Your Spanking Fetish: A Blessing or Curse?
“Do you feel like your fetish is a curse?”
I’ve seen this question asked in spanko forums and can relate to the struggle. Our path is not an easy one to walk and those without the fetish rarely understand how consequential it can be. It permeates the body, mind, and spirit, affecting how we relate to ourselves and others over the span of our lives.
Of course, there are pros mixed in with the cons, and those benefits make the journey worth it for spankos who choose to embrace this aspect of themselves. I’d like to share my thoughts on this complicated question, getting the bad news out of the way first.
5 Points of the Curse
Spanking is a common kink, but the fetish is rare. A lot of us hardwired types knew we had it from a young age, but also sensed most others didn’t. Throughout my formative years, I thought I was the only person in the world who felt this way about spanking and privately feared I might be insane. The anxiety of thinking something was wrong with me had long-term effects on my psyche.
Once I figured out spankos exist all over the globe and talked with a few online, things started getting better. Therapy helped too. It allowed me to drop the shame that had plagued my childhood and learn to love myself in spite of all. I no longer see anything inherently bad or crazy about my proclivities and feel confident my intentions are pure. The belief I was alone was never anything but an illusion.
Even still, the spanko life can be lonely and accompanied by internal conflict that never fully goes away. I’m still confused about why I ended up like this while most people, whether or not they’re exposed to spanking as children, do not.
“Sounds to me like you’re asking to be abused.”
A vanilla friend and fellow feminist said this to me soon after I came out as kinky. As someone who’s been through a couple legitimately abusive relationships, I can assert with clarity that’s the opposite of what I’m looking for. I’m not interested in anyone with a desire to violate my autonomy or take things I haven’t explicitly offered.
Plenty of spankos celebrate their fetish in the context of loving, respectful, consensual partnerships. Their negotiated agreements and mutual happiness are as valid as anyone else’s. Whether an instance of spanking is harmful or abusive has little to do with the act itself and everything to do with how it’s handled.
Regardless, there will always be folks who won’t understand and will instead assume we spankos are all damaged, broken, lost, dumb, insane, depraved, or what have you. Their judgements are a bummer and I’m done trying to explain myself to such people. I respect the fact that what I like isn’t for everyone, but for those who don’t feel comfortable with kink, the solution is simple: Don’t do it.
3. ‘Bad apples’
Of course, my friend’s concerns about the connection between kink and abuse aren’t entirely unfounded. Most spankos I’ve met have been chill, but our scene attracts a non-negligible amount of entitled assholes. Speaking as a woman who’s quite open about this stuff, I’ve encountered misogynists of all ages who take female sexual expression as a personal invitation to treat women however they wish. Some are better than others at hiding their true colors, but dealing with them is always gross.
Lol. Lots of projection to unpack there, but I don't have the spoons.
(To anyone reading this who’s just as confused as the angry man in the screenshot and still needs to hear it: Telling a stranger what you want to do to their body won’t necessarily be taken as a compliment, even on the internet. Just because someone’s on Fetlife—a social media site—or sexually self-expressive doesn’t mean they’re easy, disgusting, or open to being crassly propositioned by any and everyone. Have some respect and sort your shit out. Kink is not a free-for-all.)
There’s a naive subset of the BDSM community that would like to pretend this sort of thing is rare and all’s hunky dory, but the reality is that chauvinists, rapists, pedophiles, and those who enable them are a consistent and deeply problematic issue. If you don’t form hard boundaries, keep an eye out for red flags, and take your time vetting potential partners, it’s entirely possible to end up in a room alone with one of these people. Predators are prevalent in vanilla spheres too, but people who label themselves ‘kinky’ don a veneer of legitimacy by implying their intentions are consensual and all in good fun. Marilyn Manson, the latest poster child for dom-leaning men who use BDSM to mask their abuse, comes to mind today.
“My intimate relationships have always been entirely consensual with like-minded partners.”
I’ve also encountered a number of folks who began treating me like some exotic animal after finding out about my fetish. It’s lovely to feel desired, but I want to be valued for who I am as a whole person, not just for my sexual interests. I worked briefly with a dominatrix in the past and she would express similar complaints. Most people couldn’t see beyond her professional persona and she developed deep trust issues as a result.
