This article is adapted from How to Give a Spanking: Advice from the Receiving End
If you took an intro sociology or psychology class in high school or college, you may be familiar with the concept of the “lizard brain.” The lizard brain is the original human brain – the one we had before we evolved to be the tool-making, book-writing, skyscraper-building, computer-using creatures we are today. The lizard brain contains all of our most basic impulses and instincts. It’s the keeper of our sex drive, our “fight or flight” instinct in the face of a threat (which manifests as that “adrenaline rush” we get when we narrowly avoid a car accident, for example), and other primal behaviors that enabled us to survive in the dangerous conditions of the prehistoric “caveman” era.
Because the world we live in now is considerably safer for most of us (certainly for those of us reading this book), and because we now tend to rely on our intellect and other higher brain functions to deal with stress, we are often unaware of the presence of our lizard brain in our everyday lives. But that doesn’t mean it’s not there. After all, we still have that adrenaline rush, and we certainly still have a sex drive and a mating instinct.
That lizard brain also gives us a primitive instinct for aggression, a vital response to a life-or-death situation in which, say, we’re hunting a woolly mammoth or fighting off the neighboring clan who’s trying to raid our village for food.
Our lizard brain aggression is what makes us ball up our fists and want to hit something when we’re really frustrated, what makes little kids stamp their feet when they don’t get their way, what makes a hard workout session or a game of racquetball satisfying.
Both men and women have this lizard brain aggressive impulse, although biology has seen to it that it tends to be more prominent in men. A peek back at caveman times will tell us why this is so.
Back in prehistoric eras, before the advent of day care, nannies and stay-at-home dads, the sex roles were clear. Men were responsible for hunting the food, a dangerous occupation that required superior size and strength and aggression. And women, due to our unique ability to give birth to and nurse babies, stayed in the cave and took care of the kids and prepared the food, which required less aggression and more nurturing and compassion.
In our politically-correct culture, many of us would like to think that those aggressive lizard brain masculine impulses have vanished, but the reality is, they haven’t.
To give you some perspective on why there hasn’t been time to evolve too much beyond our caveman instincts, consider this: If the entire history of the world were measured as a year, then human beings in their most primitive form only appeared on the last day of that year at one second before midnight. That means that all of our prehistory and history, relative to the history of the planet, has only taken one second out of one year to happen. Everything from discovering fire to inventing the silicon chip, from primitive cave paintings to MTV, happened after 11:59.59 p.m. on December 31st of our “year.”
What’s more, all of our civilized, politically correct habits and ideas regarding sex roles that most of us grew up with aren’t even a fraction of a tick on that same clock. For most of that less-than-one second, we have been under the primary influence of our primal instincts, which are essentially to survive and to reproduce.
But don't take my word for it. Noted sociobiologist Leonard Shlain is just one of many authorities who concur: “Contemporary men and women are living relics of bygone days. In the short span of years that we have existed as a distinct species, insufficient time has elapsed to depart radically from the physiological and behavioral patterns we employed to respond to the conditions we found ourselves in at the dawn of our species.” (Sex, Time & Power, pp.14-15)
In plain language, this means that we may dress, talk and act like civilized men and women (most of the time), but fundamentally, we are still creatures of instinct. All of us, no matter how evolved or enlightened, carry within us the urges of primitive humans – and the sharply divided, primal sex roles that were necessary to our species’ initial survival.
What does all this mean for you and your partner, in terms of spanking?
It means that, male or female (but particularly male), we have inside you an aggressive urge, whether you realize it or not, whether we want to acknowledge it or not, whether we are peace-loving and politically correct or not. Our aggressive urge is there and it’s real and it’s not going away for at least another two or three million years – so we may as well make friends with it.
Our modern society has done a great deal to shame men (and women!) out of acknowledging this natural aggressive tendency. In a well-meaning effort to “cure” men of the desire to do violence, we have told men that this innate impulse towards physical aggression is at best socially unacceptable and at worst, evil.
The only acceptable way in which most modern men (and occasionally women) are allowed to show physical aggression is on the sports field, and even then, there is often a sense that this form of activity is a lesser activity that is not worthy of, say, a businessman or a man who’s more intellectually inclined (hence the pejorative term, “dumb jock.”) And then, of course, there’s the problem that many men simply don’t enjoy or have the time or opportunity to participate regularly in aggressive sports.
This shaming of men (and women!) into believing that physical aggression of any sort of violence is unacceptable and evil means that if you are a man, you may have a great deal of internal resistance to the idea of spanking your partner. After all, those who have worked tirelessly to fight domestic violence and rape have told men that hitting a woman under any circumstances is wrong. Period.
I’m going to suggest to you here, however, that even if you deeply believe in non-violence and non-aggression, even if you are a passionate advocate for domestic violence prevention, even if you have never before acknowledged this aggressive instinct hidden deep in your lizard brain, that you still have that instinct in there, waiting to be explored.
