In my last Kaelah's Corner post Therapy? I asked the controversial questions whether therapeutic effects explain a (smaller or bigger) part of our spanking fantasies and form of kinky relationships and whether certain experiences and patterns are more common in the kinky community than in society as a whole.
The reason for these questions was that I had come across several very different observations that had made me wonder, because they fell into one of the following two categories: The first types of observations were evidence or descriptions of negative experiences, especially physical self-harm and different forms of neglect or abuse during childhood, which I came across several times in our community but with which I had been confronted much less often in my vanilla environment. The second types of observations were about different forms of kinky partnerships which all seemed to incorporate a unidirectional power dynamics, something that I have experienced in my vanilla life as being rather negative for the people involved, but which didn't seem to be seen (or at least discussed) critically in our kinky community.
I'm always interested to learn about how kink, kinky play and kinky relationships work for others and how they work for me. And I always try to understand where the various forms of play and relationships come from and what people are getting out of them. So the observations which I had made raised many questions.
Concerning the first category of observations, I asked myself why I seemed to come across these things more often in the kinky community than in my vanilla environment. Now, as Indy pointed out in her comment on my original post, it is difficult to compare one's vanilla environment with the part of the kinky environment one is engaged in. And we all know only a small subgroup of kinksters. Ludwig and I are mostly active in certain parts of the online community and we know a few people from the local community as well. So, maybe the different experiences that I had made in the kinky community and in my vanilla community were just based on the general differences between the kinky and vanilla people I knew? Or maybe I had heard more about these things in the kinky community because there was a higher degree of openness about them among kinksters? I wasn't sure about any of these ideas and that's why I decided to ask the readers about their observations and experiences.
I was even more unsure about the question whether childhood experiences or experiences with self-harm could also affect one's kinky play and if so, in which way. I had seen people who had obviously made experiences with self-harm but didn't seem to practise it any more. There were statements of people who wrote about how they made experiences in their kink which they had missed during their childhood, like feeling guided or cared for. I had also made the observation that my personal kinky fantasies often seemed to be positive counterparts to negative experiences which I had made and to my insecurities, and that my spanking play empowered me.
That's why I had the idea that kinky play and kinky relationships could maybe be used in the same positive way concerning others' negative experiences and resulting insecurities. Hence my “therapy”-hypothesis. Ludwig emphasized on a very important point in his comment: Using spanking as a form of self-therapy obviously doesn't have to be a bad thing. I'm not sure whether I pointed this out clearly enough in my original post, but I hope that the symbolic picture which I had taken for the post already showed it.
On the other hand, I also made some negative obvservations which gave me cause for concern. I knew people who had made negative experiences earlier in their lives and then got hurt in their spanking play as well. And I came across people who stopped certain forms of kinky play, claiming that these had been based on self-destructive tendencies and therefore dangerous for them. So, I came up with my last question: Could kinky play be unhealthy as well, and under which circumstances?
I know that the question of kink and health is a sensitive question, but from my point of view it is also a necessary and important one. And I think that one can make assumptions about what might or might not be healthy and under which circumstances, especially if these assumptions are based on actual statements of people who have experienced certain situations which they later considered either as healthy or unhealthy for themselves.
The questions concerning the second category of observations were quite similar. Again I asked myself whether there were really more partnerships with a unidirectional power dynamics in our kinky community than in society as a whole. If so, what did they give those who were involved in them and in which positive ways could they be used? And, last but not least, were there similar downsides as the ones which I had experienced with the people in my vanilla environment?
Pandora commented that asking about motives for kink and motivations in kinky relationships insinuated that kink was abnormal, and that speculating about others' motives especially in combination with the question of healthiness was rude and patronising. I can see where Pandora is coming from and I agree that certain questions can be loaded.
Now first of all, the intention of my post was not to ask why someone is / became kinky. It was about how people use kinky play and why some people's kinky fantasies might be different from others. But frankly, I wouldn't mind asking about why people are kinky in the first place as well. Because for me being kinky is neither good nor bad, it is just a sexual preference which is unusual in the sense that it applies only to a statistical minority of people. I don't know why I am kinky and I think it wouldn't make a big difference if I knew, but I am curious and I wouldn't mind exploring the subject.
I agree with Pandora that one must be very careful when exploring subjects like these. But I don't think that declaring certain questions a taboo area can ever be a good thing. When I wrote my Kaelah's Corner post, I tried to be very careful by always talking about my personal observations and how things seemed to me, rather than making blunt assertions. And I openly asked whether others had made different experiences which contradicted mine.
I am aware that it is difficult to speculate about other people's motives and about the power dynamics between others, and that one should be careful about making generalisations. As Abel pointed out, there are all kinds of kinky people and kinky relationships and there is a lot of variety. But first of all, I think that understanding other people's motives is essential for human beings, and secondly, to my mind, it is possible to make well-founded assumptions based on what people have said about themselves in combination with observable behaviour. These assumptions can then be used for asking others about their opinions and experiences and learning from them.
I have to admit that I am very critical about any form of restriction of freedom of speech, especially when it is said that certain questions should not be raised because these questions could be used to portray the community or society which they concern in a negative way. To my mind, asking a question can never be as dangerous (as long as it is a real question and as long as it is asked carefully) as prohibiting open discussion.
I also don't think that asking questions causes prejudices. Rather, I think that it gives us the chance to diminish them. After all, if different points of view are mentioned openly and honestly, people have a chance to learn about them and to adjust their point of view in case they come across arguments they hadn't thought of. That is why, to my mind, it can even be very useful to talk about one's prejudices and where they come from. I'll do so in my next Kaelah's Corner post which will focus on the power dynamics of kinky relationships, because that was the topic that led to the most vivid discussion after my last post.
Today, I would like to close with some thoughts about the topic of physical self-harm, though, because the comments on my last post made me look at this aspect from a completely new perspective. My personal assumption about kink and physical self-harm had been that the explanation why I had been confronted with that topic more often in the kinky community than in my vanilla environment was at least partly based on the general difference between the kinky and the vanilla people whom I know and a certain openness about these things in the kinky community.
I wasn't sure whether there was any further correlation between self-harm and kink at all. The only idea that I had was that spanking might cause a similar feeling of relief as self-harm and that it therefore could possibly be used as a healthy substitute for self-harming activities. Georgia's comment seemed to support that idea because she pointed out that while from her experience self-harm and kink were based on very different desires, she could achieve the same kind of high and relaxation from both of them.
Pandora's and Prefectdt's comments then gave a for me completely unexpected explanation for a possible correlation between kink and self-harm. Pandora wrote about having used self-harm as a child, when she didn't know how to interpret her erotic masochistic desires, yet. And Prefectdt had tried self-harm as a substitute at times when he didn't have the possibility to share spanking play with others. It didn't work in his case which Prefectdt traced back to the difference between the male and the female body chemicals. I'm not sure about this additional idea, but to my mind it might also have to do with the fact that the important part of sharing the experience was missing?!
Of course, these are just isolated personal experiences which don't allow any general conclusions. But I found these comments very interesting nonetheless. Although I had of course come across the topic of self-spanking, it never occurred to me that some self-harming experiences in the kinky community could be results of attempts to substitute erotic spanking experiences!
In my view, the chance of getting new ideas and insights like this one is worth the risk of writing about controversial topics / observations and the questions they raise. And I would like to thank everyone who shared their thoughts and personal experiences so openly and honestly. Of course your thoughts about today's topic are very welcome as well!