We lead such interesting lives! Seriously, we take for granted what a lot of folks consider very exotic. There’s one that even our readers find odd: domestic discipline. We’ve both written a lot about it. It’s a lot more subtle than you might think. For example, if I am subject to corporal discipline, what governs Mrs. Lion’s behavior? Is she perfect and never needs correction?
That is the implication a lot of BDSM, and even DD writing promotes. If that stuff is to be believed, I’m the naughty spouse in need of a spanking. My long-suffering wife uses her paddle to keep me under control. I suppose that in some respects, that’s true. I obviously need help in remembering chores and being respectful. What about her?
Mrs. Lion also forgets chores. She can interrupt me. Why shouldn’t she be punished too? Supposedly, in 1934 Dorothy Spenser created the Spencer Discipline Plan. It is an agreement a husband and wife make that subjects them both to spanking if needed. The idea was that bad behavior was to be punished with a spanking. Regardless of the pedigree, the idea is interesting-if-flawed. It’s a physical manifestation of “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” A couple agrees on what behavior needs punishment. When either party misbehaves, the other spouse spanks him or her.
It doesn’t seem to have caught on. Proponents claim it was wildly popular in the 1930s. I can’t find any real evidence of this. I think the base concept is seriously flawed. Someone in authority over another administers punishment. In a disciplinary sense, it’s just too hard to turn this into a sport between equals. Sure, if you are into BDSM and like to switch, trading spankings are good clean, fun. However, if you apply punishment in retribution for behavioral issues, switching doesn’t seem to work.
The Spencer system is more an expression of distrust than a serious attempt at marital harmony. It is saying that if you can spank me for being naughty, then I can spank you too. Believers say that this is the way for both partners to be held accountable. Based on our experience, one-way discipline is as much control on Mrs. Lion as it is on me.
Think of it this way. I am subject to punishment for misbehaving. Mrs. Lion isn’t punished if she misbehaves. She is a responsible person. She will be harder on herself than she is on me. She feels the obligation to be a role model. She also can’t escape the obvious fact that a power imbalance would be unfair if she used it to indulge herself at my expense.
It doesn’t matter whether the husband or wife is taken in hand. The important point is that one partner has the power to punish the other. The benefits accrue from this imbalance. Equality, or the illusion of it, encourages things to be static. Water flows downhill. It puddles on a level surface. Those puddles will stagnate over time. Emotions are the same—equality levels power. Anger and frustration aren’t easy to express. They are held in until they build up to the point they leak out, usually in destructive ways.
In a DD relationship, unhappiness on the part of the disciplining spouse is clearly expressed. She knows she is heard and felt. He is absolved from guilt by paying the (painful) price his spouse exacts. Balance is returned. Dorothy Spencer asked if the disciplining spouse does something that hurts her husband, what can he do with his feelings? Her answer was for him to spank her.
The reality is that in almost every relationship, there is a dominant partner. That partner has no problem expressing feelings. I am a pretty classic male. I have no trouble letting Mrs. Lion know when I am unhappy. She, on the other hand, tends to stuff her feelings until they leak out. If she becomes the disciplining spouse and exercises her power, she has a megaphone to express her feelings. I encourage her to use it. Over time, she learns to use her paddle. I learn to be a more considerate husband. We both win.