May 252006

Frankly this spooks me a bit. There are conservative Christians advocating corporal punishment, and even sell specialized implements for the “training up” of children.

“Select your instrument according to the child’s size,” writes Pearl. “For the under one year old, a little, ten to twelve-inch long, willowy branch (stripped of any knots that might break the skin) about one-eighth inch diameter is sufficient. Sometimes alternatives have to be sought. A one-foot ruler, or its equivalent in a paddle, is a sufficient alternative. For the larger child, a belt or larger tree branch is effective.” Additional advice from their Web site: Switching with a length of quarter-inch plumbing supply line is a “real attention-getter.”

As one blogger wrote (conflating Catholic and Protestant traditions):

…all the theological stuff, from an outsider’s perspective, is nothing but a pathetic excuse to repeatedly assert patriarchal authority. The church has an elaborate bullying system in place to extract obedience–the church over men, men over women, women over children, and the children get to grow up to have wives or children of their own to bully. Everyone is dominated but rewarded for obedience by having someone of their very own to dominate.

In this system, women and of course children are in a very precarious spot, locked up in the house together acting out these rituals of domination and submission without much contact with the outside world to inject a bit of levity and common sense into it.

Corporal punishment in a Protestant setting doesn’t seem to figure in BDSM as much as it does in an Anglican or Catholic setting. It might have something to do with this kind of corporal punishment occuring in a domestic context instead of an instutional setting (school or church), or that it happens at a younger age than the cusp of adolesence.

The relationship between desiring erotic impact play as an adult and experiencing corporal punishment as a child is still a mystery to me. I have a suspicion that the kink subculture was born among the first generation in human history that mostly was not spanked, the Boomers.

For the record, I oppose the corporal punishment of children. The tens of thousands of boys who were “swished” at Eton and other colleges across centuries certainly contributed to the evolution of kink, but it was pointless and cruel.

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