The problem with spanking romances



Oh dear. I think I might be about to say something controversial.

Won’t be the first time, and won’t be the last, so here we go: I don’t understand why spanking novels are as popular as they are. 

Yes, I know, I know. I only write spanking romances. It seems stupid of me to bite the hand that feeds me.

However, the thing is that I try to read as many other spanking romances as I can and I’ve discovered that many of them do nothing more than anger me. I wanted to know how other authors dealt with the problems that challenge me whenever I fire up the laptop, and instead I find that they don’t deal with them at all.

Alright, let me try and be more clear.

I’m a feminist. I believe in the equality of men and women. I also believe that sex is fun, and whatever you do in bed is perfectly fine as long as everybody is on board with it. If I choose to play a submissive role sexually it has no bearing on how I expect to be treated outside the bedroom. If I choose to extend that role into my life outside the bedroom, then I would expect to have the respect of the dominant.

The key words in the previous sentences are choose and respect. 

My problems as a writer, especially of a writer of historical fiction, are many and varied. My sentences run on too long, I disagree with my editor over the use of the Oxford comma, I seem disinclined to use exclamation marks and I seem incapable of writing a woman being sexually abused and call it a romance.

So many of the books I have read in the spanking genre seem to think that if the couple in the book have a disagreement, the dominant is perfectly within his rights to spank (or whip, or paddle) the submissive until she changes her mind. This is what I have real problems with. A couple will always have disagreements. They will argue, they will act in ways that annoy or frustrate the other. However, instead of talking out the issue first, explaining their point of view and their actions, so many books leap straight to the ‘punishment’ of the submissive for daring to disagree with her dominant. Only after the punishment, and often sex, does the dominant let the submissive explain her actions.

This makes me itch inside. I can understand a dynamic where one partner willingly gives up their authority over their body to another, and will accept judgement on their behaviour, leading to punishment. What I can’t understand is a submissive partner putting up with a dominant who spanks first and listens afterwards. How poor does your sense of self have to be before you’ll tolerate that happening to you? That isn’t a man acting without thinking because he’s so madly in love with his partner that his feelings are overwhelmed. That’s domestic abuse!

I don’t understand how readers want that. I don’t understand how writers think that it’s ok to write that.

The trickiest thing for me to write in my books is the idea of consent, especially as I write historical fiction. The idea of a man beating his wife was considered understandable then, even if it was something that made people uncomfortable. Even with that get-out clause, I still struggle. I don’t like reading about women being abused by their partners, so I won’t write that. Yet I still have to find a way to get her over the hero’s knee (or spanking bench, or library table, or…) and liking it.

It’s hard. I don’t think that I’ve managed to get it fully right yet. I completely understand that it’s tricky for everybody. I just don’t think that some writers are trying hard enough to show that there’s a difference between a woman willingly handing her autonomy over to a partner who cares for her well-being and a woman who’s in a relationship with somebody who likes the domination and punishment, but isn’t so keen on accepting that the submissive partner has the right to be listened to and cared for on more levels than just the sexual.

Just my opinion, but one that makes it hard to find what I consider “good” spanking fiction. If anybody has any recommendations, I’d be glad to have them!

18 thoughts on “The problem with spanking romances”

  1. Respect is what underpins any good relationship – no matter who is doing the spanking, and who is being spanked. Otherwise it is quite simply abuse. Your question is a fair one….and it should be asked once couples fall into patterns. Nice post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is difficult to understand this concept unless you are very in-tuned with your feminine energy. There is no “equality” in these novels bc that’s the way the woman wants it. She wants to feel dominated. ..which is really synonymous with feeling protected. It’s a strange concept to grasp, but it is bc of this inate understated desire that this genre sells so well. Great read! Thanks for your insights.


  3. It’s an issue I deal with every time I sit down to write. I have my comfort zone of where I want my spankings to be, then rather like those who practice BDSM, I have my soft and hard limits – activities that push me to write perhaps on the edge of my zone, and those scenes I simply won’t write. I’ve written books with no spankings in, they don’t sell as well. I’ve created this spanking author persona and that’s what my readers expect.

    Consent and choice should be in place regardless of sub-genre. An escape route too, no heroine should be stuck in a plot where there are no alternatives. I like dark heros, but they have to be caring too.

    As well as Etta, Ashe Barker writes excellent consensual spankings.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. As a neophyte writer of spanking fiction, I enjoyed this thoughtful article very much. I tried to underscore the importance of Sadie’s consent in my novel Simon Says (release date January 29th, 2016, Blushing Books). That is an essential quality to me as I’m also in a full time, long term relationship where the possibility of me ending up OTK is part of my daily life. The caveman act would be divisive and unsustainable.

    In the meantime I look forward to reading your books, Louise, as well as some of the ones mentioned here. Thanks for a great post.


  5. Of course I have reservations. I can’t speak for others but I, in particular, like the idea of ‘dubious’ consent, and that is what I write. In r/l I’d never sit down and ‘discuss’ conditions under which I’d ‘submit’. It’s not my fantasy. But I often get caught with my pants down…or someone else’s, and I have to stop and think, ‘Is this fair? Would I put up with this? Is this really how my hero-heroine would behave?’ At the end of the day, I write in a genre that is tricky, and I write for a certain audience. TTWD isn’t for everyone. I personally love to read dubious consent if it’s done well, if it’s realistic. And yes, my heroes make mistakes. To each his own.


  6. I am very careful to keep any punishment spankings for acts that are harmful, rebellious ( which could lead to harm) or detrimental to the relationship’s foundation ( refusing to actually try and talk it out). I also try, in my historicals at least, to take the time to have the Dom reflect on what brought on the need to take the sub physically in hand and learn from it. I know in my Worship Series my Dom/hero is “harsh” to start, but he is on a growth tract and his character development is giving him spurts of learning to not dominate as a first reaction, while my sub/heroine is on a tract to learn to not wait until anger and physical correction is necessary to express herself. writing spankings as a way to just put down a sub is a poor reflection of the lifestyle and the tenet of safe, sane, consensual that is utmost in the BDSM world.


  7. Great points in your blog post! I’m really glad you addressed these issues. I’ve had the same issues as a reader. I can’t read stories/books where spankings (and worse) are given when it is clear that the heroine doesn’t want it and has tried to stop it. I tried reading a bestselling historical romance but I couldn’t even get past the look inside- the story just wasn’t consensual enough for me. Judging by some of the reader comments, it sounded like things only got worse as that book went on.
    As a writer, I navigated the same waters with my recent lighthearted spanking Regency novelette. I made sure that all of the spankings are with consent. Even the punishment spanking is a choice (other alternatives were given). I really like my Regency heroine, so she is going to get a sequel.
    I look forward to checking out more of your books as well as the ones mentioned by the other posters!


    1. I feel absolutely terrible for mentioning an author’s name in my earlier comment. I shouldn’t have done that, and I wish to offer my full apologies. I feel particularly bad because I have since read other work by her and I think she is quite talented. She also seems like she is a really nice person. If it is at all possible to either delete my earlier comment or edit it so that it no longer specifically mentions her, I would greatly appreciate that. Again, my sincerest apologies. Truly feel awful about this.


      1. I’ve edited it to take out the author’s name. Hope this is ok! I don’t like deleting comments, but if you want me to take the whole thing down, I will.


      2. Thank you very much. You can definitely leave the comment as edited. It does represent my honest reaction to one particular story, but I never should have mentioned a name. Thank you very much for editing my comment- I’m not someone who normally tears into someone and it was really weighing on my conscience.


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