Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Spanko Files: Indiana


It is my profound pleasure to share with you the words of our friend Indiana. As she describes, she was somewhat reluctant to tell this story because her voyage of discovery is not yet complete. But dear Indiana has traveled a great distance and gained many valuable insights along the way. It is both my hope and hers that readers who are new to this topic will benefit from this excellent and thoughtful narrative.

A View from Mid-Journey
by Indiana


Let me begin by admitting freely that I’m a very unlikely guest writer for a spanking blog. I’ve never been spanked as an adult, and I’ve never even been terribly confident or open sexually. It took me over a year of reading spanking blogs to feel at all comfortable even commenting, and I found that step embarrassing enough! Eventually, though, my need for a sounding board against which to explore this topic began to overcome my hesitation. Around that time, I read a post on Natty’s blog in which she and a gay friend joked about having “come out” around the same time. That post really caught my attention, as I’d begun to think of my journey as coming out to myself. So I organized my thoughts a bit and posted my own de-lurk on SSS.

As a way to say thank you, I rather timidly copied the post to Bonnie and to the writers of another favorite site. I was flabbergasted when Bonnie wrote back, suggesting that I write a guest post for MBS. I didn’t feel as though I had much to say, so I initially declined the invitation. As you all know, though, Bonnie has a wonderful way of making everyone feel included, and she got me thinking. I began to wonder if it would have helped me a year and a half ago to hear from someone with some of my hang-ups who had moved a little further down the road. After all, even though Bonnie is a tremendous role model in many ways, I couldn’t exactly imagine someone reading MBS and thinking, “Gosh, if someone that shy about her sexuality could explore spanking, then so could I!”

More importantly, I thought about the time in my early twenties that I’d first read about sexual fantasies and their relationship to reality. How I’d felt tremendous relief to “learn” that just because essentially all of my fantasies involved being spanked didn’t mean that I would really like it. Secure in that conviction, I didn’t think much about the issue, at least not consciously, for another two decades. What if the internet had been available then? Would I have stopped hiding from myself and realized my sexuality more fully in the intervening two decades? I can’t honestly say. But I wish I’d known then that spanking play wasn’t relegated to leather bars, but was quietly (figuratively, anyway) practiced by grandmothers, schoolteachers, graduate students, and kind, gentle fathers. I guess that’s another way that spanking enthusiasts are a bit like gays and lesbians. If we were all “out,” the fringe stereotypes would be a lot harder to take seriously.

Another way in which “coming out” as a spanko is like coming out as gay, lesbian, or bisexual is the difficulty a lot of us find in accepting our own sexuality. I’ve watched close friends come out as gay or lesbian, and it seems that for all but a fortunate few, dealing with their own homophobia is an important first step. I’ve felt the same thing, with the added complication that I had no idea there was such a thing as a spanko community until about 18 months ago. I’ve always believed strongly that what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes is their own business. But that doesn’t mean that it was easy for me to accept having desires outside of the mainstream. That has been a slow, semi-conscious process.

As seems to have been true for most of us, I thought I was the only one until I searched “spanking” on Google. At first, I just read the stories at a couple of large, well-known free sites. After all, that kept me busy for a while. It was as though I had been subsisting on only the odd spanking startle in mainstream books and other media, doled out irregularly and used for fantasy purposes long past the metaphorical freshness date on the label. Now, there was such a wealth of material! Some stories I liked, others bothered me, and quite a few fit both categories. After all, the spanking community is just that – a community, even a sub-culture, with its own terms and conventions. It takes a little while to understand how words are being used, especially as it there is so much variety in the community. It also took me a while to get a feel for the boundaries of fantasy and real life. Blogs like MBS helped a lot with that, because they showed me some of the people behind the stories and fantasies and helped me to see the range of ways in which adults engage in consensual spanking activities.

