Erica Scott: Life, Love and Spanking

Ruminations, opinionated observations, darkly humorous blathering and the occasional rant from an outspoken spanko and unapologetic attention wh–, um, hog.

“Sex With Shakespeare”

Yes, this post will be about Jillian Keenan’s book, Sex With Shakespeare: Here’s Much to Do with Pain, but More with Love. I don’t know if I want to call it a review; it’s more of a ramble, random bits of the thoughts her book evoked. Because Jillian’s book did make me think, a lot. And isn’t that the hallmark of a good book?

It is good. It’s smart, literate, interesting, and bold. It’s honest. And it accomplishes one hell of a feat: it links spanking and fetish activity with Shakespearean plays and characters, bringing both into a magical reality in which Jillian interacts with several of them. There are one hell of a lot of books about spanking, and a lot more about Shakespeare. But I daresay this is the first that combines the two, and entertainingly so.

I do have a confession to make. You know that Sam Cooke song, “Wonderful World”? “Don’t know much about history, don’t know much geography…” Well… I don’t know much about Shakespeare, beyond the bare basics. Sure, I know the story of Romeo and Juliet (but really, who doesn’t?). I know that the quote “Alas, poor Yorick” is from Hamlet (and I also know that the oft-added “I knew him well” is a misquote). I know that King Lear’s daughters were named Cordelia, Regan and Goneril (although every time I see that latter name, I think of gonorrhea. What the hell kind of name is Goneril, anyway?). But other than that… I have never read a Shakespearean play. (hanging head in shame) So, while I do wish I could have related more to the Shakespeare part of Jillian’s book (and that’s my shortcoming, not a criticism of SWS), I nonetheless found that aspect intriguing. And I found myself admiring and relating to Jillian more and more as I read.

At a glance, you put us together and we are very different beings. I am twice her age. She has worked and lived all over the world; I’ve lived in one state all my life, and my travel is limited to seven states and Mexico. She embraces change; I crave stasis. And yet, I felt those tendrils of kinship with her. Because I know that in one major area, she gets me, and I get her. We both have that gene, that wiring, that thing, whatever the fuck it is, that draws us inexorably to spanking.

(Side note: Funny how even within that commonality, we differ. She can’t stand the word “spanko,” while I think it’s a perfect term and use it often. But out of respect for her, I will refrain from using it for the remainder of this post. 🙂 )

When I read of Jillian’s childhood and adolescence, and all the feelings and desires around spanking that caused her shame and a sense of otherness, I realized I’d been wrong about one of my long-time assumptions. I know everyone is different, of course — but in general, I thought those in the Millennial generation had an easier time of exploring and reconciling with their kinks, because they always had the Internet — and its wealth of information and connections — at their fingertips. How could anyone feel alone when they had that? But I was mistaken. Apparently, Jillian went through as much angst and self-loathing as I did. Fortunately for all of us, she did manage to embrace her spanking fetish much earlier than I did.

When she spoke of her first spanking, I remembered mine. When she talked of how it’s so much more than just a hand striking a bottom — it’s about headspace, it’s about scolding or certain verbiage that accompanies it, etc. — I nodded, and frequently said “Yes” out loud. At her insistence that this is not something that we choose, but it chooses us, I did a fist-pump.

I have referred to Jillian Keenan as brave before, and I continue to do so. Yes, a lot of us write and blog and talk about our kinks and how they impact our lives. But Jillian does so, openly and honestly, while revealing her full, real name to the masses… including the haters out there. While others battle to keep from being outed, she outed herself, and risked everything. That, to me, is fucking brave. That is conviction. I certainly couldn’t do it, as proud as I am of my place in the kink world.

For years, I have tried to explain why I think spanking and BDSM are different. Yes, the former is a subculture of the latter. But they have a fully different look, feel, language, clothing, etiquette, and so on. I said that I was OK with visiting a dungeon, but going to a spanking party felt like coming home. For this, I have been accused of being elitist, exclusive, of perpetrating the “us vs. them myth.” On FetLife, when I stated that I considered myself more of a “spanking purist,” one dreadful woman went so far as to say that anyone who uses the term “purist” is probably also an advocate of “ethnic cleansing.” Right — so preferring spanking over whips and chains makes me akin to Hitler?? Fuck her! But then Jillian came along with her book, and on page 141 (hardcover version), she explained the difference in two sentences. Perfectly.

