Why I love Jillian Keenan
For many reasons, but to name a couple: Because she is a mainstream writer who has the bravery to speak for us kinky folk. Because her latest writing is a brilliant piece for Slate entitled Spanking is Great for Sex, Which is Why it’s Grotesque for Parenting.
In the off chance that you’re not familiar with Ms. Keenan, she is a journalist who outed herself as a spanko in the New York Times, here. I don’t say this about too many people, but she is one of my heroes. We follow each other on Twitter, and she once tweeted to me that if I’m ever in New York, we should hang out. Now that was a compliment indeed.
I am probably not the first spanko blogger today to call attention to her latest piece, nor will I be the last. But I don’t care; I just want to spread the word. Ms. Keenan has voiced an opinion that I have thought for years, have hinted at in my writings, but never articulated so bluntly and perfectly as she did.
Spanking children is grotesque. It’s wrong on just about every level I can think of. What we do as adults is consensual, plain and simple. A child doesn’t get to consent. That in itself is enough of a reason to not do it, but when you throw in the physiological and sexual ramifications, as Ms. Keenan does, then you really have a case against it. So let’s review: spanking causes a child fear, physical and emotional pain (it’s fucking humiliating), and it throws in a confusing sexual connotation too? It’s outlawed in certain states and in Sweden. Why is this ban not worldwide already?
Ms. Keenan is very brave. She is already getting major backlash for this article — from enraged parents, from the fundamentalists, from the anti-kinks, and from the just plain stupid. Don’t bother reading the comments attached to her piece, unless you want your head to explode. She has been tweeting a random assortment of negative messages she’s received, gems such as:
“I was spanked and I turned out fine!”
“Football players tap butts!”
“Spankings are about power, not sexuality.”
“Foot rubs can be sexual!” (WTF??)
“People spank butts because they’re conveniently padded!”
And my favorite, which looks like one of my CHoS entries:
“GOD! You think SPANKING is SEXUAL??? U r SICKKK! You NEED TO be LOCKET up!!!”
But for every negative comment she receives, for all the hate mail and condemnation, I know she will in turn reap much praise, and deservedly so.
Brava, Jillian Keenan. Thank you for being our voice once again.
An absolutely wonderful article. Unfortunately in this community she is preaching to the converted. Thanks for the link
Don — would you believe she's actually getting death threats now? People are scary.
Wow, that was fantastic! Sadly, she is not preaching to the converted, I used to debate this on spanking sites years ago until I gave up in frustration. It also apparently wasn't appropriate to discuss that, even though incredibly detailed accounts of punishments of children that glorified it were fine as long as they were just memories or didn't specify age. I was just saying about the recent NFL scandals, it's unbelievable and very weird how practically everyone considers Ray Rice a monster for hitting a grown woman, but Adrian Peterson is getting a much more mixed reaction for beating a helpless four year old. It's B.S. and a really sick mentality.
You know, I was spanked all the time growing up and no I am not worse for it but I was spanked by a 4' nothing mom who sometimes used a brush but only for a few spanks. What has happened here is a violent man, who already lost a child to violent, taking down the pants of a 4 year old and whipping him with a stick….a grown man, prone to violent, 6' something, 200 plus pounds of pure violent muscle…..it is disgusting and barbaric……he should be in jail.
I love this lady as well, thank you for the commentary…..spankings are wonderful between two consenting adults!
Lily — I have always detested the rampant discussions of childhood spankings on adult forums. As for Adrian Peterson, I say someone should take a tree branch to his nuts (yes, he actually struck that poor child's scrotum) and see how HE likes it.
Ron — yes, I agree, he should be.
Let's make #spankingisforconsentingadults trend on Twitter in support of Ms Keenan!
Anonymous — good idea!
I was going to say I volunteer, but I'd really rather spank people I like. I hope he rots in prison, but probably not, because money. Love the hash tag idea!
Erica, spankings must ONLY be given between consenting Adults. Period. Pardon the expression. NO IFS OR BUTTS. period. For us GROWN- UPS, ITS SEXUAL. As the song says. “Let it be, Let it be”.
