Domestic Discipline

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cover of Father Figure, a Sentinel gen zine in which features Jim Ellison and Blair Sandburg in a domestic discipline relationship; the artist is Lorraine Brevig

Domestic Discipline (sometimes DD for short) is a label (or depending on the perspective a warning if it is a squick) in fanfic to indicate that a relationship between the characters involves physical punishment or discipline between them. This commonly spankings, but also other measures, and it can also include non-physical punishments.

Gen Kink

The label is commonly used if it is a consensual relationship, not as much if it is for example a slavefic that features punishments by the owner/master, and the perspective of domestic discipline fic is that the punishment is beneficial, and often, though not always, ultimately desired by the one punished, for example to correct and modify behavior "for their own good."[1] Stories in which pain and punishment is used consensually to relieve guilt are usually not labelled as domestic discipline, because the element of behavior modification is absent. It is also less used if one character is de-aged or a child to begin with and it is a parental relationship or a relationship with a teacher, though some fans do count kidfics with spankings under the DD label. If that perspective of the punishment as beneficial is absent authors usually don't pick the DD label, but one like "contains abuse" or with children "child abuse."

While many discipline stories do feature sexual BDSM relationships, domestic discipline fic (e.g. a subgroup of gen mentor fic) usually isn't sexual. However some gen archives such as the Sentinel archive Cascade Library, have policies that exclude domestic discipline fic.[2] Some gen readers also don't see gen DD fic as truly gen because the id button it pushes for many readers is sexual and works as porn, even if it may not be a sexual situation for the characters. Gen domestic discipline shares that quality with several other power kinks.

Spanking of an adult woman by an adult male, usually a husband or fiance, was completely accepted in mainstream society until relatively recently. Spanking scenes in Hollywood films were commonplace. [3] One 1978 example of spanking in Trek writing comes from the story, "Surprise!" by Sondra Marshak in The New Voyages #2:

When is her birthday?" Kirk muttered. I think the traditional spanking might be in order."

Spock raised an eyebrow. "Fascinating custom, Captain. Do you really want to inaugurate it among the command crew of the Enterprise?"

Kirk shot him a look of mischief, with just a touch of speculation on whether the Vulcan implied that someone might try to inaugurate it on the Captain of the Enterprise. [4]

It Was a Thing in Sentinel Fandom

A fan's 2005 description of Domestic Discipline in The Sentinel:

Domestic discipline is a genre of stories that involve one partner taking/being given responsibility for judging the other's behavior, and meting out punishments if the behavior breaks any rules or is otherwise inappropriate. In theory, it's completely non-sexual, and it definitely isn't S/M. It's neither play nor slave-master level -- it's literal punishments for (perceived) bad behavior, meant to teach someone to be a better/more responsible person.


In fanfic, there's seldom any mention of a contract, and most "infractions", regardless of degree, seem to result in spanking the "bad" partner's naked ass, not playfully but with intent, often

(always?) resulting in the spanked partner crying/sobbing in pain, and usually accompanied with detailed descriptions of how red and hot the ass has gotten because of the spanking. The bare-assed partner is also usually draped across the punishing partner's lap. (Again, this is equally true in gen fanfic, as well as slash.) All of which is why it feels so very much like a kink, no matter how much writers of DD say it's not sexual. [5]


Occasionally the genre faces the criticism that labelling stories thus is a euphemism for what amounts to spousal or child abuse in reality, in particular if the relationship in the story in question is not highly formalized with prior negotiation and explicit consent to the punishments. The Divine Adoratrice said:

I have serious problems with the notion that if you love someone enough, you're entitled to cold-bloodedly hit them. Yeah, there are a lot of couples where one person says, "It's for your own good, and you're making me do this," and the other says, "I shouldn't have provoked you." However, in my experience, these relationships inevitably end up in one of four places: a therapist's office, a shelter for battering victims, a hospital or a morgue. I don't think any of these is a romantic setting. [6]

Other fans object to DD because they see it as infantilization and also as overlapping with their incest squicks:

My difficulty is that apparently I have a very active and far-reaching sense of the incest taboo. Domestic discipline situations strike that primal "Ewwww!" in me because one of the lovers is acting in a parentified way toward the other. [...]