When I started reading newsgroups, I realized there was a lot of in-fighting within the community about which kinds of kinks were OK and which weren’t. I found this annoying and even troubling, but I couldn’t stop myself from making some of the same judgments at first. You know, “well, that’s okay, but doing this is just nuts!” That has a lot to do with not accepting oneself fully. After all, I don’t like horror movies, and I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t love Jane Austen. But I don’t think the people who disagree with me about these things are crazy. It’s much harder to be objective about a spanking kink, the exact manifestations of which probably have a lot to do with childhood experience in ways we’ll never fully understand even for ourselves, much less for others. That’s one thing I really like about MBS—everyone is accepting rather than just tolerant, and even rare disagreements are polite.

For me, the hardest issue to deal with has been the very idea of submission and dominance, especially in a male-dominant, female-submissive relationship. Just the words carry a lot of baggage. Moreover, the large number of people on the internet who believe that women need the loving, firm guidance of a superior male suggests that this is not an empty concern. I realize this is an issue that tries the patience of many readers of this blog, so let me be clear. In no way do I mean to imply that female submissives and male dominants are the vanguard of the Patriarchy, villainously striving to set women back millennia. That’s patently absurd.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not a huge hurdle for some of us to overcome. I work in a very male-dominated field, which no doubt makes me particularly sensitive to gender issues. So the hierarchical tags bothered me a lot. Over time, I have come to see the words as technical terms. I think Eve Howard made it clearest for me by defining a submissive as someone who prefers to be spanked and a dominant as someone who prefers to do the spanking. OK, I can live with being a submissive by that definition. And of course, I came to realize that the woman-in-charge who is quite happy, even relieved, to be submissive in the bedroom is a bit of a stereotype in spanking circles. I can see the attraction of that, too.

Still, I found that I had an easier time with F/F stories in the beginning. Once I got more comfortable with my interest in spanking, though, I found the M/F dynamic less threatening. And, well, I kind of liked the sex better in those accounts.  What really helped, though, was reading blogs like MBS, where I could get to “know” strong, smart, funny, and warm women who were clearly valued for all these traits by the intelligent and caring men who like to spank them. It was also hard to remain suspicious of male tops when they’re represented here by someone as obviously wonderful as Paul. Finally, it reassured me to know that people who have been playing for years still struggle with these issues occasionally.

Another similarity between the gay/lesbian and spanko journeys is that many of us are aware of our non-mainstream sexual interests long before we understand what they mean. In retrospect, it’s clear that I’ve had a sexual interest in spanking essentially all my life. Spanking fantasies are among my earliest memories, and I’ve recognized myself time and again as I read about the childhood startles and fantasies of others. Even simple things like looking up spanking-related words in the dictionary or attaching such mystical significance to the very word “spanking” that I could barely pronounce it aloud seem like near-universal spanko childhood experiences. As all that occurred long before I knew what an orgasm was, well, it’s no wonder many of us have found our journeys to be confusing!

There’s also the stereotype of lesbian women coming out relatively late in life, around the age of 40. I’ve watched it happen with friends, and I even found it a little amusing that it took so long. It seems to happen with spanking, too, and I think it’s a trend with similar underlying themes. Does it happen because women are supposed to reach their sexual peak at that time? Does it happen because kids leave home, careers get established, and women have a chance to focus on themselves a little? Does it happen because even those of us who are not terribly conventional finally figure out the extent to which we’ve been influenced by what society tells us we should do? It’s probably a combination of those reasons, at least for me. Whatever the causes, I think there’s a similar relief in understanding why leading a vanilla/straight (tick all appropriate boxes) life wasn’t working. All I can say to my late-to-come-out lesbian friends is that I’m laughing with you now. I just haven’t told you that.

I have confided in one vanilla friend, though. I had written in my SSS de-lurk that I couldn’t imagine talking to my best friends about spanking, but that was an oversimplification. I could imagine talking to one friend in particular. In fact, I had been rehearsing the conversation in my mind for weeks. I just didn’t think that I’d really do it, but a few glasses of wine and a long plane ride together were enough to overcome my inhibitions. It was wonderful. I knew she would be accepting and would try to understand, but I hadn’t anticipated that she would be so incredibly encouraging. She told me this was a part of my life that I should definitely explore. And, she added, I should provide her with the details! Well, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go that far, but who knows? I never thought I’d write anything like this, either.