And further, I’m going to suggest that if you have never acknowledged this natural, important and very human part of yourself that longs to do violence, you are probably feeling a great deal more stress and anxiety in your everyday life than you need to feel, if only because you have cut yourself off from what may be one of the most effective stress relievers Mother Nature ever gave us – the ability to discharge frustrations by using physical force.
What’s more, as a man, you have almost certainly felt this aggression with regard to your partner. Again, even if you’d rather not admit it to yourself or to her.
Every man who has ever lived in an intimate relationship with a woman has been frustrated with her at times (and she with him, but that’s another book!). Every man has within him the instinctive desire to express that frustration through aggression, just as his lizard brain tells him to. (“Get mad, use club…”) Therefore, I would suggest, every man has within him, somewhere, the desire to spank his partner.
That’s a sweeping statement, I know, and perhaps an idea that feels alien and even frightening if you haven’t acknowledged or considered it before.
But before you recoil in horror at your inner caveman, remember the context here: this is very, very good news indeed for your partner and your relationship, because it means you have within you the natural ability to give her exactly what she wants most.
It’s true that, for some people, the lizard brain aggressive impulse may be buried so deeply they are never able to uncover it. But just the fact that you’re reading this blog (or this article, if your partner has handed it to you!) suggests that you are not one of those men. That you recognize on some level that you are capable of spanking your partner because of that lizard brain aggressive impulse. And by recognizing that it’s there, and by having a partner who is actively encouraging (begging?) you to express that part of yourself, you have the amazing and wonderful opportunity to uncover and experience this powerful and perhaps previously-taboo part of your psyche.
To help matters along even more, physical violence generated by the lizard brain releases endorphins, the same chemicals that are released during sex. This is why workouts can give you a “high,” as can playing contact sports or even doing an aggressive business deal.
What does this mean in terms of spanking your partner? That just tapping into your lizard brain aggression will probably tap into your lizard brain sex impulses, too. In short, you, as a man, are hard-wired to find spanking sexually exciting, even if you’ve never done it before and don’t think you’d enjoy it.
A few words of caution here:
Tapping into your lizard brain aggressive impulses doesn’t mean you get to go around whacking your partner whenever you feel like it, just because it’s your instinct.
It probably shouldn’t go without saying that as satisfying and primal as spanking can be for you as well as for her, you will still need to exercise good judgment and restraint when spanking your partner. That means safe and responsible spanking, not coming home from a bad day at work and whacking your partner just to take our your frustrations. Spanking is a great way to get your aggressive instincts out, but it’s not a free-for-all to abuse your partner in the name of reclaiming your inner caveman.
Second, depending on how strongly you’ve been culturally conditioned to see all violence as unacceptable, you may find it takes some work on your part to get in touch with your lizard brain aggression. If you try spanking your partner and it leaves you cold, don’t give up, thinking you must not have that impulse. You're human, so you do. You may need to do some work on your own, separate from your partner, to give yourself permission to acknowledge and accept your aggressive instincts. And it may take some time for those impulses to show up strongly enough for you to find spanking enjoyable and satisfying.
And finally, you may find that once you do tap into your lizard brain aggression, you have a lot more of it waiting to be used than you realized – or that can be comfortably expended on spanking your partner.
After a lifetime of repressing your aggressive tendencies, you may find yourself having difficulty controlling the aggression once you give it license to show itself. You might, for example, find yourself getting grouchy and snapping at people when you used to think of yourself as mild-mannered and easy-going. Or you might find yourself having impulses to put your fist through a wall or drag race someone out on the freeway.
For many men, feeling aggression creeping into places where it’s unwanted feels frightening and dangerous. Their impulse is to stuff the aggression back down again where it can’t make trouble.
The problem with this is, of course, that putting the lid back on the pressure cooker doesn’t get rid of the pressure. It just makes the pot explode all over the kitchen. Bottling up your aggressive impulses is no safer than letting them run unchecked and ungoverned.
Instead, if you find that you are having trouble controlling your aggressive impulses within acceptable bounds just with spanking activities, you will need to take responsibility for giving yourself other healthy outlets for your aggression. You might try martial arts or racquetball. You could buy a punching bag and hang it in the garage, or take up long-distance running. (note that all of this has the additional benefit of getting you into better shape and healthier, too!).
The important thing to remember is that aggression is a natural part of who you are, and it deserves to be valued and acknowledged as a part of who you are. Spanking is a terrific way to honor this forgotten but ever-present part of our psyches.
reprinted from: "How to Give a Spanking: Advice from the Receiving End," (c) 2009 Variant Books. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.
This article is adapted from How to Give a Spanking: Advice from the Receiving End