The Art of SP Anka and the Morality of the Spanking Cartoon

By The Web-Ed

As noted by both SP Anka and myself during her interview, some of her cartoons have stirred strong reactions from fans, fellow-artists, and critics (well, maybe only from this critic). These drawings, showing ostensibly innocent women suffering humiliating spankings, often at the hands of boys as young as ten years old, raise questions of propriety and morality that are serious enough to deserve more attention. Armed with SP Anka's interview, we should be able to clarify the issues involved and perhaps even put some of them to rest. Along the way we'll consider under what circumstances it's o.k. to enjoy a non-consensual spanking cartoon.

Let's begin with the cartoon of the big sister spanked by her younger brother:

boy spanks his big sister

To repeat what we observed before: "Some typical SP Anka characteristics on display here are (1) the strong (older) punished by the weak (younger); (2) spankee's expression of distress (understated here); (3) generous, bare bosom and behind."

At first glance, it's a little troubling to see this boy enjoying spanking his sister so much; however, it's necessary to take into account what SP Anka said regarding how disturbing she found the sight of a child getting beaten by someone older:
"It makes you angry... Seeing an older person getting beaten by a weaker person, that adds a touch of comedy to the situation. The nasty big sister getting hers from the little brother or sister. Humiliating and hilarious at the same time. Personally I wouldn't know if I should be embarrassed or just laugh out loudly in a situation such as this."

So it is clear that SP Anka intends these cartoons to be taken humorously, at least in part, and in her view, the spankees are generally deserving of their punishment anyway. Now, the theme of the strong being overcome by the weak is an enduring one, in literature if not (yet) in spanking cartoons. Think of James Thurber's famous story, The Catbird Seat. This would certainly seem to ease our difficulties here - the big sister may well deserve what she gets, and in any case, there is something humorous about seeing her spanked by her kid brother. We may not be out the woods just yet, though, for the fact that the boy has taken her top down should give us pause. There are also cartoons in which both the humor and the spankee's culpability are anything but apparent.

And that brings us to the question of non-consensual spanking. Now in our private spanking lives, I don't think there are any of us who would defend truly non-consensual spanking. Roleplay, yes; foreplay, yes; an agreed-upon system of discipline, yes; but actual, against-her-will spanking - no. In fictional spanking (including art, drama, etc.) however, we often take pleasure in seeing husbands spank wives, heroes spank villainesses, strong, willful, arrogant women being taken down a peg by stronger men. Rarely is there anything to suggest the woman has given her prior consent to such treatment. Does this then represent hypocrisy on our part - do we say we believe in consensuality only to take secret pleasure in seeing women forced and brutalized? That these are mere fantasies is not quite enough of a defense. Let's consider some examples to see if we can find a way out.

A woman throws a knife at Simon Templar (The Saint #5) with genuinely murderous intent. He ducks under the knife, then turns her over his knee. Consensual? Hardly - but she was guilty of attempted murder, and spanking isn't a very serious punishment in relation to this offense. We feel that Simon's action is fully justified and we are not troubled by it (note, however, that this kind of scene doesn't really have much erotic appeal).

Lucy Ricardo disobeys her husband's reasonable instructions and overspends, busting their budget (various episodes of I Love Lucy). Ricky eventually finds out and takes her over his knee. Consensual? Not exactly, in the sense of prior consent. But consider the context: a loving relationship in which Ricky spanks Lucy because he loves her, because the spanking will benefit both her and their relationship, and in which her guilty demeanor indicates her acknowledgement that she deserves to be spanked. I have termed this retroactive consent, and once again, these factors together justify the spanking in the mind of the viewer. Note also that this typical example of Romantic Spanking (or Domestic Discipline) has a very considerable erotic appeal.

Generalizing from these examples, it seems to me that if we are to enjoy a cartoon of a non-consensual spanking in good conscience, we must be able to justify the spanking somehow. It is reasonable to ask if the artist does this for us by making clear the spankee's guilt or in some other manner. And before we even think about criticizing SP Anka's work on this point, we must be fair and ask ourselves if we have demanded as much of other artists, especially those whose purpose was primarily humorous. So let's go back half a century and take a look at a classic cartoon from Dan DeCarlo.

decarlo spanked secretary

This is a typical secretary spanking cartoon: the secretary is spanked by her boss for making some kind of mistake, usually a spelling error. As a justification for corporal punishment, this is pretty thin gruel, and the viewer is invited to vicariously share in the boss's obvious delight in having an excuse to whack this shapely young woman's rear end. And thanks to DeCarlo's skill as a cartoonist, it works! We do want to spank her, justification or no.

In this cartoon, like so many others of the genre, we are given a flimsy rationalization of our desires rather than a real moral justification for our actions (and remember that even many non-spanko men get some pleasure at the thought of spanking a pretty girl). Nor is this a case of the weak overcoming the strong - quite the contrary. It's almost like the feminists' caricature of the world, an old boys' network where men (the boss) do as they please in taking advantage of women, while other men (us) cover up for them by making excuses: "After all, there's no real harm in spanking the girl...just having a little fun is all..."

Compared to this, SP Anka's cartoon would seem to be on more solid ground. If we laugh at DeCarlo's cartoon, experience pleasure at the thought of being in the boss's place, and justify it in our minds as just good, clean fun, (which honestly we do), then how can we condemn SP Anka's perhaps long-suffering boy for spanking his tormentor?

