Monday, August 27, 2007

Love, Honor and Spank Thy Wife

The folks at Feministing have been discussing the Christian Domestic Discipline Site, which advocates wife spanking as a legitimate form of domestic discipline. They hold that the husband has the right to spank the wife to reinforce his authority, but she does not have the right to spank him. They also say they believe the Bible gives men the right to spank their wives without their consent, but that, because of current laws, they don't generally condone nonconsensual spanking.

As a feminist, I find the concept of unequal marriage or any nonconsensual contact repugnant, and the anti-feminist sniping on the site is also deeply saddening and a little bit frightening. However, these women appear to be very earnest in their desire to submit to their husbands, which is their right.

There is a lot of interesting discussion on the site about whether or not such spanking is or should be sexually arousing. One man, who said he does spank his wife occasionally, expressed concerns about the idea of placing her in an inferior position in the relationship and doubts about repeated claims that spanking is not sexual. Some responses on this subject were quite vehement of the "methinks she doth protest too much" variety. One woman said that if the wife enjoys her spanking, then it is being done wrong, and if the husband enjoys it, he will have to answer to God about that. Another admitted that she and her spouse (of more than 30 years) do have fun spankings but they are separate from disciplinary spankings.

It's easy for both sides to have a knee-jerk response to this issue, but it's one of those gray areas where religious belief, human rights issues and female sexuality intersect in a most disconcerting way. I'm trying really hard in the name of religious tolerance not to be creeped out by the crotchless pantaloons they sell on the site, and by the women's insistence on infantilizing themselves in this way and their condemnation of women who choose to be more independent in thought and deed. But the thing that bugs me the most is their self-righteous judgment of people who get off on BDSM. It seems hypocritical. What's the difference between wearing crotchless pantaloons and letting your spouse spank you for failing to lose weight and wearing satin panties and letting your Master spank you for coming without his permission?


LA Day said...

Hmmm. This isn't my type of lifestyle but I am a true believer of letting everyone live as they choose as long as it hurts no one.
If the women willingly choose a CDD marriage it's fine with me. It seems to be an odd place to sell crotchless pantaloons but then they do acknowledge the eroticism of spanking inside a CDD marriage.

Rena Marks said...

I'm obviously not one to have an opinion on this issue, because Lorena Bobbitt is still, and always will be my hero.

Susan Edwards said...

Lol, Rena! Is Rena short for Lorena, by any chance?

Syneca said...

This almost makes me want to go on a rant! But instead, I'll quote words of wisdom from my Grannie:
"I don't mind him giving my fanny a little whack when we're doing the nasty, but come at me outside of the bedroom like that and he's gonna find himself one nut short of a matched set."

Granny was my hero :)

Susan Edwards said...

Your granny is my hero too!

Trista Ann Michaels said...

"I don't mind him giving my fanny a little whack when we're doing the nasty, but come at me outside of the bedroom like that and he's gonna find himself one nut short of a matched set."

LOLOL. I love it. You're Granny must have been a hoot...:)


anny cook said...

Hmmm. I grew up in a Southern Baptist home (daddy was preacher) and I cannot even remotely imagine him advocating this. Amazing. I don't have a problem with what people do within their marriage if they want, but I do have reservations when they pass those beliefs on to their kids as the "one true way".

Rena Marks said...

Haha, Susan Edwards, very quick one your part!

Unfortunately, it's not short for Lorena.

Still like her, though.

marshmallow said...

they've locked the christian domestic discipline site down to user only access.

pooh pooh.

i was piqued by the "crotchless pantaloons" comment. i think of pirates when i hear the word pantaloons. you know, puffy pants for puffy shirts.

i digress.

Susan Edwards said...

Interesting, Marshmallow. They were probably getting flamed. A lot of sites and mags were really raking them over the coals, which is one reason I was trying to keep an open mind.
And yes, the pantaloons were poofy, just like the old days. I found them way kinkier than any crotchless panties on sexwear sites.
I think sexual repression often leads to much kinkier proclivities than open sexuality. The Victorians were incredibly depraved. I know a couple of people raised as Mormons who are swingers now, and they say so many of the swingers they meet were raised in sexually repressive households.