It's interesting to me…I've read the words of a lot of consenting adults who use spanking for punishment, that if they're spanked long/hard/fast/unpleasantly enough, that it beats the fetish out of them in a sense. They don't like those spankings at all and will change their behavior to avoid the punishment in the future. Different than children in the area of consent for sure…
The other thing I thought about when I read the article is what's going on in the spanker's mind. Certainly most would argue that they're not enjoying or sexualizing punishing their children, but is that person a reliable source on whether that's true or not? Not so sure…
Six — no argument from me.
MrJ — yes.
Anonymous — yeah, it's really tricky, with a lot of slippery slopes. I have never considered that parents who spank are pedophiles or anything like that. I just think they need to use a better way to discipline their children. As for beating the fetish out of people, I know a lot of spankos who were spanked, strapped and worse as kids, and they still enjoy it as consenting adults, so go figure.
I feel Adrian Petersen was completely abusive to his son and I find his discipline method very questionable considering a younger child of his died at the hands of the mother's boyfriend.
I do have to disagree from my perspective that all spankings could/should be sexually originated, though. I rarely seek out orgasm release post spankings and definitely not from my preferred spanking partners. My initial interest began as a younger kid when witnessing someone getting a maternal style scolding, spanking on TV shows. As an adult I have been more drawn to spankings which test my mental and physical toughness/self competitiveness, etc. LOL
The people threatening this author's safety are full on imbeciles. Just because they disagree with her beliefs they have to resort to violence?! Hopefully that shit gets quelled before anything worse happens.
I commented on FB about this too, but I also have to point out that there are many boards and story sites for spanking fetishists that feature childhood accounts and stories. Point of fact, some of the most popular authors at LSF write teen and pre-teen stories. There is no sex in these but the obvious intent is to sensationalize a spanking incident involving an under age character. I'm sure many of us remember the “debporn” flame wars on USENET. My point is that the obvious interest in childhood accounts by many in the spankophile community will no doubt be noticed by the mainstream and will inevitably bring accusations of pedophilia down on the community as a whole. Not right, not true, but it explains in part the reaction to Ms. Keenan.
Kelly — I get that, truly. Personally, I object a hell of a lot more to child spanking for the non-consensual and humiliating aspect of it rather than the sexual connotations, but the latter definitely pushes my objection over the edge! And yes, isn't it ironic — people who insist they aren't violent to their kids are suggesting violence??
Rollin — noted. I know, there's a ton of spanking stories out there that involve kids and teens. They've always skeeved me, but that's just me. “Debporn” — now there's a term I haven't heard in a very long time!
I wrote a post about this today too. I have to say I was a little disappointed in it–not that I didn't agree with it. I was sad that she left the entire online spanking community out of her discussion. Spanking enthusiasts have been having this conversation for *years,* if not decades–we re-hash it over and over and over again. To say in her article that “no one is having this conversation” simply isn't true. WE are having it, but we are seemingly invisible to anyone outside of our own little online community. I suppose if she alone is the voice for the collective, then it makes sense, but I wish that weren't the case.
The only thing I slightly disagree with is her wording that spanking is a sex act. I don't think it is, but it is certainly arousing.
Autumn — she may have meant “no one mainstream.” But yeah, that seems to be an omission on her part.
Lily — I agree, that's too broad. For some, it is a sex act. For others, it isn't. I consider it sexUAL, even though intercourse isn't involved. Semantics, perhaps.
Oh, and PS… I realized I screwed up the title of her article. I have fixed that.
I get worried when someone is critical of something I wrote on my teensy little blog. I can't imagine the intestinal fortitude, emotional strength, and courage it takes for a freelance writer with a successful career to write something like that. I too salute her and salute you for spreading the article to a larger audience.
SS — you were the one who alerted me to this article, so thank you for that. Yeah, publishing (and publicizing) a controversial piece is not for the faint of heart.
OK, I had to reply, because I realize that my comment sounds bitchy and complaining…and that the post I wrote today also sounds similar.
When I read her article, to me, it was yet another article about a spanko who wants to debate childhood spanking. But, what I failed to do was put myself into the shoes of a vanilla. This isn't blogger.com or FetLife, this is Slate f***ing magazine with hundreds of thousands of readers.
