Resistance, Blame and Responsibility

The scene: I'm in the kitchen cooking dinner, banging pots and pans around. My ever-observant partner asks what's the matter. I don't actually know, mind you, but I decide that whatever it is, it's his fault. So I let him have it -- a long list of whiny, bitchy grievances that I have a bad feeling I'm half-making up as I go along.

My tirade has the, apparently, desired effect. My partner starts to get angry, then, to his credit, does what I've asked him to do. He stops and instead says, "Go get the paddle."

Many women in DD (domestic discipline) relationships will recognize this moment as the single most challenging one in creating a DD lifestyle. I'm angry, I'm sure I'm right. I am Woman, hear me roar and there's no way in hell I'm getting the paddle. I turn my back on him and walk out.

My partner, being either very foolish or very brave depending on one's point of view, follows me. "It's not an optional thing," he reminds me. I say nothing. "That ring's supposed to mean something," he adds, pointing to the silver band that I wear as a symbol of my consent to a DD lifestyle. (see "Ritual and a Little Help with Long-Distance DD").

It only takes a split second -- I'm barely aware of my thought process or my actions. But before I realize what I'm doing, the ring that I've fought so hard for the right to wear, the ring that symbolizes the hard work, trust, tears and heartaches that have gone into creating this fragile thing called a DD relationship, is off my hand and tossed onto the counter.

There is a beat of stunned silence on both of our parts. Neither of us can quite believe I've done what I just did. Taking the ring off is something I've promised -- sworn -- never, ever to do in the heat of an argument. Only upon thoughtful reflection and discussion is that supposed to be on option. I have violated the most sacred trust of our relationship.

Even in my anger, I'm sick to my stomach. As my partner leaves the room, I'm convinced that he's leaving for good. I want to go back inside and tell him I didn't mean it, but the truth is, in that moment, I did, and I can't, in all honesty, take it back. I don't feel ready, willing or able to submit to a spanking now, even if the cost of not submitting is the end of the relationship.

It's over.

But he doesn't leave. And hours later, when I'm exhausted and on the way to bed, we finally talk. Sort of. It takes hours -- tears, yelling, awful things we probably both wish we hadn't said -- before we actually "talk." We are acting out the very scenario that DD is supposed to prevent -- hurting one another in anger.

Finally, I confess to the truth. I've taken the ring off because I feel I don't have the right to wear it. Because in the heat of the moment, I virtually ALWAYS say no. Despite the fact that I'm the one who lobbied for this arrangement, when push comes to shove, in the most critical moment, I seem to always fail. My well-meaning, if misguided, "feminist" imperative gains the upper hand and determines that submission is not an option, no way, no how.

I cry and admit that while I wish I hadn't taken the ring off, I can't wear it. If I can't hold up my end of the bargain (pun intended) and submit to his authority when it matters most, when I'm angry and we're about to have a terrible fight, then I have no business wearing a ring that promises otherwise. To do so makes me a fraud, a liar, a hypocrite -- not to be trusted with the sacred responsibility of a DD relationship.

He listens patiently. Hugs me and tells me he loves me.

And then he puts the ring back on my finger and tells me to go get the paddle.

Surprised and confused, I ask him if maybe he hasn't understood what I've said -- that I can't be trusted to submit, that there's no point in continuing with DD.

He smiles, takes me back in his arms, and points something out that I had never considered before.

That losing one's nerve when facing a punishment isn't an indication of a lack of trustworthiness. It's a normal human reaction to the reality of paying for one's misdeeds. Children, he points out, struggle desperately against even the mildest punishments (he has a daughter from a prior marriage who howls and fights when given corner time as though she were being skewered!). He reminds me that resisting a spanking is part of the process of coming to terms with our angry, terrified inner child who desperately needs boundaries, but hates the idea of submitting to them. And that this resistance has nothing to do with whether or not I'm "worthy" to wear the ring.

He expects me to resist, he tells me. The spankings he gives me hurt -- a lot. They are meant to hurt, to be a deterrent -- and I am meant to be afraid of them. That's the point of discipline -- to create a negative consequence that makes us think twice about acting out.