As the title of this post indicates, I’m still in the middle of my journey, so I can’t give you a storybook ending yet. I can tell you, though, that even coming this far has been an overwhelmingly positive experience. For starters, my daydreams and fantasies sure are a lot more interesting! Going a bit more public has been tremendously liberating, too. Now that the big secret is out, it makes me feel that I can be more open with myself and others about a range of personal issues. Participating more fully on spanking sites also enhances the sense of community with fellow spankos, which is a wonderful and affirming experience.

Of course, I still wonder where all this will lead.

I don’t know the answer to that question. But I certainly intend to find out!

Finally, I want to thank all of you who have participated on MBS or whose blogs I’ve read elsewhere for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I suspect you have no idea how many of us out there you’ve helped along the way.

With gratitude and best wishes,

Indiana

24 comments :

Jessica said...

Indiana,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and analysis. I agree that websites like Bonnie's are a great benefit to demystify adult spanking. At least those of us who are male/felmale spanking couples are not banned legally from marriage as with the gay community!

-Jess

K said...

Indiana, thanks for sharing your story. I recently stumbled across this site by accident and it has been tremendously inspiring in the few weeks that I've been lurking. Good luck on your continuing journey.

Sleepy said...

Thank you Indiana for sharing your story. You aren't alone in your thinking lord knows I have analyzed myself for years with the very same thoughts and concerns! I often wonder myself if the internet had been around in my 20's if my life would have taken a different course and my 'awakening' would have been earlier!
The analogy of some gays and some spankos coming out in their 40's hit home! Within a month or two of my finally speaking to my husband about spanking so too did my brother in law, looking for our support, openly tell us he was gay! We were all in our 40's at the time! I have to tell you for the first time we bonded on a very deep level for many reasons and we understood although different, the journeys we would both travel. We are the best of friends at this point in our lives! Its a wonderful feeling.
I wish you the very best and much happiness in your continuing journey and I hope to hear more from you. I think many of us can relate to your experiences and thoughts on many levels.
Best to you and thank you Bonnie for posting this thoughtful, honest and sincere exchange.
Sleepy

New Beginnings said...

Iniana,
This is a wonderful piece. Being able to accept all aspect of ourselves is so very important. I have always know I was a spanko but for most of my life planned to stay right there in the closet. I knew I had don't nothing to make myself a spanko but I also knew I couldn't change it either. Not that I wanted to.

I so agree with you that it is very much like being gay. My son is gay and came out to me at 14. How grateful I was that he was comfortable enough with himself to do that young and not wait until mid-life to accept himself. I sometimes think that realizing that spanko are born that way my husband has come to undrestand that our son was born gay and the only choice that was made was to accept himself or loathe himself.

I hope you will write more.

Hugs,
PK

Hermione said...

Great to read your story, Indiana.

Bonnie, I always enjoy the Spanko files.

High-speed hugs to you both from
Hermione

Paul said...

Bonnie, thank you for inviting this articulate and intelligent woman to contribute. I hope that made you blush Indiana, just getting my own back. Chuckles.
But seriously Indiana, your writing is both clear and concise, as I have seen from your comments elsewhere.
Dominant and submissive are convenient labels that don't really describe the individuals concerned.
Most of the subs/bottoms that I know are not doormats, weak or wimpish, they are strong intelligent women who know what they want and generally get it.
My Mel, all 5'3" of her, was pure sprung steel, god help anyone who thought that they could tread on her.
Indiana, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, you are a worthy addition to The Spanko Files.
Warm hugs to both of you,
Paul.

Indiana said...

