As adults, we're told that actions speak louder than words. However, as children, we're told to use our words. So, which is it? In times of severe crisis, the hand and the foot make a stronger impact than the invisible, intangible smack of vowels and consonants lodged together erupting from the mouth. But what if one intentionally puts oneself in a situation wherein impact is inevitable? And moreover, why?
Take a young man who's begun puberty. He's playing American tackle football with some of his friends in the park. Instead of abiding by the proper strategy, once he catches the ball, he doesn't run as fast, in fact he makes himself an easy target for the opposing team to tackle and pile up on him. Or he purposely trips, and the opposing team captain comes over and places his giant foot on the young man's chest and presses down hard and takes the ball. Then, after the game, the young man goes home and masturbates. He shoots a fantastic load all over the red marks and bruises made by the other guys who piled on top of him, making sure to cover his load, too, over the imprint of the captain's sneaker on his chest. Now, at fourteen years old I did not—could not conceptualize why this turned me on so much. But the heavy sensation of my peers on top of me and the captain's sneaker pressed against my chest, gave me one of the hardest erections of my pre-sexually active life.
In that memory above, I put myself in the literal submissive or passive position intentionally to receive physical impact. When a person in the "lesser than" position displays disrespect, what better way to correct such behavior than to physically assert control? Parents used to spank their children all the time. But we've evolved. However, history, for the most part, always chose physical solutions instead of verbal ones to evoke change or carry-out discipline. These physical solutions are naturally called punishments. Punishments have evolved, too, from physical to passive acts. Denying your child sweets for misbehaving is one example (which always worked with me). But in a sexual context, we haven't evolved—perhaps deliberately. We have stayed primitive. And the reason why is complex. Our sexual lives serve as a parallel to our real lives, and mostly, even if one doesn't realize, what occurs during kink play is the direct result of compensating for what lacks in real life, or what needs fixing, or what has been neglected.
Impact play: the physical acts the dom imposes onto his sub during consensual playtime.
The acts include, but are not limited to, CBT, spanking, flogging, tickling, bastinado, trampling—some even argue manifestations of e-stim and wax play are considered impact play (but I'll leave this debate for those who regularly engage with that.) These acts are exercised through the hands or feet, the two (or four) parts of the body from which emanates our energy, our sheer brute force. Sometimes, weapons are preferred, sometimes, the plain hand or bare foot is all that's required. Now, I'm in no place to psychoanalyze anyone. And while there are plenty of instances wherein there is not always a psychological root connected to a kink or fetish, usually the original tree is seeded in something from our real lives. (I will leave that between you and…you.)
Now, I am not a certified psychologist. While I did take several psych courses at university, I did not obtain a degree in psychology. But what I do know is that what and how and with whom one does kink, if exercised correctly, balances the scales between our external worlds and our world of fantasy; fantasy is rooted in what isn't, what could be, or what could never be in our external lives. What we do in kink can assuredly compensate (to some extent) areas in our external worlds. Freud said, "Another technique for fending off suffering is the employment of the displacements of libido…derived from the sating of crude and primary instinctual impulses…satisfaction is obtained from illusions…The region from which these illusions arise is the life of the imagination…At the head of these satisfactions through fantasy stands the enjoyment of works of art…narcosis induced in us by art…bring about transient withdrawal…it is not strong enough to make us forget real misery." I interpret Freud's assertion as an advocation of any form of play, but especially role play and impact play. To fend off suffering, Freud suggests the displacement (the unconscious transfer of an intense emotion from its original object to another one) of libido, relishing in our primitive instincts and entering a world of fantasy, which in of itself, is art. Constructing play or a scene with another is generally no different than making a small film. It's art. The narcosis, or rather the stupor produced by drugs, a temporary state wherein one is detracted from reality, brings about withdrawal from the external world. And while creating a fantasy, carrying it out, and employing our primitive instincts cannot make us forget real misery, it is a temporary relief. And if in so far one does even just a little bit of the work to understand why, I allege that one would be able to tackle the real misery one faces in the external world. As Carl Jung said, "There is no birth of consciousness without pain." Kink allows us to take charge of that pain, control it to some extent, and exercise in a healthy environment. The release from either giving or receiving suffering (impact play) is withdrawal from reality.
To finish, I am not a masochist. I do not enjoy sexual arousal from physical pain. Rather, I am into discipline. And this is why I like roleplay. Because I am not a masochist, I need a justification to deserve punishment through impact play. I like to play the brat sub for a few reasons, one of which is to justify discipline. For me, creating the roleplay and the justification for discipline compensates for the void left over from my real life; a void created for private reasons in relation to my personal psychology. Going further, this is why I don't like long kink sessions, especially when a dom says something like, "I'm going to spank you or tickle you for hours." I do not take pleasure in the seemingly endless waves of impact. I am a brat. I did something wrong. I deserve to be punished. This should last for a controlled, appropriate amount of time. If it lasts longer than for what I believe my punishment deserves, I lose the sexual pleasure I receive from the impact and then enter some kind of boredom; the impact play loses its justification. This does not, however, mean my dom hasn't been satisfied—no, compromise is essential. On the flip side, innate sadists and masochists don't necessarily need a role to engage in impact play. They do not need to be creative. The sub gets bound, and the dom flogs, spanks, whips, slaps—whatever to his and his sub's optimal content. This can and does last for hours.
This is what I wish to clarify. When someone lists impact play as an interest, it doesn't necessarily mean one is a sadist or a masochist. Be curious. Are you an innate sadist or masochist? Or is it not so much about the pain as it is about what the act of impact symbolizes? From there, feel free to do some critical thinking. Why does this type of impact play excite you more than that one? Is it because it's related to a specific part of the body—i.e., back or butt or feet? What is it about a specific instrument, tool, or weapon that triggers a more significant sexual response versus another?
Ask questions, seek clarification, and understand your relationship to "pain" and "discipline" and "punishment" for your partner, or moreover, for yourself.
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