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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Genetic Vs. Interest

The following is a piece entitled "Genetic vs. 'Interest'" which was written by my friend, Thursday Knight, and posted on fetlife. It raised several points that are important to me and that I wanted to add my thoughts on.

The day I opened up my fetlife account was on my 18th birthday. Throughout the internet, various websites had a new user of "Thursday Knight"--all of them spanking related.

I am a spanko; ever since the age of three years old I've had the desire to be spanked. While holding true to most spankos who can relate, I had all the signs. Anything spanking related in books or TV was a rare obsessive delight (the clock in Disney's Pinocchio, Benjamin Bunny, and countless other things), looking up the word "spanking" in the dictionary, getting the topic brought up among friends to find out if they had any personal stories, etc. etc. etc.

The thing is, I did not choose this condition. I did not choose to be sexually dysfunctional (and despite spanking being a very 'mild' sexual deviancy, it still is not 'normal'). Yet...what astounds me is that people do choose it.

Now, for the sake of whoever may be reading this, this is not an attack. Or even judgement. I am simply pointing out that there are many people on this website who choose to get into "the lifestyle".

From experience, I started typing in spanking searches into the internet when I was thirteen. Other people with sexual fetishes (note that a "fetish" is described as: a form of sexual desire in which gratification is linked to an abnormal degree to a particular object, item of clothing, part of the body, etc. [NOT] "it just turns me on") I would assume would do likewise. They would want to connect, find out more people who think like they do.

But besides the casual "bedroom partners", how do average people who want to "spice" up things, suddenly become "rope professionals" and "vampiric dominate daddys"? When they were growing up did they have a small interest and it grew? Or did they "decide" that this would be okay? What would possess someone to come up with the idea that people can come together and have parties where they'll tie each other up and eat snacks?

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with it, I am purely wondering where someone would come up with the notion.

Is it human nature to deviate from the norm? Are human minds just naturally perverse and therefore susceptible to the malleability of something new? They hear about something from a friend or on TV and realize that sounds fun?

Or is something genetic at play? Are those "vanillas" who will never even think a website like this, and perfectly happy too, every know (what we feel) they are missing?

Pretend your partner and you had a 'normal' relationship with very little concept of what you do now with each other, would that relationship still work? Would you think he is a lazy ass? That she is a needy attention-hog?

If these feelings are genetic (or at least a genetic disposition, in that our brains are pre-disposed to this sort of thinking) would they serve the purpose of balancing out our mental stability?

What makes people with an "interest" want to "choose" to be different in this way?

One last thought: Could you truly live without your kinky-doings and be happy? If someone said "You can be painlessly euthanized or live without ever doing your fetish/kinky thing ever again." Could you?

I, I could not.

Thursday's post resonated with me for a couple of reasons. First, she brought up an issue which I've often wondered about: why would anyone choose this? I'm also not attacking and I'm not pointing fingers. I don't think that there is anything wrong with choosing to join the lifestyle. I just don't see why one would. In fact, when I first started attending munches and other kink events in Los Angeles, it didn't occur to me that there would be people there who weren't "born with it" the way that Thursday and I (and I'm sure many of you) were. In fact, I operated under the assumption that the people I met who were into bondage were as excited when they saw a damsel in distress tied to the train tracks in a cartoon as Thursday and I were when we saw that Benjamin Bunny getting thrashed with a switch for his naughtiness in the picture book. Now, there *are* people who are bondage fetishists. I know one person who was involved in doing self bondage from a very young age indeed and several who always thought about being immobilized or secured in various ways. But many of the people who I've met who are into bondage, or D/s, or general impact play simply were told about it, gave it a shot and found it interesting. It sort of baffles me. There are people who choose this. They became curious about deviant behavior and decided that it was somehow worthwhile for them to engage in. Were they equally predestined to enjoy their lifestyle activities and simply unaware that they existed? Is one actually able to control their identity so much as to select something like this and make it his or her own? And to what end? I'm open about the fact that my involvement in the spanking and BDSM communities enriches my life, but I can't imagine that the lifestyle is inherently enriching. The growth, joy, development, relief et cetera that I gain from my activities seems to me to be based on fulfilling something which has always existed. It doesn't naturally follow that a person who developed without those early desires would have the same, or even a slightly similar, response to being exposed to the stimuli that I find valuable.