But even so, some of her other cartoons remain troubling. Let's take a look at one that gets to the crux of the matter:

teacher must bare her behind and bend over the desk for the belt wielded by a student

As I commented during the interview, "Another unusual aspect of your work is that often the punishment is not deserved, and is in fact quite unfair. An example of this is the one you did with the principal assigning a student to spank the teacher in front of the class, even though her students are to blame for their own bad behavior."

In this case we have again the weak spanking the strong. But what if morality is on the side of the strong this time? The problem with always rooting for the underdog is that sometimes, the underdog doesn't deserve to win. Here, we're not given any indication that this teacher has in the past done anything wrong. If she had, for example, been guilty of administering excessive and arbitrary corporal punishment, then it would indeed be just for her to receive the same treatment, and at the hands of her victims, however odd that might seem.

We repeat the question we asked when we posted this on the interview page: is her punishment justified?

This drawing is skillfully wrought: the pleading, agonized expression on the teacher's face, the humiliation emphasized by her excellent positioning with her bare behind sticking out as far as possible, and in a public setting, too! But if we take this cartoon at face value, the punishment and humiliation are not justified; if they are justified, we cannot accept the situation as it is presented to us. Nor can we easily invoke the "DeCarlo Defense" - the degree of humiliation is much greater here (not to mention that the punishment itself is going to be more severe).

Still, I must admit I enjoy picturing myself in Johnny's place, standing behind that lovely young teacher with my paddle in hand, enjoying her discomfiture as she awaits the first swat...! In fact, I must confess that I actually did once bend a teacher over a desk, then bared her bottom and made her stick it out as far as possible (like SP Anka, I strongly believe the spankee should be humbled), and I went ahead and paddled her for certain misdeeds. So it might seem that I'm in no position to criticize SP Anka for doing the same thing in a fantasy that I've done in reality. But there were some differences: I was a grown man at the time, the paddling took place in private, and the spankee (by her own admission) did have it coming. Perhaps we should bring in a neutral third party, the spanking cartoonist Eve, to shed more light on the question of the spankee's guilt or innocence.

On the interview page, we compared one of SP Anka's cartoons to one of Eve's. Here is another of Eve's, where we see the public humiliation aspect of a spanking just as we often do with SP Anka.
Shoplifter Sara gets spanked, by Eve But again, a comparison shows that Eve makes the spankee's guilt plain, and she deserves everything she gets for trying to steal, while with SP Anka's teacher this is definitely in doubt.

I don't mean to compare SP Anka unfavorably to Eve overall - her facial expressions and spanking positions are at least as good as Eve's, her humor generally superior, and her spankees somewhat sexier. In fact, on the whole I find SP Anka's cartoons more erotic than Eve's. But I also think that where it's a "just desserts" type spanking, we need something, even if only a line in a caption, that makes this clear, and this is something that Eve generally does.

And as a matter of fact, SP Anka is perfectly capable of doing this when she wants to. Here's an example where the spankee was using the computer to chat with friends instead of doing her homework:

spanking caught on webcam

Correction is soon received from step-mom's slipper. Note that the element of humiliation is very similar here to that in Eve's drawing; in both cases the spankee's bare bottom is on public display. The spankee's humiliation in "The Webcam" may be even greater because her bottom is raised so high in the air (surely no accident) and is being seen by people who know her. SP Anka adds a dimension of humor by showing us the boys' reactions which, although not very nice, I'm afraid are quite accurate - that's exactly how boys would react!

Let's review one last cartoon, "Rascals Spank Girlfriend" (my title).
rascals spank brother's girlfriend All its elements work together well, and this is a really funny cartoon. Here the "DeCarlo Defense" does apply - nothing too terrible is happening to the girl (the boyfriend seems to be taking it harder than she is, which is also funny). As for the bare bosom - perhaps it is a little gratuitous, but the heavens won't fall because of it, and DeCarlo might well have done the same thing himself if he could have gotten away with it in 1956. And somebody has to say this - SP Anka sure knows how to draw beautiful breasts! The sheer sexuality of her spankees does help to give her work its undeniable appeal.

So, what conclusions have we reached?
  1. On children giving the spanking: I think SP Anka's explanation, that this is largely about role-reversal for the twin purposes of humor and justice, is reasonable and should be accepted for the most part; however, some of the sexual overtones remain troubling (see #3 below).
  2. On the spanking of the innocent: Those who are concerned about this should give SP Anka the benefit of the doubt and figure that the spankee has done something to deserve her punishment. At the same time, I think SP Anka should give us enough in the way of a justification - or at least a DeCarlo-style rationalization - so that we can feel free to enjoy her work with a clear conscience.
  3. On the rampant toplessness - I don't want to be mistaken for either a censorious prude or, God help me, a feminist. In themselves, bare boobs are not a problem (don't try to all contradict me at once, guys), but groping or other forms of sexual humiliation carried out by young boys is - for their sake. Boys that age should not be having sexual experiences, and certainly not deviant ones with older women. It leads to problems in later life, and that's all I'm going to say about it here.

Those are my conclusions, but I think I've been objective enough in laying out the evidence so that you, the reader, can come to your own, and you are certainly invited to do so. Post your thoughts about SP Anka's work, her interview, or this essay on the Bulletin Board, if you like.

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