It’s her birthday and she has announced to us that she’d like to receive a birthday spanking. As we arrive in the assigned room, she has hiked up her flouncy skirt, bared her lovely fat, pale ass, and bent over a high bench facing the wall, leaning onto her elbows, hands flat on the padded surface. Her face is hidden from us by arms and hair; she doesn’t see who came to be a part of this. I already admire her courage and trust in us and hope we won’t disappoint her.
We spread out in a half-circle behind her: tops, bottoms, switches; femmes, butches, trans guys, the genderfluid, the non-binary, the undefined; swagger, shyness, quiet confidence; many shapes and sizes, some of us decades apart in age. Some of us have never spoken to each other before, some of us have years of history as friends, partners, collaborators, some of us are currently not speaking to each other anymore. Our curiosity, expectation, and a hint of reservation waft between us. This is not an organized group, but we’re all ready to be a part of her birthday gift.
One of us has agreed to keep track of things and direct as needed. She stands next to the birthday girl, tells her how pretty she looks, tells her there are a lot of people to fulfill her wish, asks if she’s ready to begin. Birthday Girl affirms, and the air becomes a bit thicker as our collective focus gathers on her.
Directrix turns to her side and nods an invitation for the first smack. The tall butch top next to her steps up, takes a swing, their hand landing surprisingly small on Birthday Girl’s big ass.
Tall Butch and I have played together in the past, then shit happened, and currently we each pretend the other doesn’t exist so we can keep sharing social spaces. I still feel bitter about the careless way they ended things between us and my perception of them now is always tinged with distrust and disappointment.
Directrix asks Birthday Girl to guess who just hit her; Birthday Girl laughs in surprise and protest and points out that she doesn’t even know who’s in the room. Directrix says, “So what?” and just smiles maliciously. Birthday Girl guesses and is wrong. Directrix is amused.
We seem to have silently agreed to do the first round in order of our arrangement in the semi-circle. Next is another butch top, flat hand smacking onto the middle of Birthday Girl’s wide, round ass. Two other people follow, bottom-leaning switches delivering hesitant slaps, not too sure yet, maybe still finding their feet in this scenario.
This was already almost a tenth of the smacks Birthday Girl is going to get today – birthday spankings are very predictable that way, after all. I wonder how she feels because she hasn’t responded much to any of the smacks, yet. Is she nervous and still too tense to react? The stoic type who just takes it all in but doesn’t let out much? Perhaps she’s slightly bored and hopes we’d stop with the warm-up and get on with the good part of this spanking? It’s hard to tell from three steps away, without a view of her face and with the background music obscuring any small noises she may have made so far.
I’m also surprised that none of the people who approach her before me take any time to get a feel for her, to connect with her one-on-one. They all just step up, deliver a blow to her butt, then retreat to their place. It all looks so impersonal, so disconnected. I wonder if they perceive this as merely a functional favor, as a task that doesn’t require their full presence as long as they deliver heavy palms on skin. I’m glad I’m not the bottom in this arrangement.
I realize I’m starting to lose trust in my fellow kinksters here. While this probably began when I noticed that Tall Butch would also be part of this scenario, there’s more of my past in the emotional mix now. This ritual of standing in a semi-circle, watching the person in the middle is like my physical education exams back at school. This is a setting where I’m used to exposing my utter lack of athletic ability, which is then met with collective contempt, a loss of social status, and bad grades. And then there’s the history of all those people assuming that my femininity means that I don’t have any relevant skills and don’t need to be taken as seriously as anyone more masculine than me. From this sneaks a suspicion that even some people in this room may think that my submissiveness means that I’m just here to fill up the space between the Real Tops with my irrelevant hands. And this is where I become defiant.
It doesn’t matter anymore if anyone here really thinks I’m less competent, less important, less worthy. Now I have to prove that I deserve my spot in this circle, that I’m on equal footing with any damn tall butch top, that my choice to bottom and submit is because I want to, not because I’m categorically unable to top (and even if I was, that also wouldn’t make me less). Even if I’m the only person in this room who needs that proof.