One kink-curious ex-boyfriend stands out in my memory. “I’ve never known anyone like you,” he’d declare with stars in his eyes, referring to the novelty of my masochism. Over time, his words had me paranoid about whether he liked me or was simply stoked about the chance to try all that kinky stuff he’d seen in porn. I later discovered he was forwarding racy pics of me to his vanilla bros behind my back to giddily brag, “I beat her before sex.” He seemed, first and foremost, to view me as a source of validation.
Anytime we put ourselves out there to express our love of something specific, certain people will form a one-dimensional snapshot of us. “That’s that girl/guy who’s into XYZ.” But spankos aren’t porn stars, sex toys, or stereotypical caricatures. We’re multifaceted people with feelings and although that should go without saying, there will always be those who can’t see past the fetish.
5. Compatibility issues
Non-spankos are unlikely to understand how we experience our fetish and this can lead to serious compatibility problems, at times resulting in dead bedrooms, broken hearts, or even divorce. This is no one’s fault and doesn’t make anyone a terrible person, but it’s one of the most challenging aspects of the spanko life for a good number of us.
At this point, I don’t date people who aren’t wired with this thing. This isn’t just for my happiness, but that of prospective partners as well. Tons of folks can enjoy a bit of spanking in the bedroom, but fetishists have desires that won’t resonate with most people. Many of us want to spank often and not just briefly, but for extended periods. It’s our main course rather than the appetizer. We dig dirty talk that can make non-spankos uncomfortable. We also may yearn for sincere corporal punishment for real misbehavior rather than spanking for foreplay or funishment purposes. I no longer feel comfortable putting all this on anyone who’s not actively seeking the same arrangement.
While there are plenty of spankos scattered around the world searching for the yin to their yang, there aren’t usually too many of us concentrated in one location. On top of that, it makes little sense to choose a partner based on the fetish alone. There are still all the usual compatibility points to consider, like personality, attraction, age, political views, future goals, etc. The pool is small and it’s easy to get discouraged.
So, that’s the long and short of my ride on the spanko struggle bus. However, I still believe there’s much to love about the fetish when you look on the bright side.
5 Points of the Blessing
1. Honest friendships
The spankos I’m close to are some of the warmest and most playful, interesting, romantic, open-minded people I know. Chatting with them about this thing we share never gets old. After years of feeling unable to be open about who we are, it’s cathartic to talk honestly and explore the ideas closest to our hearts. I’m often lit up with joy when I hear spankos talk about relatable experiences or say things I’ve always had trouble putting into words. “Yes! Totally get you!” It’s comforting to be reminded that none of us are alone.
My vanilla friendships are equally deep, but there’s more hesitance to openly discuss the details of things like sexuality or consensual discipline between adults. A good buddy who’s giggled dismissively in the past when I talk about spanking recently made a comment,
“I don’t know why I can’t motivate myself to accomplish my goals. I need my dad to come yell at me or something.”
You need a dom to come swat your butt, I thought, grinning and eyeing him keenly.
2. Nuanced perspectives
As a spanko living in spanko skin, I don’t feel like this whole thing is all that weird. To me the fetish feels as natural as two ladybugs bumpin’ uglies or the rising of the sun in the east. From where I’m standing, people without the fetish are difficult to understand. Our ideas about things like love, intimacy, affection, consent, and healthy relationships don’t always align, and that’s motivated me to look at cultural narratives about these things from a variety of angles.
The classic BDSM example is that we’re raised to believe hitting one’s lover is abusive regardless of the circumstance, which my previously mentioned feminist friend believed to a T. (If a woman wanted to be spanked, it stemmed from internalized misogyny, she claimed. No explanations were offered, however, in regards to male spankees, female spankers, or kinksters of all genders who like to switch.) This caused me considerable confusion growing up, desiring what I did and believing in my gut that it could be handled consensually. I can’t give credence to such reductive assertions at this point. Some of my fondest memories have involved spanking, while the most traumatic involved zero hitting whatsoever. Stripping nuance from discussions about abuse is harmful to survivors and those who might encounter it in the future.
