I've spent today editing the photos to accompany "The Prefect and the Fag", the tense, edgy schoolboy bullying scene which is going up on the site this New Year's Eve. (NB for non-UK readers: 'fag' is old-fashioned English boarding school slang for a younger pupil used as a personal servant by a senior boy, and has nothing to do with the offensive word for a gay man.)
It's always a pleasure editing scenes which I'm not actually in, liberated to find the imagery hot again. When I'm in a scene, planning it, anticipating it, shooting it and often remembering it are hot, but I can't respond that way to the images themselves. So it's lovely to open the next photo and experience that unexpected frisson of excitement, that catch of the breath, the quickened heart beat. The moment that makes you stop and look twice when you're browsing online. Oh, that's hot. In this case it was Jimmy Holloway's raised palm and Sebastian Hawley's reddened bottom which triggered the effect.
I've talked a lot about the political context of M/M, but when Quai asked me about it earlier today I realised I hadn't actually talked much about what I like about it. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but I thought those of you who aren't into it might be interested to find out why it works for me.
My taste for M/M has gone through a cycle which I think many women might recognise. I fantasised about M/M spanking a lot as a child (in my case, specifically schoolboy spanking); then as a teenager, discovered the world of spanking porn and erotica, in which M/M barely features, and started to fantasise more about M/F and F/F as a result. Then, though my work in the porn industry and my political thinking, I re-connected with my initial attraction to M/M and "reclaimed" the fantasy as a core part of my kink. These days I watch male/male spanking films, but I've never seen one made with female viewers in mind.
So what is it about boy/boy spanking scenes that appeals so much?
1. Historical authenticity.
I have a vague sense that in the history of the world, most actual corporal punishment has been given by men to men. Perhaps this isn't true in a domestic context, but I think it is in institutional settings like school/military/judicial. And I do love my institutional settings.
2. Formative fantasies
Like Indy, M/M has featured in my fantasies since I was very young. My first CP fantasies were historical schoolboy ones, influenced by Roald Dahl's Boy, David Copperfield and Tom Brown's Schooldays. The Victorian novels I read growing up were too modest to mention the corporal punishment of girls, but boys? Hell yes. Even Enid Blyton's boys got thrashed at home, invariably by father or uncle rather than a female relative.
3. "Man up"
It's completely significant that in a world where the physical punishment of female children can't be talked about, boys are fair game. In the patriarchal world of Victorian melodrama, boys don't need to be protected or looked after like girls do. Boys need discipline, they need to have their rough edges smoothed off. For a girl to be whipped is shocking, a really big deal, she'd cry and it'd be horrible - but a boy? He's expected to take it like a man.
Lots of things are hot about this. The normalisation, for a start. Then there's the bravery factor. In my fantasies, I'm not a brat, I don't whine and make a fuss. I'm a survivor, a stoic heroine wilfully resisting a terrible ordeal. If your primary kink fodder growing up is 150-year-old children's books, you don't get to see that archetype much in female characters, but you do get to see it in male ones.
It's kind of sexist, but the whole idea of being told to "man up" while taking a spanking is shockingly hot to me. A disciplinarian who scorns any display of weakness. A challenge to your pride and dignity. Pride is my biggest sin; any appeal to my competitiveness is likely to strike home. If you're expected to be brave/strong/honourable/heroic that implies that everyone believes you can be. It's validating, in a weird sort of way.
Okay, I know that patriarchal gender expectations fuck life up for men in all sorts of ways, and in real life being told or expected to "man up" is pretty horrible. But as someone who's never actually experienced that particular cultural pressure in real life (and might quite like people, on average, to expect me to be emotionally stronger than I am rather than weaker) it's prime fantasy material.
4. Homoerotic tension
Most of my male/male spanking fantasies are between heterosexual men... but I like it when there's a bit of uncertainty about that. Sometimes it's purely disciplinary, like your father/son or uncle/nephew scenario. But sometimes it's a power play between two men of the same generation. This comes back to those institutional settings again: school and the military are both classic examples. Male teacher spanks boy pupil isn't sexed in my head, but officer beats solder? There could be unexplored sexual tension there. And abuses of power? Hell yes.
A sadistic prefect disproportionately punishing a helpless schoolboy is hot because it's unfair, but it's also hot because is this prefect just a cruel bully, or is there something else going on there, too? Make the homoeroticism explicit and I become less interested, but if it's subtle, below the conscious awareness of each of the characters, a frisson of possibility - that I like.
Even if there's no sexual tension, there's something enjoyable about seeing male homosocial dynamics intimately explored. I like the awkwardness that arises as the characters navigate the embarrassment of physical proximity, nudity, vulnerability. This wouldn't really be a thing without the aforementioned macho cultural pressure, but having been born into this fucked-up, gendered world, there's something fascinating and appealing about watching men try to align masculine expectations with the messy reality and strange intimacy of corporal punishment.
Male bottoms are very different from female ones, on average, and they're really nice to look at. I'm so saturated with female spankee imagery that male spankees stand out as new and interesting through sheer novelty value - the difference in how a spanked bottom moves without any of that flesh on the hips - but even if they didn't, a male bottom being spanked is pretty cool. I like slender boys with little bottoms that jiggle a bit, but I like chunky spankees with solid bottoms too; the round or square shape of the gluts, that restrained bounce as the impact travels through the muscle. Actually most men have spankable bottoms, even if they aren't spankees. Male bottoms are great.
6. Male tops
Diversity and equality are awesome, but you don't need to look far to realise that I'm pretty kinked towards male tops. I like female tops just fine, and there are certainly female spankers in my fantasies and in my life. But both my long term doms are male, and growing up, most of my fantasies involved male tops one way or another. M/M fits right into that.
Here's the thing about M/M: I'm not in it. I never will be in it. It's not about me. Sure, I can empathise and identify with the spankee, just as I can perv over his cute bottom and think about how fun it would be to turn it darker shades of red. But watching M/M contains no competitiveness, no comparisons. It's pure, unadulterated, self-indulgent voyeurism. I like that.