I feel the heat of my resentment rise up my spine and remind myself that BDSM is not a competition. Yeah, right, snorts my inner cynic who thinks she’s the realist here. Like I’m the only one who brought her ego to this room. I tell myself to focus on Birthday Girl and her enjoyment, not on the complicated dynamics between the rest of us in the room, whether they exist right now or are just echoes from my past. Either way, I have something to prove. As a femme. As a submissive bottom. As the one who has been treated with such a shocking lack of care by Tall Butch and dismissed too often by other residents of the masculine spectrum. I know that I will be on display as much as Birthday Girl once I step forward for my solo in these group dynamics. I don’t like that this is the way things are, on this day, in this room, between these people, within myself, but I accept the challenge nonetheless. Defiance can be very motivational.
I balance my posture, proudly grounded in earth and air, shifting into a mode that welcomes the attention. I’m not the awkward approximation of a girl I used to be and I know it shows. I step forward to the center, high heels clacking on linoleum-covered wood. My first pair of high heels was a fundamental tool in my work to become a different kind of girl, one I liked better. One with more agency. Today’s heels are an implicit reminder of that. I stand to the side of Birthday Girl, rest one hand on the large small of her back. It’s a greeting, a tuning-in, our first direct contact today. My back is turned to Tall Butch, as if I don’t care, as if I’m excluding them from this moment. Because this particular moment of connection is for no one but Birthday Girl and me.
Or maybe not exclusively for us, because I still know I’m being watched, and still I have a strong urge to show them how to do this properly. An urge to fill the gaps left by the ones who came before me. To show Birthday Girl that I see her and her courage, her desire, that I care about her, and that I’m fully present, for this entire minute we’re sharing. I breathe out, let go of all the rush within me. Trail my fingers across the expanse of Birthday Girl’s cool, rosy ass, briefly rest my palm where a handful of her lightly sinks into my hand. Then take a swing and land a beautifully, perfectly resonating smack right onto her sweet spot. She gasps, like she finally woke up, and calls out, remembering her task and sure of herself, “That was you, Directrix!”
Nobody laughs. Directrix just says, “Nope!,” a hint of amusement at how badly Birthday Girl is failing this impossible task in her voice. But nobody laughs at me.
This is all the proof I needed. I won. I’ve won this challenge set to me by my own brain (and perhaps by a faint echo of doubt in someone else’s head). I’ve shown once again that I can fill the center of a semi-circle of observers with something other than embarrassment and failure. This is all the trophy I need: I claimed my place as an equal to every damn top, to every damn person more masculine than me, beyond the shadow of a doubt. Because everyone here has just witnessed Birthday Girl finally come to life at the skilled smack of my hand. Everyone has seen me pay attention to her as a whole person and not just treating her as a disembodied ass, without me saying a single word. Everyone has seen me read her right — she was getting a bit bored. Everyone has heard my smack and her gasp and knows it has landed exactly where and how I wanted and where she enjoyed it. Everyone here has just heard Birthday Girl conclude with absolute conviction that this experience could only have been created by Directrix, who everyone in this room knows to be an experienced sadist.
I quietly return to my place on the edge of the circle, allow myself a small, smug grin, and pass on the attention and the responsibility to the person next to me. After that, Birthday Girl never goes back to being bored. After that, I put away my ego again. I’m done competing.
Eventually, we’re done with the forty-odd strokes counting up to Birthday Girl’s new age. She straightens her body, her skirt, and her hair, gathers the parts of herself that have come loose. She turns around to face all of us for the first time this evening and thanks us for making her birthday wish come true. Soon, the circle dissolves and starts fading out of the room. I wait until she’s done thanking Directrix, then make a point of thanking her for the invitation, the opportunity and her delightful reactions throughout.
I just wish I hadn’t been the only one to acknowledge her skills in this.
No, really. BDSM is not and should not be a competition. But sometimes, it is a bit of muddled, impromptu group therapy. A place to question and renegotiate established orders and reflect on our choices. And a place to publicly recognize and celebrate the competence of everyone involved. And I’m definitely here for that, even if it gets a bit messy at times.
Today’s #Kinktober prompt was “spanking.”
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