Ethical kinksters tend to be critical of mainstream narratives about sexuality, considering them in depth rather than taking them at face value. Cultural norms don’t always signify objective truth or align with what’s best for each of us as individuals, especially while we have folks with one-sided political agendas desperately vying for all of our support. I appreciate the out-of-the-box thinking fetishism inspires in myself and the wider community.
3. Deep intimacy
In past vanilla relationships, my partners and I never talked in much detail about sexual matters. I felt like there was an implied itinerary consisting of 5-ish activities and anything not on it was considered taboo. Questions were rarely asked, and it was often assumed I would or should like certain things. When I attempted to express my true desires, I was regarded as ‘freaky’, lecherous, or weird. One ex even insisted, “Women aren’t supposed to like sex as much as you do.” Not all vanilla relationships suffer from a lack of communication or slut-shamey attitudes in the bedroom, but mine certainly did, for the most part. I never really got to know the minds of those partners and they, in turn, did not understand mine.
My experience with most kinksters has been the polar opposite. We talk endlessly about our desires and continuously negotiate in order to explore them together. We enjoy these discussions and find them exciting rather than awkward, tedious, or shameful. This typically leads to an intense level of closeness that, at times, develops entirely too quickly but results in a crystal-clear sense of the other person after a while. When you toss the fear of being ‘weird’ out the window, it’s easier to open up and unite in the realm of passion.
4. Sexual self-awareness
I’ve talked before with friends who’ve had immense trouble discovering what they enjoy with intimate partners. “I don’t know if it’s that I don’t like sex, or just haven’t figured out what I’m into yet.”
No judgment on my end in regards to this, of course, but it seems like a tough challenge. Usually, this topic was brought up because their partners desired a stronger sexual connection and they weren’t sure where or how to seek solutions. Though my fetish has been limiting in certain ways, it’s always provided me with a compass of sorts, helping me navigate my sexuality and eventually explore it with fully consenting partners who like the same things.
I recently got feedback on another post of mine from a vanilla reader who said the spanko community sounds a bit like a cult. This makes me giggle, but it’s not the case. We’re just very aware of what we like, passionate about how it makes us feel, and shockingly similar in our inclinations. We’ll never be ‘normal’, but we’re also unlikely to feel mired in ambiguity after coming to terms with the fetish and accepting the hand we’ve been dealt. It serves as an anchor, grounding us in who we are, and I’ve come to find comfort in that.
5. Oodles and oodles of FUN
A spanking fetish, it seems to me, is a matter of neurological wiring. Seeing or hearing the word itself instantly alters my physical state. I’m flooded with a heady, tingling sensation of warmth and excitement. An intoxicating, primitive rush that caresses the root of my reptilian brain. It makes me feel right, like the trifles of life have evaporated and allowed the essentials to fall smoothly into place. It’s a lot like a drug, but way, way better.
To actually do my activity of choice with the right partner is about as close to nirvana as I’m ever likely to get. Thoughts of the past and future fade and I’m brought into the moment, perfectly focused and whole, fully present with the person administering this much-desired gift. There may be laughter, tears, pain, and/or pleasure as a result, but the constant theme across the board is that there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. Spanking brings every cell of my being into temporary alignment and unlike meditation, it’s an experience that can be shared and enjoyed with people I cherish.
From what I can tell, this is the case for nearly all hardwired spankos. It’s our favorite thing in the whole wide world and nothing could ever replace it. We love it. It feels nothing short of incredible.
I won’t make black-and-white declarations about whether having the fetish is great or terrible overall. The lows are low, but the highs are high too and many shades of gray lie between them. At the end of the day, it is what it is because we can’t get rid of this thing, much in the same way a gay person can’t choose to be straight. Our options are to suppress our desires, embrace and explore them, or some mixture of the two. It’s an ever-present, lifelong journey that’s always unfolding and pushing us to evolve as individuals.
Personally, I was miserable denying who I was when I was younger, seeking understanding, fulfillment, and belonging in all the wrong places. The terrifying leap I could never have imagined taking back then—not just acknowledging but diving into this part of myself—has ultimately been the most rewarding. If I were given the chance to be reborn without the fetish, I can’t say I’d take it. What would life be like without this thing? What kind of person would I be? I can’t fathom it and it really doesn’t matter. This is who I am, right down to my bones, and I send love out to all of you on this ride alongside me.