Thursday, January 7, 2016

The hotness of second-class citizenship

I've just started a new dys/u/eutopian sci-fi that I'm tentatively calling The Marriage Decree. The idea is that a group of colonists left earth in the 31st century to form a traditional male-led society, but five generations on their descendants have begun to abandon the founding principle of family discipline. The conservative administration, controlled by traditionalists, imposes the Decree for Ensuring Domestic Tranquility, which demotes women to second-class citizens, with their voting rights controlled by their heads-of-household and men explicitly required by law to use corporal punishment to keep their wives in line.

I'll leave the tease there for now, but I want to explore the reasons why I should think it's so hot to imagine myself as a second-class citizen, when everything in my personal and cultural makeup screams how wrong that is. It's a theme I've worked on and to which I've returned several times in my erotica, including an excerpt I'll share below, but which, when writing fiction intended to arouse my reader, I don't really have the opportunity to consider in an analytic way.

Here's my theory: the submissive sexual orientation eroticizes power, above all—I think those of us who self-identify as BDSM in one way or another can all agree on that. So to have my power legally taken away, so that I have no choice at all but to obey my husband or receive just correction in whatever way he sees fit—belt or paddle or cane or butt-plug, ratchets up the arousal. 

At the same time (and perhaps this is actually the most important reason the fantasy works for me) any individual man, whether my husband or the government auditor who is required by law to check in once a month and make certain I am receiving the discipline I need as a second-class citizen, is only doing his job as he orders me over the family spanking-bench to receive the lesson I've earned. As a second-class citizen, after all, it's essential that the first-class citizens in charge of me maintain order, even if that means that when I misbehave they must thrash me with terrible severity and (if it's my husband) fuck me in a style that makes clear who's in charge in this society—for my own good, of course, and with cuddles afterward, and "I'm so sorry I had to do that, Emily, but you must learn, and it's my responsibility to teach you. I want you to remember, when you feel how sore your anus is tomorrow from my cock, that you are a second-class citizen who is under my protection. I have to answer for your conduct, so I will make sure that conduct is perfect, even if it means you have to go over the spanking-bench every day."

It goes without saying, I hope, that the only reason this demotion of status can be hot for me is that it's not the way things actually are. If I actually couldn't vote for myself but had to allow my husband to cast a vote for me, it wouldn't turn me on in the slightest. 

The fantasy though, of him telling me that I'm silly to want our taxes raised and, when I protest that we can certainly pay more to help others who are in need, ordering me into the bedroom for a date with his belt and a good hard dominant fucking, until I see that of course poor people should have to pull themselves up by their bootstraps… worked up sufficiently, with the lecture in economics given in an angry voice as the thick leather comes down on my bare backside over and over, it makes my panties damp.

One of the books where I treat this theme, rather with my tongue in my cheek, is Assigned a Guardian. Here's a sample:

Whereas the colonists of the planet Draco face hardships that make certain freedoms to which modern people are accustomed unsafe to maintain, and whereas the colonists wish to secure to themselves first safety, and, later, prosperity, therefore be this basic law adopted and enacted as the foundation of good order on the planet Draco, this fifth day of January in the year 2187 of the Common Era, by Earth reckoning, and the year 12 of human life on Draco.

An article about the post of governor, which had far-reaching executive powers, followed. Then came an article about the governor’s council, which served as the colony’s legislative body. The specifications for the court system followed. Then the real innovations, if they could be called that, began.

By recommendation of the governor, and ratification by the governor’s council, all recognized forms of gainful employment shall be classified as appropriate either only to men or also to women. No woman shall be gainfully employed in a post designated as appropriate only to men. Forms of gainful employment designated as appropriate to women shall be further placed under the direction of a male agent of business, ordinarily the head of household in authority over the woman occupied in such employment. These forms of employment shall be further designated as ‘women’s work,’ and any remuneration for them shall be delivered to the agent of business.

The maintenance of discipline throughout the civil order being vital to the survival of the citizenry, the practice of corporal punishment shall be employed throughout the civil administration of Draco, and the planetary administration shall promote said practice for use in the homes of citizens. The foregoing notwithstanding, men are explicitly advised that the right to use any form of discipline acceptable to them, provided it do no permanent injury to the party disciplined, shall not be abridged by the governor or by legislation made in the governor’s council.

Patrick had already seen one of the posters that clearly traced their origin to this article of the Basic Law. It showed two photographs of a young woman, at a guess in her twenties. In the photo on the left, her cheeks were stained with tears, and she was shown in a medium-shot that suggested she was bending over something—a stool or the arm of a chair, perhaps. On the right side of the poster the same young woman was hugging a child close, with a touchingly maternal smile on her face. The caption was in block letters: SOMETIMES FAMILY HARMONY IS ONLY A SPANKING AWAY.

One of the questions Patrick had been told in his citizenship interview that he should expect to be asked on the test concerned the origin of this article, which was apparently called ‘the spanking article’ of the Basic Law. It had of course been highly controversial at the time of its adoption, but John and Marjorie Leary had given an interview together that won the hearts of the colonists, in which they revealed that John spanked Marjorie regularly, and that they both attributed the strength of their marriage to that practice.