I need to remember sometimes that articles like this don't get published in mainstream magazines like that, and that this is a HUGE deal. I really shouldn't be nit-picky, because this girl has some balls to write that article. She's also MORE than qualified (just like the rest of us here) to offer her viewpoint on the debated topic. She really is the lone voice for us.
I'll admit I'm a tad jealous. I wish we could all come out as spankos in our own mainstream Slate article!
Thanks for sharing that article– I thought it was very well-presented, and of course I agree entirely.
Autumn — I don't think you sounded bitchy at all, although I appreciate that you wanted to come back on and add this explanation. Your original point was legitimate. Jillian Keenan may very well be the lone voice for us right now, because she's the only mainstream writer speaking for us. The rest of us (the bloggers, the kinky writers, etc.) can talk until we turn blue, but to those who don't want to listen, we're just “those people.”
Renee — I'm glad you liked it. I really wanted to help it circulate.
Excellent post Erica.
Consensual spanking is for adults.
Hitting children is abuse (and doesn't work)
Gerat to see a grown-up discussion of the issue
I'm not sure why I'm writing this. I don't even understand my own point, and I can tell beforehand I won't express it well, yet I'm going to catch grief for it (if anyone bothers to respond). Nevertheless, here I go.
If someone adored to excess a boxing video game, yet claimed to think that actual boxing was barbaric and should be outlawed, would it strike you a little bit strange? If the main focus of someone's free time was to be a Civil War reenactor, playing an infantryman or a cavalry officer, and he claimed to be a pacifist who became nauseated at the thought of war, would it seem odd?
In both cases, what I think I'd ask is, “You DO realize that if the thing you claim to hate had never existed, your favorite form of recreation wouldn't exist either, right?”
From the first time I dipped my toe into the online spanking community 15 years ago, it's puzzled me. We're against childhood spanking, but most of our kink is an emulation of childhood spanking. We believe in consensuality, but most of our kink is a simulation of non-consensuality. We don't think any real schoolgirl should be caned by any real teacher, but we gather to dress up as schoolgirls and teachers and perform canings.
We hate the thing from which we get our ideas. We decry the thing we copy. We condemn the thing from which we draw our inspiration. If childhood spanking never existed, would we even have a kink to enjoy?
I'm not even sure what my point is. I only know that it strikes me odd.
I feel like a more honest approach would be to say, as Robert E. Lee did, “It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it.” To acknowledge that we enjoy that which we also hate. And then to wonder if we hate ourselves for enjoying it.
Michael in Texas
A few years ago there must have been a free Amish-theme book on Kindle or Audible. I read and liked it despite or perhaps because I'm male. Anyway, I began to read other Amish books totally unaware that “Amish Romances Novels Are Hot” in the headline words of the Wall Street Journal in 2013. (1 novel in 2003; 86 in 2013). http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324063304578525410241743412.
How is this relevant? I've read spanking and some BDSM books and enjoyed movies with spanking 'inferences' since the Story of O hit these shores in, I think, the late 1960's. But, with a couple of brief online exceptions (Spanking Society, Literotica), I've been an online non-participant, I've been a reader only of books that hit the “Sexuality” section of Barnes & Noble (before they dropped it) or Borders (bye-bye). Nor do I go to events ala Fet Life but I … might like to change that.
As my wife and I dip our toes into the real world of this “pretense” I somehow found the web pages of a couple DD authors whose sites led me to a few blogs (yours, Hermione's and PJ Corey's) whose authors seem to be real (if you aren't Erica [despite your Shadow Lane connection LOL], I might as well eat my computer) and old enough to have lived some life. Or who might even have heard whispers of blue pills.
So … here is the point, finally. This may be an iteration of many posts over many years and many Fet Life discussions. Is it just me or is there a tidal wave of fiction about women (always called girls) who – the authors are VERY careful to point out – have just turned 18, but who are in every other way treated as if they were under age school girls / teenagers / wards / little sisters ? Usually with a father, uncle, or guardian. And who end up in a romantic relationship that is incest by another name.
