Chicago Spanking Review

The Whys of Spanking - Chapter 2 - Born or Made?

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By Web-Ed

We now understand the essence of spanking, and have explained in broad general terms its appeal in both light-hearted scenes and in more erotic circumstances. The next big question to be tackled is the origin of the fetish, but before we get into that we must elaborate on a few distinctions we made in Chapter 1.

We broke up spankings into two categories, "For Fun" and "Erotic". "But what about punishment?" the disciplined reader may ask. Where a punishment spanking is just that - pure punishment - no psychological explanation is needed, assuming of course no hidden motives on the part of the participants (spanker believes it's the thing to do and spankee doesn't like it at all). Some disciplinary spankings fall into this category, but others can be classified as "erotic" as we will show. There are several sub-categories of these two main categories.

We also stated that there were two categories of adults who enjoy spanking, those who show an intense interest from an early age, and those who come into it later in life with varying degrees of interest. Let us denote the first category as the Natural Spanko and the second as the Learned Spanko. Natural Spankos generally see spanking in very strong erotic terms, whereas Learned Spankos vary from the "For Fun" level to more erotic sessions. I confess these terms are not entirely satisfactory - for example, we will discover that even the "Natural" Spanko is not born that way but becomes transformed in early childhood - but try as I might, I could not devise a more satisfactory nomenclature.

Learned Spankos are not too difficult to explain giving the basic ambiguity of spanking: it may be seen as disciplinary, for fun, or erotic depending on the context and to what degree the dominant/submissive aspect is perceived. In the easiest case, we have normal persons who in the ordinary course of exploring various forms of sexual foreplay or when called upon to deliver a birthday spanking discover that they like spanking. The pure sensualists fall into this cateogry, and they may perhaps be the most numerous type among all spankos although they generally play at a relatively mild level of intensity. And as we saw in Chapter 1, more general M/F erotic spanking (at levels of intensity from mild/sensual to much higher) follows as a natural consequence of male dominance and female submission, provided that both partners view spanking in this way - something that could be discovered in adulthood much the same way as the sensual style is, especially given the possibility of physical erotic stimulation arising from striking the buttocks. But the Natural Spankos discover their interest much earlier, usually in the pre-sexual days of early childhood - how do we explain them?

Some none-scientific polling has been done on this question, and most Natural Spankos believe that they were simply born that way since they were interested in spanking as far back as they can remember. Here is the recollection of a woman we'll call "Allie" (name changed):

"When I was a small child...I was enthralled when in a cartoon or TV show a spanking scene appeared. My eyes would be glued to the screen and my heart would pound in my chest. Even at a very young age, I felt that my interest was inherently shameful, so I tried not to show it."
And from R. Humphries:
"I agree that we are probably born with a genetic inclination towards spanking. As early as I can remember, I was always attracted to the last panel of the Saturday morning comics where the main protagonist always ended up getting a spanking and the many descriptions of punishments that appeared in books of that era."
Sometimes the Natural Spanko discovers the desire somewhat later, in adolescence. Here is Daisy's account:
"I don't know at what point I began to see it as sexy. It was probably around the age of 17 or 18. I watched a film called The Iron Maiden where a lady was spanked for being a brat and for almost wrecking the traction engine! I thought it was really sexy for a man to be so macho.... and a spanko was born!"
My view is that such women (they are invariably female) only discovered in adolescence desires that had existed much earlier. Probably it is the maturing of the sexual personality which brings these desires to the surface. Natural Spanko males seem always to have stronger, more direct spanking fantasies from an early age. Daisy believed that she was "born" (actually made) a spanko when she viewed that spanking scene in The Iron Maiden, but in fact she was already a spanko long before and only realized it at that time.

Given our interpretation of Daisy's case, and considering that most Natural Spankos seem to believe along with R. Humphries that they were just born that way, it might seem we could safely conclude that an intense interest in spanking is simply inborn. However, a careful analysis shows that this is extremely unlikely. Let's see why.

