In recent years, the lifestyle most commonly known as “domestic discipline” has experienced a surge in popularity, with sites springing up online to discuss this relationship. Unfortunately, most resources for this type of relationship are overwhelmingly based in heterosexual relationships or are deeply mired in a Christian “head-of-the-household” mindset. Because, of course, queer people wouldn’t dream of wanting this type of lifestyle. Right? Wrong.
To that end, The Rainbow Hub reached out to a well-known queer domestic discipline authority and fiction author, Anastasia Vitsky, in hopes she could help explain this relationship in a queer frame of mind. She graciously agreed to sit for an interview with us.
TRH: Thank you for taking the time to sit down for an interview with us! You’re one of the most popular authors of same-sex Domestic Discipline fiction. How did you come to write this particular genre?
AV: Thank you for your kind words and your warm welcome. This is a difficult question to answer because I have always been interested in spanking. Thanks to Fifty Shades of Gray, many people can understand spanking as an erotic element of sexual foreplay. However, spanking as discipline and self-improvement is more difficult to understand. Why would any adult give another adult power to punish him or her, unless part of kinky roleplay? This is more difficult to understand because we often see negative images of adult corporal punishment.
When I wrote The Way Home, the first installment of the Kat and Natalie books, I hoped to provide a realistic, everyday depiction of the ups and downs of a domestic discipline (DD) relationship. I had seen a great deal of confusion, exacerbated by those who claim all men must spank their wives as their God-given right as the inherently and biologically superior sex. DD is not a pretty way to describe misogyny, or at least it should not be. DD is, simply, one adult helping another adult using old-fashioned tools.
TRH: There is an idea in vanilla and even other BDSM circles that this type of relationship is abusive. Other BDSM practitioners see it as a Master/slave relationship with a Total Power Exchange, just under a fancy name. Can you explain why people would be drawn to this sort of relationship, and what benefits both partners would receive from it? What would partners need to be careful about?
AV: This type of relationship can be and is abusive if not done correctly. I touch on this distinction in my upcoming book, Ana Adored, co-authored with Maren Smith. The main character, Ana, longs for a DD relationship, but her girlfriend dismisses her desires as perverted. Ana finds another woman who wants to discipline her, but her new girlfriend insists on doing it correctly. By “correctly,” I don’t mean adhering to a strict, one-size-fits-all regimen but adults acting like adults. Disciplining an adult is not a fun power trip, and being disciplined is not an excuse to regress to childish behavior. An adult disciplines another knowing that he or she does so only with permission that can be withdrawn at any time. It is a serious responsibility and should be treated as such. By the same token, being disciplined only occurs as long as the other adult is willing to invest the time and energy in helping the person being disciplined. Whining, tantrums, irresponsibility, blaming, and resorting to other childish behavior ruin DD relationships just like any others.
In short: DD can be used as an excuse for bad behavior, but DD itself is not abusive.
The biggest difference between BDSM-type relationships and domestic discipline is that BDSM often (but not always) involves scening with multiple partners, while DD typically is a monogamous, long-term relationship with one’s spouse or partner. For that reason, safewords, negotiation, and setting limits are critical to each and every BDSM scene. Few (if any) reputable BDSM practitioners would participate in a scene without a safeword, and basic safety protocol is non-negotiable. However, a DD relationship consisting of two people who have been married for a long time might not need safewords in the same way. Negotiation and consent are still important, but they look different.
There are many blogs and articles written on the DD benefits, such as improved communication, less bickering, and more clearly defined roles. The characters in my books are drawn to DD for one of two reasons: They need help managing themselves, or they need someone to believe in them. While some of my characters enjoy the sexual tension of erotic spanking, they need the security, love, and affirmation that come from a committed DD relationship. I’ve written about the benefits of difficulties of disciplinary spankings here and here.
TRH: This particular lifestyle has several names. Domestic Discipline, Taken in Hand, the infamous ‘Christian Domestic Discipline (or its more colorful name, Spanking for Jesus)’. Each name seems to have a different set of guidelines, yet they all have one thing in common: they’re all for heterosexual pairings. How do you write your relationships when any information on same-sex/queer domestic discipline relationships is practically non-existent?
