On Punishment, and the Lack Thereof

Note to family members and others who don’t want to read about my personal sex life: Although this piece mostly talks about sexual things that I don’t do rather than sexual things that I do, it does talk about my personal sex life, and my personal sexual fantasies, in quite a bit of detail. And it talks about aspects of my personal sex life and sexual fantasies that may be way too much information. If you don’t want to read about that stuff, please, please don’t.

This piece originally appeared on the Blowfish Blog.

I’m going to do something a little different with this piece.

I’m going to talk about something sexual that I don’t do, instead of something that I do.

I’m going to talk about punishment.

It may seem strange, but although I’ve been practicing SM for about twenty years now, I have almost never done what is almost certainly the most common form of SM play. As a top, I’ve done punishment less than a handful of times… and I’ve done it as a bottom exactly never, except in a jokey, “wink-wink,” kidding around way.

It’s not that I haven’t done role-playing. But the role-playing I’ve done hasn’t been about, “You’ve been bad, so I’m going to punish you.” It’s been about, “I have power over you, so I’m going to do what I want with you.” Punishment has just never interested me.

No, more than that. Punishment has actively freaked me out.

Lately, however, punishment has been sneaking into my fantasies with increasing insistence, and increasing stubbornness.

So I want to look at what it is about punishment that freaks me out… and what it is about it that I’m beginning to find so compelling.

The freak-out part is easy, actually. I already feel bad about myself at the drop of a hat. It takes very little for me to feel like I’ve fucked up, like I’m a disappointment. And the feeling cuts me to the heart. I hate it. I sure as hell don’t want to bring it into the bedroom with me. In the bedroom, I want to feel valued, appreciated. Even if it’s by an amoral bully abusing their power over me to get their sadistic rocks off — I still want to feel like I’m pleasing them. I don’t want to feel like I’ve let them down.

Except lately, that’s shifting. In my fantasies, anyway. When I imagine playing with punishment in real life, it feels enticing and seductive… but it also feels like there’s an emotional hair-trigger trap in there, one that could go off at any second. This may be one of those fantasies that I decide to keep a fantasy.

But it’s rare that a fantasy goes from a major squick, an “I don’t even like to think about that” deal, to a central part of my masturbation fantasies. So I want to figure out what exactly is so compelling about it.

And for me at least, it goes back to power.

The rush of power is what gets me off about role-play. The feeling of having power in my hands, of having another person under my control who I can use and manipulate at will; or the feeling of having power wielded over me, of having my body and my sexuality controlled by a strong and forceful person… that’s what it’s all about. (Apart from the purely physical sadomasochistic pleasure of the pain itself, which is a whole other deal and doesn’t need any role-playing or power dynamics to get the job done.)

Now, obviously, you don’t need to have punishment to play with power. For most of my sex life, my power games and fantasies have not been about, “I have authority over you and I’m going to punish you because you’ve been bad.” They’ve been about, “I have power over you, and I’m going to wield it simply because I want to.” The baron molesting the scullery maid; the Stasi agent tormenting the captive; the cop violating the citizen… it’s pure abuse of power, one person using another simply because they can. And for me, it has a kick like a mule.

But I’m beginning to get that there’s an extra kick of power in punishment.

And that’s the power to make the victim feel like they deserve it.

In a “pure abuse of power” scene, you have control over the victim’s body. But in a punishment scene, you have power over their mind as well. You have power over their very sense of self. You don’t just have the power to make their body suffer — you have the power to make their conscience suffer, too. You have the power to make them feel, not just helpless and frightened and hurting, but ashamed.

And vice versa. If you’re playing the victim, if what you get off on is the feeling of power being wielded over you, I’m beginning to see why punishment could have an intense appeal. If you get off on feeling helpless, on feeling submissive, on feeling small, on feeling bent to someone else’s will… I can see why being punished could be almost irresistible.

Because it would make you feel that way inside as well as out. It would make you feel helpless and submissive, small and bent to someone else’s will… not just on your skin and in your muscles and genitals, but in your heart.

And I suspect this is why it feels so dangerous, as well as so enticing.

On Punishment, and the Lack Thereof

4 thoughts on “On Punishment, and the Lack Thereof

  1. 1

    Let me see if I can explain my reasons for wanting to be punished in an S&M sense. It’s hard, because everything is still in fantasy stage for me – lots of thinking and no doing means that everything is theoretical.
    In a lot of ways, I’m a Dominant. I like having control, and I would love to have control in a sexual situation. I’m so meek in general, but I feel a certain part of me is devoted to confidence. I think that if I can be taught, I’d be a great Domme. However, I’m also a masochist. As far as I know, I’ve been a masochist to some degree since I was little. I like pain. One might say that I’m addicted to it, otherwise I wouldn’t have such an endorphin jones from my trichotillomania, among other things. I believe that pain, in a certain context, is perfectly fine. I’ve had to think about this a lot and create boundaries, especially since I also have depression and sometimes hurt myself for the wrong reasons. When you have that, it’s harder to distinguish the right reasons. But that’s really personal and specific, and we won’t touch on that.
    However, I also have a guilt complex the size of New Jersey. I can’t pinpoint any reason or driving force that made me this way. As far as I remember, this is how I’ve always been. In that way, being a submissive and being punished might also be very dangerous for me… with the wrong person. I think it would involve complete trust, which is hard for me, but part of my problem is that I can never get into the headspace of going through the guilt to its conclusion. Maybe if I can allow myself to switch sometimes with someone who I trust completely to take care of me, a punishment scenario may be what’s best for me when I feel an acute attack of guilt. It would give me the permission to let go of my obsessive need for controlling myself. It plays with my own false acknowledgment of needing to be punished, but it would work through it rather than practicing avoidance.
    Comments? I’m not sure whether I explained it well.

  2. 3

    For me, S&M is very much about handing over the power to someone else for a while; in my everyday life I’m incredibly opinionated and obnoxious to the point of arrogance and I know I am, and it makes me feel pretty bad about myself a lot of the time. Submitting to someone else is an opportunity to let them take control and take me down a peg or two, so to speak, especially if there’s an element of humiliation in what’s happening. That’s why most of what I do in that sense includes an idea that I’m being punished in some way. It allows that sense of self-control to be entirely taken away from me for a while, and while I agree that can be dangerous for some people, I find it relaxing and an amazing turn on.
    Incidentally I only started reading this blog a couple of weeks ago and I’m enjoying it mightily. Just thought I’d let you know. x

  3. 4

    You describe what the turn ons are so well. Which is the greatest turn on? Knowing you want to punish me? Knowing that you can and might enjoy helping make me famous sharing the photos I posted of myself in my ladies_full_brief_panties-male_modeled-back_view The realization that it might happen or will happen or has happened? Knowing you have power over me? Knowing that you are going to do it? Knowing and remembering how you got pleasure, satisfaction and amusement out of my pain and embarrassment? I think it might be the greatest turn on knowing you have the power to do it again and will use it.

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