate details of their discipline. While this type of behavior might be appropriate and titillating on a BDSM site, it seems to me to be far from what DD is meant to be, and a bit of a case of "power corrupts." Perhaps this is just overzealousness or simple human error. On the other hand, perhaps it's 's urther evidence that the author of this site does not have real life experience in a DD relationship and is instead a latent abuser who needs to get his "fix" by dominating the women who read his blog. Since he's created an environment in which he doesn't allow anyone (least of all women) to question his material, I suspect he's getting a little out of control with his own issues of dominance and submission. That's often what happens when someone in a position of power is allowed to do his thing without criticism or feedback.
5. He routinely encourages and approves of discipline that, at least to me, seems to cross the line from discipline into abuse. Some examples:
- Approving a post in which a woman's punishment for poor housecleaning was to lick the furniture clean.
- Approving multiple posts which encourage public nudity and humiliation as a disciplinary tool. (example: doing naked corner time in the presence of friends, family and strangers).
- Writing an entire chapter in his new book, "Advanced Loving DD," on why humiliation is an essential part of DD. (see the article on this blog regarding this issue, "Humiliation vs. Humility")
The point is, please read his posts with a bit of caution and do not consider the "Loving DD" blog to be the ultimate authority on what DD is and should be. Please use common sense and good judgement when evaluating the advice of anyone, particularly someone whose background and credentials are being deliberately concealed.
Domestic Discipline (DD) is not the same as domestic violence. DD -- true DD -- is not abusive. I know. Because I have lived both.
I married my first boyfriend when I was 19. Early in our dating life, clumsily and full of shame, I confessed to him my need for domestic discipline, a need I'd been aware of since I was a small child. Back then, before the internet, I wasn't aware of the actual concept of DD, so the best I could do was to articulate a need to be spanked and generally be sexually dominated.
Later that night, while we were having sex, he hit me -- square in the face, hard enough to cause a momentary loss of consciousness.
I can still remember what that moment felt like, and the conflicting emotions it brought up for me. The shock, the anger, the pain. And then the confusion -- after all, hadn't I asked for this? Wasn't he giving me just what I had confessed to him that I wanted?
No, of course not. Anyone who has practiced genuine DD for even a short time knows that there is no simliarity at all between the consentual, loving and respectful application of discipline and the brutal randomness and cruelty of domestic violence.
I know because I have lived both.
I should have cut off my relationship with my husband-to-be right immediately after he hit me. At the very least, I should have pointed out -- assertively -- that being hit in the face was NOT what I was asking for. But I said nothing.
The reason I said nothing, looking back, was because although I knew that kind of abuse wasn't what I wanted, I was so ashamed of what I DID want that I lacked the courage to clarify or stand up for myself. I was only 19 after all, and back then, I figured I must be such a terrible person for wanting a relationship in which I was physically disciplined that I deserved whatever I got in exchange. So I told myself that I was grateful and fortunate to have man who would so eagerly give me "what I wanted."
I also believed, in my ignorance and naivete, that submitting to domestic discipline meant submitting to whatever the man in the relationship wanted to do to me, whether I agreed with it or not. In a DD relationship, a woman consents to being disciplined and the limits to that discipline are safe, sane and mutually-agreed upon. In true LDD, a woman would never be afraid of articulating her needs and experiences to her partner.
But I didn't know any of that. And so I married this man who hit me so hard I blacked out. I'll never know for sure whether the violent, abusive behavior that followed was something that would have happened anyway, or something that he allowed himself to inflict on me without restrain because he believed I'd "asked" for it.
I know what it's like to be beaten with a wire coat hanger until blood runs down my back.I know what it's like to be thrown down a flight of stairs.
I know what it's like to locked out of the house, naked, on a freezing winter night, crouching in the bushes, crying and pleading to be let back in before the neighbors saw me.
I know what it's like to wear long-sleeved shirts and high collars to cover cuts and bruises.I know what it's like to have the police arrive at the door and telling them that "everything's fine.
I know what it's like to have my friends and family tell me I'm so lucky to have "such a great husband," because he puts on his most charming, gallant face when he's around others.
I know what it's like to lock him out of the house and watch him take two hours to take the door off the hinges with his car keys, knowing the pain and terror that await when he finally gets back inside.
I know what it's like to want to leave, and to be told that I am worthless and that "no one else will ever love you."
I know what it's like to try to leave and to arrive at the motel only to find my credit cards have all been reported as "stolen."