The ring, he points out, is a symbol of my larger commitment to our chosen lifestyle. It is not a promise to be 100% submissive all of the time, no matter what. No one could do that, he tells me, and certainly not someone who is angry and afraid of a spanking.

I had never thought of this issue in quite this way before. That submission isn't a constant thing, but a moment-to-moment, fluctuating dynamic that is more or less possible depending on state of mind. The key is to make it right eventually -- if not in the moment, then later.

As a side note, he also pointed out that since we're living together for the first time, "it's different now. It's more real." And that the reality of more in-the-moment consequences is bound to up the stakes and the pressure on the relationship, making resistance on my part even more inevitable.

The second lesson from this experience didn't occur to me until a few days later. In the days following this incident, I reflected on how much responsibility women in DD relationships often take on in terms of making those relationships work.

More often than not, it's the woman who initiates a DD relationship. I suspect this is as it should be, given the need to have a woman's full consent before whacking her with a paddle. But being the initiator of a DD relationship can mean that a woman feels a disproportionate amount of pressure to be perfect in her submission in order to prove to her partner (and herself) that the lifestyle is a positive experience for both parties. After all, it's hard enough sometimes to convince a man to administer discipline without us kicking and screaming and making him feel like an abusive bastard for trying to do so.

So when things go wrong -- as they inevitably will -- we blame ourselves for being less than perfect. When we resist discipline -- as we inevitably will -- we can wind up feeling like failures at best and untrustworthy hypocrites at worst. This was our idea, we reason, and so we feel we have no right to do anything other than fully consent 100% of the time.

But my partner's very wise words made me realize this is an unfair burden that I was putting on myself and on the relationship. Just because DD was my idea doesn't mean I'm always going to be "good" at it all of the time. In fact, most of the time, I probably won't be "good" at it at all, because if true disciplinary spankings are given properly, they are painful and unpleasant experiences that our instinct makes us want to avoid in the moment, even when our higher functions tell us the benefits are worth the pain. And if we're sure we don't deserve a spanking, our inherent sense of justice makes us even more likely to resist.

This lack of perfect submission isn't an indication that I'm not fit to take part in a DD relationship, but rather it's a healthy, natural, appropriate expression of my free will and separateness as a person. To submit 100% all of the time with no resistance and without questioning the fairness of the punishment would make me a doormat, a person with no capacity for self-preservation or independent thought.

I am fortunate to have a partner who is able to see that my resistance is normal and appropriate, who doesn't hold it against me when I am not able to submit to punishment in the moment.

I'm also fortunate to have a partner who doesn't let my in-the-moment resistance get me off the hook for the spanking I have coming. I am grateful that he is able to honor our agreement even when I can't. To me, this is how a DD relationship (or any relationship) should work. That when one partner stumbles and can't hold up his or her share of the burden, the other steps in and takes it from them.


Spanking given (with extra swats for having said no and for taking the ring off), peace restored, ring back on my finger.

Lesson learned.

PS -- As most of you have noticed, I tend to post new articles much less frequently than many blogs do. This is partly because of my schedule (I work in Democratic politics, so this year is particularly hectic), and partially because I don't post unless I feel I have something worth posting about. To that end, if any of you would like me to email you when a new article is posted, please let me know and I'll be happy to do so.

20 comments:

  1. This is an absolutely brilliant post! I'll be emailing it to my husband because I think he'll benefit from reading it as well.

    I don't mind that your posts are few and far between. They are worth the wait. Fortunately I have a blog reader that lets me know when a new post is available.

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  2. Anonymous08:54

    Vivian-

    A very interesting article. I wonder though if you could expand on how the spanking actually happened after the stand off?

    When this has happened to me in the past- even if I did want to give in and take the spanking after a while- the battle of wills would make it very difficult for me to swallow my pride and back down.

    I wonder what your partner said or did, that took you from feeling you couldnt do it- to submitting?

    Thanks.

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  3. There are so many phrases in this post that speak directly to me that it isn't feasible to point them all out.

    For reasons I won't go into in detail here, I needed to hear someone say these things. I caused what I see as a terrible unforgiveable rift in our DD by doing something similar - and much worse, I think. I've thrown off the proverbial ring too.

    Thank you so much for posting something so honest and so real. I've felt, and often feel, all of the things you've written about here. And lately, I just haven't had peace with any of it because of the terrible thing I've done. You've helped me see that I can start allowing myself to have that peace again.

