Despite being commonplace in kinky relationships, explaining the appeal of being spanked to someone who is new to the scene or curious about it can be difficult. There is often the immediate assumption that being spanked is enjoyable because the sub is masochistic, and while not entirely untrue, I can't in good conscience say that is the sole draw to being bent over and given a good smack. In fact, I wouldn't even say that the moment of impact itself is particularly pleasurable once passed a relatively low level of force.
For me, the draw plays less in the pain as pleasure principle simply because the sum of the rest of my desires is substantially greater than my relatively low level of masochism. Among these is the natural give and take of a D/a relationship, a release of control, and in as many cases, the permission that I often feel I lack to express strong emotions.
Outside of my relationship, I maintain a tight control of my environment. I hate feeling disorganized, not knowing where I'm going, not being on time. I hate due dates hanging over my head, and get flustered and anxious when I can't accomplish something right away. I have a difficult time focusing on things when I have tasks to do that I've deemed important—even when those tasks move out of my hands and into the hands of others. It’s incredibly hard for me to focus on a single thing at a time. I have to feel productive, to know that I accomplished something at the end of the day. I don’t know if there are other subs who feel the same way, but especially in times of stress, these traits manifest as one colossal, nervous, character flaw.
So what does my personality have to do with my desire to be spanked?
One of the greatest appeals to being spanked is that the pain shuts down the rest of my brain and forces me to focus on the moment I'm in. I am pulled out of the environment where I can control everything and am placed in an environment where I don’t have the option. I can't just get up and walk away in the middle of a session. I can't multitask. I'm there, committed. And the pain is a sensational clue that tells my brain the most important thing I could be doing is to pay attention to that specific moment in time, because, damn it, that hurts!
In addition to keeping me focused, a spanking session can settle me into a state of mind where it’s okay for me to purge any emotional baggage that I might be carrying. Stress, anger, sadness—I wouldn’t say that I repress what I feel, but a lot of my negative emotions take a back seat to getting things done. Being a responsible adult doesn’t leave a lot of time for being frustrated, impatient, angry, disappointed, or really much of anything except a faithful trundling onwards in the hopes that things will get a little better the next time you look at them. Even short bursts of immediate expression don’t necessarily make me feel better about a situation, and negative emotions tend to leave a residue that builds up over time. Being forced to focus on a single thing and being hurt besides gives me not only the excuse I sometimes need to cry or scream or to give the rest of my mind a rest, but it also acts as a sort of forceful purging. To mix metaphors: the residue gets pressure-washed away, and I get a bit of a reboot.
And the first thing I usually get to come back to is being cuddled. I get to be held, and petted, and taken care of while I’m vulnerable.
I will grant that there is a traditional sort of masochistic pleasure to being spanked as well, but it’s certainly not in the way that most people would expect. If your experience with spanking is confined to fantasy, the pain can be fairly surprising. I have very distinct memories of the first few times my Dom laid into me where I thought, “What the hell am I letting be done to me? This is fucking painful!” And if I’m entirely honest I fully expect to think the same thing many times in the future—especially when my Dom doesn’t deem a warm up necessary. But enjoying being on the receiving end of being spanked isn’t about your brain magically transforming the moment of impact into a pleasurable experience rather than pain. It’s about the way your body responds after the fact. The rush of endorphins, blood vessels expanding, the peripheral and unnecessary becoming cloudy or fading into darkness all together as you focus on not just the sharp, stinging impact, but on the residual sensations between each painful moment.
Luna has a great eBook and article series called “Processing Pain in Play” which goes into more detail regarding that aspect, and I strongly suggest that you check it out if you want more information on that front. The appeal for me on that level is fairly small in comparison to the other effects that it has on me.
There are, of course, many other reasons that one can be drawn to the act of spanking; the appeal will vary from person to person. If you enjoy being spanked, why? Think about it and post below for the curious reader.