Part of the reason why I'm slightly taken aback by this is because I've always seen my spankophilia (if it can be called that because it isn't sexual) as, at worst, a deformity and, at best, some sort of social hindrance. I'm not ashamed of it anymore, but it has always been something which made my life more complicated. Like Thursday, I can't imagine myself being happy if I couldn't have spanking in my life. Given the choice, I'd sooner give up almost anything else. I'd go so far as to be prefer losing a couple of limbs over losing spanking. I don't want to say that I NEED to be spanked, but it's hard not to. At the very least, I need to have it in my life on some level. I don't ever NEED a spanking in a particular moment, but I truly don't know if I could have a satisfactory existence without it. Other kinksters who aren't spankos but like spanking want to be spanked or to spank others. In many ways, we require it. Requiring something brings along a boatload of things to work through and accept, fears, insecurities, difficulties et cetera. It also places a high value on something that can be very hard to find-- that is to say, a good spanking partner.

It's a lot of interesting stuff to think about, and it's territory that I don't often cover for fear of being offensive and making too many waves. So: what do you think?


  1. Great post. i too was "born with it". i remember being 5-6 yrs old and watching TV hoping to get a glimpse of a little spanking action...The Little Rascals, I Love Lucy, and others. I would look up spanking words in the dictionary and the encyclopedia (we didn't have internet)! Until i read this post, i thought i was the only one who had done that! lol If i had been given the choice, i guess i would have preferred to be born "normal",,,would have made life a whole lot easier. But, i was not...and at this point i could not live without it either.

    1. Oh yeah! A lot of us were dictionary looker-uppers.

  2. My postulate is you're looking at this in black and white thinking. I argue that even in your case, you've actively made decisions and choices to be a spanko and enhance that aspect of your life in ways that are beyond some congenital, asexual paraphilia as you term it.

    I experienced intricate and perverse fantasies as a very young child. And yet I went 20 some-odd years without engaging it. Not out of repression. Not in desperation. I was simply too occupied understanding my place in the world. And now as a fully fledged adult, I post pictures of my beaten ass on the internet.

    Alex, at the heart of every human is choice. We may be born with a certain biologic liability, influenced in ways we cannot understand at a precognitive age, but those drivers can only go so far in shaping how we functionally express ourselves.

    Don't mistake variations of intensity in an individual's desire for kink or the age in which someone comes to know this desire with a dichotomy of choice versus innate. To do so is a disservice to yourself.

    Everything I've written comes from a place of love and a desire for you to actualize your existence.

    1. Thank you for this response, really and truly. You're a wonderful and very articulate friend and I really value your viewpoint.

      I know that I'm guilty of falling back on black-and-white thinking, especially when it comes to issues that I'm emotionally invested in. It's neither rational nor admirable, but I know that from time to time I'll think or state "You're either like me or you're entirely different."

      I'll spend some time mulling over the involvement of choice in arriving where I am, as well as focusing on scaling instead of dichotomies. ^_^

      PS- I miss you.

      PPS- Your vocabulary turns me on.

  3. Let me get this off my chest. Yes, I looked up spanking-related terms in the dictionary, and not just English dictionaries, either. I confess.

    I think there is a definite hereditary component to spankophilia. That's not to say that people don't choose whether to pursue it, or to what degree. But I think spankos are born not made. Have you ever tried to get a vanilla to be interested in spanking? Really interested, and in the same kind of spanking you are interested in? They can fake it, somewhat, but they weren't born that way.

    BTW, a good book for understanding where our sexual desires come from is "Sex at Dawn". One of the things it points out is that people are very interested in new experiences, including new people to have experience with. One of the things about BDSM is that it brings endless variety to sex. If you're not into the sexual side of spanking, this may not apply directly, but I still think it applies in the general sense of how humans operate.

    Yes, I could live without spanking and have, at times and in ways, but it has never left my thoughts. Even when I tried to push it aside it was a constant impulse, pushing its way into my mind and tinging my fantasies. It isn't a question, really, of whether I could live without it. It's going to be in my mind in any case, regardless of what I might give up on my physical life.

    I do not see my interest in spanking as "abnormal" except in the technical sense of "not within the norm". I think it is a healthy thing and something that adds a great deal to my life. Besides, the value is in the difference. If you're the same as someone else, one of you isn't necessary. The idea that everyone should be normal is dysfunctional. Our society is stronger because we have variety, and our tolerance for variety in lifestyles is very healthy for society, making it more resilient. I think we need to be proud of our willingness to accept differences and to explore. That's a huge positive, and I don't feel reticent about it at all.

    1. I really appreciate this comment: very well thought out and straight forward. I'm very inclined to agree with you. I'm personally on the hereditary side of the fence for this issue.