I spent enough time at a dungeon in San Francisco to realize that although BDSM is a broad term that includes spanking obsessives, like me, we also belong to different subcultures, with different aesthetic styles and mind-sets. I fit in at that dungeon only as well as a gay man might at a lesbian bar: we could relate, but it wasn’t my place.

How. Freaking. Brilliant. Is. This? She nailed it. If people still don’t get it after reading this encapsulation, then they never will.

It was just one of many “aha” moments I had, reading this book. When she claimed that spanking yourself is like trying to tickle yourself, it just doesn’t work, I laughed in commiseration. At her confession that she had a fondness for Star Wars-themed spanking fanfiction, I thought, well, is that any different than my writing Dark Shadows-themed spanking fanfic, with Quentin Collins spanking me? Oh, and how many times have I lamented that I can’t stand having my nipples touched, that it seems all the sexual wiring that was intended for my breasts went to my butt instead? So you can imagine how I crowed when Jillian referred to her own backside as a giant clitoris hitched to the back of her pelvis.

Even when the topic made me uncomfortable, I appreciate how it made me think. Jillian posits that children, even at a very young age, have emerging sexual identities. I agree with this, especially when it comes to the vague notions of kink. How else can we explain our fascinations with spanking as children? How so many of us played spanking games, looked up “spanking” and all its synonyms in the dictionary? Jillian goes on to opine that if a child has an emerging spanking fetish, and early sexual feelings around it, then spanking said child is sexual assault.

She’s taken a lot of heat for this statement — again, the bravery thing. Granted, I have always been uncomfortable with the idea of spanking kids. But I figured it was simply because it’s a crappy thing to do to a helpless little person and it sends the wrong message (“I’m bigger than you, so I get to hit you, but you can’t do that to anyone else.” “I have control over you, and I can hurt you if I choose to.”) Granted, that last quote is fine if it’s between consenting adults — but children cannot consent. Still… sexual assault? Then I thought back to my own childhood.

My mother hit me a lot. She was impulsive and temperamental and would usually slap whatever she could reach at the time — my face, my arms, my legs. My primary reaction to that was helpless rage; I so wanted to slap her back. However, my memory of a single OTK spanking from my father is altogether different. It was so long ago, but I’ll never forget how I felt. Humiliated. Betrayed. Ashamed. I ran outside, wept into my dog’s fur, and wished I could simply disappear into thin air. I never wanted to face anyone again. Why such an extreme reaction? And even now, thinking about it makes my flesh crawl. Could it be because my little self was already feelings those tendrils of fetishism, and the confusion was unbearable?

You may agree with Jillian. You may not. But I believe she knows what she’s talking about, and her views are worthy of respect. Only one of us can truly say how wretched childhood spanking can be, I think. Because for us, it’s so much more than the temporary pain.

I really am rambling here, so I will stop now. In short: If you happen to be both a Shakespeare aficionado and a spanking fetishist, Jillian’s book will be an extra special treat for you. But you don’t need to be both in order to get plenty out of it. Because there is much to be learned on both subjects. And if you are just becoming aware of your own inner spanking enthusiast and are looking for someone to learn from and relate to, here she is.

Thank you, Jillian. ♥

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32 thoughts on ““Sex With Shakespeare”

  1. Mark on said:

    Thanks. I’m going to find it and read it now.

    “Jillian referred to her own backside as a giant clitoris hitched to the back of her pelvis.”

    That is not far fetched. There is a medical basis. The nerves for the clitoris and the whole region run differently in different people, generally somewhere back through the butt area. Many nerves differ in detail of their course from person to person, ask your dentist about finding the nerves in a mouth.

    In some people, yes they would be stimulated directly by spanking. In those people, a continuing feeling in the butt after spanking could last as continuing stimulus to the sexual nerves. That person discovering an interest in spanking would be no more surprising than any girl discovering her clitoris. This may not explain it all, or everyone, but it is a real part for some. It also explains why one woman might like one style of spanking, but another woman feel it from another style.

    It happens in some men too. Some get a powerful erection from the physical effects of being spanked, each of them if spanked in those certain ways that suit them.

    I have no such explanation for the pleasure of giving a spanking, but that comes just as early and shows in many of the same way, from dictionary on.

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    • Mark — well, that certainly makes sense. I knew how the bottom and the genital area can share the same nerves. I just never heard of the butt being called a “giant clitoris” before. 🙂 Her metaphor delighted me.

