Thanks to Thianna D for bringing this topic to the Spanking Romance Reviews Round Table Discussion. Discipline vs. Punishment, are they different things or just different shades of the same thing? I know what my gut reaction is to the two words, but I wondered if my gut was wrong, so I looked up their definitions.
From their definitions alone, I'd say that punishment is a component of discipline, though I use the terms interchangeably in my writing. Discipline is broader than punishment since its definition includes training, as well as other activities used to improve a skill or behavior as well as punishment. As in the case of maintenance spankings, I see them as a form of discipline, not punishment. They are intended more as impetus for continued good behavior and a reminder, not to address a wrong. Punishments are administered after a transgression occurs. They are intended to address something specific that needs correcting, and as adverse therapy, they are meant to be uncomfortable or painful.
As for abuse, I maintain that abuse lies in intent, not in the action. If the intent is to cause fear, injury or harm in a way that makes a person feel debased and useless (and it is not being conducted as a humiliation scene in BDSM), I think the interaction qualifies as abuse. Abuse can be mental as well as physical. I've written a couple of articles on DD and BDSM and abuse, which I'll provide links to at the end, but the paragraph that I think explains the difference best is this:
BDSM allows individuals of similar interests and desires to give vent to their predilection through mutually satisfying means. By this definition, BDSM is not abuse, even if humiliation plays a part. Personally, that's difficult for me to accept because I view humiliation as destructive and have difficulty understanding how someone could achieve any satisfaction from being humiliated. Abusive spouses wish to inspire fear and deep psychological uncertainty in their partner, not sexual fulfillment. Domestic Discipline participants, on the other hand, desire to establish a paradigm of mutual respect and accountability through a communicated set of rules that both are expected to follow. The intent of a Domestic Discipline relationship is to establish or maintain respect through the administration of more traditional values.
So, if the intent is to offer another pleasure, and both participants are willing, even if pain and humiliation are employed, the activity should not be considered abuse.
As for my personal activities, I can't say my husband and I are true DD practitioners. There's an element of it in our marriage, but no actual discipline or punishment is meted out. I'm not sent to stand in a corner, and I am not subject to receiving serious spankings, but then I'm really a very good girl, so there's no need for such methods. I adore and respect my husband, and I tend to bend to his authority, even when he's doing it just to test or irk me. So, I can't say the subject of discipline and punishment is appropriate for our marriage.
So, when it comes down to writing or living it, I'd have to say I live it only in my mind and fantasies, but I write it in my dreams.
Thanks again to Thianna, who has her kinky blog at http://blog.thiannad.com/. Now go visit the other authors participating in this discussion by either going back to Spanking Romance Reviews, or clicking one of the links below. And thanks for stopping by.
Other articles I've written on DD, D/s and BDSM that touch on abuse: