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Limits: Counterproductive for Effective Discipline?


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After reviewing numerous profiles both here and elsewhere, it occurs to me that many disciplinarians discuss limits and indicate they will respect the submissive’s limitations with regard to corporal punishment. It seems to me this is counterproductive to effective discipline. I understand the desire to make the submissive feel comfortable with the relationship. However, I think giving the submissive too much control over the nature of the punishment severely reduces any deterrent value the discipline might otherwise have.

Discipline is and should be an unpleasant experience. But if I am allowed to select the parameters of my discipline, I can choose something which I know I will be able to accept. Thus, I have already set the punishment to a minimal level which will not have any particular deterrent value.

By way of analogy, look to criminal penalties. Suppose the state allowed each person to select the fine they will pay if they are caught speeding. I could set my fine at $1. Such a low fine would have no deterrent value at all, and I could speed at will, despite being “punished” by being fined $1. In the same way, if I tell my disciplinarian she can spank me for any offense, but can only administer five light smacks with her palm, the “punishment” is little more than a token exercise.

Now, I’m not saying you have to be beaten to a bloody pulp in order for discipline to be effective. Under many circumstances, five light smacks might be appropriate punishment, but the difference is that the disciplinarian makes the selection, not me. If I have selected the right disciplinarian, I know I can trust her to administer the appropriate and necessary punishment. In some cases, I might think the punishment is too lenient and in some cases, I might think it is too harsh, but the difference is that it is not within my control. Therein lies the deterrent value.

You might say, “well, that makes sense in theory, but what if my disciplinarian turns out to be a psychopathic sadist who wants to beat me into unconsciousness for fun?” My response is that if you were careful during the selection process, you would have developed enough information to trust your disciplinarian and would know that he or she would be acting in your best interests. And frankly, if the person does turn out to be a psychopathic sadist, he or she probably won’t respect your safeword anyway. At the end of the day, this is a dangerous game we play. Caution, trust and common sense are paramount.

Anyway, those are some brief thoughts of mine. Disagreement is welcome.

Respectfully submitted,

James

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James this is a very good post and while I agree with what you are saying, there is more to it than meets the eye.

As A mentor there are many things I need to take into consideration when dealing with my Mentees. Many have been very abused in their lives so they have limits that spring from the abuse they have been through. Certain implements my actually frighten some while are needed with others. Certain words may trigger horrible memories and cause flashbacks while they will help others regain their composure.

This is why we talk before the Mentoring ever begins so that I can learn about what will and won't work with each one. As time goes on walls come down and often the limits they can endure lessen. I feel that its part of my responsibility to slowly walk them through everything I possibly can and not to do anything to actually frighten any of them. Fear does not yield respect, trust or the sense of caring an ee needs.

Once we have made an agreement though I do not allow my ee's to tell me what they do and don't want during a session. Once an agreement has been reached they should be at the point that they trust me enough to do what is right. I am the one in control not them.

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James, I think this is a rather important discussion and I thank you for raising the question.

Limits, in my mind do not deter from effective discipline; it's rather simple in my mind because I am a consenting adult and I wouldn't consent to something that would have an adverse psychological effect.

That's the simplified answer, yes limits should be pushed but never broken. Everyone has a hard limit or two and that's normal and natural, sometimes with the right partner and the right amount or trust and time those limits come tumbling down and we find ourselves consenting to things that we never imagined. We each have limits for our own reasons and many people have experienced abuse in some form and in this quasi consensual non-consent style of discipline and punishment the true control and power shall always remain with the one being punishment.

The limits are predefined and discussed at length, it is not something a bottom can pop up and use as means of controlling a particular situation or to lessen a punishment.

What I am getting at here is an adult disciplinary relationship is for the benefit of the bottom and not the Top, the bottom is the one that is 'paying' to satisfy a need to gain accountability or closure, so their needs and wishes are paramount.

AB

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Guest unorthodox.therapy

James, well worded - and up until this past week I would have easily agreed with you 100%. I have never had a safe-word and if I'm going to be spanked I probably at some point warn the er that it's not wise to ask me if i've had enough or if i feel i've been punished enough because no matter what has been done sofar the answer will be yes. It's reflex, I'm not trying to lie. I don't want lieniencey during a punishment - if i need to be spanked to tears and release control - I'm fine with leaving it to the ER. But I had an experience recently that changes my mind on part of this point. If I say I'm not comfortable with something - I expect to be taken seriously on that and have my wishes respected. but i also do agree with angelbrat that limits should be pre-defined and discussed at length.