      I plan to get "Sex at Dawn" from the library, providing that they have books about sex at a South Dakota Public Library. :P

  4. I'm just gonna throw a little real life example out there. My very vanilla husband and I literally fought over my spanking needs. He hated that I literally ached for spankings and he was very uncomfortable leaving his little vanilla shell. Now, after much arguing, explaining, and blog posts, he enjoys beating my ass and playing the Dom card. He certainly wasn't hard wired that way - not like me. I feel like, in our case, he got into booty smacking because it was important to me. I think he's getting so good at spanking and other slightly tortuous pleasures because he found he enjoys certain parts of his new role. While I don't think he'll ever be a "vampiric dominate daddy," I believe that we'll continue to enjoy spanking and he'll get to the point where he'll have a hard time turning off the Dom juice. I see it happening already :D

    1. That's awesome! I totally don't deny that conversion can occur and that someone who is a "born again spanko" can have a very satisfactory experience. I just believe that his or her experience will always be different than that of someone who is inherently desirous of the activity. That's not to say it's worse or less valid. Just different. :D

  5. I've often argued that what we do can't be genetic only because spanking, as opposed to vanilla sexual intercourse, is a learned behavior. Exposure to spanking is different than any other experience, and everyone has a different reaction to it depending on the exposure. For myself, it took me years of reading spanking literature, viewing spanking magazines and videos, and finally observing live spanking in a party situation before I could partake on a personal level. The brain had to absorb stimulus from various sources before comprehension could occur.

    1. I'd argue that sexuality is also primarily a learned behavior, and that we're influenced by external sources, but that our natural inclinations exist on a more base level. I feel that spanking is probably similar. Obviously, no matter how inclined, a person would not be able to be obsessed with spanking if they never learned what it was. That said, I don't have any data or science to back this opinion up, so it's all just based on my own experiences and observations.

  6. Ah, the old nature vs nurture debate! Baby, I was born this way. :-)

    I've wondered a lot about what makes one a true spanko, as opposed to someone who just picked it up because a partner liked it or whatever and discovered they enjoyed it, and I have been torn between suspicion that it could go back to some point in childhood we may not even remember, and thinking we are hard wired this way just like someone who is gay. After a lot of observation and meeting so many spankos with totally different backgrounds, some who were spanked as kids and others who weren't, after considering that most if not all children are exposed to spanking in one way or another at some point in their childhood and don't all grow up to be spankos, I have to lean toward the hard wired theory. Now, seeing those spankings in books or movies or witnessing your friends talking about it or getting spanked, whatever, those things can certainly spark the curiosity, but the predisposition must already be there or it will not and does not lead to a fetish for most people.

    As to why someone would choose this, well my belief is that they were never really vanilla but simply were not aware of their inclinations until they came across something or someone who showed them the ropes, so to speak. I truly don't believe you can ever convert a pure vanilla. Those who find it fun but can take it or leave it, I consider them maybe a vanilla swirl. And there are some vanillas who probably got into it purely to please a partner but then learned they really enjoyed the dynamic and so seek it out in future relationships. But I still maintain that those people are not truly fully vanilla! You either "get it" or you don't, and vanillas don't.

    1. Thanks for joining the conversation, Lily! What you said makes sense: probably a person who is receptive to being taught about a kink and then comes to enjoy it isn't actually vanilla, they were just never given the exposure they needed to get started. I also like the term "vanilla swirl" because it reminds me of those half and half soft serve cones. Mmmmmm... now I want to get Malignus to take me out for ice cream. :P

  7. Such a thought provoking post. I laugh that Lily used the term "swirl" because that's what I tell my husband he is. Lol. He almost takes offense to the term vanilla since he got into spanking with me, though I've explained it's not a bad term, it is just different than what I'd call myself. I'd say I'm another "hard wired" type, it's always been something that had fascinated me from an early age though I didn't know what to do with the interest back then. Could I live without it? Yes, but it would really suck after being able to experience it. "Better to have been spanked and lost it than to have never been spanked at all..." Is that the correct quote? ;-)

    1. It's a good perspective, Lea. I've had friends get butt-hurt about the term "vanilla" a lot. I try and tell them that it isn't meant to be insulting, just to point out the difference. My ex sometimes referred to it as a "slur." *eye roll*

  8. Alex,
    How did I miss this post?? I had the same conversation this week. I would loveeee to talk to you about this. I can definitely relate.

    1. When can talk about stuff whenever you want! Unless I am sleeping. :P