    Thank you so much.
    Danielle

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  4. In response to the question above re: what my partner did to get me to submit,

    In the interests of brevity, I did, of course, streamline the very long and complicated sequence of events a bit, without (I hope!) changing the essence of what occurred.

    A more detailed recounting of what happened is provided by my partner, in an email this morning, after reading my article:

    Him: "After the talking, I didn't tell you to get the paddle. I got the paddle and said that you could say no all you wanted, but you were going to get the correction."

    Me again: I did not take said correction gracefully. I kicked and screamed and swore at him and did everything I could to get away, but the spanking was given over my protests.

    NOTE: The above is a dangerous and risky thing for a man to do -- he risks criminal prosecution for assault, and it's NOT something I would recommend that anyone who does not have a VERY solid foundation of trust on DD issues even attempt. We were on dangerous ground and he knew it, and chose to take the risks in the name of the relationship -- but it was still a risk and still, legally and technically, assault, since it was against my will.

    The next morning, when I calmed down and we talked again, I was able to apologize and ask for discipline. That's when the ring was returned to me, the second spanking given, and the conversation in the post re: expectations, etc. occurred.

    The answer to the question, I suppose, is largely time and the chance to think about what I'd lost when I refused discipline and took the ring off.

    One more piece of info from my partner's email that might be helpful, as I know that tidbits from the male perspective are hard to come by:

    "You may recall that I was explicit up front, that if we weren't going to do the DD way, then we were going to have a VERY ugly fight. It was purposeful/demonstrative on my part. (genuine, honest at the core, but a bit staged for demonstration purposes). You may also recall that part way through the "fight" I said that I would rather be holding you, lovingly in bed while we talked and worked out these issues (but that would mean you'd need the correction first to soften you to the point of making that possible)."

    Hope that all helps a bit to answer your question!

    -Viv

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  5. Danielle,

    I posted a reply to your comment on the blog, but I felt it was important to make doubly sure you got my reply, so I'm emailing it as well.

    I've noticed from reading your blog that you seem to be very hard on yourself about all kinds of things. I hope this article really does help you not do that! :-)

    DD is such a complicated and emotionally-charged issue to inject into a relationship, it can't help but be full of missteps and pitfalls. And it changes from day to day. What works one day might not work the next. In addition, the beauty of DD is that it's meant, largely, to be an alternative to the self-abuse that we heap on ourselves about not being perfect, not being good enough, etc.

    Expecting to be perfect at DD is no more rational than expecting to be perfect at anything else, and if your partner is the man you believe him to be, he will understand, if if it's frustrating sometimes.

    You are an incredibly courageous woman to step up and be honest with your partner about what you need and work toward making it a reality in a culture that puts tremendously unfair pressure on women to be independent, self-sufficient, etc. I hope you spend some time congratulating yourself and your partner for being willing to do what's right for you, regardless of what society thinks.

    With much admiration,
    -Viv

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  6. Releasing control into another's hands, no matter how competent or how trusted, is never simple. It is exponentially more complicated and difficult when we are in the stew of emotions that fear and anger bring up. Imagining this kind of a dynamic; believing that it can be good for us and our relationships; working to manifest it in our lives -- all of that is done most often when we are calm, rational, thoughtful, and sure of who and what we are. The intense moments of purest submission happen when we are at the furthest point from those things. We are not perfect. We are human, and humans react and respond and grow in the process.

    swan

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  7. Anonymous13:06

    Thank you, Vivian. This was an incredible article, and on a subject that is too rarely mentioned. DD has always seemed like a great idea to me - right up to the moment when I'm faced with a serious punishment. Then, it suddenly seems like a terrible idea, and I start thinking that I must have been crazy to have thought I would want this lifestyle. I agree with you that it's quite normal to waver in the moment. I also admire your partner's courage in carrying out th discipline despite your resistance. Consensual non-consent can be a tricky thing but can work well for partners who have established trust and commitment.

    Thank you for such a great blog.
    ~ Euphoria

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  8. Loved your post. So many couples can recognize this fight. Only the end of it comes the next day, or perhaps even later than that... and even then, it lingers. Perhaps even into the next argument.

