Saturday, August 20, 2011

"What Have I Done Wrong?"

Thank you all for your kind comments on Ludwig's Semi-Hiatus post! As most of you might already know, I love contributions made by our dear readers and I was very happy when I recently realised that the some of the discussions in the comment section of this blog are not only between the readers and us any more, but also among the readers themselves. So, your call for shorter posts that offer a ground for more exchange of thoughts between our readers does not go unheard. Of course, I am counting on you to join in the discussion and to share your thoughts in the comment section!

I'm not only going to ask a random question, though. Instead, I'm going to tell you a little story that raised some questions which I would like to pass on to you:

As I already told you in my post Does Your Mother Know?, I have been very open about my kink once I started exploring the world of spanking. Consequently, many of my friends and several of my family members know about my kinkiness. Both Ludwig and I also came out to our parents because we wanted them to know, even though we had of course no obligation to do so. The overall reactions of friends and family members were very positive, even from those who could not imagine how it must be to have an erotic fetish. My mum even actively supported my exploration, for example by buying me a singing bowl as a gift for Ludwig's and my first-ever play.

But Ludwig and I both also came across that one question which many parents who learn about their children's kinks for the first time might ask: “What have I done wrong?” I think it is a question that can come up irrespective of the child's age. Ludwig and I were both adults when we started exploring our kink and told our parents about it, but we were of course still our parents' children! Now, one might say that the question per se is a sign of prejudice and of a lack of acceptance of different forms of sexuality. I wouldn't interpret that question in such a negative way, though.

First of all, BDSM is unusual in the sense that it only applies to a statistical minority of people. Secondly, spankos derive pleasure (in one way or another) from something that is usually seen as unpleasant and as something that should be avoided – pain. So, I find it quite understandable that parents might ask why their child has developed an erotic desire to administer and / or receive pain. To my mind, the question “What have I done wrong?” only shows that a parent who can't relate to erotic kink cares about the child and wants to make sure that the unusual erotic fetish wasn't caused by any negative childhood experiences.

I can imagine that there might also be a lot of strange thoughts rushing through a parent's mind, depending on the gender constellation and the child's kink. For example, the father of a heterosexual woman who defines herself as a bottom might worry about not having given her enough self-confidence, so that she finally fell prey to a man who controls and beats her. The mother of a heterosexual man who sees himself as a top might worry about having been too strict with him, causing a desire to hurt and control women. I guess you can find similar potential worries for every possible combination (male, female, top, bottom). Of course, none of these worries is justified for the average kinkster, but I think that it is absolutely understandable that fears like these might arise when parents are confronted with their child's kinkiness for the very first time.

I think the least fears might be caused if a child admits to being a switch, because in that case, there doesn't seem to be a one-sided desire to give or receive pain and it becomes easier to understand that it is all about fantasies and sexual desires, not about issues of hatred or a lack of self-confidence. That's why I emphasized on being a switch when I was confronted with fears and the question what my kink was all about.

Answering the question about the origin of my kinkiness was much more difficult, though. I think I'm pretty well aware of where many of my kinky fantasies come from and what I get out of them. But I don't really know why I am / have become kinky in the first place. All I know is that I had kinky fantasies long before I knew about BDSM and erotic spanking.

So, my answer was that I didn't know why I was kinky, but that I assumed that it had something to do with either a genetic predisposition or very early childhood experiences. I compared kinkiness to homosexuality and explained that no matter how it was caused, it surely didn't have anything to do with anything my parents had done wrong. And that is what I really believe. Actually, I'm convinced that my parents did a lot of things which enabled me to live the happy kinky life I'm living today.

To my mind, my parents could have done a lot of things wrong which might then have turned my life as a kinkster into misery. For instance, they could have told me that sexuality is something dirty or evil. They could have taught me that one shouldn't talk about sexual desires. They could have given me the impression that they only love me if I'm “normal”. Or they could have subjected me to real-life CP which might have made it impossible (or at least much more difficult) for me to enjoy CP in a consensual, kinky context.

My parents did none of these things. Instead, they always gave me the feeling that I could talk to them about everything that moved me, even if they should have problems understanding it. They taught me that sexuality was something positive, something that belonged to people who care about and love each other and something one can talk about without having to be ashamed. Consequently, I very rarely struggled with my kink and I am today able to live out my sexual desires without any shame or fear.

I don't know whether I was able to explain all these thoughts that clearly when the question of “What have I done wrong?” came up. I guess I didn't. But I hope that I managed to clarify that the fear of having done anything wrong was unfounded.

Nonetheless the question “Why am I kinky?” is still unsolved for me. This question usually doesn't bother me too much, because I don't see my kinkiness as positive or negative per se. To my mind, it all depends on how someone deals with and lives out their kinky desires (or how someone feels without putting these desires into practical play). That's why the question of how kink works for others and for me has always been much more important for me than the question about the origin of kink.

