Punishment, or more accurately, your use of punishment is a major element in any power-exchange relationship. That doesn’t mean you should definitely have it. It does mean you should definitely talk about it, have negotiated norms and expectations around it. You should also leave room to renegotiate those terms as time passes and your dynamic evolves.
Punishment in a power-exchange dynamic is always unique and personal. For me, punishment is also a major kink. Add an element of punishment to any scene, and I am immediately there. 😉 I don’t even need a context or rationale reason for the punishment. Just tell me I’m being punished, and I’m probably already wet. However, for as much as I enjoy punishment, I also fear it.
Fear, however, is not part of why I get off on punishment. That has more to do with objectification, humiliation and control. I fear punishment outside of kink. It comes down to my personality. I have an innate need to do my personal best all the time, to exceed expectations. I think it is part of my life learned skills of surviving. I need to feel like I am serving my Master, filling my role, and being a good submissive, in the same way I need to know I am living a morally sound and responsible life, that I am a good person. If I feel like I haven’t been as submissive as I should have been, that I have messed up in some way, I need to repent. This is when I want to be punished in a corrective way – not as a kink, and I will request it. It is an expression of my regret, an extension of my apology. Without it, I would get increasingly down on myself for messing up.
There’s a lot of psychology mixed up in punishment, not only for me, but for all humans. As someone who is highly metacognitive or mindful, I am able to dive to the bottom of that thinking and explain all these contradicting desires. And they are that in chorus, a direct opposition to each other. When you look at punishment as a whole, the desire to be punished is as strong as the desire to escape all punishment, and that’s without exploring the kink. The complicatedness of the discussion gets magnified by the use of only one term – punishment, when there are lots of elements and variables surrounding it. Unfortunately, English doesn’t give us a better one, and only has synonyms in the negative or abusive range. It also lets us down by offering up nothing by way of a positive feeling from experiencing punishment, both of which are a reflection of our culture. But I digress…
I break punishment down into three distinct categories. I try to define each category below, give its use, and possible language you may hear or say when using it. I generally refer to the submissive as me (she, girl, her). Please insert your own pronouns or self-identifying terms as you’d like.
Punishment as correction: This is punishment intended to correct behavior. For me it comes when I have broken a direct rule, or behaved in a way that is unbecoming of my submissive role. For example, I have a rule that I have to hide my purse or fancy bags when left in the car, so they are out of sight from the outside. My Master gave me this as a specific rule to protect his investment in me, my fancy things, and my safety. When I got a sloppy with the rule, and left my expensive bag in a risky situation I had to write 50 lines stating I would take care of my things. This was a punishment he decided on unilaterally, and gave to me. I may also request a punishment. One morning I got mad at him. He understood my feelings and tried to apologize and make up with me, but I turned my back on him repeatedly. When the anger passed I felt terribly bad for being so angry, and instantly kneeled at his feet and apologized. He accepted my apology, and I told him I deserved to be punishment. He had me stand in the corner while he finished the coffee. In this role punishment includes a lot of communication before and after the punishment. There should be a discussion about why punishment is being administered, and lots of reassurance that the submissive is not a bad person, they just made a mistake, or need to behave differently. My Master tells me frequently that I am a good girl. General punishment language sounds like, “You have made a mistake, and need time to think it through. I am not mad at you, and you are still a good girl, but I don’t want you to repeat this behavior again. Take this time to think about your choices, so you can do better next time. We will talk again after this.” When done correctly, this is effective for healthy emotional balance including forgiveness, keeping consistent expectations, and maintaining the power exchange roles. It should also be equal, that is both partners can be punished. My Master buys me pretty things when he messes up. In a healthy exchange, both sides should be able to admit they were wrong, and repent in a way that makes them feel free of that shame afterwards.
Punishment as scene play: This is the common funishment, where punishment is administered to the bottom as part of a scene. It is easy to imagine in any of the classic role-playing scenes; student and professor, employee and boss, citizen and officer… You get the idea. It could also be played out without direct roles. The top tells the bottom to do something impossible, and the bottom is then punished for not doing it. Kinky sex ensues. In this role punishment language sounds more demeaning to heighten the fantasy, and may include negotiated name calling, “Did you finish on time, Slut? No, you didn’t. When sluts don’t finish on time they get punished.” Punishment tends to be rough play and include some level of discomfort, pain, or endurance revolving around whatever kink is agreed to. It should always be followed by aftercare, with the bottom being reminded that they are not ‘bad.’ This is true of all intense scene play. It is effective as a form of kink, and should use the normal safety precautions and negotiations before and after the scene.
Punishment as dynamic control: For me, this exists between the other two. It is both punishment and funishment. In this role, the Dom or top would enforce punishment not to correct a specific action the sub may have done wrong, but because that’s what makes a good submissive. It serves the functional purpose of enforcing the roles much like a period of higher protocol, but may also play on some known kink. This kind of punishment may last a day, a night, or a week as specified by the Dom or Top. In administering there are tons of variations. It could be a light groundation; no candy\TV\orgasms this week, no eating before me, no choosing your own outfits. Or it could be a short-term rule or chore; you will meet me at the door with coffee every day when I get home, you will vacuum daily and send me photos to prove it, you will sit and wait with your mouth open until I come get you. In this role, punishment language is neither corrective or demeaning. Instead it focuses on the action to be performed, and reinforces the submissive’s role in a positive and supportive way. The Dom may say things like, “You will sit with your mouth open, hands in your lap. You will not swallow or close your mouth at all. This punishment is to remind you who you are and who I am, not because you have been bad.” Or maybe …”I have decided you will not have any sweets this week. Every time you think about having a treat I want you to think about the control I have over you instead. I am your Dom, your Master, and this week is to remind you of that. You haven’t done anything wrong, and are not in trouble. You are a good girl. This punishment is good for you to remember who is in control.” This type of punishment should always be chosen with absolute success in mind. That is, a Dom or Top shouldn’t choose a punishment that will be hard or impossible for the sub to complete, for that see funishment above. If you have doubts, pick something else. It will lose its effectiveness if not carried out to completion. Breaking this punishment should bring on corrective punishment as gone over above, followed by a re-do, otherwise the reinforcement of the roles is lost. This is why it should be easy to complete for the submissive.
As always, I’d love to hear from you. Post your comments, thoughts, questions and worries below. What else do you want to hear from me? Is there a topic you’d like to know more about? A side of me your curious about? Let me know.