Discipline, Punishment, and Correction in a D/s Relationship

This post is #5 in my 30 Days of D/s series. If you’d like to read more, please visit my 30 Days of D/s page for the complete inventory of posts.  The first question posited in today’s 30 Days of D/s prompt is: As a submissive, are you willing to allow a Dominant to discipline or punish you in your relationship? I find the question interesting, because I’d like to point out the word “allow.” I think that word is extremely important. Let me take a bit of a tangent for a moment to explain why. Today, while I was driving around running errands, the DJ on the radio was talking about relationships. He noted that 71% of people polled for a particular study said that they wouldn’t be in a relationship with someone unless they felt it was “egalitarian,” and that 29% didn’t mind following someone else’s lead. Of course, I have no idea what study this was, nor do I give it any real credence. But I do feel that the vast majority of Westerner’s feel relationships should be equal and would not understand the power dynamic of a D/s relationship or why any submissive would want it. And punishment? Well that’s just abuse, right? Well…no. It’s absolutely not abuse. Doms are not just people who enjoy beating the crap out of weaker people, and subs are not just people with Daddy issues who seek abusive relationships because they have low self-esteems. Subs can be fiercely independent people who simply seek something specific to improve their lives through submission: guidance, mental quiet or mindfulness, sexual adventure, physical/mental/emotional challenge, etc. It’s hard to explain why anyone would choose this lifestyle, but for me, it’s about safety, growth, and love. For more on this, check out my first two posts for 30 Days of D/s (“14 Qualities of a Good Dominant” and “What Submission Means to Me“). Anyhow…back to the question I seem to be avoiding: As a submissive, are you willing to allow a Dominant to discipline or punish you in your relationship?  Like I noted earlier, a submissive “allows” a Dominant to discipline or correct her. However, this “allowance” has to be set up well before it even becomes a thing. It’s not like a Dominant asks whether he can punish a sub: “You were naughty, can I spank you now?” No. That would not be Dom-ly behavior. A Dom doesn’t ask permission. But a Dom and sub DO negotiate and create agreements or contracts that include expectations and consequences (see yesterday’s post “Contracts and Negotiations in D/s Relationships”). In this way, a sub does agree to be punished. But once the contract or agreement is in use, the Dom does not ask, and the sub does not say no. She simply takes the consequence. If she does not agree with it, that is a conversation that can be had, but not at the time of correction. There’s always a “safe word” to stop the action RIGHT NOW if things get to that point, but it is the job of the Dom to enforce the rules, and the responsibility of the sub to accept that. Again…back to the question I still seem to be avoiding: As a submissive, are you willing to allow a Dominant to discipline or punish you in your relationship?  The short answer is yes. The long answer is: If a Dom does not have the power to enforce behavior, and there aren’t any expectations for the sub to live up to, then it’s not really D/s. I don’t like being physically punished, I’ll admit that right up front. In fact, there are times it has really pissed me off. In the past, there have been moments when it just made me feel like I was being treated like a child, which, in turn, made me feel resentful and angry. But, punishment is not intended to make the Dominant feel good. They may get a thrill out of spanking your ass for fun, but correcting you through punishment or consequence is a responsibility…with the intention of shaping your behavior and improving you. If I have agreed to a particular behavior and I don’t fulfill the requirement or I forget or something, then an agreed-upon or appropriate consequence makes perfect sense. While I can’t say I’ll ever like it, I’m not supposed to. That’s the whole point, right? No…non-D/s’ers may be thinking…”Why the hell would you let someone punish you into better behavior? You’re an adult. Isn’t is humiliating?” Well, sure it can be humiliating. And yes, I’m an adult, and ultimately, I AM responsible for my own behavior. But, having someone else take a bit of that responsibility is actually “freeing” for some people. Re-education or reinforcement from an outside source can also be more impactful that trying to cajole oneself into doing the right thing. We do it all the time outside of D/s. We have doctors and nutritionists that tell us what to eat or how to be more healthy. We follow their rules or we might end up in worse shape. Of course…they don’t punish us for not following they rules, but they might refuse to continue to treat us. We have bosses and leaders that give us tasks and evaluate our performance. If we don’t measure up, there are consequences for that. If we speed, law enforcement might ticket us, and if we break a law, we might end up in jail. Life is made up of hierarchies, and some of us are better at following than leading. There are also quite a few of us (me included) that lead in life and are simply fucking tired of it when we get home. It’s like a huge weight coming off or our shoulders to give that responsibility to someone else for awhile, even though it can be hard for me to let go of the control, and I often