AV: I’ve written a beginner’s guide to DD here. Forgive my crudeness, but I put it this way. “DD is a connection between two people, not two sets of genitals.” I defined DD as “[a] committed relationship in which one person guides, supports, and gives correction to another.” That is the biggest objection I’ve heard about DD. Why should a man spank a woman and call it a religious mandate? Isn’t that abuse? Even if religion isn’t involved, there are many who believe a man’s biology means he should spank and a woman’s biology means she needs to be spanked. While I respect everyone’s right to believe what he or she feels is right, I can’t support such a position. When one adult woman spanks another, biological differences become irrelevant. Natalie spanks Kat in The Way Home and Lighting the Way because she needs to protect and Kat needs to be protected. Hana spanks Mira because Hana finds it sexy and Mira has always needed to be spanked. Even Karielle and Soris, in the dystopia of Becoming Clissine, have found an inherent need in their state-mandated same-sex domestic discipline relationship. Soris makes Karielle a better woman, and Karielle brings out Soris’ humanity.
Women’s experiences and stories have always been pushed to the margins, so I find them more interesting. If we have women’s history, women’s studies, and women’s issues, why not have women-centric domestic discipline?
TRH: A marked difference in Domestic Discipline relationships and other BDSM relationships is that such relationships involving spanking make sure it is not used as a pleasurable activity. It’s not an event meant to arouse the spankee, but a correctional tool. Could you explain the rationale behind that? What benefits would a spankee receive from being spanked in this setting?
AV: Pleasurable spanking can be used in a DD relationship, but not everyone is willing to admit to the pleasure. Kat, for example, enjoys bantering with Natalie and provoking a spanking. However, others are surprised when spanking brings pleasure. Carene from Simple Gifts, who has administered disciplinary spankings to her best friend Leila for most of their adult lives, is caught off-guard by her sudden sensual desire in spanking Leila.
However, the “discipline” in “domestic discipline” means exactly that. When Rachel of Editorial Board hauls Spring over her lap and paddles her into submission, her intent is to create instant pain. The spanking serves as a short, sharp shock to curb Spring’s rudeness and disrespect. Natalie uses disciplinary spankings to keep Kat from getting too emotional. When Kat worries to the point of becoming physically ill, Natalie calms her down with a spanking. And when Kat struggles through her long journey of questioning whether she wants to live, Natalie inflicts serious pain to focus Kat on life rather than morbid thoughts.
Some of the reasons a spankee wishes to receive discipline include releasing guilt, restoring intimacy, taking concrete steps to resolve interpersonal conflict, and to redirect inappropriate energy into a more productive channel. Or a competent, high-powered, successful career woman may appreciate being able to submit to someone at home. Leila, who is a world-famous violinist in the outside world, comes home to Carene who spanks her and puts her in the corner. “No divas allowed” is Carene’s motto, and she helps to stabilize Leila’s artistic temperament.
TRH: In your novels, spanking is heavily featured. Yet you also show your characters being very fallible at times, and very human. There are guidelines in some Domestic Discipline sites that say what to do during a spanking, yet you allow your characters to mess up, and then have to deal with the fallout. This is especially true in your series with Kat and Natalie. How do you deal with the challenge of writing human characters, but also trying to stress if a certain behavior is not okay or healthy?
AV: Natalie has received a great deal of criticism because she is not perfect, and she does not give perfect discipline. While readers are more forgiving of mistakes in erotic spanking, DD is not always given the same pass. I find that female disciplinarians are viewed differently than their male counterparts. While male disciplinarians are considered sexy for being an alpha hero, female disciplinarians tend to be fetishized or held to a higher standard. However, perfect characters are boring. I’ve enjoyed Madam Secretary this fall, but I hope we’ll see Elizabeth making some mistakes in her job. Otherwise, what’s the point of becoming invested in her story?
