In the most recent episode of The Pageist I reviewed Janet W. Hardy’s Spanking for Lovers. Per usual, here is the text version.
Hardy also wrote The New Bottoming Book and the New Topping Book with Dossie Easton. Those two are must-reads for anyone in the scene.
As is this one if you’re into spanking, which Hardy defines in Chapter One as:
striking the buttocks and sometimes upper thighs with a hand or other implement.
This was originally published as The Compleat Spanker, it is now published as Spanking for Lovers.
In Chapter Two: Who Spanks Hardy talks about something she calls ‘pleasant pain’.
The experience of pleasant pain is familiar to many, perhaps most, people. (Not you? Think again: ever enjoy the pleasant muscle ache of a good day’s exercise, or the challenging burn of a spicy curry?)
I’ve always related it to scratching a mosquito bite. First it feels good, but then, if you keep scratching, it still feels good but it also hurts, but in a good way. I hope that’s not just me.
This book introduced me to a phrase I will be using for the rest of my life–”sexually relevant”. It was originally coined by Staci Newmahr and refers to:
activities that are not genitally sexual but nevertheless plug into participants’ erotic selves.
In this chapter there is a list of ten types of spanking or reasons to spank that come from C’s Loving Domestic Disciple. Oh Lord, sign me up. Fantasy fodder, ahoy. New to me was the introductory disciplinary spankings, which is a
ritual at the beginning of a discipline relationship to reinforce the new relationship dynamic and to learn the spankee’s emotional and physical reaction to discipline.
Also mentioned is one of my favs: Maintenance spanking.
to be given as a reminder of the relationship dynamic and also to fulfill the spankee’s spanking desires so that they don’t need to act out in order to get spanked.
Chapter Three: Why Do We Like Spanking, has this paragraph:
For many spankees, the script of spanking has to do with being controlled. They may or may not like the physical pain of being spanked, but they do like knowing that their spanker is administering the spanking as a symbol of her control.
YES Sorry. That was loud wasn’t it? Sorry. I mean, yes. I agree with this.
Earlier I was talking about why I love reading and how it affirms who you are when you find yourself in a book well this part is referring to submissives who are being spanked.
They are rarely resistant or mouthy; instead they get their script from gamely doing their best to please.
I’m not sure I’d use the word ‘gamely’ to describe my approach to submission, but obedience is my thang.
This book isn’t just geared toward bottoms and their bottoms. I am so sorry, but it had to be done. There is a lot of advice for tops, as well.
There’s a bit about catharsis during spanking scenes and includes this paragraph, which is directed at bottoms, but it’s with the safety of the top (and yourself) in mind.
Catharsis can be scary for all concerned: pity the poor top who thought he was just administering a nice simple straightforward spanking, and who suddenly has to contain and comfort a sobbing, incoherent wreck. If you suspect that you have a lot of pent-up emotion which is just waiting for a nice spanking to explode out of you, it’s essential to warn your top first—to ensure that they give their consent to be around such strong stuff, and that they’re willing to support you as you release it.
Speaking of tops, I didn’t know that endorphin highs were transmittable. Hardy says she’s given heavy spankings and ended up with a contact high. That is fascinating. I wonder how that works.
Then there’s this:
When we find that within the clear boundaries of the spanking scene these personae are not just accepted, but lusted after and loved, a tremendous sense of healing and wholeness can result.
And let’s face it: the sounds and sensations and sights of spanking someone—the whimpers and moans and cries, the writhing and wiggling and clenching, the skin turning rosy and warm—are very, very sexy. It’s not really very surprising that so many people are erotically attuned to an activity that involves so many sexual cues (in fact, it’s sort of surprising to me that there are people who aren’t.)
Word, my friend.
The first part—about being seen for who you are and accepted is a big part of the appeal of kink for me, and I assume for other people. We live in such a culture of shame and pretending to be who we’re not—or to only be one thing—that to be with someone—or around a group of people—who say, ‘You can explore all of these difference facets of yourself and that’s okay and that’s really sexy.’ is enormously freeing and ‘healing’ to use a fuzzy-wuzzy term.
The second part. I mean. Come on. Yeah spanking is sexy as hell.
Safety is well-covered in every section of the book. Hardy addresses harder-players thusly:
If you are one who craves the edge, allow me to share two points from my own experience. Point one: it is essentially impossible for ethical players to dispose of safewords or do ‘consensual nonconsent.’ There is always a way for a bottom who is truly in trouble to communicate withdrawal of consent, and an ethical top will act on that communication. Impasse.
Point two: the passage of time will naturally and effortlessly resolve the impasse. As partners play together, and trust evolves, the top’s ability to read signals will evolve, as will the bottom’s ability to relinquish control and to go into the realms that formerly seemed unattainable, the red-misted territory that lies beyond ‘I can’t stand this any more.’
Chapter Four: Anatomy of a Spankee includes an illustration of what Hardy calls (and I’ve heard it referred to this elsewhere) the sweet spot. It’s the best place to spank for pleasure. It’s sort of where the butt meets the leg and just inside the thigh. The illustration as a dotted line to show you where to aim.
