A topic that comes up very regularly on KinkyNet and in questions that I get is “punishment.” When to use it? How to use it? What do you do? Will you design one for me? (That one cracks me up. Apparently, “coming over to my house and painting it, cleaning it, organizing it” isn’t widely popular, but I keep trying…) The punishment question is always one that our community seems to really be focused on sometimes. 🙂 Obsessively so, at times.
The way I see it, there are positive-based modes of M/s and negative-based modes. Learning to live in fear through constant punishment I feel is a negative model. The basis of my authority isn’t through fear, but through leadership and growth, through instilling a desire for service and surrender by my ethical stewardship of that service/surrender. I get that everyone approaches M/s differently, but I’ve come to see a relative grouping.
That being said, there are times when the need comes up in my relationship. I’ve written about absolution by itself, but haven’t created a definitive post on the whole subject of the three. So here’s how I see it and use the three in my M/s dynamic.
Correction is the most common, it’s simply getting the slave back on the right path. It’s like correcting a car when it pulls to the left or right. You gently (hopefully gently) apply pressure to the wheel to get the vehicle going straight where you want it to go. Very similar – correction is nothing more than to guide a slave back on where I want him/her to be. Sometimes corrections are more than just small mentions, perhaps a discussion, but at the end of the day, it’s meant to correct the situation. Once correction is given, it’s done. I don’t hold onto it. I don’t dwell on it. If it happens twice for the same reason, then we explore the issue to determine what is going on, because then I view the issue as being symptomatic. The reason corrections are not punitive is because I know Angie is trying to obey. Doing everything to obey means that the heart is in the right place – and correction is meant to get things on track. If her heart wasn’t in the right place, then that’s a different discussion.
Sometimes my corrections may be straight up and direct and not friendly – not couched in the gentle terms, but it’s also never personally denigrating. Sometimes it hits angie hard, she’ll react negatively to it, and we’ll discuss. The times I have been too harsh or misread the situation, I’ve apologized. It happens – especially when you have an Aspie German/Hungarian Gemini with authority over an Irish/Spanish Pisces Dreamer. It’s part of learning how we interact together.
Punishment is retributive in nature. Punishment is reserved for those acts which are deal-breakers to the relationship, but I am willing to enforce a punishment in order to allow the slave to remain in a relationship with me. Usually this involves a reboot/reset of the relationship, because it has broken down on both our parts for there to be a deal-breaker, but in such a way where the relationship can be salvaged or rebooted. Punishment is performed and then we look to building for the future. I don’t dwell on punishments or the behaviors for it. I don’t believe in dredging up issues from years ago. That’s a tit-for-tat tactic and destructive.
I’ve punished slave angie exactly twice. The last time was 6 years ago. It is something I do not like to think about or dwell on.
Absolution is an interesting concept, because it is (usually) initiated and (always) requested by the slave. It’s not always realistic to tell someone to just “let it go and drop it” because … well… human beings and human brain wiring. So I use “atonement” to allow the slave to purge or work through the issue. It usually involves corporal punishment or whatever tool that I know the slave can use to rid themselves of the feeling – usually guilt or low self esteem over a particular issue. I don’t make the request, so as to not confuse the issue between correction/punishment/atonement. I will sometimes suggest it as in “You are struggling with this. Do you wish atonement?” and the slave must make a positive request before I will grant it. Atonement is purely for the slave’s benefit.
Actually, correction is as well… as the slave is constantly learning and growing through knowing how to improve and stay on track.
I see this approach as a steady hand on the tiller versus a boot on the neck. (Although, truth be told, that position is Saturday night date night. We’re kinky that way.) There are times when the discussion has to go to those basic core principles and yes, I will put her in her place and we’ll feel that flow/energy – but it’s always with the intent of reinforcement of our yin/yang towards a positive outcome. I think there is an awareness and discussion of how that flow is always going – I see that with other experienced Masters/slaves. The yin/yang of what is needed and how it is needed. Does angie need to know that I mean what I say? Yes. That is where correction comes in – consistent action and accountability for what is going on. Does it need to be constantly reinforced with a negative mode approach? Not in my relationship.
Some final thoughts:
I have known M/s couples that integrated a “punishment” mechanic, which felt more like a combination of absolution and correction, but they were very happy in their concepts, so not my place to really judge that. It felt positive-based, and it seems to work. You could call that “funishment”, but I’m not so convinced, because of the atonement aspect.
The majority of the M/s relationships that I’ve known that used a constant negative-based punishment mode did not last long. I’m not surprised by that. Take that as anecdotal, of course.
What do you think? How have the three concepts worked in your current or previous relationships?