The Inadequacy of the Theory that Spanking Desires are Inborn

First, we can dismiss the "I was always that way" personal recollection, honest though it obviously is. The fact is that such recollections are unreliable because most people do not have clear memories of events which occurred before the age of five or six – and there is plenty of time before then for the spanking interest to have developed. If that’s what happens, most spankos would believe they were born that way even though it wasn’t true. Second and most importantly, if the spanking desire were inborn, that is, genetic, it would become subject not just to the laws of inheritence but also to the pressures of evolutionary biology. Under such conditions, aberrant sexual behavior (defined as any behavior that does not lead to reproduction) would be punished by the individual’s leaving fewer (or no) descendants. We would therefore expect any kind of genetically-induced sexual deviancy to diminish over a span of time to some constant minimum value. This can perhaps be more easily seen with homosexuality than it can be with spanking.

Homosexuality exacts the severest possible evolutionary penalties upon its practitioners - they leave no descendents (unless, of course, they depart from homosexuality at some point). The result, if such behavior were genetically induced, would be a quick reduction in the homosexual population over a few generations - yet this is clearly not occurring.

With spanking (as with other common paraphilias, such as the foot fetish), the penalties may not be quite so severe - reproduction is still possible - but they are considerable. The use of spanking as other than light foreplay tends to act as a diversion of the sexual energy from reproduction – not completely, of course, as most spankos retain a considerable interest in regular intercourse – but it’s enough to cause trouble. This is especially true with males who may drive away prospective mates by trying to spank them, something that has actually happened more than a few times.

This should be no surprise, since the driving away of females by the male's aberrant behavior has been observed many times in the animal kingdom. Males whose courtship behavior fails to impress the female are left without a mate. I have seen this myself with drakes (male ducks) who display toward females of the wrong species, which is functionally equivalent to deviant behavior. (By the way, the cause of this behavior is known not to be genetic but is based on the early experiences of the young drake). The point here is that deviant sexual behavior leads to problems in finding a mate. If there is a "spanko gene," we should therefore expect the proportion of spankos in the general population to decrease over time to some small minimum value, namely, the approximate number of naturally-arising mutations leading to this behavior found in the current generation. Is this decrease occurring?

grey squirrel mutant with black fur

Despite his black fur, inside he's just another Grey Squirrel. This is a fairly common mutation - but can we explain Natural Spankos the same way?

The answer would appear to be no: adult spanking has been described in literature going back at least 2000 years to Roman times, or approximately 100 generations, which strongly implies no decrease over that period (there would seem to be too many of us around today for our relative numbers to have been decreasing for 100 generations). If we grant that no decrease in the proportion of spankos is occurring, it still remains to examine the more difficult possibility, that the observed quantity of spanking (and other paraphilias, remember) has already reached its theoretical minimum, and what we see are spontaneous mutations arising in each generation, much the way each generation of gray squirrels contains a few individuals with black fur.

This leads us to the question of just how many mutations we can expect to find in an average human being. There is no "scientific consensus" on this figure (not that science is determined by consensus), but one recent number given was 1 mutation per 30 million base pairs (Xue, Y. et al. Curr. Biol. (2009) doi:10.1016/j.cub.2009.07.032.), which I believe when extended to the entire human genome works out to something like 103 mutations per generation per each male/female reproductive pairing. Other estimates have been lower, e.g. 70 mutations per generation (Roach et al. (2012), Analysis of genetic inheritance in a family quartet by whole-genome sequencing; Science 328:636-639. [doi: 10.1126/science.1186802]). It is enormously difficult to compare these results, arrived at by different methods, since there is much scientific disagreement about them, and to attempt to do so would take us too far afield. For our purposes, the question is this: can we explain the prevalence of spanking and other paraphilias as arising from even the larger estimates? To put it another way: if we make a list of common human mutations, will there be anything left unaccounted for from the 103 mutations (or less, if we take one of the lower figures) that we could provisionally assign to paraphilias such as spanking?

