Some More Thoughts On Punishment
I have a punishment kink. I figured this out in an articulated manner not so long ago – from things in scening, and from things like reading scene ideas and my reaction changing from ‘hmm’ to ‘ooh!’ at bits about ‘and if they don’t do this, they get punished’ – but I’ve clearly had it for much longer.
I recently read a really interesting essay on a distinction in discipline (here). Basically it’s about guilt versus shame, which could also be termed as internal versus external – the distinction between the constrict feeling that they’ve done something wrong and wanting to be punished for it, and the principal feeling that the constrict has done something wrong and imposing the punishment.
This made me think of several things.
First, I come down very strongly on the guilt side. I really like guilt – when the author of the essay talks about “reluctant tops, and begging not to stop” there’s a part of my mind going ‘YES, please!’, and I giddily devoured the guilt-discipline stories linked in the essay.
In fact, I come down so strongly on the guilt side that I have a tendency not to notice the other side at all. To me, when the principal says things like ‘think about what you’ve done’, that’s not about them, that’s about the constrict’s guilt. And I completely didn’t think about this other side when writing my ‘Reasons for Punishment‘ post, and left it out. (I’ve now edited the post to add it).
Second, I think there are also punishment dynamics that involve neither of the things in the essay. One of them I’m also going to add to the ‘Reasons for Punishment’ post (I think in the essay the author grouped this one with shame, but I think it’s actually pretty different, though overlap is possible). Another two are the ones that are interesting to me.
As noted, I knew as soon as I saw this articulation in the essay that guilt-punishments are very much a thing for me. However, they are not my only thing. I also have a thing for punishment dynamics that are not about feelings at all.
First, there is administrative punishment, militaries, prisons. This is when the punishment is an official, formal thing to enforce the rules and the structure. There’s no trust that was violated for the principal to be upset about, and no one cares about how the constrict feels, as long as they get the message.
I very much enjoy this kind of dynamic. I like the formality and officialness of it. I like how it can be a standing threat. It can also actually be coupled with guilt – I have a story series that, I now come to think of, is based around exactly such a combination – but very often it isn’t. And I like that too.
Second, there is punishment used as torture. This is when the principal makes a ‘rule’ knowing the constrict won’t be able to keep it, so that when they hurt them more for breaking it, they get the bonus of pointing out the failure, of the constrict’s dread and doomed struggle and feelings of weakness and self-blame. And I like that too.