need stern (or soft) reminders to do so. I can’t say I’d ever be one of those subs who happily thank their Doms for the discipline they receive. I realize it can be taxing for the Dom, and that it’s a responsibility for them, so being appreciated that they are willing to take this on is “the right thing to do.” But, I’ll be honest, I’m likely to glare and purse my lips and pout about it during the actual doling out of the consequence. I mean, how many people do you know who actually thank a police officer for pulling them over to “gently” remind them to slow down with a fine and an admonishment? Yeah…no one. In fact, most of us are more likely to spread the word about “that asshole cop” who seems to be out for blood on a particular section of road. Most people naturally don’t like to be told what to do and really don’t like to be punished for not doing what they’ve been told to do…or doing something they’ve been told not to. This has been in issue for Mr. D and I. Since I’m not one of those subs who sweetly smiles through the punishment, he has been adverse to the idea. He doesn’t want to force me, and doesn’t want a punishment to even start to sort of kind of smell like domestic abuse. So…when I’m ornery about it, he backs off. That makes sense. And I respect him for that, actually. So, the fact that punishment/consequences have failed for us in the past is on both of us. I’ve made it difficult, and he’s been super careful. What kinds of punishments can you imagine for bad behavior? I feel that a consequence should fit the “crime.” Mostly these types of things should be decided before a D/s relationship starts, but ultimately, it’s up the Dom once that has occurred. It might be a spanking (I fucking hate the wooden spoon & and I’m rather averse to physical punishment, anyway) or a time out or some sort or a denial. It just depends. Often, for me, it’s really just a simple calling out of my behavior: a raised eyebrow, a measured request to try something again, or “that look” which makes it apparent that I am out of line. What matters most is that I don’t like it, otherwise it will have no lasting impact. And that’s the point of correction, isn’t it? That it have an impression and that it shape future behavior in a positive way. Some further notes and opinions on Discipline & Punishment… What about when Doms fuck up? Does punishment go both ways? No. No it doesn’t. A Dominant should have the balls to own up to a mistake…He should also have the humanity to apologize or even make amends, but a sub does not “punish” a Dom (at least in my opinion). I think it’s fair to call a Dominant on bad, wrong, or unacceptable behavior and even, if it is against an agreement (or common sense), to refuse compliance and request an emergency “meeting” to discuss it. But, I’d be very  interested to know what others think on this topic. Expectations Instead of Rules & Disappointment As Punishment Rules don’t have to be set in stone, and there doesn’t need to be a written contract for a D/s relationship to be “real.” If you’ve been together long enough, you know your Dom’s expectations, and if you want to please them, you’ll try to live up to those expectations. For example, I know Mr. D prefers me shaved, he likes when I bring him coffee, and he wants to fold his fucking socks (I hate folding socks). When I’m in a mood to please him, specifically, I do this things. We aren’t currently doing any sort of official D/s thing, but our “roles” are pretty natural and fairly deeply ingrained, so even when we are “playing” or “living the label,” I know the expectations. Also, his disappointment is a very real form of punishment, just as knowing he’s proud of me or pleased is a very real form of reward. This is outside of D/s, so you know that inside it, these things can be used effectively without the need for corporal punishment. A Dom does not need to spank you to show his power. That power is simply felt. Arbitrary Rules I’m not a huge fan of rules…and I especially despise arbitrary ones. For this reason, I think it is important to decide on the “rules” together. Doms need to make their expectations known (maybe even explain the why’s and how’s of those expectations), and subs need to have a say. Rules should pertain to a sub’s growth or a Dom’s happiness. Even if I don’t like a rule, but I know it brings my Dom happiness, I’m more likely to buy in. If I don’t buy in, I’m likely to forget to follow it, and then punishment will lead to resentment. That’s no good for anyone. Keep It Manageable I mentioned above that one of the things I didn’t like about our contract was that it was too long. There was too much to remember, even with the written document to remind me. I was quickly overwhelmed and had a hard time living up to the expectations. I think it’s important to start smaller, with a few tasks and expectations and then add on over time, giving both the sub time to get used to it and the Dom time to get used to enforcing it. I think it’s easy to get excited and want to jump in with both feet, but you’re more likely to be successful if you go in slowly, in the shallow end. Water-wings are totally acceptable. (Disclaimer: The opinions in these articles are simply that…opinions. These are my personal feelings on issues of D/s. It is important to note that I am and always have been in a consensual relationship, and any activities I partake of, I have done so with full consciousness and willingness. … Continue reading Discipline, Punishment, and Correction in a D/s Relationship