Sally Painter said...

Well, fanatics make up their own rules or use ancient ones to justify whatever they want, so this doesn't surprise me.

I'm constantly amazed by our gender who so willing give up rights that were so diligently fought for. The right to choose is vital to a free existence.

My daughter and I recently had a discussion about how far women’s rights have come and how far they still need to go. She was surprised when I told her I was the first women in our town to qualify for house loan based on my own credit and own income when her father and I divorce. The law had just changed and banks were hungry to meet their quota of female loans.

Her generation was born into these rights. Which is fantastic! But I wanted her to be aware of the achievement and to protect it.

I think it is our duty to those women coming behind us to remind them how it used to be. How women had no credit – that it was all dependent upon the husband’s income and credit.

I also remember all the insulting remarks and advances I had to ignore growing up and joining the work force because I had no right to claim sexual harassment. On one occasion I just couldn’t ignore it and complained only a week later to find myself caught in a corporate layoff.

Lifestyle choice is one thing and if being submission is your thing, go at it. But, giving up rights willingly to be dominated by an organization or anyone... that's scary.

marshmallow said...

susan, they are more kinky because they are so creepy, yes? there was a photo on feministing of them.

yo ho yo ho a pirate's life for me!!

i wish i could have investigated that web site because from the feministing article, it didn't seem like they were making the move to force anyone else into that lifestyle. it's okay for me to think what someone else does is creepy, since i don't have to do it.

i know more than a few women who are in traditional "christian" relationships and they are happy with that. it's what they wanted.

for me, feminism is about a woman being able to choose what she wants to do. being a housewife is every bit as valid a choice for a woman as being a business professoinal. or a fireman. in that regard, i feel poorly for the cdd people, having to lock their site down because they were being bashed.

Susan Edwards said...

Amen, Sally! It's so true that we constantly need to remind not only younger women but even ourselves that the rights that were so hard won will last only as long as we protect them. It's true that women often are the most formidable opponents of equal rights. I think that's mostly out of fear. I detected a lot of fear on that website. These are women who want to make sure they have someone to take care of them and take responsibility for them in every way.
Women still make only about 70 cents to men's dollar for the same work, and in some states you still have to have your husband's permission to get your maiden name back if you changed it when you got married. I'm not sure if any states force you to change your name when you get married.
I don't know if anyone here has read The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, but it's a chilling futuristic tale about a time when Christian fundamentalists take over and put women back in the role defined for them by the bible.

Susan Edwards said...

I agree, Marshmallow, that everyone should be able to choose her lifestyle. And for the most part, that site was about people of like mind sharing their ideas and feelings. I felt there was some hypocrisy or self-deception about the sexual nature of wife-spanking, but I see plenty of hypocrisy among feminists too.
I find the crotchless pantaloons kinkier than crotchless bikinis because they exploit the modesty factor. Victoria's Secret and Frederik's of Hollywood are just in your face sexy, intentionally alluring. Crotchless pantaloons remind me a little of that religious sect where the couple can only have sex through a hole in a sheet. The implicit shame in that is staggering to me.

hurricaneamy said...

They have to be kidding me. Spanking but condemning bdsm? Guess that makes as much sense as Sen. Craig pleading guilty to soliciting airport bathroom sex with another man , then insisting he's not gay.

aromagik said...

Not gonna post about those wacky Christians. Nope, not gonna do it.

Susan, I read The Handmaid's Tale in college, and it definitely left an impression.

~Lindy, not getting started ;)

Educated Opinion said...

CDD is different from BDSM in a few ways.

1. CDD happens in a marriage, whereas BDSM doesn't require marriage.

2. CDD happens in a heterosexual married relationship, whereas in BDSM you will find a variety of relationships- gay, lesbian, straight, threesome, orgy... (perhaps this BDSM variety isn't very "christian"? just throwing that out there.)