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Guest Susie

Hi Everyone,

I thought i'd chip in on this one as well as it is quite relevant to me at the moment.

I have previously been spanked and used a safe word. It didn't work for me and I never felt like I could properly give up the control I needed to.

I have recently met someone through this site and have asked him to help me achieve my goals with spanking as a punishment when I fail to reach my targets. I told him I did not want to use a safe word but that I have limits regarding implements used. I set out quite clearly what I was and wasn't comfortable with.

I have been spanked once by him and I felt really safe and that he was very aware of how I was dealing with the spanking. The first spanking was not severe or for punishment but it has given me a sense of what will happen if I don't meet my targets. I am seeing him again tomorrow night and I have a feeling I will be getting my first punishment.

The thing is, if I wasn't able to set limits there is no way I would turn up, I would be too frightened. For me, discipline is not about being terrified. I have told my spanker that if I need to be punished then I don't need it to be extreme or severe, just for it to be real. I have stated that I don't want him to stop when I say "no" or "stop", that I want him to push me beyond that until he decides I've learnt my lesson. I know that he understands that doesn't mean beat me black and blue.

Susie

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I believe saying that allowing limits and safewords are equivalent to $1 fines or 5 light swats is a bit extreme... Setting limits is not about saying what you would "Prefer" It's not picking the ideal or easiest consequence... A more accurate example, would be a person who has commited a crime, *voluntarily* come forward because they were sincere in wishing to make ammends, say "I have done wrong and know I must suffer the consequence, I will pay whatever you ask, you may have whatever you want, all I ask is you don't take my mother's ring, as it's irreplaceable and has only sentimental value, anything else is yours"

This is all *consensual* consequences and punishments are not forced upon someone unwilling, there is no reason why one would have to evade punishment in any way they can, only allowing something they do not mind, that is counter productive, and most 'ees I believe are seeking help because they already know and understand the need for harsh consequences to change their behavior... Limits are not "setting ideals" they are lines that cannot be crossed, they are maximums, show me a

'spankee' who would seriously set their limit at a light slap on the hand and i'll show you an someone who probably isn't sincere...

Limits can be very important and even necessary I think for many people and I hate to see them downplayed so much..... Maybe if your spanker is already in a relationship with you, where trust is already a given it may not be so necessary, but many people who seek out spankings meet others online, and even after trust builds up enough to actually go through with the meeting and begin a session, I believe it's very important for the 'ee to maintain *some* amount of control, this is *consensual* if the 'ee has no control, no say whatsoever I don't think it can ever be fully consensual, you have to know what you are willing to consent to... there has to be safety measures and agreements for some people and situations...

Safewords should only be used as a last resort, as a huge red flag saying "Okay this is too much, I cannot 'consent' to this, this crosses a line! " and it probably rarely, if ever needs to be used.... If someone happens to shout out the safe word after a few light swats, well that's another problem that needs to be worked out....

Other "Limits" Should be in place as lines not to be crossed for safety and health reasons, psychological or physical... punishments should not be traumatic or damaging, and if an 'ee values their own well-being there is bound to be *something* they will not allow at some point........ again if "suffering or discomfort of any kind " shows up as a limit that's an entirely different issue right there......

I don't have a safeword with my husband, but I do have the ability if things go too far to speak out and put a halt to things, I would never do that unless it was serious or as a last resort because this is something important to me, and I am serious about it. There are limits I have even with my own husband, but they are not frivolous, if I didn't want any discomfort I wouldn't be seeking out discipline and my husband respects my limits because he respects me..

I'm not saying they are always great or for everyone, but they are something important for many people I Think

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A safeword is an absolute necessity, especially in the early stages of a relationship. I am similar to Ms Mary as I always discuss different possible impliments and any that may pose a problem. Do I find that it limits the effectiveness of the discipline? Not at all, When agreements are made and upheld it builds the trust necessary to continue building the relationship. Over time limits can be expanded , this is especially true with first time ees, they are nervous enough and need to feel as comfortable as possible.

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James this is a very good post and while I agree with what you are saying, there is more to it than meets the eye.

As A mentor there are many things I need to take into consideration when dealing with my Mentees. Many have been very abused in their lives so they have limits that spring from the abuse they have been through. Certain implements my actually frighten some while are needed with others. Certain words may trigger horrible memories and cause flashbacks while they will help others regain their composure.

This is why we talk before the Mentoring ever begins so that I can learn about what will and won't work with each one. As time goes on walls come down and often the limits they can endure lessen. I feel that its part of my responsibility to slowly walk them through everything I possibly can and not to do anything to actually frighten any of them. Fear does not yield respect, trust or the sense of caring an ee needs.