Hi Everyone,

Let me call your attention to a very interesting recent post by Abel of The Spanking Writers on Coming Out for Spankos. It led to a lot of interesting discussion. http://www.spankingwriters.com/blog/2008/01/05/coming-out-for-spankos/

Indiana

Indiana said...

Jess-- I agree. I actually had a disclaimer about that in my first draft, but I took it out in an effort to trick Paul into thinking that I'm concise. :-)

Seriously, in no way do I wish to minimize the unpleasant truth that it is much easier for straight spankos to be open about whom they love than it is for many GLBT people in our society. On the other hand, at least most people know there is a gay community-- I had no idea there was a Spanko one until about 18 months ago.

K- thanks!

Sleepy-- thanks so much for your kind words! I'm so glad that talking about these issues was such a powerful experience for you, your husband, and your brother -in-law. Thanks for sharing that story with us!

PK-- I started reading your blog after so many people recommended it during a recent brunch, and I love it! I went back to the beginning, but I'll eventually catch up and start commenting. After reading your writing about your son, I am not surprised that he felt so free to confide in you, but I am very glad that he has such wonderful support.

Thanks, Hermione. I was doubly nervous about having agreed to do this when I realized I'd have to follow you and Jess!

Paul, your comment really had me chuckling! Glad I could make you blush-- you deserve after your recent comment on another of our favorite sites! LOL

Seriously, I really wish more men would tell us their stories the way you have through your comments about Mel. It really makes a big difference. Reading even fairly classy spanko singles adds doesn't leave the same impression at all, I'm afraid.

I am absolutely convinced that I would have loved knowing Mel. Thanks for sharing so much about your lives together.

Hugs, everyone!
Indiana

Terpsichore said...

Indiana thank-you so much for sharing your journey. It was insightful and thoughtfully written and I so appreciate what you had to say. Best of luck on your journey! :-) Terpsichore

Sara said...

Indiana, I am going to echo what others have said: a wonderfully written and heart felt post that will indeed very likely help others! Many of us been through a 'coming out' of sorts, and yes it is wonderful to be able to be yourself!Sara

rlsail said...

To Indiana,

I was touched by your words. So much of what you said rang true even for somene in their 60's who had no idea what these thoughts and interests meant growing up. You are also highly literate and talented ..most likely a teacher I would suspect. Well done!

Bob
Chicago

Anonymous said...

You are a courageous woman, Indiana. I hope we'll be hearing more from you.

Southern Expat said...

Sorry, I hit return before I was finished.

I think your musings are spot-on. There is a sense in which "spanko" is a sexual orientation, with its own sense of a closet, its own code words for communication, its own stories of "coming out."

sunney721 said...

I've never commented before, but as a young woman of 22 just starting to realize that my spanking desires and fantasies are nothing to be ashamed of, I found this to be so helpful and liberating. I felt so understood and it was very freeing! I've been reading this blog for a while but it's my first time being comfortable enough to comment. Thank you Indiana for your sharing your inspiring journey!

A.S.S. said...

Very interesting read. We really enjoyed it. It's not often you get to hear from someone just 'coming out of the closet' so to speak... and it's clear Indiana has put a great deal of thought into this step. We really hope to hear how her journey goes from here.

:)
Todd & Suzy

Bonnie said...

Indiana - Although this story still has chapters to be written, I knew that many readers would find your experiences to be beneficial. The time you spent crafting this narrative is evident.

Thank you for sharing your adventure.

Indiana said...

Terpsichore- Thank you! I’ve enjoyed your comments on this site, and I wish you the best of luck, too!

Sara- Thanks for your kind words. It's amazing how much just the act of saying "this is who I am," even among spanko friends, makes it all so much easier.

Bob from Chicago-I am so pleased that my story resonated with you. Thank you for the compliments.

Southern Expat- Unlike Paul, you have succeeded in making me blush! LOL. Having grown up in the South myself, your nickname caught my attention and led me to your blog. It's incredibly insightful, thought-provoking, and, to use your word, courageous. I've enjoyed it over the past few weeks and look forward to reading more.

