An Expert’s Guide to Spanking, for Beginners

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For many people, spanking is a sexual blind spot (though hopefully not a literal blind spot... it’s important to see your target!). But for real, many of us actually enjoy some light smacking during foreplay and/or sex, but don’t always articulate this fact to our partners.

Airing our sexual preferences can feel clumsy and embarrassing; so we tracked down leading army veteran and senior banker-turned-BDSM expert Michael Makai to offer pointers on incorporating spanking into your sexual repertoire. Makai is the author of Domination & Submission: The BDSM Relationship Handbook and expert for Top10AdultDatingSites.com, so clearly he knows what he’s talking about. He armed us with key ideas for making sure you and your partner are on the same page before engaging in any mutually consensual ass tapping.

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Introducing the subject

“Spanking, almost by definition, means using the open, bare hand to strike another person's body -- usually their bottom, since using the open bare hand on a face is considered slapping,” says Makai. For some folks, it may be a completely foreign concept; for others, it’s a perfectly natural thing to talk about. Still others see it as a perversion or even as a form of abuse.
 
Makai says test the waters by watching a BDSM-themed movie together and talk about it afterward. His top choice? “I particularly like the movie Secretary (starring James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal) for this purpose, since it has a pretty hot office spanking scene in it.”
 
Makai also suggests broaching the notion of spanking by engaging in “funishments,” or fun punishments for minor infractions of rules. “Gauging your partner's reaction to a suggestion is one relatively risk-free way of getting that ball rolling,” Makai shares. One more tip: refer to the act as an “erotic spanking,” which Makai says will help differentiate it from the unpleasant kinds of spankings we received as children.

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Squirming, flinching, squealing: what body language to watch for 

“If you're going to be the Top (the person delivering the spanking) in a spanking scene, you'll want to pay very close attention to your Bottom's (the person receiving the spanking) body language and other little details, such as skin sensitivity and fragility,” says Makai. This is particularly important if your spankee partner is someone you're less familiar with. It's entirely normal for the Bottom in a spanking session to squirm, flinch, wince, or squeal during a spanking. It's not really normal for the Bottom to panic, struggle, scream, or cry. “After all, you're supposed to be doing this because you both enjoy it, right?” he says.
 

Play it safe

“There should always be a safe word or non-verbal signal that is understood by both parties as something that will bring everything to an immediate halt,” says Makai. This is really important, even just for simple spankings, since you never know how some people will react. “It is an unfortunate fact of life that spankings can sometimes be a trigger that reminds individuals of childhood abuse.”
 

Know any health risks upfront

If there are any health issues, such as chronic pain, high blood pressure, history of stroke or seizures, these should be discussed in advance. “A session that starts out as a playful spanking could turn into a medical emergency if you go in uninformed and unprepared,” says Makai.
 

Make your intentions clear

“If this is the first time for a couple, the Top should explain what he intends to do and how he intends to do it,” says Makai. There should be no surprises during that first spanking session. One example Makai gives would be when someone is expecting a simple spanking, but instead receives genital or anal penetration of some sort during the course of the spanking. “For a longtime couple, that might be exciting and fun, but from a casual friend who promised just a simple spanking, it might not be fun at all,” he says.

Flickr/Matthew Romack

Aftercare is important

“If you're the Top, be sure to pay extra attention to your Bottom's physical and psychological welfare after the spanking,” says Makai. This is called “aftercare” and it's important. Even a thoroughly beautiful and enjoyable spanking can turn ugly if the Top just walks away and grabs a beer from the fridge afterwards. He says most Bottoms like to be reassured and held after a spanking. Some do not. Find out what your partner likes. But even if they don't want to be cuddled, pay attention to their overall welfare for a time afterwards. “I have actually had a partner end up in the emergency room from a post-BDSM scene stroke, which was manifest only by the fact that she smiled with only half of her mouth,” says Makai. “If I hadn't been paying very close attention, she could have died.”

Positioning is important

Positioning your Bottom is very important. “I personally prefer over-the-knee spankings or spanking benches,” says Maki. He points out that rhythm is very important. Ditto for confidence. No one wants a tentative, uncertain spanking. As for sweet spots, each body type is different, but you will know you're getting it right by the sound. “A good spank makes an unmistakable sound,” he says. “You'll know it when you hear it!”

Have fun

The important thing is to have fun with spanking. “It should never be done in anger, ever,” says Makai. “It should be fun and erotic; something to be anticipated and enjoyed, not something that should be feared and avoided.” Makai believes that characterizing erotic spankings as punishment can end up being counterproductive. In his house, there’s a saying: only good girls get spankings!

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Charyn Pfeuffer is a Seattle-based freelance writer and a very good girl. Follow her sometimes bare-bottomed adventures on Twitter: @charynpfeuffer.