When and why not to protest that a spanking is unfair

Can a punishment spanking be unfair?  Yes.  Is it always in the best interest of the relationship to argue that it is?  Maybe, maybe not.

In my post last week discussing the myriad conflicting feelings that can arise after a punishment spanking, I neglected to clarify that I was specifically talking about a consensual DD relationship in which the HoH has earned trust from the disciplined partner.  When I talked about the effects that the person being punished (let’s just say HoH for the person responsible for disciplining in the relationship and PBD for the person who is being disciplined in that relationship) may experience, claiming that a punishment was not “fair” was meant to refer to the knee-jerk, angry response that accompanies a great deal of punishments whether the actual punishment was fair or not.

However, many people pointed out that truly unfair and downright injust (as in morally reprehensible) punishment spankings do exist.  DD is a great vehicle when used properly.  When used badly, it can be little more than a smokescreen for abuse.  Yes, I said abuse.

When the PBD claims that a punishment spanking is unfair, this can mean any number of things.

  1. It hurt my bottom and my feelings, and I am upset.
  2. You didn’t do this in exactly the way (such as using the right implement/position/number of strokes/setting) that would make me happy for exactly the reasons I find acceptable, and I am going to make sure you know of my displeasure.
  3. I acknowledge that I broke a rule or did something wrong, but I made an effort not to do so or to complete a requirement.  My effort should be good enough, so the punishment is unfair.
  4. I am legitimately angry or upset about a certain portion of the issue that got me punished, but I refuse to accept responsibility for my accompanying inappropriate behavior (shouting, throwing a fit, sulking, storming off, refusing to communicate, breaking rules deliberately, etc.).
  5. I feel childish or dependent in being made to follow discipline, and I am going to show that I am my own person.
  6. My HoH is not punishing me in a way that fits my expectations, so I am angry and confused.

If we are honest with ourselves, the bulk of DD power struggles fit somewhere in the range of these reasons.  Does that mean the HoH is always fair, always correct, always kind, or always in the right?  No.  But that is why we call it “submission”.

Don’t get me wrong.  All of these reasons can seem oh-so-very reasonable in the heat of the moment (pun not intended).  As I said last week, punishments are powerful.  They stir up lots of secondary emotions of shame, resentment, and anger.  It is impossible for any HoH to completely fairly discipline all of the time.

However, the topic for today is a punishment that is truly, objectively unfair.  Cara gives this hypothetical example:

I read an advice column recently in which the husband had an affair with his wife’s friend. They used to socialize as a couple with her and her husband. The affair ended, and the “friend” and her spouse are divorcing. The woman’s husband now insists that they socialize as a threesome with the friend he had affair with. The wife has been going along with it, but when they come home she feels very unhappy at having had to make nice with the other woman.

Now, this isn’t a DD marriage. But let’s assume hypothetically that it is. And let’s assume the couple and the “friend” go out as threesome, after which the wife comes home bitchier than hell. And she gets spanked for it.

In a D/s or BDSM relationship, it is possible that this type of punishment would be allowed and even seen as normal.  There are some proponents of DD who would feel that this is acceptable.  Let’s assume, however, that this is not D/s or BDSM or the type of DD relationship in which…ahem…”free” love…is tolerated.

What would be the difference here?

*     *     *Fundamental violations of personal boundaries and dignity*     *     *

Another example.  Let’s say, again within a DD relationship, that the HoH orders the PBD to do something that violates one of those personal boundaries.  Take your pick.  The PBD refuses, perhaps with or without grace.  The HoH slaps the PBD in the face, issues threats and profanity, and gives a spanking as punishment.

Some might find this kind of scene fodder for fantasies.  But in a normal, workaday DD relationship?  Not going to cut it.  I hesitate to give examples because it sounds like judgment of those who enjoy these types of fantasies, but let me be clear again that this is within the context of a consensual DD relationship.

