Discipline in the D/s BDSM Lifestyle
A submissives journey
has many meanings. The literal meaning was taken from the word disciple,
meaning, "a follower, one who takes another as a teacher [therefore, if she is
your disciple, then you will teach her (discipline her)]."
The definition of discipline I use is: "Training intended to produce a specified character or pattern of behavior." And when training is complete, this third definition of discipline is what you have; "a state of order based on submission to rules and authority."
I have noticed that in chat most people seem to believe that discipline is the same as punishment. In my opinion, the main difference between discipline and punishment is that discipline uses training methods that closely correlate to the misbehavior, whereas punishment is arbitrary, involves no training methods, and does not have to 'fit the crime.'
I assume this other view of discipline is based on this fourth definition of discipline: "punishment intended to correct or train." This, I believe, is an acceptable use of the word discipline if one is thinking of having a submissive stick her tongue to a bar of soap to curb her bad language. If this is done when the bad language is uttered, this form of punishment could be said to correct or train.
If, however, the punishment for bad language is a spanking, since there is no correlation to the misbehavior and the punishment used to correct it, it is not training nor correction. If we substitute the word punishment for discipline, then this makes more sense.
Punishment is a "penalty for wrongdoing." It does not necessarily have to fit the crime. Punishment can be arbitrary, determined by whim. A Dominant can impose any punishment he chooses for any misbehavior (although this needs to be set forth from the beginning so that the submissive knows what she is risking with misbehavior). But this is not discipline, it is not used to train the submissive, it is used to punish her.
Let me offer an example of discipline and then some of punishment to illustrate my point. Suppose you want your submissive to focus more on your sexual needs than her own. You wouldn't spank her for being aroused would you? Would you send her to the corner for being horny? Of course you wouldn't, not if your goal is to train her to focus her sexual energy into meeting your sexual needs and not her own.
A method I would suggest is positive reinforcement. When she is aroused and thinking of her own sexual needs you would have her pleasure you in some sexual manner. She is not allowed orgasm; her pleasure will come in the form of her satisfying her need to please you.
You can tease her a bit, get a little rough with her, and keep her excited by your comments or expressions of pleasure (this will satisfy her need to be controlled). After you are satisfied, be affectionate with her. Tell her what a wonderful "girl" she is, and how much she has pleased you. Snuggle her close to you and fall asleep this way (this will meet her needs to feel special and cared for). In this way, she will eventually feel her sexual arousal as a need to worship your body. This is discipline (training).
Punishment will make her feel bad about herself, afraid of you, or resentful. Now that I have made some people angry, let me say that I understand that this may not be what you intend to use it for, but this is the effect.
An example of punishment might be spanking your submissive because she used unacceptable language. Now remember this is punishment, not S/m play, this cannot be fun for either of you for it to be real punishment.
It must not be something she likes (does she like being spanked? If she does, this is not punishment, it is play). If this is something either of you likes, you are reinforcing the bad behavior rather than curbing it. If she likes being spanked, she will use this language whenever she wants you to spank her. If she doesn't like to be spanked, she is now in a position that is teetering on abuse.
We defend our play style and our lifestyle with the Safe, Sane, and Consensual credo. We do this because we are aware that without consent, the physical aspects of our play are simply abuse. If the submissive isn't aroused by intense sensation (sensual pain), then we can not use it, unless she has consented to it.
Why would someone consent to something she does not like? If she is submissive, she could very well consent to it to please her dominant, but is it safe and sane? If she is allowing you to do something to her that she does not like at all, especially something that causes pain, she is creating a confusing conflict in her own mind. This conflict is perfect for triggering memories of past pain and abuse. There is nothing safe or sane about this.
You are putting your submissive in emotional danger by requesting that she accept physical pain that she does not enjoy. You could easily find yourself dealing with some serious emotional fallout, possibly so serious, that you will not be equipped to handle it adequately. Is this risk of emotional pain and trauma worth it--just because you want to punish her?
Exactly what does punishment do for you or your submissive? How does it benefit you? The allure, I think, is control; ultimate control. For a dominant to feel that he has so much control over another human being that he can even strike this person (and not risk retaliation) to show her disapproval is a heady feeling.
But people, this is fantasy stuff. This is like the fantasy of having your submissive live in a cage in your basement. It is hot, arousing, and fills you with a feeling of exquisite power, but it is not realistic.
Spanking for mutual pleasure (you can pretend the she is actually being punished) can be wonderfully fulfilling if you have these fantasies of ultimate control. They work quite well in scene. They cannot, however, be translated into reality. Punishing an adult simply does not work.
There is too much mental resistance to it in the adult mind. Even if she consents to it and means for it to be effective, it rarely 'takes.' The same punishment is needed again and again and as it continues to be administered, your submissive becomes more and more emotionally damaged by it. This is not a loving, mutually uplifting relationship in which each partner grows and becomes her better self.
Mental punishment is no more effective than physical punishment. Using the 'silent treatment,' pouting, avoidance, and withholding sex all create resentment or the pain of rejection when used as punishment. These feelings eat at the foundation of your relationship; they are silent destroyers of love. These punishments will not alter your partner's behavior because they do not motivate. Adults change themselves because they are motivated to do so.
Positive reinforcement motivates, negative reinforcement does not. When adults are confronted with pain or unpleasantness, they simply find ways to avoid this feeling, even if that means avoiding the person doling out the unpleasantness.
Do you avoid people who nag at you, even if they have your best interests at heart? If negative reinforcement worked, then firing a person from a job would motivate him to be a better worker. If negative reinforcement was effective, when your boss upbraided you in front of your coworkers, you would become a much more pleasant and productive employee. If it worked, when she gave you the 'silent treatment' because you were late for a date, you would never be late again. If it worked, you would only need to spank your submissive once.
"Discipline, like the bridle in the hand of a good rider, should exercise its influence without appearing to do so; should be ever active, both as a support and as a restraint, yet seem to lie easily in hand. It must always be ready to check or to pull up, as occasion may require; and only when the horse is a runaway should the action of the curb be perceptible".