Unfortunately, I cannot think of an absolutely definitive way to answer this question. The studies referred to were only concerned with the overall mutation rate, not identifying the somatic effects of each mutation. It does seem unlikely that with thousands of known genetic disorders, we can account for all of them out of an average of 103 mutations per person and still have enough left over to explain the various paraphilias - all sexual deviations taken together must affect some large portion of the population, perhaps 10%, and it strains credibility to think all of them are the result of less than 103 mutations - but that isn't definite proof. Looking at the problem from the opposite direction, we may observe that no paraphilia has ever been decisively linked to a genetic cause, homosexuality probably having been most closely studied. This isn't conclusive either, but it militates strongly against a genetic cause.

For those spankos who still find it hard to accept that they were not, in fact, "simply born that way," let us summarize the case they're up against:

The Case Against a Genetic Cause of Spanking and Other Paraphilias

  1. Such a mutation would be unfavorable, tending to reduce the relative spanko population over time, yet this has never been observed, nor has it been seen with the population of any other paraphilia.
  2. For paraphilias to arise as a result of a recurring mutation in generation after generation (i.e. if the proportion of such individuals in the general population has already reached its minimum), we would expect to need a mutation rate far higher than the estimated value of 103 mutations per person (and even this estimate may be too high).
  3. Laws of inheritance require that some of the spanko's offspring would inherit the spanking desire. While there are certainly known cases where a son or daughter has followed in the spanko parent's footsteps, so to speak, the pattern seems random and uncertain, and does not follow the Mendelian laws of inheritance.
  4. No physical feature of the brain has ever been shown to be altered in any kind of paraphilia. Such alteration would seem to be a necessary consequence of a genetic cause, since genetic alterations must produce observable changes in the individual's morphology or biochemistry to manifest themselves as actual disorders.
  5. Specific preferences within spanking, such as for the use of particular implements or positions, can often be traced back to early experiences, suggesting that the desire to give or receive a spanking itself must have a similar origin.
  6. In animals, some abnormal courtship behavior can be explained through early experiences (e.g. the drake who displays at the wrong species of female, mentioned earlier) and are known not to have a genetic cause.
  7. Certain specific paraphilias (other than spanking) are believed to be caused by early experiences, e.g. voyeurism which is believed to result when a child unexpectedly sees someone naked or observes a couple engaged in sexual intercourse (see The Encyclopedia of mental disorders). And if some are caused this way, then it is likely that most or all arise in similar fashion, including spanking.
If then we reject any sort of "hard-wiring" in the brain as causing sexual deviations such as spanking, what other explanation can be put forward?

The Theory of the Transformative Event

As mentioned, researchers have long suspected that certain paraphilias such as voyeurism have their origins in early experiences. I wish to extend that idea to spanking and elaborate upon it, and to that end have coined the terms Transformative Event (TE) to denote such an experience, and Transformative Event Theory to denote the larger hypothesis. It takes no great imagination to see that the TE could consist either of an actual spanking being experienced by the child, or the simple witnessing of another child getting spanked. While we will adduce ample indirect evidence that this theory is correct, direct evidence in the form of personal recollection is limited because the TE often occurs in very early childhood before the point at which memories recallable in later life are formed. Nonetheless, sometimes the major TE is remembered by the subject, just as the later, minor TE's often are, and both kinds strongly support the theory as we will see in later chapters.

To understand how a TE works, we need to consider how sexual development takes place in the normal individual. By this I mean how the feelings we identify as "sexual" become attached to the act of sexual intercourse and the preceding foreplay, for if we can pin that down, we can better see how those sexual feelings might instead be attached to spanking (and other paraphilias, although we will not focus on anything except spanking). Unfortunately, I could find surprisingly little on this topic in the psychological literature - there is much on children's behavior at various ages, but very little about the changes taking place in the child's mind. Children learn to distinguish between the sexes at around the age of two, which would seem to be a prerequisite to both normal and abnormal sexual development, and sexual curiosity is displayed from ages three to five (e.g. playing "House" or "Doctor"). This information by itself is not sufficient, so we're on our own and will have to offer some kind tangible explanation ourselves.