    The introspection and maturity it takes to allow DD to overcome these pitfalls is hard to explain. You've done a heck of a job at it though!

    :)
    Todd & Suzy

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  9. Ollie02:22

    Thank you very much for another insightful post Vivian. You have bared your feelings to us and I for one am grateful.

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  10. Hi Vivian,

    I am a 34year old woman living in France. I’m reading your articles since two month with great interest. In my country it’s difficult to find other women speaking or writing about domestic discipline.

    Most of them consider discipline only as an erotic game. My personnel approach is doubled, erotic and disciplinarian.
    I’m influenced by psychoanalysis. I don’t consider that need of discipline is sign of mental trouble, but I like to know the origins of my true desires..

    Reading your posts I feel inderstood, less alone with my true spanking desires which are fortunately shared by the man of my life. It’s me who initiated this form of life.
    I am a feminist, grown up in a family with a mother also being feminist.
    For me feminism doesn’t exclude domestic discipline.
    That’s for the théorie.

    I also know what it is to decide that all is his fault and I thing it is a manifestation of my subconscious which is shared between guilt and rebellion. Behaviors of a child like you say and describe in another article.
    Of course in such a situation I refuse to submit to my discipline.

    Your article was very helpful to me.

    My partner who is also wise has instored a time of reflection between the moment he orders me to fetch the instrument of discipline and the punishment.
    This allows me to slow down, to fight my anger, to face my responsibilities and to thing about our agréements of domestic discipline.
    Like this it’s easier for me to accept what’s coming because as you say true spanking is real pain and not a part of pleasure.

    I apologize for my poor English which doesn’t allows me to join more constructif elements to comment your beautiful article.

    Isabelle

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  11. Thank you for your eloquent post, Isabelle. I'm really glad that my post helped you -- that's the best reward possible!

    By the way, your English is fine and I hope you will post whenever you have something to contribute!

    -Viv

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  12. Anonymous20:42

    Vivian:

    Your posts are always worth reading, but this one in particular really resonated because I don't really want to count the number of times I have been too angry to accept the spanking in the given moment. It becomes an argument with no clear discernible wrong party. After all, didn't he fuel the flames once they were lit? It is only when one's mind has calmed and the breathing slowed that one can accept responsibility.

    Isabelle did indeed speak eloquently about the issue and I think her man has the answer. Being left to think about it, to calm oneself down, is probably the best answer that there is. I can't remember a time when I didn't eventually accept the responsibility and apologize. Being left to sit on a chair staring at the implement, I hate to admit, would have the desired effect.

    Rob

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  13. Vivian, it is great to hear from you again, and, BTW, I'm thrilled you're busy with Democratic politics. Our nation, and to a great degree, the world, depends on the success of all our efforts.

    I love watching relative novitiate spankees come to terms with the approach avoidance (or more like approach horror) conflict they experience as their need for an iminent blistering impinges on them. You acted this out dramatically and were quite articulate in describing that dynamic here.

    I would say, by way of contrast in disciplinary relationship style, that in our home the behavior you described would not only require a severe spanking that day, but likely repeat spankings for several subsequent days, to address the disrespect and resistance you acted out.

    Certainly your feelings as a spanking approaches need to be honored, discussed, dealt with, supported, and, if necessary, healed, but for us acting out prior to a spanking as you describe would require your having a freshly blistered bottom for some days.

    swan has learned no matter how upset she is, it is better for her to submit and deal with her emotions with me later, than to ever attempt to fight or show anything but polite submission to a spanking, and typically, she does just that. If on occasion she is not able to repress her rage or angst or rebellion or whatever, she also knows quite predictably exactly what her behavior will result in. If that rare occasion occurs, it is usually a long time before it occurs again.

    Your feelings are always valid and a loved part of who you are. Listening to you expressing them, dealing with them, etc. is a wonderful aspect of immediate aftercare and longer term relatedness as well. Behaviors that are tantrum like,or hostile, or disrespectful or rude are not at all necessary or appropriate (in our household.)

    I am glad you two have a relationship that is working to create vitality, and deeply intimate catharsis and connection, in both your lives. You must of course do this exactly as it works best for both of you.