Still, it remains of course an interesting field for further thoughts, especially in combination with the question of events that might have triggered this special sexual desire. I don't think that we have enough knowledge to answer the question about the origin of kink, but I asked myself whether it would change anything for me if one explanation or another turned out to be true. More precisely: Would I see my kink more negatively if it turned out that kinkiness were triggered by negative (early childhood) experiences?

I'm not necessarily talking about negative experiences that are anyone's fault. For instance, some psychologists believe that complications during birth can have a strong influence on people. My birth and the first weeks of my life didn't really run very smoothly. So, what if these negative experiences made me a spanko? Would that make my kink a negative thing?

My sense of reason says no. Just because something is caused by a negative experience doesn't mean that that something has to be negative as well. For example, having been involved in a life-threatening accident can make someone live a more mindful life. I'm not so sure about my emotional response, though. Would a revelation like that really not touch my feelings towards my kink at all? I can't tell you for sure.

So, how about you? Have you ever asked yourself about the origin of your kink or have others ever asked you about it? What do you think about this question? Do you find it interesting, unimportant or perhaps even annoying? And what if kink were caused by negative experiences? Would a revelation like that change your feelings towards your kink? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section!

PS New commenters are always welcome! The more different the ideas and the more lively the discussion, the more interesting the whole thing gets for all of us. No matter how experienced you are - complete newbie or spanking veteran - you are all welcome. No one is going to bite you, I promise!


Hermione said...

I think my kink was a combination of nature and nurture. I was probably born with a predisposition to kinkiness, and certain events in my early childhood activated that predisposition and caused me to think of spanking as a sexual turn-on.


Our Bottoms Burn said...

As always, a thoughtful post. Thanks!

I long ago gave up trying to understand where I or anyone else got their passion to spank or be spanked.

In another life, I was spanking a shrink. How is that for kinky? She matter of factly told me that I was trying to get acceptance from my Mother by trying to please women. One one level, it made sense, as I never got acceptance or love from my Mother.

Respecting Mistress said...

Kealah, I believe like you, and Hermione, it's something that is genetic and that I was born with this fascination for corporal punishment - and the desire to submit to an authoritative woman. I had a perfectly enjoyable childhood but I was aware from the age of about nine or ten that I found the thought of being caned very frightening but also very exciting. What triggered it was the use of the cane at school (though I never was on the receiving end) and seeing caning, strapping, whipping scenes on the TV. I just remember an extreme excitement and an acute embrassement.. I wasn't aware at that time that my interest was linked to sexuality - though I knew my feelings were not 'normal' so I never metioned it to anyone until adulthood - and then only to my former wife (who wasn't in the lsightest bit interested) and much later my partner who has fully embraced an FLR lifestyle. It's good that we have this medium to exchange our thoughts with like-minded people

Anonymous said...

Kaelah, this discussion reminds me of that question from the Bible (probably from John) regarding the man who was born blind. One of the disciples asks Jesus "who sinned, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind".

Now just the fact that such a question could be asked, as to whether an unborn someone could have sinned, presumes a knowledge of the reality of reincarnation on the part of the person asking the question.

And reincarnation can also help us understand how people seem to grow up so different from one another in spite of apparently similar upbringings.

To get to the point, it doesn't seem too much of a stretch to suppose that a person who in this life is a lifelong spanko, might, in a previous incarnation, have been someone whose life experience left them with unanswered questions regarding spanking or punishment or power inequities.

To take a couple of trivial examples, consider someone who became part of a religious cult that involved flagellation, or mortification of the body.

Or consider someone who derived pleasure from beating subordinates as a slave driver or a school master. Or someone who experienced life as one of those subordinates who was beaten.

As for parents, I've heard that sometimes people who have had a close relationship as peers in one life will want to return in another life as parent and child, so while in the one life they experienced a relationship in freedom and equality, in another life they wanted to see what it was like to have a relationship with that same person but in a relationship of unfreedom, of being subordinate, or superior.

But if you want to limit your view to the present life, consider Rupert Sheldrake's research on what he calls the inheritance of acquired characteristics, through a sharing of what he calls the "morphic field".

Thus often you'll find that an interest or a profession or a hobby that a parent has, is taken to a new level by their child. The famous composer J.S. Bach was a child of musicians, for instance.

See Rupert Sheldrake's book "The Habits of Nature" for more.

Certainly the question of where this interest in spanking comes from, is an enduring one, and I don't by any stretch think this is the exhaustive answer.

Kaelah, I appreciate it that you and Ludwig do explore these more philosophical dimension of kink culture. Keep it coming. Thanks,

Karl Friedrich Gauss

Anonymous said...