Indiana said...

Sunney,

I'm absolutely delighted that you felt comfortable enough to comment! It's hard to get up the nerve to say something, especially when it seems as though everybody else has this all figured out. Well, mostly figured out, anyway.

I still mainly just listen on sites like MBS that stay pretty closely focused on RL spanking, though I am trying harder to take the time to comment when I enjoy a post or a story. There are a lot of sites on which bloggers talk about a lot of other topics, too, so it's easier to join in the conversation without RL spanking experience. I hope you'll join in when and where you feel like it. Don't worry if you don't get much response at first-- all it takes is one comment that gets people talking, and you'll feel right in the middle of things. This is a very warm and supportive community, and it really does help to join the conversation.

It's great that you are comfortable enough with yourself to start off on this adventure in your early 20's. May you have many, many years of love and fun ahead of you!

Warm hugs,
Indiana

Indiana said...

Todd & Suzy-

Thanks! I've really enjoyed your regular comments at brunch. The his and her responses to questions are really quite interesting and helpful. As I said above, we don't hear as much from male tops, so I'm really glad you both participate in the discussion.

Bonnie-

Thanks for your kind words, support, and encouragement. This has been a very powerful experience. There is significant self-discovery just in trying to write a piece like this. The reader response was unbelievable. Thanks to you and to everyone for making me feel so welcome in the community.

Warm hugs to al!

Indiana

QueenofDenial said...

Indiana,

I've been lurking on this and similar blogs for quite a while now and this is the first time I am leaving a comment. Your words rang so true for me - the whole 'coming-out' thing has been a theme in my life for a long time...my (now ex) husband, after 20 years of marriage came out around 10 years ago. Well, it was more like I pushed him out but that's another story. It's taken me a long time to admit that we were living in different closets in the same house - my interest in D/s and spanking goes way way (way) back - I felt so much shame around it that I chose to marry someone who I knew could never give me the one thing I desperately needed and wanted. I've recently begun my journey out and finding this community and reading what you and others have written has impacted my life in ways that I never could have imagined. I wish you all the best...

Queen

Indiana said...

Queen-- thanks so much for joining the conversation! In the last month or two I've stopped feeling so foolish for not figuring this out earlier, in part because it's so exciting to think about where it will all lead. Besides, it's not exactly as though there are commercials on late-night TV suggesting that exploring spanking or BDSM might be a good cure for feeling unfulfilled in one's sex life... All the best to you, too!

Warm hugs,
Indiana

Rosy said...

Indiana,

I tend to lurk on Bonnie's site more than any other site. Well, I guess I'm no longer a true lurker, but I've only posted a couple times. I too had that classic story of being secretly obsessed with anything spanking, looking up spanking related words in the dictionary, eavesdropping on others' stories, and even trying self-spanking way before I even realized my own sexuality.

Only in the last couple months have I stumbled into the spanko community, and Bonnie's site has been by far the most helpful, the most encouraging, and the most uplifting. I've done a ridiculous amount of research (yes, I'm a nerd!), and sometimes I wander too far into that sub culture that can be so dark. Just as I begin to feel silly and afraid that I might have crossed some forbidden fantasy line with my desires, I remember Bonnie and her friends. They are indeed good, strong women---women that I can respect, women that I wish were in my inner circle of friends--women who love to be spanked. I love how accepting and honest they are.

Even more importantly, My Beloved has been very accepting, though he is still very vanilla. Lately he has surprised me by anticipating my needs/desires before I can ask--and he seems to enjoy more the anticipation that dances down my spine when he announces a spanking is to come. I can see him becoming much like Bonnie's dear husband...and I am thrilled!

Thank you for posting such an honest story. It was exactly the encouragement I needed this morning. I hope that your desires are richly met!

--[I like my behind just] Rosy

Indiana said...

Thanks, Rosy! I hope your beloved continues to surprise you and that all that research pays off.

Warm hugs from a fellow nerd :-)
Indiana

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