The social disorder on Draco had been very severe at the time. The values coalition’s principal rival, the liberal progressives, had refused to concede that their demands for radical equality had anything unrealistic about them. The day before the Learys gave the interview, several hundred protesters, 70% of them young women, had been arrested when they tried to storm the administration building.

It turned out in the wake of the protest and the interview that most of the colonists were more than ready to embrace something new, especially since John Leary made it clear that part of the values coalition platform was that the government’s power stopped at each citizen’s front door. Patrick had to admit that the notion of keeping order so simply appealed to him as well. Jack Tatum, the official who had conducted Patrick’s citizenship interview, had told Patrick that guidance was readily available to him, should he wish it, on the matter of discipline in the home.

“But,” Jack had said, “that’s probably not something you’ll have to worry about all that soon—although we encourage men to get married as soon as they can find a suitable wife.”
Then came the article about guardianship.

At the age of eighteen, each unmarried woman shall be assigned a male guardian. A woman’s guardian shall be responsible for her conduct. He shall have authority to discipline her in any way he sees fit, so long as he does not cause her permanent injury.

Jack had pointed Patrick to a separate document, titled the disciplinary codicil, which defined the disciplinary rights of a guardian. It appeared that the only thing a guardian was forbidden to do was force himself sexually upon the woman for whom he had responsibility. There was a list of punishments that guardians were specifically and explicitly allowed and encouraged to use as well: spanking, strapping, paddling, and caning were the more familiar types of punishment there. There was also a section on forms of humiliation that the administration found potentially beneficial, and which Patrick imagined had originated in the Leary household. Astonishingly, they included the removal of pubic hair and the dressing of the fractious woman in diapers.

Another, rather propagandistic, document called ‘A Guide to Guardianship’ made it clear, though, that such measures were to be employed only in situations ‘in which ordinary disciplinary measures such as hand-spanking and belt-whipping prove ineffective.’ For the most part, the pamphlet said, the role of a guardian was to check in with his charge once a week, and help her in the process of courtship that would lead to her marriage.


  1. I agree...non consent reluctance is a huge fantasy of mine. I felt weird about it until i realized that to imagine giving over control and having my decisions taken away can be liberating. I believe in equal rights in real life and indulge in submission fantasies that make my pleasure sweeter! -- Lee Savino

    1. Exactly! I feel like I have to work on letting myself fantasize about being constitutionally (that is, by law and by nature) in that position. Of course, a few years ago before I started really letting myself go in fiction, I would have said the same thing with a lot more justification! It just kind of never feels like you're really there, though, which is not a terrible thing, I suppose, because my qualms ground me in reality, and I don't actually want to let go of reality.

  2. There is joy in submission that required one to overcome the guilt of letting other believe that you are letting them down (feminist). Nothing like being free to enjoy one's submission when all are forced to submit. I wonder how many women would actually enjoy forced submission and truly desire to kneel before their husband/master. I love your books. Jane

    1. Thanks, Jane! That first sentence seemed convoluted the first time I read it, but then it started to make perfect sense—I think that freedom to submit is a huge part of the appeal in fantasy of this scenario.

  3. Hi Emily, I am fan of the cheesy Stepford Wives TV sequels (revenge of the stepford wives, the stepford children). The idea that a group of men could transform their girl friends/wives into obedient submissive housewives is basis for many stories in my head. The fact that they can do this unbeknownst to the outside world make the story even more enticing. I always think of stories where men take their partners to "vacation" in such a small town in today's world. Once there, they are arrested for some violating arcane morality law like showing their bare legs. Sentenced to "finishing" school. After "proper" training the women become the submissive obedient domestic housewives the man have always wanted. This could be your next dystopian story. I am sure you will spice it up.

    Your Fan, Jane

    1. Thanks, Jane! Strangely enough (or not!) I actually have an upcoming plot idea that's not terribly dissimilar! :)

  4. Emily, I forgot to mention that some us are not into age play but we understand that public humiliation is a big turn-on for some. For someone like me, being made to wear a diaper will never rock my boat but if my partner made me wear a long prairie dress with a ruffled apron while entertaining my former law partners or business partners, I would both feel embarrassed only because they would know that that was what I really wanted and I would feel so turned on because I was outwardly showing my submission. In my stories, the other men would be openly talking about how to change their wives despite their protest as they sat next to them at the dinner table. All while I smile knowing that they too long to be domesticated. That is the extent of my Stepford fascination. Maybe I should call it stepford play :). Jane

    p.s. I was reading Assigned A Guardian when I reach the point where age play started. That's what caused me to write this comment. I still enjoy the book.

    1. I have to say that I actually enjoy writing (and fantasizing about) the more adult, Stepford sort of humiliation you describe, though obviously diapers work for me, too. My favorite scene of that kind (written by me, I mean) is in "Geoffrey's Rules," though instead of a long dress with a ruffled apron it's a sexy dress that the hero lifts up at the dinner table to show his business associates just how thoroughly he's brought the heroine under his dominance. :)

  5. I think you might enjoy a game we're working on now called State of the Union, which postulates a political take-over of a country and the gradual abolition of female suffrage (for one!). Google selectacorp if you're interested!