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Why Do People Love to Be Spanked During Sex?

An acclaimed sex therapist and former dominatrix fills us in on the finer points of bedroom-based discipline.

Sex is a funny thing. It exists in this strange little space where you get to say and do things that could get you beat up and banned from mostly anywhere else. Indeed, the paradox between what you can do “in life” and what you can do “in bed” is vast, and it seems to shine brightest when some kink is thrown into the mix. Within the world of dominance and submission, discipline is often eroticized and executed in a way society wouldn’t otherwise condone. Ever try spanking someone because they cut you in line at the grocery store? Not cool. But spanking someone in the context of a consensual and kinky night in? Well, that’s a totally different thing.

To shed some light on sexual spanking, we turned to Dr. Dulcinea Pitagora. A licensed psychotherapist and sex therapist also known as the ‘Kink Doctor’, she focuses on providing affirmative, sex-positive therapy to those with atypical sexual and gender expressions. Dr. Pitagora has also been a member of the NYC kink scene for more than a decade and formerly worked as a professional dominatrix. She helped educate us the finer points of bedroom-based discipline.

So, how do you define sexual spanking?

Sexual spanking is performed in the context of a role-play. The reality is no one is actually getting punished for anything. It’s part of a scene that you’ve already negotiated. The goal is mutual pleasure. You’re doing it because the person doing the spanking enjoys spanking, and the person being spanked likes to be spanked.

What’s the best way to figure out who enjoys the spanking?

A lot of times it’s assumed men will fill the dominant role, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes men want to be the ones who are receiving the spankings. A lot of kinky guys like being dominated. It really depends on the individual.

When you’re ready to experiment with spanking, what’s the best way to prepare for a spanking session?

The most important preparation is communication and the best time to do that is not when you’re gearing up to do it. You don’t want to have that talk when you’re already turned on. You want to do it during a neutral time. Maybe at some point during the day, maybe during dinner. The conversation should cover your experience, your expectations and your desires. You should also discuss how you’re going to communicate within the scene. You need to know how to say something is too much, just like you need to know how to say you want more. Are you going to use a safe word? Are you going to speak normally? All that stuff has to be mapped out ahead of time.

Why do you think is spanking such a popular sexual activity?

Because it’s something everybody knows about. It’s easy for us to talk about. In our culture, a lot of us grew up with the threat or actuality of spanking as children for punishment. There’s an inherent power dynamic in that when you’re a kid. You could get really Freudian about it. There’s also the fact that your ass is an erogenous zone. It’s close to other erogenous zones we want to touch. In that way, spanking seems like a pretty logical thing to want to do.

How do you respond to the argument that sexual submission is oppressive to women?

The second-wave feminist viewpoint of BDSM would say women could never choose to be submissive. That’s really problematic. A woman can choose to be anything she wants to be. If a woman gets pleasure out of being sexually submissive, then great. She’s allowed to get pleasure however she wants to. It doesn’t mean she’s passive or weak.  It means she’s communicating to her partner how she likes to have sex.

What’s the best way to get spanking started when you’re first trying out?

Usually, there’s a warm-up. You want to start out light. You know the subject is warmed up when their skin is flushed. Then you can start going a little harder.

And what should one need to be aware while it’s happening?

If there’s any doubt, stop and check in with your partner. That’s big. Maybe they agreed to something while in a neutral setting, but they feel differently when acting out the scene. Getting consent in the moment is really important.

Once you’ve experimented with spanking, is there any kind of “aftercare” involved?

After you wrap things up, you want to check in with your partner again. Maybe they want to cuddle. Maybe they want to go out to eat. Maybe they want to watch Netflix. Maybe they want to have sex. Maybe they don’t know. There’s no wrong answer. Either way, it’s important to have that follow-up conversation.

Read more of Fatherly’s stories on discipline, sex, and relationships.