It will come as no surprise to long-term denizens of the erotic spanking community that some among us have trouble “owning” their spanking fetish. They are drawn to it, they like it, it’s hot, but they remain troubled by some of the implications. And a real common limit for spankers is that they don’t quite want to owning up to enjoying the infliction of pain on others. Spanking someone is fun, but surely that doesn’t make me a sadist?
In truth, yeah, I’d say it pretty much does (at least a little). Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Paul has presented a nuanced pair of paragraphs in this post that explains some of this better than I had managed to reason it out:
There’s a sort of spectrum of top/bottom dynamic, based on who the scene is ostensibly for. (The layering in kink makes “ostensibly” necessary here; consciousness and outward projection of the layering varies hugely among players.) At one end of the spectrum, where the top’s position is presented as almost entirely functionary, a scene might be “for your [the bottom’s] own good”. Here, the top assumes a role which almost explicitly denies their pleasure (“this will hurt me more than it hurts you”). Introducing a degree of agency for the top, a scene might be about “what I think will work for you”. There’s still some denial that such a scene is for the top, but the role here is more of a collaboration. The scale is tipped further towards top agency and desire when it’s about “how I want you [the bottom] to feel“. This sort of mindfuck entails a consideration of the bottom’s headspace, but the subject of the scene (“I want”) is now the top. Finally, if/when a top talks about “what I want to do to you”, they’re not just taking control of a scene; they’re presenting the scene as unequivocally for them.
This is a complicated dance, obviously, with desires spoken and unspoken, agency taken explicitly, taken implicitly, and sometimes taken by being untaken. But the willingness of a top to claim — to admit — that a scene is for them, is still a brave leap. Tops can settle into a scene dynamic which denies their agency and pleasure because the role of quasi-teacher/parent works for them, but I think there are plenty of others for whom the selfishness of the act just tastes wrong. Perhaps it reveals something about themselves that they’d rather not see, so there’s a retreat into a safer dynamic of justified discipline. It’s one thing to want to hurt someone you care about; it’s quite another to want to do it without apparent regard for their pleasure or well-being. That’s, you know, sadism.