Welcome to the Spanking Round Table from Spanking Romance Reviews. This month we’re discussing what the differences are between two words: Discipline and Punishment. Everyone is likely to have a different view on this and I’m interested to see what everyone comes up with. All ideas are valid.
So are punishment and discipline the same thing?
The first part of that, since I’m the crazy one who came up with this idea, is why this discussion?
Well, that isn’t such a simple answer. Have you ever heard something and you know it bothers you but you don’t know why? And then suddenly the light goes on and you get it? That’s kind of what happened to me. In many ways, the two words are used interchangeably in erotic fiction. As an author, I’ve used them both, but one always rubbed me the wrong way. It was in March or April as I was once again reading a passage in a book where the heroine was ‘punished’ that I had my Eureka moment. I really don’t like the concept of punishment.
Of course, then I had to dig into why. By definition, to punish means “to make (someone) suffer for a crime or for bad behavior” (from Merriam-Webster). Discipline means “control gained by enforcing obedience or order” (from Merriam-Webster).
That partially gave me my answer, but I had to look inside to see what the differences were to me. And when it came down to it, they were simple. Being disciplined in a consensual relationship to me means the individuals follow a set of rules – either written or not – and when one of those is broken, something is done to make the wrong, right. The person doing the discipline is doing it to keep things where they need to be and in many ways is doing it for the person (or the relationship) rather than to them, even if it feels like the opposite to the person whose butt is being blistered at the moment.
Being punished, on the other hand, has a whole different connotation to it. If one is punished it’s because they’ve been bad, which quite bluntly pisses me off. I’m an adult. I’m never bad. I may screw up or fuck up at times, but I’m never bad. And another thing about the word punished is that to me, it comes across as “You’ve done something I think is wrong and you did it TO me, so I’m going to make sure you pay for the wrong you did TO me.” It isn’t done for the relationship or for the betterment of the person it is being done to. It’s done because the top is looking at it selfishly.
Again, these are just my personal views on the two words.
Now, if others find out what I do in my daily life, how do I respond?
I’m bluntly honest. My mother was quite all right with the whole kink-thing when she thought I was the one doing it. When she found out that I was the one on the receiving end, she had a harder time. But I always talk about this stuff as naturally as possible, thus giving whoever asks the feeling that they can ask whatever and I’m not going to get insulted. When the person realizes they can ask anything, they usually do and since I answer easily enough, it opens up a dialogue to where soon it isn’t something strange or shocking. Instead, it’s Thianna’s normality. I’ve had people thrilled when they found out I practiced stuff they were interested in but hadn’t told anyone. Suddenly they had someone to talk to, and for many, that’s a huge first step in coming out of whatever closet they are in. Knowledge and acceptance.
When it comes to separation between what I write fictionally and what I prefer in daily life, there is a lot of cross-over, though of course, the characters don’t get into the psychological stuff as much – most readers don’t want to read it. The whys, wherefores, and why I need this…readers want it in a cute, sexy little package. When the truths are much more in-depth and personal. But if I had to choose a term, it would be loving discipline. The mental as well as the physical are desired and needed. And discipline does not necessarily mean spanking – it can come in any number of ways to keep me in control of things so I don’t go off in a strange direction or wear myself out (which is one of my hugest problems). Spanking is just one tool in a person’s arsenal. And then, only if it works. If you have a true masochist on your hands, a spanking probably isn’t going to get the job done. That would be like rewarding them for whatever.
I’m a light masochist and light spankings would do nothing more than make me laugh or feel very annoyed. Medium spankings are more likely to make me horny. But for a physical act of discipline? Two things are needed – a hard hand or a wooden paddle and the emotional headspace (which usually includes guilt). With those two things together, that will definitely put my head and body where it is needed to put things right.
If I had to mention the one way discipline spankings differ from my fictional ones – discipline spankings NEVER turn me on. Ever. They are for one thing and afterward I’m worn out and in the kind of pain that is not pleasurable one bit. In my real life, I don’t like mixing pleasure and discipline. Those two things just are not synonymous in my head or life. If I and my partner want a rough spanking along with something pleasurable afterward, I’ll hand them a leather slapper. Now that’s my kind of erotic spanking.
Now, for my last little bit, where all this begins to slide into abuse is where my meaning of punishment comes in. Discipline should make things better. Afterward, even if the act hurt, you should feel better, more positive, and happier (even if it takes an hour or a day to do so). Abuse does the exact opposite. It pulls down self-esteem, makes you feel bad and unworthy. It rips you apart and does NOT put you back together. The punishment is because “you are bad” or “you never do what I want” or “can’t you ever get anything right?”
So I guess, looking at it, Discipline is a good, positive thing and Punishment is more abusive. Huh. Learned my new thing for the day.
And now on to see what others have to say…