I am a person that wants order. It is a source of genuine frustration that there is no "neat and tidy" explanation or reason for my kink. Because that frustration can become toxic, I shy away from staring into that abyss and concentrate on the joy I derive from this thing we do.

vincent said...

My old mum is approaching 97. When she learn of the possibilities in erotic play, her only comment was "What have I missed!" Saucy old devil.

PaulAtNorthGare said...

With respect to KFG's comment above — assuming it's not a deadpan joke — it's worth being clear that Sheldrake's work is at best unproven fringe science, and that there's really no serious basis for a belief in reincarnation.

It's not hard or complicated to propose that an interest in BDSM stems from a genetic background — not for BDSM, exactly, but a side-effect of some other useful or once-useful trait — brought into specific idiosyncratic instantiation by environment. There's no need to reach blindly for nonsense like morphic fields and reincarnation.

Occam's razor, people.

Peter8862 said...

It would be very useful to know whether kink is, or can be, passed down from generation to generation. I know of no evidence that it is, but other readers may know. If not, this suggests that a predisposition towards kink is born in the womb, although how and why this should be so I cannot imagine. Certainly it can show itself in early childhood. I remember as a small boy of about seven years, confiding in my "best friend" that I would love to know what a real caning felt like. He, poor chap, knew only too well from parental practice.
So just when does it start, only to be triggered and then developed at pubity.

Val said...

Kaelah, interesting questions. I would like to tryu and give my answers.
Yes, of course I wondered. It is a good question, not annoying. I asked myself, and others asked me, but I never really asked others, for in my mind I was satisfied that probably it's an immutable brain thing, and left it at that. Then I set aside metaphisics as well as attempts at self-psychoanalysis. What I know is that I was interested in anything spanking since whenever I can remember. About those early days that I cannot remember, family tell me how oftentimes they had to step in and rescue various girls, and me, from the interest I was always showing to their bottoms; apparently in a non-age-discriminatory manner. Boys' held no interest, a situation that continues to this date, unless they happen to show really nice cane marks - in this it must be the marks that are attractive, really.
Negative experiences? Hmm, such as getting spanked in childhood perhaps? Hooray for that! I guess I was lucky, it was never hard enough where I feared it, so I enjoyed the ride sort of, as soon as I learned that you have to let go of that shame and humiliation thing. Bonus: just turned 14, art teacher gives me one heck of a spanking in class. I could hardly suppress my gloating, that teacher was the biggest crush I knew, ever since fifth grade... sigh.
So I don't know, I cannot assign an event or marker of any kind. It just is, and I do not know if anyone has done anything wrong, or let me down for any reason, in any way.
I have also shared, however selectively, with family and friends. No one was horrified, or judgmental. I think that my sister commented something to my mother, but I am not sure.
In short, everyone is fine, and I can't wait until the next occasion where I can use the words "me," "now," and "spanking" in an affirmative, present tense, active sentence.

Ludwig said...

@ Karl Friedrich Gauss: Well, if nothing else, that is one theory on the origin of kinkiness which I haven't heard before. But personally, I do not believe that there is a soul, a spirit or somesuch non-material entity that can live on independently of the body, and consequently, I do not believe in reincarnation.

I also have to agree with Paul about Rupert Sheldrake. I had not heard of Sheldrake before, but from what I gathered during a survey, it sounds like pseudoscience to me.

The fact that J.S. Bach, a child of musicians, grew up to become a musician himself can easily be explained with parental and social influence. You don't need "morphic fields" for that!

@ Paul: One sexuality researcher I once talked to mentioned a theory according to which a disposition towards sadism or masochism is connected to a hormone imbalance of the mother during pregnancy. The interesting thing about that particular theory is that, if it were true, a disposition towards sadism or masochism would be "inborn", nature rather than nurture, but not genetic.

Ultimately, though, there is no consensus on this theory or any other about the origin of kink as far as I'm aware. I don't think that there is a whole lot of research that would satisfy proper scientific criteria. I still see some psychology books quoting totally outdated and biased essays from the early 20th or even the 19th century when it comes to sadomasochism and related topics.

Anonymous said...

Here is my theory.
We can feel when our skin is touched because each bit of skin has its own nerve supply. There is considerable variation between individuals over which nerve supplies which bit of skin and this seems to occur randomly, it is not something we inherit. If you are lucky a significant amount of skin on the bum is supplied by the first sacral nerve, lucky because this is the nerve that is associated with the orgasm. A child soon discovers that stimulating the skin on the bum activates a pleasure area in the brain - hence the fantasies long before these feelings are recognised as sexual. Pain is transmitted through other fibres in the nerve and some people find that pain adds to the pleasurable feeling and are likely to become bottoms whereas others find that pain gets in the way so they only like light touch and/ or become tops who enjoy pain at second hand

Kaelah said...

