October 2017
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people demonize spanking because of classism / how corporeal punishment damaged me

icon: "honesty (a photo of me in soft sunlight, gazing directly into the camera with a somber expression)"

If you were spanked as a kid, you have to accept it as morally OK in order to be able to cope with it. Growing up, you are told that you are spanked because you are loved, that this is intended to help you become a better person, that this is necessary for your growth. To reject that, you have to accept that your parents hurt you and they should not have. That's painful for a lot of people. I didn't even consider that there might be anything wrong with spanking in my early adulthood, and until meeting someone who had never been spanked I didn't even know that it was possible to actually raise children and have them become decent people without spanking. It is a damn good thing that I realized this before having kids, because it would be extremely difficult to acknowledge it as wrong after I had done it. A great lesson to teach, such a reversal of behavior, but facing the fact that I might have damaged my kids? Painful beyond imagining.

Spanking also gets blown out of proportion in relation to other suffering. Many common parental actions can be far more damaging, depending on the kind of spanking that is used. The stigma against spanking is purely in relation to class behaviors. Spanking is considered a lower class behavior - direct expressions are all treated this way. Abuses which are seen as upper class parenting are seen as more acceptable by society despite the fact that they can be every bit as damaging and in some cases more damaging. These abuses are dismissed or tacitly encouraged -- like forcing them to behave in cisgendered ways, calling them names, ignoring their needs or feelings, mocking/denigrating their bodies, encouraging them to reject empathy and see others as tools, teaching them racism and rape myths and ableism and classism etc.

Spanking after the age of eight (when a child is fully capable of reasoning) is a failure of communication and in my mind, it is abuse, ESPECIALLY after puberty. I don't know about before that - it might be useful but it may also be damaging. 

When I was about 5, I lied to my teacher. I went to a private christian school where the teachers were permitted to spank us. So my teacher took me into the bathroom, explained why lying was bad, spanked me with a ruler (not very hard) and then hugged me and emphasized that she did not want to cause me pain but wanted me to remember. I felt she was being sincere, and I felt more loved by her after that than I had before. And frankly I felt an increase of trust. I remember very little of my childhood but that memory is vivid. I don't think that caused me any damage at all. That was not the kind of spanking I got from my parents.

I have been thinking about this for the past few days and realizing how deeply this has affected me.

--------TW: physical and psychological abuse-------
My parents spanked me because they were angry at me, usually because I failed to do something they wanted me to do, and very rarely because I did something they didn't think I should do. Whenever I was not controlled by their verbal orders, they punished me. It was usually spanking, but what was way worse was when we were sent to the corner. We had to face the corner and stand perfectly still for long enough that our bodies would ache. Sometimes (rarely) we had to hold our arms out to our sides or above our heads, which felt like torture. Spanking was bad but it was better physically than being sent to the corner. I think sitting comfortably without anything to do but contemplate your behavior is a great way to help kids learn to critique their own behavior, but time-out as a punishment is gross.

I really never thought of it as abuse. But it was not used to teach me, it was used to punish and control me (because my parents thought their job was to control me, and because they liked controlling me). I was hit with a belt by my male parent until I was 17. Somewhere around 15 I started telling him I was on my period every time, so that I didn't have to pull down my pants. This is creepy as shit and I think it borders on sexual abuse. Being made to disrobe and permit someone to hit me on an intimate part of my body because I had angered them - it was as much a humiliation as it was a physical pain. I had to betray myself every time I obeyed.

Yet I tolerated the humiliation and degradation for so long because it was easier to live with than the simmering rage and resentment and negative energy aimed at me if M could not hit me with the belt for lack of time or presence of guests. I felt relieved after being spanked because then M's rage was out and they would treat me as a person rather than as an enemy.
--------end TW-------

What being spanked taught me was not anything related to right and wrong - I learned all that through logic, reading, and talking with people. What it taught me was 'don't piss off authority or it will overwhelm your will, humiliate, and violate you.' If I had not been physically hit and intimidated by my parents, I don't think I would struggle so much with visceral fear now. Even when I can logically understand that I am not in legitimate danger, I have a very hard time pushing myself to perform any resistance to people who are in relational authority to me or who legally can control my body (bosses, some professors, cops). I think I could do it if I felt it was necessary for someone else's safety, but not for my own. Resistance for someone else doesn't spark so much fear because I didn't get attacked on behalf of others. If I am being attacked by authority, I freeze and feel deep shame and fear, and if it seems to be a deliberate attempt to hurt me it will cause a full-on breakdown. I would flat-out be a better person had I not been trained into this deeply subconscious fear of people in authority.

Since I would want my children to feel willing to resist authority for good reasons, I would not spank them. I also don't fucking ever want to motivate people through fear, and I don't want my children to listen to me because I control them body and will. I want them to listen because they trust me through me proving that I have good ideas that make their life better, because they love me and want to make me happy, and because I show true appreciation (and when appropriate, give rewards).

Spanking is objectively harmful

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queerbychoice ══╣╠══
My parents spanked me a few times, lightly, without any disrobing involved, up until I was four years old. I have only a very vague memory of being spanked. What I do remember more clearly is that when I was four years old, they sat me down and told me that they had decided that spanking was wrong, and they were wrong to have done it, and they had decided that they weren't ever going to do it anymore. And they didn't ever do it again. Which means they didn't ever do it at all to my younger brother, who was a newborn infant at the time they decided this.

It made a very, very positive impression on me, even though I was only four years old, to see that my parents thought about what was right and wrong and were able to decide that they'd done something wrong and admit to me that they'd done something wrong and resolve not to do it anymore.
raidingparty ══╣╠══
Yeah, that's huge!
How did that change your opinion or view about them?
queerbychoice ══╣╠══
Well, I was too young at the time for there to be a clear difference between before and after. But in later years when I looked back on it, it made me feel very secure in the knowledge that they were good and trustworthy people.
wolfteaparty ══╣╠══
My mom doesn't believe in spanking, but my dad used to spank or threaten to spank because he was angry. Any discipline just because a parent wants to take out their anger on a child is bad parenting IMO. I was spanked for trivial reasons. There were no belts, just one whack on the butt; but in my experience it didn't teach me anything except to expect people to lose their tempers a lot.

My husband suffered physical abuse as a child. We've both decided that we're not going to spank if we have kids. We think nothing good comes of hitting a child.
zimtkeks ══╣╠══
I was physically and psychologically abused by my mother, and I knew that it was wrong, even when I was very young. That made it extremely hard for me to endure, because the unfairness and wrongness was added to the pain I was feeling already. I used to imagine that kids who don't know how awfully their parents are messing up must have it a lot easier. I'm not so sure about that today.

Also, I'm very sorry you had to go through that.
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.