Now it is likely that the genitals are "hard-wired" through the neurological system to sexual feelings, and one theory would be that all sex is simply instinctual. After all, animals engage in sexual reproduction without any intellectual understanding of what they're doing. And yet we know that the higher animals (i.e. the ones with well-developed brains) are dependent on learning for many of their basic skills. A dog shaking itself when emerging from the water may be displaying purely instinctive behavior, but the same dog on the hunt is obviously doing something more than that - complex hunting behavior cannot be explained as being merely instinctual. Man, with the most complex brain in the animal world, must learn almost everything. My view is that the exploratory behavior we see in children is part of the way they come to understand what sex is, and if so, given the imperfect way in which we learn, it follows that it is possible to "misunderstand" certain objects or actions as being sexual in nature. The way we understand sex, then, is not much different from how we understand anything else, and it becomes necessary to briefly turn our attention to how we learn.

How does the human mind learn anything, that is, how is knowledge gained? The basic process consists of building up concepts into a coherent whole, with more primitive concepts providing the necessary foundation for more advanced ones. Consider for a moment the living world: the child might first distinguish between living and unliving things, then divide living things into plants and animals, then begin sub-dividing animals into furred and non-furred, etc. These are all examples of conceptual differentiation, by the way. At a later stage, the school-aged child might learn that some of the non-furred animals could be grouped together as reptiles (an example of conceptual integration), and that snakes and lizards together could be put into a logical sub-group of reptiles (this is both differentiation and integration). The point here is not to digress into Linnaean taxonomy, but to understand how we learn. It is important to understand that later concepts depend on earlier ones; for example, the wider concept of "animal" predates the later concept of "reptile," and it would be impossible to reverse the order in which they are learned. In that sense, the earlier concept may be said to be more primitive.

Now let's turn these ideas to the subject of human sexuality. The earliest sex-related concept would seem to be distinguishing (differentiating) male from female, followed closely by simple experimentation on the body (e.g. playing "doctor"), which would be the first time feelings were associated with parts of the body. I would not call these feelings "sexual" as yet, because I think they are still too primitive. The term "pre-sexual" could be used, since children are pre-sexual, but I prefer the term "proto-sexual" to indicate that maturing sexual feelings will arise from these early beginnings.

How does sexual development proceeed from there (i.e., after about the age of five)? The early concepts of "male" and "female" become progressively refined into "masculine" and "feminine" as the growing child learns more about the ways boys behave differently than girls. Boys and girls began to have some awareness of being attracted to one another, and some idea of what they find attractive in the opposite sex. When adolescence is reached, more advanced sexual feelings are now distinctly associated with particular ideas and particular members of the opposite sex, and there is a strong curiousity about sex exhibited by both boys and girls as well as a desire for sexual experimentation. Dominant desires in boys and submissive ones in girls are most definitely present, although probably not well-understood as such by adolescents first coming to grips with these concepts. In today's society, the desire for sexual experimentation is often acted upon, with children in junior high school commonly becoming sexually active. (Note: I don't consider children of that age becoming sexually active a good thing, but that is beside the point here).

diagram explainng sexual development in conceptual terms

Figure 2.01. A mainly conceptual view of normal sexual development. Note that the concepts at each vertical level are dependent upon those beneath.

diagram explainng normal sexual development in conceptual terms

Figure 2.02. Natural Spanko sexual development. Note that the association of spanking with sexual feelings in the lower level carries over and changes the levels above. Note also that the TE occurs so early in life it is generally not recalled, hence Natural Spankos often believe their desires are innate.