Thanks to all of you for your thoughtful contributions! It seems that while most of us don't know exactly why we are kinky, the fantasies usually already show at a very young age. So, they must be caused either by very early experiences and / or physical or genetic predispositions. I don't believe in any form of reincarnation or even an afterlife, so this explanation is out for me, but to each their own, maybe there's more than what we know (even if today's scientific evidence speaks against it)...

Anyway, no matter why we are kinky, to me the most important thing is to recognize that being kinky isn't in any way wrong or bad, it's just different. Being an INTJ with a very strong J, I can relate to Elder Lee's desire to have a clear explanation for kinkiness. Sorry for having made you look into the abyss, Elder Lee! But I think once we just see our kink as a special sexual preference (and many people have sexual desires that are different from pure M/F sexual intercourse, one day a week, missionary position, in the darkened bedroom) that is neither good or bad per se, not knowing exactly why we are kinky isn't so bad any more.

What I find much more interesting then is the question: Why do I have these particular spanking fantasies? How do they work, which elements do I seek in them and what do I get out of them? From my point of view these questions aren't easy, either, but I think it is possible to find at least some answers to them that help us to enjoy our kink and to create kinky experiences that make us happy.

! said...

I've previously wrestled with the same question coming from my dad - and I honestly had no answer for him.

I was never spanked as a child, nor were any of my friends. I feel as though my kink was just with me since birth, because I have replayed all of the memories of my earlier years and could not find a time when I would have been exposed to spanking, and definitely not in a sexual context.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Dear Kaelah and Ludwig,

How we come by our interest in canning or spanking is as varied as how we pursue the thing we do. There’s no simple answer and there’s no universal story for everyone.

We may be predisposed; interest in spanking seems to run in families and span generations. But it’s doubtful there’s a spanking gene per se.

Freud thought we might possess something called a “polymorphous perversity,” a super sexuality not limited to our genitals and erogenous zones. Polymorphous perversity is the capacity for sexual excitation beyond typical arousal elicited by such things as anatomical features, facial expressions, speech, touch, smell, movement, and the exploration of our own bodies.

However, some of us seem to emphasize the disciple and punishment side of spanking and may derive little to no sexual satisfaction from it. Spanking may serve as a conveyance for the expression of both dominance and submissiveness while providing the opportunity to reenact important family of origin object relations involving the good and bad parent and the good and bad self-representation.

The learning theorists believe it could be a simple matter of conditioning, a pairing of two stimuli (pleasure and pain or even the thought thereof) being reinforced together over time until habituation occurs. Thus, canning or spanking becomes a substitution for more usual forms of sexual gratification simply because it’s reinforced by our environment.

Jungians believe we may be more susceptible to the archetypes of sadism and masochism; once these archetypes take root in our psyche, they form a complex around which canning, whipping, or spanking dominate our conscious life.

Being a top or bottom may be a life-style imperative based upon psycho-sexual imprinting at an early age. Are we really more like computer firmware? Once our sexual behavior and spanking desires are written, are they forever programmed, compelling us to follow a single set of instructions for the rest of our lives?

Maybe it’s a combination of nature and nurture that triggers the initial spanking response, followed by a lot of operant conditioning. Once pathways have been established in the psyche for libidinal tension reduction, cathexis will usually continue to travel this established avenue until the spanking behavior or fantasy becomes firmly fixed at the center of a spanking complex.

As you can see, there are many explanations for the way we are; none, however, seem to capture fully the essence of our hidden desires in a truly convincing fashion.

Indy said...

Part of the reason I've never confided in my mother is because I didn't want to try to answer that question. I'm pretty sure my father has told her. I have no idea whether he is baffled by this or not, as he is very careful to respect my privacy. I told him for two reasons: I didn't want to lie about why I was traveling so much, and I wanted them to know that there was a new richness in my life.

His way of affirming it is to give me a check before I go to the UK and tell me to have a great time and a nice meal on him. I'm pretty sure he's told Mom only because she uncharacteristically refrained from asking questions about the friends I was going to see on my trip.

Kaelah said...

@ vincent:
Elderly people indeed sometimes seem to be much more relaxed about sexual things than one might expect. My grandma didn't know about my kink, but when she found out that I had a boyfriend, she made some comments about the joys of sexuality that I would never have expected to hear from her!

@ !:
I assume that many parents ask the same question. I found it very difficult to give an answer at the time, not wanting anyone to worry either about me or about potential mistakes but not knowing a clear answer to why I am kinky.

@ Annapurna:
There indeed seem to be many different ways to approach the topic and to explain kinkiness, but as you said, I think none of them fully covers this complex issue.

@ Indy:
I find your father's way of affirming very sweet! Your mom's reaction of not raising the issue and simply not asking too much about things that could be connected with your kink also rings a bell. And I can absolutely relate to your desire to not have to lie all the time as well as your wish to tell your parents about a part of your life that makes you happy and content.