spanking: normal, relatively rare, most explicable

So hey, neato! There’s a column in the NYT about spanking!

The author says she struggled to understand the origin of her strong sexual and psychological need to be spanked:

buried myself in physiological explanations for why someone might enjoy being spanked. Pain causes an endorphin rush, which can be pleasurable. The process also causes blood to rush to the pelvic region, which mimics sexual arousal.

“This is biologically normal,” I told myself. “Totally normal.”

And she’s right, it is normal. It is relatively rare for a woman to develop such a strong and specific fetish – rare compared to men, that is. Male bodies and female bodies develop differently, with different consequences in terms of plasticity (changeability). Women tend to vary more, both from each other and across their own lifespan. So it’s cool to see a story about a woman with this experience. But “normal,” from my point of view, means “mutual consent and satisfaction.” So yeah. Normal.

There’s even a growing research literature on the use by women of erotica featuring two men. It’s totally a thing! Science doesn’t have a “why” yet, but it does have a “yup, that’s a thing and it’s not associated with any dysfunctions.”

And the sensation- and power-play of spanking is also mostly explicable. I have mentioned before that our experience of sensations is utterly context dependent, and I’ve also mentioned before that it’s not a leap to see how an intimate relationship can be a profound place to explore intense sensations of all kinds.

Look, the thing is? Our brains are HUGE, vast, unprecedented things. They are remarkable for their profound plasticity; they learn and build connections between things in ways we are only just barely beginning to understand. The consequence of our wrinkly brains’ hunger to build connections between experiences is that every individual has a slightly different view of the world, built from the links the brain has constructed through a lifetime of neural plasticity, a lifetime of cascading connections.

And sometimes that results in things like really, really loving to be spanked. Other times it results in becoming obsessed with collecting Longaberger baskets or in being an actor who thrives on the attention of thousands of people. Normal, relatively rare, and mostly explicable – though, as always, there is more science to be done.

The nature of satisfaction, muddied as it is between the complex interaction between “liking” and “wanting”… well. It’s a whole other post.