To Err Is Human, To Punish May be Advisable

By Wheldrake, my submissive and today’s guest

The leather-clad goddess sits, immaculate, on her ornate wooden chair, riding crop already clasped in one gloved hand. “Come here, slave,” she commands with an imperious tilt of her head. “It’s time for your punishment.”

 ***

It’s easy to see why punishments are such a staple of BDSM fiction. The act of punishing a submissive is a particularly stark expression of the dominant’s power, and can introduce some variety into a story because it involves a motivation other than raw sadism. The interaction can have various emotional textures depending on whether the punishment is being inflicted in sorrow, anger or glee, and received in a spirit of contrition, defiance or resignation.

I generally enjoy reading a well-written punishment scene with interesting characters and richly described action, especially if the person swinging the crop happens to be a woman. I always identify to some degree with the submissive and perhaps even imagine myself in his or her place, suffering at the hands of a relentless disciplinarian for my sins and shortcomings. It’s wonderful fun, in the realm of my imagination. But if I find the idea of being punished so exciting, how on Earth is My Lady supposed to punish me in the real world when I fall short of her expectations and need to be corrected?

Of course, I try to fall short infrequently enough that the question rarely arises. Maybe there are some paragons of submission who never fall short at all, but like Rayne Millaray I’m distinctly sceptical. We submissives are only human. We want to please and obey those who command us, but now and then we inevitably stay up past our bedtimes, yield to the temptation to have just a little nibble of some treat we know we’re not allowed to sample without permission, forget about a deadline for completing an assignment, or whatever. Once in a hopefully long while, we really fuck up, though I’m pleased to say I’ve avoided this so far in my submission to My Lady.

I’m not at all sceptical, on the other hand, about the existence of dominants and submissives who don’t find punishment to be a particularly useful way of dealing with lapses. Maybe simply talking through the reasons for the submissive’s failure works better for them, as a way of preventing recurrences, or maybe the submissive simply finds the dominant’s disappointment so crushing that punishment is superfluous. For me, talking lapses through is useful and a dominant’s disappointment certainly stings, but receiving a punishment that I find genuinely unpleasant both underlines that disappointment and provides a very basic and concrete reason not to screw up again. “I must write to her at least every other day, no matter how busy I am, or she’ll probably make me regret it” is primitive but impeccable logic that strikes a chord with me and helps to keep me on the straight and narrow.

There’s still the question of technique, which can be a bit tricky. The idea that beating a masochist is a reward rather than a punishment provides abundant fodder for comedians, but there’s a certain amount of truth in it. If a submissive finds it thrilling to be hurt by a tough authority figure (and I suppose I’d better raise my hand at this point), then simply taking him or her out behind the woodshed probably isn’t the ideal way to encourage changes in behaviour. With a bit of experimentation, though,it should be possible to come up with some kind of calculated unpleasantness that is either so intense or so profoundly dull and soul-crushing that the submissive recoils from it and becomes eager not to have to experience it again. Some wayward boys and girls, I understand, can’t bear to be tickled. My Lady knows all too well that I hate writing lines, especially by hand. I end up feeling bored, frustrated and impatient, a cocktail of emotions that’s distasteful enough to make me want to avoid having to sample it more often than absolutely necessary.

The paradoxical thing about my attitude, though, is that I hate writing lines but love being under the control of a woman who doesn’t hesitate to inflict stiff disciplinary doses of line-writing when she thinks they’re warranted (although, mercifully, it’s been a good while since the last one). Her willingness to punish – to say in effect “no, that was not acceptable, and I’m going to impose unpleasant consequences on you” – is an important, and really quite beautiful, facet of her considerable power over my submissive ass.

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14 Responses to “To Err Is Human, To Punish May be Advisable”

  1. Dilo Keith Says:

    I’m surprised that it took me this long to use Wheldrake for my blog; I’ve been fortunate to have access to his writing talents for almost three years. Punishment is my favorite theme in erotic fiction and a frequent topic of discussion in my D/s relationships, so it was easy to choose this for Wheldrake’s first post here.

    • wheldrake2014 Says:

      It’s an honour to be used for your blog, ma’am. I look forward to contributing more in the future.

  2. jacklpyke Says:

    Not being in the lifestyle, I love to hear talk from those who are. Thank you for sharing this, Wheldrake. I hope you’ll post some more.

    • wheldrake2014 Says:

      You’re welcome! I’ll be sharing more of my thoughts and experiences fairly regularly on this blog. My Lady has also informed me that I’ll be taking reader requests for posts about particular topics, subject to her approval. Please feel free to post requests here or send them to her privately.

  3. e[lust] #56 » e[lust] Says:

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