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  2. Chibob on said:

    I too felt helpless rage when I got spanked as a child. I wanted to hit back too and when I got to be about 13 I did and the hitting stopped.

    I could go into a lot of detail but this is not the place.

    I will have to get the book. Thanks for the review.

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    • Chibob — many have written that spanking children breeds anger and aggression. That makes sense to me. But who am I to argue with a tradition that goes back forever… (sigh) Well, anyway. Yeah, not the place here. Such an ugly side to something we as adults love so much.

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      • Chibob on said:

        Who are you to argue with tradition? I think you are as qualified as anyone. I have been crusading to abolish school corporal punishment for at least 25 years and many states have banned it’s practice. When I was in school only one state had banned cp in schools. That was NJ. Today only 19 states still permit scp and only 3 use it routinely. Those are all southern states AL, AR, and MS.

        I don’t know how much of a difference I made personally but I made my voice heard.
        I don’t know if the abuse I suffered in school made me a spanko or if it would have happened anyway but I always felt it played a big part.

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  3. Anonymous on said:

    I have not read it yet, but have been looking forward to it. Now I am more eager. Thanks for the ramble.

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  4. Anonymous — good! You’ll like it!

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  5. Wow Erica –
    You say you might not call this a book review – why not?
    In all honestly I think this is an excellent review (and do I dare say one of your best posts). The best critics in my opinion are those that know what the hell they are talking about; know the material being discussed throughout, and know it from different angles as do you.
    All that to say ‘well done!’ and thanks for the review. I will have to pick it up now.
    One day I will find my Jillian Keenan.
    Best,
    Enzo

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  6. Erica, Shakespeare in a round about way wrote ‘Kiss Me Kate”. By the way, I visited Stratford- Upon-Avon, Shakespeares, birthplace home in England. A real beauty spot of that country, and so lovingly romantic, and I am sure you would think so to. XXX Luv you.

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    • Mark on said:

      Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” does not have a spanking in the original script. However, it is frequently staged with a spanking.

      A well known director of amateur theater says the play is popular with female actresses who want to be spanked, but it is hard to find a man to spank them.

      “The February issue of the British journal Amateur Stage included an article by the playwright and amdram guru, Albert Jeanes, in which he remarked on the popularity of The Taming of the Shrew among amateur actresses, who would regularly lobby him to select the play as the opening Shakespearean production in a season. The problem with doing so, he explained, was one of casting:

      “But if I have 15 potential Kates, what choice of actors do I have who might play Petruchio? Two, perhaps three? And none of them prepared to do battle with the other for the privilege of giving a lady a good spanking, however well-deserved it might be.’”

      https://mainstreamspanking.wordpress.com/2015/05/04/there-isnt-a-spanking-scene-in-the-taming-of-the-shrew/

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  7. Anonymous on said:

    > Jillian goes on to opine that if a child has an emerging spanking fetish, and early sexual feelings around it, then spanking said child is sexual assault.

    But no harm, no foul. Really. Because I turned out OK. Well, I have a penchant for wooden spoon survivor shirts, and I can laugh about it. In sort of a strained way, when I’m wearing panties over a disciplinarian’s lap 🙂 And I do need to reassert that “I turned out OK” thing often, to a large audience. You don’t foster that same degree of toughness with trophies, by the way. Just saying.

    Adding to the statement above from your post, I think that lots of times you can’t evaluate a child at the time and have a good sense of what if any sexual feelings there are (some exceptions, for sure). You just have perspective later in life. So why take a chance? At least that’s what I think.

    So, thinking this way, I turn around and thank nature and nurture profusely for giving me this fine appreciation of a red palm and a sore bottom! Even if I wouldn’t wish my path getting there on others.

    On the book, I was surprised to find I love Jillian’s writing, without the bonus of the spanking references even!

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  8. Anonymous on said:

    A very entertaining um…non-review. Makes me want to get a copy, read it cover to cover and then spank someone with it. Does it come in hard cover?

    Anon E. Mouse

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  9. Enzo — I guess I figured a review is more objective. I wrote more about how I personally related to it. Perhaps I’m splitting hairs. Anyway, thank you! I’m glad you liked it. 🙂

    Six — I have no doubt I would enjoy seeing that part of England. Were I a traveler, that would be one of the first places I’d see.