Once we have made an agreement though I do not allow my ee's to tell me what they do and don't want during a session. Once an agreement has been reached they should be at the point that they trust me enough to do what is right. I am the one in control not them.

Ms. Mary, you should teach a class! Very smart words- wish there were more like you!

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Good topic.....and takes me back to my "never been spanked" days and frame of mind ;)

Jimmy- in my opinion, the missing component in your thoughts, is the level of responsibility that lies with the spanker, and the practical expectations an 'ee should have in regards to it.

I'm primarily an 'ee by nature, and very lucky to be in a relationship with someone from the other team. It has given me an opportunity to broaden my perspective of just how this power exchange really works. One the really significant changes in my thinking has been the level of admiration and respect for just how much trust a spanker places in US in the process. By our nature as 'ees, I think we would love for an 'er to be all knowing, totally intuitive and in control...we yearn to be able to just "give it up" to someone. Because we're on the receiving end of the hairbrush of paddle, we have a tendency to think that ours is the more challenging position. I mean, how hard can it be to just go to town on someone's butt who has asked for it willingly?

I've come to learn it is very hard (and should be). It is a profound responsibility. A good 'er is acutely aware - of everything.....but they are not mind-readers, nor are they all-knowing and expecting them to be is both unsafe, and actually selfish.

Safewords are not just there for the 'ee's good; they are there for the 'er's sake as well. They are simply a form of communication. For many of us, if a relationship develops with a spanker, then over time that form of communication might get replaced by another. Instead of yelling "RED", eventually that same cue could come from something as subtle as you holding your breath longer than normal, a certain grunt or groan that the spanker has come to understand as the approach of your limit.

But it takes time to get there.

Before I was spanked the first time as an adult, this was one of my biggest concerns and questions. I did not want to have control, I wanted to be taken over the edge, and I assumed that would mean being spanked to tears...but I also knew that pain had never made me cry before - not 3rd degree burns, not broken bones, etc.....so the idea the someone might think they needed to assault my butt until they heard me cry since I didn't want a safeword just didn't seem practical.....I am not one of those whipped-till-he-bleeds kinda guys (*shudders*)....ultimately, I accepted the use of code / safe words.....

I don't have them anymore :wacko: ....which is both rewarding, and appropriately terrifying :P ....

Best of luck!

Ben

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Thanks to everyone for your insightful thoughts on my initial post! Being that I am a complete novice in terms of real word experience, I was a little hesitant to post my thoughts, but you have made me feel welcome and among friends.

The common thread which I distill from most of your replies is that there is a certain learning curve to any new relationship, and during that "probationary period," the use of limits and safewords is an appropriate way to ensure the interests of both parties are protected. Nonetheless, I would respectfully adhere to my original position that once a suitable level of trust is achieved, limits are counterproductive. Stated in other words, if after a sufficient tine I cannot reach a level of trust with my disciplinarian which allows me to be confident she will only act in my best interests, then the relationship should be terminated.

Respectfully submitted,

James

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... if after a sufficient tine I cannot reach a level of trust with my disciplinarian which allows me to be confident she will only act in my best interests, then the relationship should be terminated.

James-

I still think you may be missing a nuance here. Limits are not just about trust....

I do not know my own limits, do you? Chances are not - that is part of the thrill in all of this for some of us. But if I don't know my limits, how does the person spanking me know where the line is? I'm trying to tell you that before this awareness, I had a somewhat unrealistic idea that an experienced spanker would just somehow know how far they should, and could take me. In my opinion, as the one submitting to a spanking, you have a portion of the responsibility in the equation to be an active participant by virtue of your willingness to communicate. How is she supposed to just "know" what's in your best interest? And btw, what about her best interests? What are you going to do if your limits to receive are beyond her limits to give? I think we 'ees like to think that spankers have a sort of unlimited capacity to smack butts...lol. It makes us nervous and gives us that great stomach drop to think that their willingness to inflict pain on our backsides is limitless.

That is simply not realistic - especially within a relationship. Whether for discipline, stress relief or fun - spanking, both giving and getting, is an intimate and generous act of caring for those of us drawn to it. I have received a few spankings now that I am sure, were so hard they actually very difficult for her to give (at the time; she's totally fine with it now :o ) .