3. In CDD the man (husband) is constant dominant and the woman (wife) is constant submissive (24/7). In BDSM, although there are some who play "master and servant" 24/7, for the most part, it is sexual role play just for that one night between one or more persons, and everyone involved in the kinky sex go on to their daily independent lives in the morning. There's also that grey middle-ground of people who practice BDSM with one significant other over a long period of time, but with whom it is not practiced as a 24/7 lifestyle (say, only in the bedroom, for instance).

4. BDSM is more about expressing dominance and submission sexually (for most participants) rather than expressing it through your daily life with one significant other like in a CDD marriage.

5. Spanking in BDSM is always sexual. BDSM "submissives" feel pleasure from pain. When a person experiences pain, the brain releases chemicals to numb that pain, which can give a person a high. BDSM Subs crave this high- that's how one can learn to enjoy pain. When you add sex to this high... more psychological and physical effects are experienced. A Dom will spank a Sub with the intent of pleasing the Sub as a form of erotic foreplay. And yes, there is a deep psychological effect as well... making the Sub "feel submissive" and the Dom "feel dominant" which is what they ultimately want to experience.

6. Spanking in CDD is not always sexual, and sexual release is never "the goal" even if it can become, on occasion, a "side-effect" lol. Instead, the goal is to be the best woman and wife they can be, or to be the best man and husband they can be. (attractive traits in anyone!) In CDD, a husband will discipline his wife if (for example) she drinks and drives, to discourage her from doing this because he loves and cares for her. The wife would learn from this discipline because she doesn't enjoy the pain of the spanking itself. But, it can lead to sexual eroticism sometimes because for the woman... she does enjoy knowing her husband loves and cares enough about her (a turn on) to want to aid her in stopping to drink and drive, and there's something sexy to her about her husbands masculinity that is projected in his 'teachings', so she genuinely wants to learn from him... and for the man/husband, it's sexy to look at and touch a woman's butt, and it feels good to be able to teach for the benefit of others, especially your wife, and when his wife learns from him, it's a turn on. So the flow of 'masculine' and 'feminine' energy is where the eroticism comes from, not the spanking/discipline itself, and most CDD couples believe God intended there to be eroticism as some kind of reward, for it would (of course) be pleasurable to fulfill the roles ordained by Him.

7. In CDD, spanking is the only form of physical pain (corporal punishment) whereas in BDSM there is anything from collars to clamps. The reason CDD couples only 'spank' and only 'on the butt' is because the butt is the only place you can hit a woman without really harming her long-term (the same reason a child would get a spanking on the butt instead of hit anywhere else). The men (in general) do not enjoy causing pain to their wives. They do it because they feel it is their duty to keep her on the right path, not because they are sadists. In BDSM, the Dominants (in general) do enjoy inflicting pain unto others, because it makes them feel in control and they enjoy that feeling, but would never dream of causing pain to an unwilling person, as it would not create the same feeling of being in control. The control they love is knowing that someone will "give" their power to them.

Obviously, I've done a lot of research on the topic, and one thing I've learned is that once you understand the reasons for someone's behavior, it makes a heck of a lot more sense. A year ago I would be the last person to condone CDD or BDSM as it seems so degrading and oppressive, but now (after extensive research) that I understand why they do the things they do, I say "more power to them" and "don't bash it til you try it" even if it is something I personally wouldn't partake in. It's a very interesting topic that delves deep- historically and culturally... spiritually, religiously and philosophically... and psychologically and physically. You couldn't possibly form a proper opinion on the matter from one or two websites. There's much more to these lifestyles and behaviors that I can comprehend at the moment, let alone, list here.

Lady Jaided said...

You've obviously done a lot of research, EO. In this day of instant judgment, I respect that. This topic has generated more comment than almost any other post on this blog. Sexuality, the fuzzy pleasure/pain boundary, religious belief and the husband/wife bond are all complex issues that come together in CDD. There obviously is no right or wrong answer here. I continue to be troubled, however, by the idea that the husband knows what is right while the wife is infantalized. I understand that it's the wife's choice to take this position, just as it is the right of many participants in religious sects to choose to have someone else do their thinking for them.