    All the best,

    Tom

    Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined.

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  14. Brilliant Viv, as usual. I am still struggling with the submitting when I do not want to even though I know it is not up to me to decide yay or nay.

    My HoH has only in the last week twice had to fight me to submit, this has not happenened before as I have always sumitted to a spanking even when angry. I was so shocked to find out that I could not actually fight back and prevent a spanking as I had always assumed I could and thus he held me down and gave me one anyway. Boy was I mad, but also relieved that he dared to do it as he believes so strongly in DD and my need for it that he went against my will to do it, and do it twice.

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  15. Raymond14:02

    Vivian it disturbs me that you say your relationship gives you a chance to indulge in shameful behaviour. Although I am married I have never seen this behaviour as shameful. If it was I wouldn't do it. Can I ask if you had childhood problems? Sorry to get personal.

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  16. Thanks for commenting, Raymond.

    I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "shameful behavior." Shameful is a word I doubt I would use in any context,given its tendency toward judgment and blame, and it doesn't seem to appear in this post.

    Can you clarify your comment?

    Viv

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  17. I am in total agreement with Rose, this an absolutely brilliant post, and, I must add, extremely uplifting. It struck a chord in me because I could totally identify with you and your many dilemnas Vivian. Before reading your blogs, I had been struggling, for the last three years that I have entered a DD relationship with my partner,with the notion that feminism and wanting to "be taken in hand" were mutually exclusive. Thank you for helping me clarify matters in my own head and heart!

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  18. What jumped out for me was that submission is not possible 100% of the time. How clearly stated! but how confusing things can get without getting to that knowledge. Almost like martial arts, or like a spiritual experience. They both call for an intuitive reaction - either cultivated from a "master" or an act of Grace. Lately I have been watching the surrender to my own submissiveness take form. How lovely! Not that it wasn't there all along. It just wasn't sweet and lovely till now. How lovely.
    Dear Vivian, thank you.
    Good night,
    With gratitude and love,

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  19. Thank you for the comment, Ann.

    I'm very new to martial arts, but I agree -- there is much there that's similar to the issues of power in relationships. It seems that much of the power of martial arts comes from absorbing the force of the other and alchemizing that force into our own power. Strength through softness is what one of my instructors said.

    I'm looking forward to exploring the places these two "arts", DD and martial arts, intersect more in the future.

    Warmest,
    Viv

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  20. re "strength through softness"

    Vivian, this is my understanding of where the "power" of martial arts comes from. In the end, there is no power. The true martial artist has emptied herself of all distractions, even separating her mind from the distraction of her mind. She has surrended herself under her master's hand into a steady state of detachment. When she is finally opposite an opponent there will be no opponent.

    One aspect of the original tea ceremony in Japan saw a similar (non)mind-set of the tea maker as being quietly joyful hidden beneath an affect of outer poverty. He had no power but even samurai warriors retreated to his tea house to eventually return to their craft with heightened skills because of whatever transcendence remained with them.

    And what about d.d.? This is a much harder topic for me. To be really honest, I'm kind of turned off by M/F intimate relationships, let alone imagining a man forcefully spanking his wife, or, I guess, his girl friend. Personally, I think spanking is sexy and you already know what I think about "Heros".

    Discussing strength & power etc in a DD relationship (I am very new to this. I am just a work in progress discovering my own femininity & have chosen to be celibate for now) I'd have to say that a woman - a wife or a girl friend - is like the martial artist or the tea maker. Does that sound strange? From where I'm sitting the personal fight to understand my feminitity meant that I had to dump an awful lot of stuff, surrender. That's right. I was really naked, but I started to get filled up while I was standing there naked. It didn't take long to identify what was replacing all the junk. Nothing!! Me! Just Me! Don't get me wrong, please, not a selfish me, not an "I-me-mine" me. It was, is, a me you have lovingly called "submission" in your beautiful writings. That's what I'm trying to say. The wife, girl friend, martial artist, tea maker all have (hopefully) surrendered entering whatever steady state is appropriate for his or her situation. In the wife's case, I suppose preparing herself for her husband to spank her, or maintaining a trainquil affect in her home as well as when she is away. As far as he's concerned, it's very late and I really have to go to bed.

    Thank you.

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