This desire for control is at least partly sexual. It may be indirectly so, but it is sexual nevertheless. We are thrilled in every way by that control. It is no coincidence that romance novels are full of strong, take-charge heroes. Many women are simply not attracted to men who lack the capacity to take them firmly in hand.
For such women, part of the erotic power of the idea of being taken in hand is in the very fact that the control of the man is real. For many women, if it were just a bit of fun, a bedroom game or a role-playing “scene”, it would not have the power to arouse and thrill the way it does. This is not to disparage those who enjoy BDSM scenes: each to his own. But for the women I refer to, if the control were only ever expressed in role-playing scenes, it would not feel real enough. It would feel like a mere game. Some people do dismiss what we are doing as just a game.
It can be slightly irritating to be told that the way of life you passionately cherish is all just a mere game, but it is worth identifying the tiny grain of truth in that accusation, if only to be more clear about the way in which it is false.
What is the grain of truth in such statements? Other things being equal, a woman who craves a relationship with a take-charge man is choosing this of her own free will, and chooses it freely on an on-going basis. Conversely, a prisoner does not choose to remain in prison, he is there genuinely against his will. If he were at liberty to choose otherwise, he would do so (at least in most cases). Similarly, most children are not choosing genuinely freely to be under the authority of their parents and schoolteachers. If they could wave a magic wand and have their parents change from being involved and loving parents who spank them to involved and loving parents who don't, most would do so.
Can you imagine a child complaining that she doesn't get enough spankings? The idea is completely absurd. But women often complain that their men do not spank them enough. And they most definitely would not want to wave that magic wand to turn their man into a non-spanker. If anything, they want him to be more bossy and forceful, not less. Unless the man is physically or mentally abusive. In which case, the woman would wave that magic wand to end the abuse but still have the love, just like most children would wave the magic wand to make their parents non-spankers.
In one case, there is wholehearted consent; in the others, the authority and control is against the will of those subject to it.
The word “authority” implies having the right to control and direct the actions of those subject to it. So it could be argued that since men and women are equal under the law, no man has real authority over his woman. And indeed, even if a man and a woman decide that the man does have that right, the woman is legally free to withdraw that right unilaterally at any time. The prisoner and the child are not legally free to walk out. So if you insist that the “right” implied by the word “authority” must be a legal right as opposed to any other kind of right, then it is true that the man has no more authority over his woman than she has over him. But why insist that?
You may want to argue that the fact that it is consensual proves that the dominant authority of the man is just a game. But if you do, you are missing something. You are simply defining “real authority and control” as non-consensual. That is all very well, but many of us experience what we think of as games very, very differently from how we experience this very welcome thing you think is just a game but which to us feels like very real control. How do you explain that? You can dismiss the experience of thousands of Taken In Hand readers if you want to, but that doesn't invalidate it.
Because the control needs to be real to have the powerful effect it has, some conclude that they must draw a hard line between what they call “erotic spanking” and what they call “punishment spanking”. If they don't hate “punishment spankings” in exactly the same way as the average child hates to be spanked—then (their reasoning goes) we might as well pack up and go home and stop wasting everybody's time. If a punishment is in any way erotic, it must be just a game, a “scene”, a “kink” or a fetish. But it does not follow from the fact that it is erotic that it must be just a bit of kinky fun, and we should resist the temptation to buy into this idea.
First, for some women, a serious spanking is not directly erotic at all, it is scary, painful and can be quite distressing. In some cases, there may be physical evidence of sexual arousal that the woman herself is not consciously aware of. In other cases, there is no evidence of arousal at all. And yet I still say that it is erotic. Why?
What is actually erotic is being under the control of the man. But because that control needs to be real if it is to have the erotic power it does, at some point, or on an on-going basis, the man needs to establish the reality of his authority. Is he in charge or not? If he only spanks her in a fun, playful way, and has never established his authority, there might be some doubt as to whether or not he is in charge. One way of establishing his authority (though by no means the only way) is through serious, non-fun disciplinary spanking. So how is that erotic?
Suppose a woman behaves unacceptably in some way, and the man takes the woman in hand and gives her a severe, painful spanking to show her who's boss and to let her know that he will not tolerate such behaviour. No matter how much it hurts at the time, unless something has gone wrong, the end result is that the woman feels a sense of submissive peace, love, a desire to please the man. She feels his, and she feels strong sexual desire for him. She might not feel this immediately after the spanking—the effect is not that direct, it works in a much more general way, assuring her of his authority over her. It is that authority—and the woman's awareness of and experience of that authority—that produces and maintains so powerfully those feelings in the woman. For the women I am discussing here, it is not spanking in itself that has that effect, it is the ever-present authority that the spanking represents.
If the man has not established his authority over her, she might not feel this strong sexual and emotional desire for him and connection with him on an on-going basis over the years or decades. But for as long as she is aware of his authority, she feels sexually and emotionally drawn to him. This is the sense in which so-called “punishment spankings” are erotic.
In my next article, I address the following question: “If a woman finds the idea of being taken in hand erotic, how can taking her in hand also “work” to modify her behaviour? [Click here for the next article: Why you should not withhold spanking.]