I know what it's like to have my beautiful, innocent cats murdered in a fit of revenge for my trying to leave him.
And I know what it's like to finally leave, to finally say, this is enough and I deserve better.
I know because I lived through it Not once, but twice, because the man who "rescued" me from my abusive husband turned out to be abusive as well.
So when I say that DD is not domestic violence, I am not theorizing, quoting from a book or engaging in denial and wishful thinking. I say DD is not domestic violence because I have lived both and know from experience that they are not the same thing in any way.
When I am beaten by an abusive man, and collapse weeping, terrified, in a corner, afraid for my life, that's abuse. When I submit, willingly, to a firm, but fair spanking by a man I love and trust, because we have mutually agreed that this is the consequence for a behavior we both agree is hurtful to me, him or others, this is Loving Domestic Discipline. When an abusive man stands over me, bleeding and terrified in a corner, and tells me that I'm worthless, that's abuse. When I rise from my discipline feeling more empowered, safe, free and whole than I was before I received it, and step into the loving, forgiving arms of a man whom I know would never betray my trust, that's Loving Domestic Discipline.
But the sad truth is that, like any relationship, a DD relationship can turn abusive. I say "turn" rather than "be" because once a relationship becomes abusive, it is definitionally not DD.
One of the reasons for this blog is that I see a disturbing trend on the more popular DD blogs and forums toward encouraging abusive behavior towards women in the name of DD. This is frightening to me, and also sad, because it's not at all what DD is meant to be, and I'm concerned that the misuse and misunderstanding of DD will scare away women who would otherwise find fulfillment in this type of relationship.
The man I am with now has taken heroic actions protect women whom he knew were being abused. None of the things I list about would be in any way acceptable to him. The man I'm with now actively works to help strengthen organizations that protect abused women and children from violent men. The man I'm with now is a big part of why I now understand that no woman deserves to be beaten or humiliated. And the man I'm with now practices DD with me only after many, many (many!) hours of discussion in which he gently, patiently, respectfully helped me to articulate my needs and wishes in this area.
Any woman can find herself in an abusive relationship. But making a DD relationship work requires both parties to possess a great deal of self-confidence and self-respect. The first time my current partner and I tried it, I wasn't strong enough, healed enough, or empowered enough to handle it -- and it failed miserably.
Early in my current relationship, I was still too fearful and traumatized from my past abusive relationships to separate the two things in my head. My partner would try to do what I asked for -- he'd try to discipline me -- and I'd freak out. My emotions were all over the map -- fear, anger, "righteous" indignation. He'd spank me and I'd terrified and sobbing, pleading for him to stop, that I didn't really want it after all and it was a mistake. Or more often than not, I'd talk my way out of the spanking because I was too afraid to take it.
Fortunately, my partner was perceptive enough to recognize the difference between the sobs and cries of remorse that come with a true disciplinary experience from the terror of a woman not ready for that type of experience. Being a healthy, non-abusive man, he stopped what he was doing immediately - another thing that an abuser would never do.
We both realized our relationship wasn't mature enough yet for DD, and so we put it on hold while we worked on the basics of love, trust and respect. This is probably the biggest difference between DD and abuse:
LDD is a choice made out of love, trust and mutual respect, whereas abuse flourishes ONLY in the absence of love, trust and respect.
I wasn't yet healthy enough to enter into that kind of emotionally mature, intimate relationship with another human being. It took years -- five of them, to be exact -- of personal growth work, of learning to validate myself as a worthwhile human being, of healing past traumas and of getting the abusive ghosts of my abusers out of my head before we could try again. And I've learned along the way that the stronger I get, the more "whole" I become. the more rewarding our DD relationship becomes.
This is another crucial difference between abuse and DD -- abuse only "works" on a woman who is so beaten down and lacking in self-respect that she doesn't believe she deserves better. If a woman is in what she believes to be an DD relationship, and feels during her discipline that she is being punished for being worthless, inferior or inadequate, this is not DD. This is abuse. And the longer an abusive relationship continues, the fewer options a woman has for empowering herself enough to escape.
DD, on the other hand, isn't possible unless both parties come to the relationship reasonably healthy and emotionally sound. A woman in a true LDD relationship experiences her discipline as just, healthy and healing. And, at least for me, the more my partner and I practice DD, the more empowered I feel, both in and out of the relationship, and the stronger and more capable I become, thus giving me many more options in life than I had before.
* For more on the difference between DD and abuse, see Abuse vs. DD -- A Comparison.