Like Michael says, I'm not sure where I'm going with this. I get and accept erotic spankings and all sorts of safe, sane and consentual relationships and activities.. I get that spankings by / between (real) adults who trust each other can cleanse guilt. But … as the father of an adult daughter I don't get the overlap between our kink(s) / these kinks and incest. IMHO.
PS Yes, I spanked my son and daughter a couple times each. I'm embarrassed that it took my that many times to realize that (1) I only did this when I hadn't sufficiently cooled down; and (2) my spankings didn't work as discipline. I'm willing to believe that spankings work … for other parents with other children.
The reason for “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” in criminal cases is because the founding fathers decided we'd rather let 10 guilty guys go free than imprison 1 innocent man. So … how many children should be beaten bloody over and over so one child gets a lesson well learned for life?
I have to disagree with Michael from Texas. I don't think adult spanking grows out of spanking children. If anything there is historical evidence to suggest it is the reverse (which Keean touched on briefly in her article). Spanking appears to be something which started out as an erotic act that was “borrowed” fairly recently as a form of parenting dicipline.
Smacking the skin of a lover to cause heat and redness (simulating the flush of sexual arousal) is something that goes deep in most people's animal brains.
So I politely object to the idea what we do as consenting adults is based on the spanking of children. For some people their introduction to the concept may have started there, but sexual spankings among adults has a long history and probably predates spanking children.
Darren — thank you. 🙂
Michael — I'm glad you posted. This was indeed thought-provoking, and I will not allow you to catch grief over it (it's MY blog, dammit). 🙂 I welcome all opinions as long as they are posted civilly and in a non-confrontational manner.
I can't begin to explain the contradictions of our kink. I only know that I can't apply logic to something that is so deeply and viscerally wired into me. As it happens, I never could stand the spanking stories that involved children and teens; they skeeved me. But yes, I love the pretense of non-consensuality. Maybe because that's all it is; a pretense.
DID the spanking of children come first, before the spanking of adults? Do we know this for sure? You really do have me thinking here! 🙂
Jon — as with Michael above, I appreciate your thoughts. It's definitely a subject with a lot of gray areas and varying opinions. I don't necessarily see spanking of a child as incestuous; I just think it's a bad thing to do. By the way, to be clear — I don't completely object to a quick, light swat to a small child in order to get their attention; nothing painful, but to let them know immediately that NO, this is NOT OK. Especially is they are too young to reason with. But the whole protracted ritual of OTK, bare-bottom spanking, with repeated blows? NO, NO, NO.
Anonymous — objection noted, and thank you for being polite! 🙂
Didn't someone mention shades of – was it? – oh, yes – gray?
Anonymous — yup, she did. But only because it's topical, I'm sure. Not because it's an example of good kinky writing.
Erica, thank you for your tolerant and protective approach.
Feeling thus protected, I'll continue the discussion.
It's an interesting historical question. I may be overly influenced (living in the Bible Belt) by the fundamentalist belief of “never hit the face; God provided a spanking place”; that the buttocks are God-designed as a physically safe place to smack; that spanking is so innate that Adam spanked Cain (and we can see how Cain turned out!).
It seems counterintuitive that spanking would first be discovered as an erotic technique. Ask any vanilla; to most people it makes no sense that pain can cause pleasure or that spanking can be arousing. I'm purely speculating here, but could it be (because sex and power are so closely related, even for vanillas) that whipping and rape were connected as means of oppression? (Think about Boudica and her daughters at the hands of the Romans.) Might some Roman wife have become jealous of her husband flogging his favorite slave girl before (legally, in their system) raping her? “Whip me like one of your slave girls”? (Theft from Titanic acknowledged.) But, because it's his wife and the mother of his children and the lady of the house, he doesn't whip her nearly as hard, and thus erotic flagellation is invented? I don't know.