It took an immense amount of trust on HER part to go somewhere she believed I needed (but did not want) to go. Strangely enough, what took the most trust on my part, was not taking a hard spanking - it was accepting one that may have been less than what I thought I wanted, and trusting her to know that what I needed was actually less than what I thought I wanted. I don't know if that makes sense to you yet - but it will someday.

Control is a funny thing for us 'ees, we want someone else to have it - exactly the way we think they should :lol:

Ben

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For me when I say I will respect limits. As a spanker limits could be someone was severally beaten at sometime in their life with a belt. They may have an extreme fear of belts or leather straps. I would not further traumatize someone by not respecting this limit. I have plenty of other implements I can use to provide the spanking I believe they need. Being a spanker is a huge responsibility. The trust between you and your spankee needs to be in place before you ever take them OTK in my opinion. This is an activity where you are taking another person over your lap baring their bottom and giving them the spanking they need. This requires an extreme level of trust, I for one wouldn't let just anyone bare my backside and take control of me and do as they see fit. The other thing is this is a consensual activity and a spankee can say no. I have not had this happen as I have built the level of trust needed prior to spanking anyone.

So in response to your thoughts that limits are counter productive. Limits with time and care can be over come without causing an individual unnecessary trauma. Limits are not a spankee controlling the spanking but it is a spanker being carful not to cause a spankee emotional harm.

Miss Aspen

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I have to say you make a very strong point but its important to remember that everyone is different. I don't think limits are counterproductive at all. In fact i think they strengthen the bond between ER and EE. Its all about trust. An EE can't be expected to trust their mentor if the mentor wont respect the limits set by the mentee. As many have said a lot of people have been abused and those limits stem from that abuse. My girlfriend and mentee is has limits, but that doesn't mean she doesn't learn a lesson from her punishment. She even had to me do it longer when she felt she was punished enough.

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I personally believe that in the end it's about the mutual needs of the -ee and the -er, and striking as much of a balance between the two as you can. I don't feel that introducing something into the relationship that will breed disquiet or discomfort (beyond the normal bounds of this type of relationship of course) in the -ee will be beneficial to them, or the relationship as a whole. There are obviously going to be power struggles, and certain -ee's will require more of a push than others, but disrespecting set limits or boundaries is being selfish imo.

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When I am spanking someone for the first time, I sure as heck pay attention to her limits. Later, I might decide that I would push past them, if it was agreed beforehand.

I have spanked dozens of women and have never had one of them abuse her safeword. That said, I know of one woman who did.

I belong to a somewhat tight-knit group of kinksters. I DO NOT want to have the word passed around that I pushed someone past her limits - that would kill my local reputation. I'd much rather go gradually and increase as I fell comfortable, than push too hard. In the event that I felt a spankee wasn't serious and was safewording before there was any impression was made, I'd stop and have a discussion about where she wanted to go and if she was committed.

And as Aspen suggested, it could be that I was doing something triggering.

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WOW! I am really happy to find a site with people who get the responsibility of the Top is often just short of mindreading. I have often left a new bratty bottom under spanked rather than risk going too far. Once I get to know them better the less chance they have getting away with it though.

Reading some of the posts it occurred to me that "The Safe Word" may mean different things to different people. I always use an agreed safe word, once spoken we do not stop all activity but pause, and talk about what's happening. Usually we can restart after talking and find out that often it's the role play and not the spanking that has un-nerved the bottom. A pause allows the bottom to see it is actually you and not the bad memories you accidently triggered. Often it is as simple as an uncomfortable position.

I use the "brat index" to find out how far to go while spanking. Spanking slowly and pausing between swats I get a lot of feedback from the bottoms attitude. Once the bottom figures out what I am doing it adds a lot of fun to the session.

In case we forget the most important rule if it isn't fun don't do it.

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Guest unorthodox.therapy

most of that makes sense to me and sounds like good practice but if i'm looking for discipline, it's not supposed to be fun...

In case we forget the most important rule if it isn't fun don't do it.
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Many here have brought up excellent reasons as to why safe words and limits are not counterproductive when it comes to spanking/discipline. :)

I also want to add, that like Span King, I too pause and discuss with the bottom should they use their safe word. It is only productive to find the triggers to using it and then taking that knowledge and using it to the best way for both parties.

Set limits and safe words do not distract from discipline, but help in understanding for the ER and the ee. They must be respected, discussed, and known beforehand. (No pun).

Miss Lydia Lamour

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Miss LL, thanks I wish I had said it that well.

UT; Then you would be the first brat I know that has never broken a rule, knowing a spanking would result (and had fun twice)

So, I repeat myself, if it isn't fun DON'T do it.

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