While on the topic of the illustrations—they’re done by ‘Barb’–Barbara O’Toole and they’re excellent. Done in grayscale and photorealistic I wouldn’t mind having a few as prints. The subjects range from men spanking women to women spanking men, to men and women spanking members of their own sex. Bare-handed or with toys. And in a variety of positions.
I enjoyed the illustrations. Ahem. Sniff.
But back to the Anatomy of the buttal region. This chapter focuses on nerves and tissues what is most exposed in which positions so everyone can have a good time without needing an extra trip to the doctor. Marks are covered, as well as advice on how to deal with them.
Chapter Five is about Communication and Mood. Man, us kinksters love communicating, don’t we?
I mean, the non-psychopaths who want everyone to have a good time, anyway.
This book is funny. Hardy definitely has a sense of humor. She tells this story in the margin of chapter five:
I once negotiated a whole scene with a friend at a play party. We walked out into the middle of the dungeon to set up our toys, then stood there staring at one another. Turned out each of us thought the other one was going to top.
Look. If you don’t think that’s funny you need to get right outta town.
I would give anything to have heard the negotiation. Was it like that Jeanette Winterson book where the narrator’s gender is never revealed? From the conversation neither of them could tell? It was open for interpretation? That must have been a brilliant conversation.
I love it because it’s the sort of thing that would happen to me. I am that kind of, ‘I was paying attention… to what I wanted to hear…’ I felt closer to the author after reading that.
Anyway, back to the book. Chapter five has great advice for what should be included in negotiation including how you will communicate during a scene.
This chapter also includes the one to ten technique, which I’ve heard called ‘calibrating your bottom’. This is how it’s described in Spanking for Lovers:
In this technique, the top delivers one extremely gentle stroke, hardly more than laying the hand or implement onto the bottom’s skin, and explains, ‘That was a “one” on a scale of one to ten. “Ten” would be the hardest I’m willing to hit you. For the next few minutes, I want you to use that number scale to tell me how hard a stroke you want to feel. I wont hit you anyplace but on your butt, and I won’t hit you until you tell me to.
After a few minutes of this type of communication, the top has some idea of the bottom’s desires, and the bottom has had a chance to relax into the idea of being spanked. Both partners can decide together when it’s time to stop one-to-tenning and to turn over more control to the top.
This is obviously the chapter that includes safewords and over in the sidebar Hardy says she’s heard some people use ‘411’ for information and ‘911’ for emergency. That’s a creative way of yellow or redding.
In Chapter Six: Spanking Fantasies. Hardy divides scenes into two types—Losing Scenes and Winning Scenes. In the former, the bottom eventually gives in to the spanking or whatever is being done to them. In the latter, the bottom prevails over whatever is being done. Erotic or sexual spanking falls into this category. I thought that was an interesting way of looking at scenes—or a good question to ask during negotiation—what do you want to accomplish? Do you want to prevail or do you want to be conquered?
Chapter Seven is addressed to bottoms—pain processing, how to care for different types of marks, that sort of thing.
Chapter Eight is geared toward tops. It includes information about warmup, tips on turning the both of you on, skin-watching (for different types of marks) and aftercare.
The warmup section included this:
To take your bottom to bliss, you have to start slowly, with a nice warmup—bringing up their circulation, letting their endorphins rev up, helping them relax into the sensation.
I’ve seen tops linger for as much as an hour over warmup, starting with gentle caresses, escalating slowly to little pats, then to light smacks, then to harder spanks…progressing to the intense stuff only when the bottoms are so thoroughly blissed out that they’re pushing their backsides out to meet the paddle, and laughing ecstatically as the strokes fall.
I’m fine. I’m totally fine. Just leave me with my pain.
The next section is turn-ons, or the things that really get people going. I think my favorite part of this is the word ‘denuding’. As in, to remove clothing. ‘Denuuuding.’ That is a glorious word. A glorious word for a glorious action. In this context, it’s when the bottom’s pants are taken down to reveal their oh-so-vulnerable hindquarters.
‘Denude yourself, slave.’
I did not like this book at all, I don’t know if you can tell.
Then Hardy gets into the skin watching section so tops know what to look for when it comes to marks and normal skin reactions. I’m not going to read it to you because it can get a little stomach-churning. I didn’t know so much damage could occur from a spanking, but this part also covers how to minimize and avoid damage as much as it possible. I haven’t yet had my first spanking, but I’m so white my inner wrist can be used to hail passing ships and I bruise easily so I’m sure I’ll be a rainbow even though I’m not madly in love with marks. Oh well.
And of course this chapter includes information on the all-important aftercare.
Chapter Nine: Implements.
I have heard that there are primarily two types of pain: thuddy and stingy. Well, in this chapter, Hardy defines those two more precisely:
Stingy toys are felt mostly on the skin, with a sharp sensation; thuddy toys echo down into deeper structures of muscle and even bone. As a general rule, the heavier a toy is in proportion to its breadth, the thuddier it is. Stingy toys tend to leave welts and, with extreme use, can open skin; thuddy toys tend to leave bruises and can, with extreme use, cause damage to nerves and bones.
Y-yeah… I should start getting more comfortable with the idea of bruises. Thuddy sounds good to me.