I do know (thanks to Jon for bringing this up) that the ambiguity is seen more clearly in our written and drawn fiction than our real-life practices. I assume (though I may be wrong) that such fiction, unrestrained by the laws about models, represents a truer version of our fantasies — and, if so, the spanking of children, or people in situations identical to that of children, along with the sexualization of those spankings, is central to many of our fantasies. Of course, I also recognize that fantasy is separable from reality. Going back to my Civil War reenactor, he does NOT want to get his leg shot off by a musket ball. We can enjoy experiencing a simulation of something which we would detest experiencing the reality of. I'm not saying we all want to spank children (or somehow magically be spanked AS children).
It may be simply that we like to imagine (NOT experience) true, actual non-consensuality, and that is more plausible with children. We all know that the premises we invent for non-consensual spanking of adults are often far-fetched.
So, I'm still confused, but the one thing I'm sure of is that we deplore the spanking of children while much of our kink borrows from it.
Oh, and just for the record, regarding Keenan's original thesis about spanking being sexual — maybe. As a top, I know (or think I know) the key differences between social/erotic and punishment spanking. Social/erotic has a warm up, is spread out, and is initially at a fairly slow pace. Punishment is hard and fast from the start and stays that way, is all on the same one or two spots, and is over quickly. The whole point of that is to keep the brain chemicals ahead of the pain in a social/erotic spanking and to keep the pain ahead of the brain chemicals in a punishment spanking. So it seems to me (uneducated as I am in physiology and thus unentitled to this opinion) that punishment spanking may not be as sexual as she thinks.
Michael in Texas
Michael — you've clearly given this a lot of thought. I think I operate more from a visceral standpoint than a logical one, with this subject. I do think spanking is (at least somewhat) sexual for us fetishists, and while I agree that a child's spanking isn't the same as an adult spanking, it's still the same region, with all the nerves and the blood flow and stimulation that Ms. Keenan mentioned. And really, when you're giving a child a physical punishment, isn't it enough that you're hitting them, and hurting them? Why is it necessary to bare their flesh, to put them in a humiliating position, etc. That's the part that makes me nuts, and the part I believe the author objects to most.
The ritual of spanking, unless it's consensual, is pretty skeevy, when you think about it. And yet kids have suffered it for ages.
Thank you for bringing this article to our attention. I too love Jillian, now more than ever.
Randy and I have long said that for us, “Spanking is not just about sex. It IS sex.” From that perspective, I could never spank our daughter. She deserved the opportunity to discover sex (and potentially spanking) in her own time and in her own way. We could advise, but the choices were hers.
As with every position surrounding this contentious subject, I'm sure that many people disagree. But if we accept the premise that all spanking has a sexual component, any use with children becomes very problematic.
Doctors abandoned the time-honored tradition of bleeding patients with leaches because it didn't work. That time has come for this so-called cultural norm.
Being a kid is difficult enough without having to worry about being hit by a trusted protector. Let's reserve spanking for those of us who enjoy it.
Bonnie — amen. Over and over. I can still remember how angry and betrayed I felt when my parents hit me. I do not wish that on any child.
Hi Erica — Thank you for sharing this 🙂 Jillian is an AWESOME writer.I heard of her on Twitter. I agree that spanking children is not right. It should be done only by consenting adults 🙂 My favorite spankings are otk punishment spankings and of course playful spankings are so much fun as well 🙂 You are AWESOME too my very dear friend Erica. Much Love and hugs from naughty girl Jade
Jade — Jillian is awesome indeed. I am happy to help pass her words around.
I agreed with everything Bonnie said! Well, except for one thing. United Leech Union 411 has asked me to politely suggest that leeches are down but not out.
Anonymous — oh, good god. I think I'd rather suffer with whatever ailment!
To learn how a misbegotten form of discipline puts children at risk, please visit spankingcanbesexualabuse.org
blwpyrtv — yup. Thank you.
I'm getting in on this very late, but I would like to add my admiration for Jillian Keenan's work. I read her story in The New York Times quite some time ago with a mixture of surprise and delight. Kudos to her for coming out in such a public way, in The New York Times, no less. And kudos to the Times for agreeing to publish her story.
Biker — she's amazing, isn't she? And so brave.
Yes she is, Erica, in so many ways even beyond the whole spanking fetish thing. Thanks for giving her the credit she deserves on your blog.