    Mark — interesting that the directors think it’s hard to find actors willing to spank for Taming of the Shrew. They should look up all the actors who have delivered the spankings in the myriad productions of Kiss Me Kate! 🙂

    Anonymous — she’s quite brilliant, isn’t she!

    Mouse — ah yes, my copy is hardcover. A rarity for me, as I always wait for paperback. But I was too eager to wait this time.

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  10. Ok, I’m going to find this book now. It sounds amazing. I was quietly agreeing throughout your post, especially about how spanking differs from BDSM. I’ve been saying for years that while I believe they are both part of the same continuum, they are very different.

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  11. Thamk you for the review / alerting, Erica!

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  12. jasnstir on said:

    Erica…I’ve been waiting for your review of Jillian’s book. For some reason, I read it from back to front… (perhaps like bottoms up?) and so enjoyed your own honest take on our mutual joy of the spank. Thank you! bWyatt (aka SAM)

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    • Sam — thanks! Hmmm… how does one read a book back to front? I’ve never done that, and I’ve read a million books. 🙂

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      • jasnstir on said:

        It does add a whole new perspective on life! Heehee… Actually, I read your review backwards this time! You were upside down I guess… Just how you like it! 🙂

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  13. I’ve got to have that book! She’s right on the money, and your post was a wonderful review.

    BTW I actually read each and every one of Shakespeare’s plays while at university.

    Hugs,
    Hermione

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  14. Graham on said:

    Brilliant review Erica,and yes this lady has got some class,you`d love England I`m sure of that, go on take the bull by the horns and get yourself over here. That really made me think when you commented on the spanking from your dad. Maybe you reacted like you did because even though you were a child the sexual side was there in your head even though you wasn`t aware of it?

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  15. Hermione — wow! That’s impressive. You’ll appreciate her book all the more, then.

    Graham — I don’t know. All I know is that I felt horribly violated and betrayed. I wouldn’t wish that feeling on any child.

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  16. Bonnie on said:

    My next move will be to go buy Jillian’s book. Thanks for the recommendation!

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  17. Mark on said:

    There is a wonderful article about Jillian Keenan in Vogue.
    http://www.vogue.com/13431076/sex-with-shakespeare-jillian-keenan-interview/

    In it she says:

    “Right now the fetish community is in a place where the biggest barrier is often not coming out to other people, but rather coming out to ourselves. I would hope that spanking fetishists see my book and feel emboldened to confess their desires to themselves. There’s a lot of repression. The next step would be coming out to significant others”

    I agree. I’d add that you are not likely to get what you won’t even admit you want. You are even less likely if you don’t know yourself, won’t let yourself know. That is a sad way to live.

    Many things in life are frightening. Some have a big payoff if you do them anyway. Fears can be real and well founded, and still be faced and overcome. Sometimes happiness demands that of us.

    “When I was a child and was non-consensually spanked by a parent, something sexual was happening to me non-consensually, and I reacted in the way that children do when something sexual happens to them non-consensually. To be clear: This was all unintentional.”

    I agree. I’d add the other side, that for a top who knows his own fetish interests to spank children would be to sexually abuse them, whatever they felt about it.

    I’ve never spanked my kids. I couldn’t. That is because I like spanking sexually. I’d no more do that than I’d use them for any other sexual pleasure. It is who I am, not just who they are.

    Anyway, who they are on a level of sexual kink is unknown to me and probably still not fully understood by them. There is no way to know how it would seem to them. Don’t risk it.

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    • Mark — “Sometimes happiness demands that of us.” YES. The choices we make for our happiness are not always easy, but we need to make them, for ourselves. (I feel like I have to add “as long as we’re not harming others,” even though that should be obvious.)

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  18. Pingback: A friendly reminder | Erica Scott: Life, Love and Spanking

  19. Jadelyn Mathias on said:

    Hi Erica ♡ Thank you so very much for recommending this book. I want to read it 🙂 It sounds so awesome ♡ Much Love and hugs from naughty girl Jade / Emily Jean

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  20. I just finished the book – and I bought it just last night. I could not put it down. It was absolutely fantastic, and your “review” (or whichever label you prefer!) was brilliant, Erica! 🙂

    As was her book. I laughed, cried, soul-searched, and learned so much more about myself. I fully “get” Jillian as well!

    An awesome, awesome book that I highly recommend to anyone and everyone. 🙂

    -Debs

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