The chapter on implements also has information on how to aim properly.
And in addition to what to expect and how to handle various sorts of toys, there’s this about the ever-popular hand-spanking:
You can spank with fingers only, with the palm, or with the heel of your hand; with the hand flat or cupped; with a glancing blow that slides along the skin, or a straight-smack; with a popping motion that snatches the hand away from the skin almost on contact, or with deep follow-through; with many quick little smacks covering wide areas, or with slow, hard spanks with long pauses between. Experiment with keeping your hand and wrist rigid, or leaving them floppy. What does it feel like when your fingers are held tightly together, or spread loosely apart? Try drumming with two hands, like you would on bongo drums… using the heel of your hand to deliver a heavy jolting blow upwards against the base of the butt…alternating hard strokes with caresses to keep your bottom off-balance and guessing.
Holy moly. A round of applause for hands, people.
Chapter Ten is Positions. This chapter taught me a lot about myself. Mostly that I am not creative in this way. I find something that works for me during my adventures in wankland and stick with it.
This chapter was an introduction to all sorts of new spanking positions—the most… interesting of which were the diaper position and the wheelbarrow position. The diaper position is achieved by the bottom lying on their back and the top holds their feet in the air as though changing a diaper. This looks as though you’d get a looot of upper thigh, which is a little more owie than I think I’d be up for, perhaps.
The wheelbarrow has the top sitting and the bottom’s legs either side the top’s lap while supporting their own upper body weight on the floor with their arms like a wheelbarrow. It’s probably a good thing that that particular one didn’t necessarily appeal to me because I have the upper body strength of a pillow.
I would not object to seeing a really buff dude getting spanked by, like a burly Leatherman while in this position. Just, like, all glistening and oiled up. Maybe being commanded to hold that position while he’s taking his punishment… Maybe having to count off the strokes and thank his top every time. Mmmmm that’d be all right.
What was I talking about? Oh yeah. Most of the positions, once they had been pointed out to me, were fairly obvious, but one that I simply would not have come up with was this one:
Some bent-over positions work well when the top helps provide support. In the head-between-legs position, the spankee bends over as though they were going to grab their ankles. Then the spanker stands in front of them with legs spread slightly, and with the bottom’s head between their legs.
Dear sweet lord in heaven, I thank you for these gifts.
Hardy divides positions into three types—weight on feet (or positions where bottoms support all of their own weight on their own feet), partially supported positions and fully supported positions. She gives advice for each position, as well as multiple variations with regard to height and weight disparities between tops and bottoms.
Chapter Eleven is about Spanking Relationships, which are examples of some D/s style arrangements some people have and a note about how you don’t have to have anything like that to enjoy a proper spanky-spank now and again.
Chapter Twelve is Troubleshooting or the random things that can go wrong because humans are involved and humans are fallible.
Emotional problems, physical problems, Hardy shares what she’s learned over her decades of experience so both sides of the equation can come out the other side with as little long-term injury of any sort as possible.
Chapter Thirteen is called Tips, Tricks and Fun Things to Try, which includes some ways to enliven your spanking sessions. This includes figging.
Start with a fresh ginger root of an appropriate size, and peel off the skin and any branches or protrusions. Whittle it down to the approximate shape of a butt plug, with a flange at the bottom and a narrower neck.
I presume anyone listening to this show understands how a buttplug works. What I thought was useful info was this bit, which was in the sidebar:
If you whittle the neck too narrow, it could possibly break off in the bottom’s ass—but this is not a medical emergency; the root will almost certainly pass with the next bowel movement.
So, save yourself some embarrassment if you ‘lose’ your DIY ginger buttplug. Just relax and wait it out.
Another sidebar piece of info was this:
My sources assure me that organic ginger is hotter than conventional, and that freshness matters.
So, there you are. Saute your nether regions with some fresh, organic ginger today.
There are other suggestions in this chapter, but I particularly enjoyed the entry for ice:
Trailing an ice cube across hot reddened buttflesh is guaranteed to get a gasp from your bottom. You can spank for awhile, then use ice to wet down the butt, then spank some more. Whee!
The ‘whee!’ was in the book. I told you she was funny.
Then there are Appendices.
Appendix A is how to find others who are interested in spanking—this section includes how to vet Pro Dominants.
Appendix B is how to clean spanking implements properly.
Appendix C are the very basics of combining bondage with spanking.
Appendix D is a special section set aside just for caning. The same length as any of the chapters, it covers history and appeal and other information about the thing that shan’t approach my backside. It originally appeared in the Toybag Guide to Canes and Caning which Hardy also wrote.
And everything is wrapped up with a Resource Guide that includes a list of BDSM groups, spanking clubs, non-fiction books (not fiction because, as Hardy says “there are about three zillion hot erotic novels that are either entirely or mostly about spanking, and I wouldn’t dream of trying to list even a fraction of them here.”)
Spanking for Lovers is 167 pages long, but with a larger font and wide margins for the notes in the sidebars, along with the occasional illustration, it’s a fast read. It’s also a must-read for anyone interested in learning how to spank or be spanked safely without skimping on the hotness.
This book definitely gets a 5/5