Spanking and the Enlightenment, or Punishment and Desire and the Eight-Year-Old Male @ The Confessions of Jean Jacques Rousseau
One of the world’s great memoirs, The Confessions is a constant delight (earlier we find out how the young Rousseau peed in the housekeeper’s kettle). I set these passages of intimate self-exposure next to the glorious bits that deal with Rousseau and his father, how they would read romances (novels) together, sometimes getting so involved they would stay up till dawn reading to each other. [I am on the road again; listening to this in the car.]
In this passage, Rousseau has been sent away to a private tutoring situation and is living in the home of the Lamberciers, brother and sister. Miss Lambercier is about thirty. And to be serious about it, he is trying, in his confessions, to get at the secret, most intimate underpinnings of consciousness and desire. How does the sexual wiring get fixed? Why do the most trivial events have such permanent, risible and even tragic consequences in our relations with other?
Also we can see here the genre crossover from private confession to a priest to the modern version, public confession in detail to the whole world via the book.
As Miss Lambercier felt a mother’s affection, she sometimes exerted a mother’s authority, even to inflicting on us when we deserved it, the punishment of infants. She had often threatened it, and this threat of a treatment entirely new, appeared to me extremely dreadful; but I found the reality much less terrible than the idea, and what is still more unaccountable, this punishment increased my affection for the person who had inflicted it. All this affection, aided by my natural mildness, was scarcely sufficient to prevent my seeking, by fresh offences, a return of the same chastisement; for a degree of sensuality had mingled with the smart and shame, which left more desire than fear of a repetition. I was well convinced the same discipline from her brother would have produced a quite contrary effect; but from a man of his disposition this was not probable, and if I abstained from meriting correction it was merely from a fear of offending Miss Lambercier, for benevolence, aided by the passions, has ever maintained an empire over me which has given law to my heart.
This event, which, though desirable, I had not endeavored to accelerate, arrived without my fault; I should say, without my seeking; and I profited by it with a safe conscience; but this second, was also the last time, for Miss Lambercier, who doubtless had some reason to imagine this chastisement did not produce the desired effect, declared it was too fatiguing, and that she renounced it for the future. Till now we had slept in her chamber, and during the winter, even in her bed; but two days after another room was prepared for us, and from that moment I had the honor (which I could very well have dispensed with) of being treated by her as a great boy.
Who would believe this childish discipline, received at eight years old, from the hands of a woman of thirty, should influence my propensities, my desires, my passions, for the rest of my life, and that in quite a contrary sense from what might naturally have been expected? The very incident that inflamed my senses, gave my desires such an extraordinary turn, that, confined to what I had already experienced, I sought no further, and, with blood boiling with sensuality, almost from my birth, preserved my purity beyond the age when the coldest constitutions lose their insensibility; long tormented, without knowing by what, I gazed on every handsome woman with delight; imagination incessantly brought their charms to my remembrance, only to transform them into so many Miss Lamberciers.
Who knew? and I feel a poem coming on – “Spanking Rousseau.”
That’s the spirit, Julie. 🙂 I think we have sometimes a too narrow view of our intellectual forefathers. 🙂
Much like Rousseau, my own lifelong addiction to spanking was passionately submissive. Where we differed as children was in my never once being punished with a bottom warming. Young Rousseau actually had his bare bottom spanked over the lap of female authority whereas I could only imagine it. My mother and my oldest sister were my disciplinarians, but they only ever threatened to spank me. I was invariably corrected by the withdrawal of their affection.
My abiding longing to be spanked was commanding enough that by the age of 13, I’d begun secretly paddling and strapping my bare backside. Preferring most often the cover of my parents’ bedroom, I used mirrors to let me admire the reddening of my buttocks and upper thighs. Spanking was the uncontested engine that powered my psycho-sexual development.
At 14, my mother privately confronted me one day with a naughty paperback I’d forgotten in the bathroom. To my face, she asked me if I felt I’d “missed out by never getting a bare bottom spanking.” I melted in a puddle of teenage shame, and was told to “stop being silly.” I’m quite sure we both knew how badly I wished to be bared and turned over her knee. She must’ve had real qualms about indulging the masochist she already knew me to be. Added to which (she told me this years later in a letter), she’d had her own childhood fantasies of spanking naughty waifs and strays in an orphanage. Over time, these thoughts troubled her and she suppressed them.
Again like Rousseau, I was all but too shy in my teens and twenties to ever confess my spanking desires. When I did once confide through the mail in a girl I’d grown up with, she said the passion was not hers, but that she’d respect my privacy. In fact, she betrayed it. Perhaps understandably, I was in tears at age 28 when I shared my overwhelmingly shameful secret with the girl I married. She did her best to please me with playful, lovemaking paddlings, but she wouldn’t give me the stinging punishment I craved. When she left me after 13 years, she cited spanking as one of her reasons.
Some two years later, I had my first arranged session with a professional female dominant. I was hardly any different from Rousseau in wanting female admiration of my bare bottom. For the next 14 years, at least a half-dozen women (and one man on just one occasion) pulled down my pants and smacked, paddled and strapped me. Without word of a lie, I’d grown up believing I was born to be spanked. Reading of Rousseau’s profound experience with bare bottom spanking had me feeling a genuine kinship between us.