When the PBD claims that a punishment spanking was unfair, not as a way to “top from the bottom” or to brat or display petulance/obstinance/pride but to send up a red flag that boundaries have been crossed, here is what it might look like:

  1. I clearly said that this relationship should remain non-sexual (and no, DD relationships do not all have to be marital or sexual), and the HoH is touching me in sexual ways or repeatedly making sexual overtures/innuendos despite my requests to stop.
  2. The HoH repeatedly punishes me in ways that make me feel bad (examples might include name-calling, hair-pulling, face-slapping, public humiliation, or threats of abandonment) and says it is my responsibility to say if I don’t like something.
  3. The PBD (yes, PBDs can violate boundaries, too) goads me into punishment but then blames me for doing it.  Then he/she criticizes me for what I try to do and insists that I should follow what someone else is doing.
  4. The HoH uses DD as a way to make me give up or start something that I find morally, ethically, or personally wrong (such as Cara’s example in accepting a relationship with the husband’s affair partner).
  5. I am in fear of or have experienced physical injury due to the spanking.  While everyone’s pain threshold and acceptance of marking differs (some mark at a handspank and others very little even with a heavy paddle), punishment spankings should inflict the necessary amount of physical pain without causing any damage.  Sorry, “But it’s going to hurt a lot!” doesn’t count.  Spankings are supposed to hurt.  😉
  6. The HoH chastises/shames me for a violation that I have already been punished for instead of forgiving me for it.  (Exception would be to explain why a new rule/restriction is put in place or why permission is being denied for a request.)
  7. The HoH does not give me any emotional support (which may or may not include aftercare–lack of aftercare for a punishment is a feature of some DD relationships) or instructions how the PBD can avoid similar punishments in the future.  Or the severity of the punishment so far exceeds the original transgression that it inspires terror rather than learning.

There is no universal extensive list of boundary-violating punishments.  Some people might be fine with one or more of the above examples.  As PBDs, however, the temptation to claim that a punishment is “not fair” for one of the six orange reasons is a dangerous practice.  No matter how careful or responsible the HoH tries to be, it is possible that the PBD’s boundaries may be violated.  “It’s not fair” needs to be reserved for situations in which it truly is a game-changing affair.  You might remember the story of a little boy who cried wolf… 😉

In short, it is always possible for a punishment spanking to be unfair.  If so, it needs to be addressed.  But in order to be listened to during this crucial moment when a punishment spanking actually is unfair, the PBD needs to refrain from pulling the fire alarm whenever someone lights a match.

And thus concludes episode two of “Ask Ana”.  🙂

24 thoughts on “When and why not to protest that a spanking is unfair

    • Ana says:

      Absolutely re: the trust/respect/communication. As I said in response to your last post, I *love* it when someone can make me step back and think, “Wow, I missed this entire piece! How could I have not seen it!” Comments like yours give me a chance to clarify and extend what I wanted to say. Thank you!


  1. pao says:

    Hmm, some things to think about. And yes, the dynamic/relationship is not fail proof. As much as boundaries are clear, there’s always a chance of overstepping it of sorts. But agreed with Cara about the essence of the relationship.


    • Ana says:

      Yes, one of the common themes in discussions lately has been the difference between “It’s not fair” as in it’s *really* not fair vs. just wanting to complain. I think a bit of complaining is to be expected, but it’s good to put it in perspective. 🙂


  2. Lillie says:

    Nice post Ana 🙂
    As Cara said above very informative and helpful for those of us who have been there and felt many of those things. 🙂


    • Ana says:

      I think anyone in a DD relationship has felt at least one of these. Punishments, by very nature of their definition, suck. Who wouldn’t hate them? The trick is to turn that into challenging yourself to improve rather than to get stuck in blaming. Also, perspective always helps. 🙂


  3. Lucy says:

    Hi Ana 😀

    This was really good… a lot to think about here. Trust is definitely important….I can’t imagine ttwd working without it. Fairness…..boy, have we been down that road….and I am working on it. Ryan basically said he does not want to hear me say something is unfair…not fair….any variation of that. If I feel like I have been wronged….I have to come up with a better way to explain what I am feeling. A generic NOT FAIR!!! is going to get me nowhere fast.


    • Ana says:

      Hi Lucy! You might want to check out the first post, too. It’s exactly what you say…claiming unfairness can just be a bratty way to express annoyance at being punished. Plus, any good HoH is going to struggle (internally, at least) how to be fair and to use this as an accusation can become a big setback.

      I think it can be helpful to say something like, “I really don’t like being punished” or “That hurt a lot, and I’m mad I got a spanking.” That is often what we mean by “It’s not fair” anyway. 🙂

      Thank you for visiting!


  4. Cowgirl says:

    Great post Ana! You really put a lot of time and effort into this and made some excellent points. You’re so right. There’s a huge difference in just the complaining kind of unfair and REAL unfair! I think having a HoH/Dom who has your best interests at heart and who isn’t in for selfish reasons is the difference. Of course, I can withdraw my consent at any time too. I have been disturbed by some comments on various blogs. Some are truly in an abusive relationship, using DD as an excuse. I’ve always found that so sad! Thanks for this post, Ana. BTW, the first part was excellent as well!