It is important to understand that the association of spanking with sexual feelings at a lower level of conceptual development automatically carries over into the higher levels of conceptual development - this is an inherent feature of how the mind is gradually built up. Thus spanking becomes inextricably intertwined with the new concepts of dominance and submission. A secondary consequence is that the more layers of conceptual "bricks" that are built up, the harder it is to change anything that occurred in the "bricks" underneath. It is for this reason that many psychiatric disorders without organic causes, including paraphilias, are extremely resistant to psychiatric treatment. To get at the root cause would require the "tearing out" of too many layers that formed later as the individual developed. This is why even though a Learned Spanko could go on to experiment with some other type of deviant sexual behavior, leaving spanking in the past, the Natural Spanko never loses his interest in spanking - it's too deeply ingrained. Or to put it another way, the Natural Spanko is more deeply "into" spanking than the Learned Spanko is.

It is interesting to note that the entire theory of "brain-washing" as used in warfare is based around doing exactly what psychotherapy cannot: tearing out as many layers of the mind as possible through means of psychological stress until the original personality is obliterated, allowing a new personality to be built up in its place. Effective as this procedure can be, it obviously has no place among practical therapeutic methods, but it does remind us that the mind is indeed built up in a manner much like that illustrated in Figures 2.01 - 2.02.

Another way to view both the Natual and Learned Spanko is to picture spanking behavior as an alternate path through which sexual desires may be expressed (see Figure 2.03 below).

diagram explainng spanko sexual development in conceptual terms

Figure 2.03. An alternative approach to understanding the Spanko: spanking becomes an alternate or parallel path for the expression of sexual feelings. The path may or may not rejoin the main line later: in most cases it does, and the subject retains an interest in normal sex, but in some cases spanking dominates to such an extent that the subject displays minimal interest in intercourse.

The distinction between Natural and Learned Spankos is an idea of such central importance to our overall theory that I hope I may be forgiven for expressing it in yet another form: both the Natural and that portion of the Learned which sees spanking in at least somewhat erotic terms have come to associate spanking with erotic feelings, but the Natural Spankos did so at a much earlier age when their sexual personalities were as yet undeveloped, causing the connection to become much more deeply ingrained. In both cases, it is the ambiguous nature of spanking that allowed this to occur - an unambiguously non-sexual activity such as sweeping the floor, for instance, could not have produced these results.

The ultimate effect of the TE is to create an alternate path through which sexual feelings and desires may be channeled. Notice that since the developmental factors that lead to normal sexual behavior are still in place, whatever they are, we have an alternate path rather than a replacement path. Thus natural spankos of either sex usually still retain an interest in sexual intercourse, the strength of such interest varying from individual to individual. There are as usual no firm statistics, but it is my belief that those with very little interest in intercourse are predominantly male. As we will see later, the male may be more seriously affected by the TE than the female.

Age at Which the TE Occurs

Based on the necessary location of the TE within the child's sexual development, I believe the primary TE must occur somewhere between the ages of two and five, that is, after the very primitive concepts of male and female already exist along with the earliest proto-sexual feelings. It is at this time that the child would naturally want to learn more about the opposite sex, and that the association of spanking with intimate touching or holding would be expected to have its greatest effect. There are also secondary TE's which may occur later, perhaps into adolescence. These secondary TE's still affect the subject, but less profoundly than the primary TE since more of the finished adult personality is already in place. It is probably these TE's that influence such things as the preference for a particular spanking implement or position, although they may also explain certain female Tops, as we will see later.

What Exact Form Does the TE Take?

It was mentioned above that the TE could consist either of an actual spanking being experienced by the child, or else the child's witnessing another person getting spanked. It is indeed difficult to conceive of any other form that the TE could take (for spanking, that is - obviously, TE theory could be extended to non-spanking paraphilias, but for the most part that would be beyond the scope of our investigation here). There are of course many variations, depending upon the sex of the spankee and spanker, and of the child (if the child is not the spankee), and as we will see, it is these variations that produce the six basic spanking orientations. We will consider the first of these in the next chapter.

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