I equate DD advice with advice on parenting, driving a car, writing a novel, baking a cake, or arguing a case in court. While there are basic tenets everyone should adhere to (such as loving and respecting each other, or keeping each other physically safe), every couple will find a different path to DD. Not every couple will benefit from DD, just as not every couple will benefit from BDSM, skydiving, or lavish anniversary celebrations. Spanking is one tool in the toolbox of relationship communication. It can be used well, or it can be used badly. Natalie does both. She brings Kat back from the abyss, and she does so with loving, firm discipline. She also goes too far and spanks Kat too hard and often. When one human being loves another, we screw up. Natalie fears for Kat’s life, and she goes overboard in trying to control Kat. The key is that Natalie and Kat learn from each other, and they move forward.
Ironically, the best role model of an adult DD relationship in my books might be Soris and Karielle, who were put together in an arranged marriage in a dystopian society of Becoming Clissine. Soris teaches Karielle to find strength in submission, and Karielle teaches Soris to embrace her humanity and emotional side. The best relationships make mistakes, but each partner loves and respects the other. Soris and Karielle would be nothing without each other, and they both know that.
TRH: What other projects are you currently working on? And speaking of Kat and Natalie, how are they coming along?
AV: Taliasman, an adaptation of the Grimm fairy tale “Our Lady’s Child,” came out on October 21st from Decadent Publishing and has received seven five-star reviews in two days. This story pulls at all of my heartstrings, as I explained in an interview with Decadent. In the original Grimm fairy tale, the Virgin Mary rescues a three-year-old child from a poor woodcutter and raises the child in heaven. In my adaptation, Queen Vina exchanges a sackful of gold for Talia, a new adult who is unwanted by her parents as a worthless girl. Vina breaks through Talia’s protective shield of self-loathing and low self-esteem, but the process is not easy for either of them. Vina uses discipline to convince Talia of her worth as a human being, and their love blossoms. You can find an introduction and sneak peek here.
My other projects include Ana Adored, a novel co-authored with the wonderful Maren Smith for Blushing. Ana, an assistant preschool teacher, discovers a woman online, Miranda, who invites her to visit a BDSM resort. Ana has daydreamed about spanking for most of her life, but she finds that real, live discipline doesn’t make her heart flutter in quite the same way as her favorite spanking story. When Miranda tells her “no” for the first time, Ana rebels. Both Miranda and Ana have a lot to learn about making DD work. You can find a sneak peek, along with a few snippets of my other works, here. I’ve also posted an introduction here.
And, to my surprise, I wrote my first non-spanking story! The short story “Living in Sin” will appear as part of the Damsels in Distress series from Less Than Three Press on March 11, 2015. In my first urban fantasy, college graduate Ciara fights with her live-in girlfriend whether she will come out to her family. While I am sure that spanking occurs off-screen, it didn’t fit into the actual story. You can see the first 250 words here, in a flash fiction that won an honorable mention from Siobhan Muir’s Thursday Threads.
Kat is as irrepressible as always, spanking cockroaches and flooding their kitchen when she’s not watching Frozen. Natalie stands by, ever ready to swoop in with a spanking and a hug. Kat also visited her parents’ grave for Mother’s Day this spring, in an annual tradition of a special Kat and Natalie story. I try to post a new Kat and Natalie story on their blog (“Kat-Sitting”) every few months, and they also visit the Advent Calendar for an interview each Christmas.
TRH: Thank you again for taking the time to answer our questions!
AV: Thank you so much for having me on your site. If anyone has more questions about my work or same-sex DD, please visit me online! And for those interested in F/F fiction, I’ll be offering a special event called Love Spanks next February. Happy spanking!
Please also visit my blog next weekend for a special Spank or Treat event October 24-26th. Visitors will find free stories from sixteen authors and the chance to win prizes.
Where to buy Taliasman:
Where to find out more about Anastasia Vitsky and her books:
Cookie queen, wooden spoon lady, and champion of carbs, Anastasia Vitsky specializes in F/F erotic fiction. She hates shoes and is allergic to leather. When not writing about women who live spankily ever after, she coordinates reader and author events such as Spank or Treat, Love Spanks, and Sci Spanks. Her favorite event is Ana’s Advent Calendar, a month-long celebration of books, community, and making a difference.
She is too afraid to watch Dr. Who, but she adores The Good Wife and anything with Audrey Hepburn. In her next life, she will learn how to make the perfect pie crust.