    • Ana says:

      It is a hard line between being supportive as a friend vs. speaking up when something is really wrong. Online (as in face-to-face) we only get part of the story, and it is easy to make snap judgments. On the other hand, sometimes supportive-only comments can end up fueling an unhealthy relationship. So much to think about.

      I do hope, though, that the temptation to complain and blow things out of proportion can perhaps be tempered by thoughts of what really is a deal-breaker.

      Thank you for visiting. 🙂


  5. joeyred51 says:


    Thank you for a very comprehensive post. Recently, a local group devoted a meeting to abuse in the scene. We spent two hours discussing the issue of acceptable punishment vs. abuse. Several friends told me they had very bad relationships with abusive behavior and were psychologically scared by them.

    All of my many experiences involve consensual impact play including spanking. Safe words are sacred and the bottom decides the implements. Several of my friends have had scenes that became abusive and were very upset and had tremendous feelings of guilt afterwards. So, I am very conflicted by the concept of “acceptable” unfair punishments.

    As a submissive with many female submissive friends, most of us tend to accept punishment and not complain. We do not want to stop a spanking.or punishment and therefore it is very easy for one of us to slip into an abusive relationship.

    I would argue that if it does not feel right to the submissive, it is time to communicate and perhaps discontinue punishments. I believe that the activity should help the sub become stronger and more confident as a person.

    Terrific topic. Thank you Ana.



    • Ana says:

      You are right that when it is a scene situation, especially if it is a new play partner, that the protections have to be set high. If someone is not in a committed relationship then there are fewer chances to push boundaries.

      The line between taking responsibility and self-blaming is a fine one, and I will probably write about that in a later post. Crossing of boundaries absolutely is not limited to the PBD.


  6. Minelle says:

    I enjoyed reading these Ana. I love what you said to CG, since there can be a danger in offering blind supportive comments that may fuel a relationship that crosses the line. However, you can often determine when the punished person is venting or processing, verses those individuals in an abusive relationship.


    • Ana says:

      Not sure why my comment didn’t go through. Grr. Anyway, I said that not many of us like conflict, and disagreeing with a friend can turn into a conflict. That makes being an honest friend difficult. Other friends use “honesty” as a pretense to be mean. I think one of the biggest indicators is when the PBD doesn’t include any details of what she/he contributed to the situation. It’s very rare for something to be completely one person’s fault.


  7. lea27f says:

    You make a lot of really good points here, Ana. In my mind, if I don’t feel better after a punishment (I know better is relative, but I don’t mean just physically) then something is off and more communication needs to happen between me and my partner.


  8. Roz says:

    Very good thought provoking post Ana. There is certainly a world of difference between complaining that a spanking is unfair, for example, because we received a spanking we didn’t want and a spanking that is truly unfair.

    Trust and communication are the key, along with known boundaries and expectations. Our HoH’s may not get it right every time and when that happens I think communication, and an apology are vital.

    Yes, abuse can sometimes be ‘dressed up’ as Dd, and that is very sad to see.


    • Ana says:

      I also think a good HoH is careful not just about known boundaries but also about unknown boundaries. While in fantasy it can be amazing to imagine someone dominating you without giving you any choice or input, in reality it is critical for the HoH to check in to make sure things are okay.

      I am glad you liked it. 🙂


  9. Jack's Jill says:

    Super good blog Ana!
    For us DD is used to better our communication, show more respect for each other and stop petty arguing over trivial things. In other words, to have a more loving and peaceful marriage.
    Dd should never be used to force people to compromise their principals, humiliate or belittle.
    Why would anyone do that to the love of their life?
    My HoH might try to punish me because he didn’t listen properly to something I said..
    Misunderstandings can often be the cause of an unfair punishment – that’s why we have to be better to communicate with each other.
    Love your blog and will be back!
    Happy new year to you and yours!
    Jack’s Jill


    • Ana says:

      I’m glad you like it! There is SO much misunderstanding about DD and what it can accomplish. Punishments can be an integral part of DD, but it needs to be in a way that encourages growth and learning.

      However, human nature being what it is…sometimes we do need a nasty punishment to give us incentive not to repeat our misbehaviors. Icky but true.

      I will be back to your blog, too!


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