Can a woman be a feminist and a spanked wife?

Several years back, my husband and I headed out to dinner with another couple, when a small, telling moment occurred.

Our friend, who I’ll call “Ralph,” was, as they say, a bit of a control freak. He had to be in charge, had to drive, had to make the decisions, and frankly, had difficulties getting along with his business partners because of his control issues.

As our friend was driving to dinner, we discussed where we wanted to eat. Ralph, who’d just arrived home from the office, said, with weariness in his voice, “You guys decide. I’m too tired to make another decision.”

Yes, even a micromanaging control freak recognized when he needed a break.

Which leads to the subject of spanking and feminism. Bonnie of the My Bottom Smarts blog, raised the question about how women reconcile spanking with feminism. That post (which inspired this blog) is HERE if you want to read it.

I encounter the hard wall-issue of spanking and feminism on occasion with some reader reactions to my domestic discipline novellas, in particular, Unexpected Consequences. It offends some readers’ sense of equality, of fairness, that a woman is punished for misdeeds and not the man. What happens when he’s wrong? They want to know.

Most people would point out (as did most of the posters on Bonnie’s blog) that feminism is about freedom of choice – a woman has the right to choose how she wants to live her life. To marry or not to marry, to have children or not to have children, to work or not to work – she should have the full menu of options. Including the right to submit to her husband and allow him to set the rules and discipline her.

But I think feminism (as well as economics) plays another role. As women take more active, public roles in the workplace, their communities and the world, stresses and pressures increase. To get the job done, a woman must exhibit and act with behaviors that are traditionally considered masculine, such and aggression, dominance, and competitiveness.

For the record, I am a feminist and believe wholeheartedly that a woman has the right to do or strive for whatever she wants.  I’m hoping that in the near future, our next President of the United States will be a woman. I do not believe that men and women should automatically assume certain roles within a relationship because of their gender. But men and women are different. Whether by nature or nurture, we think differently, we act differently, we express emotion differently. And when a woman is out in the world hunting, fighting, leading, there is a part of her that grows weary and wants to hand over control to someone else, if only for a respite.

For some women, being spanked fills that need. It’s the ultimate suspension of control. She can retreat into the familiar comfort of submissiveness. In that OTK moment, someone else is making the decisions, someone else is driving, someone else is responsible. Why NOT her husband? (I think the same holds true for men who like to be spanked).

And I believe that’s why readers like to read spanking romances with uber macho heroes who are in charge of everything – including the heroine’s well-being. It satisfies a need for submission.

It doesn’t mean women want to roll back the calendar to the restrictive 1950s when women were expected to become housewives or when the only acceptable career paths were teaching, library science or nursing.

During the early bra-burning days of the feminist movement, a question was raised, can a feminist wear eye shadow? Today the question is, can a feminist be spanked?

Answer: if she wants to be.


Unexpected Consequences
is about a naive bride who married a man who practices domestic discipline. He is a member of the Rod and Cane Society, an organization of men who spank their wives. Loose Id will release my second Rod and Cane novel, False Pretenses, in June.


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11 Responses to Can a woman be a feminist and a spanked wife?

  1. I enjoyed the discussion at MBS as well as your post today. I think this is a very thought provoking issue, for myself and others. I totally agree with you about the “let someone else make decisions” part of life. I also think it’s interesting to consider why it is that someone won’t give up control…do they not trust themselves, do they not trust the other person, what do they think will happen if they give up control?

    I think this is part of why I like writing Domestic Discipline stories as well. It’s not just setting up a scene where a woman gets her butt smacked, but what is the relationship between the couple? How has her behavior contributed to the situation and what does she learn about herself along the way?

  2. Cara Bristol says:

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I agree with you. I enjoy writing about domestic discipline because of the relationship dynamics.

  3. Karla Doyle says:

    I think you hit the nail on the head. There’s a big difference between women being hit against their will and choosing to submit to spanking. Great post, Cara.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Yes, a HUGE difference. The only commonality between domestic violence and domestic discipline is the word “domestic.”

  4. Basia Rose says:

    I LOVE reading about DD, and I love many aspects of it. I follow a number of blogs by real life DDers, and it really seems to work for them, for the most part.
    HOWEVER, it takes a lot of trust. There was one couple I was reading about, and the husband seems to be completely abusing his power. He did a lot of completely dickheaded, selfish things, and then paddled and caned his wife when she – rightfully – was annoyed by his actions.
    The husband definitely needs to take responsibility for himself before he should take responsibility for another person!
    As for whether you can be a feminist and be involved in DD? I guess you can. I definitely support gender equality (we already have two female leaders here in Australia, and it’s great!), but I never worry about the label “feminist”.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Basia, that’s a key point. In a true DD relationship, taking responsibility (accountability) is the whole point. Everyone in the family is called upon to take responsibility for their actions; the husband in merely in charge of enforcing it.

  5. Joan says:

    Consent is key, as they say.

    (Also, so far as I know, the bra-burning is an urban legend.)

  6. Eve Howard says:

    It’s how you phrase the fact. Saying so and so is a “spanked wife” conjures up a certain image, whereas saying she is a married woman who indulges in spanking games with her husband suggests a somewhat different one.
    Following one’s own libido is the surest indication of sexual liberation.
    Best wishes,

    • Cara Bristol says:

      Eve, you are so right. It’s a different connotation to be sure, and people are more accepting of the latter than the former. But for some people, the “spanked wife” connotation offers an even naughtier thrill.

  7. Robbie says:

    “President’s husband shot to death by Secret Service when they heard her screaming in their bedroom, entered and found the First Gentleman assaulting Madam the President.”
    “You idiots! He was just giving me a good spanking!” she said.

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