Here, finally, is why I react so violently against domestic discipline. The blurring of the role of parent and lover in these

stories crosses a powerful, primitive, non-negotiable line in me. It's why my response to domestic discipline stories feels more like a moral stand than a personal preference. Even though the characters are both adults and are not related by blood, having them take on roles that are so reminiscent of parent and child within the confines of a sexual relationship tramples all over some very important boundaries I have, in a way that feels fundamentally wrong.[7]

A Professionals fan writes of the overlap with BDSM fiction:

Another ugh for me is discipline stones, I have read BDSM stories, and while I feel an uneasiness, yet if it's well done (consensual and erotic) it is OK ... but there's something about discipline stories that sets me on edge. I've tried to analyse why I can read BDSM - I think it's because there's no sex in pure discipline stories, whereas the consensual sex in BDSM at least affords pleasure to both parties. Often in discipline stories there is a definite need by one character, at least for this to happen. But even if it could be called consensual, yet it's just spanking or beating and I can't see any pleasure in it; if there's going to be pain, there should be pleasure to balance it for me. Even if the character 'needs' it, it is still done as punishment and seems to me more perverted than BDSM. Of course it is also to do with my liking my favourite characters to be in control and not in a position I personally would find totally humiliating. In discipline the doer seems to decide when the 'victim' has had enough, whereas in BDSM the sub actually has control through the agreed rules and safeword. Eroticism helps me read BDSM but there's nothing erotic about punishment. [8]

More Fan Comments


Take domestic discipline; that's another no go area in this fandom -- in public. Mention it and lips curl. But I see the reader stats at ASR3 (to bring this back to the thread title) and the two DD fics I posted there have more hits than just about any other fic I've posted, so clearly it's more popular than you'd think -- but is anyone going to admit liking it out loud?[9]

People have asked for DD stories and gotten them in the two storyfinder sites I use. And I've seen "Point of Contact" recommended quite often. I wouldn't describe it as DD but others have. The only thing I see pointed out is that, if a story is a recommendation and not a reply to a specific request, that it *is* pointed out as a DD. That's no different than providing other warnings of known squicks for a fandom. Although I think DD is quite a nebulous description, applied incorrectly many times.

PoC is most definitely not DD. It's BDSM, which is entirely different (and a lot more 'acceptable'). DD is more often than not gen, or labeled that way; BDSM not so much.[10]

I remember back in the old days of TS fandom when I started a big uproar on the senfic list by suggesting that Kris William's "Scapegoat" was a DD story. There are also some popular writers like Susan Foster and Agnes Mage who seem to get away with writing DD and not having it classified as such. I'm not in a DD relationship myself, but I used to know someone who was. I think most people think of DD as spanking, but that's not necessarity the case. It may be as obvious as a spanking or as subtle as the common notion that Blair will end up cleaning grout with a toothbrush if he breaks one of Jim's house rules.[11]

What I mean by nebulous is the people who are describing them, not the actual stories themselves, which I agree are pretty tightly defined. I've seen any story that contains a hand hitting an ass described as DD. As you pointed out PoC is BDSM, as are many other stories where discipline, physical and mental, is used. Spanking as foreplay doesn't fit the DD genre either, IMO. There's gen and slash DD too. For people who don't have intimate knowledge of the nuances of each genre, it's pretty easy to lump them all together. And pretty easy to condemn them all.[12]

DD hits some of my buttons, misses others; I prefer BDSM as a writer and reader but Anna S's two definitely worked for me; which is why I had a go at writing it myself just out of curiosity.

From the ones I've read in this fandom, there's generally a transgression (Blair puts himself a risk) followed by Jim freaking out and saying Blair needs discipline. Sometimes there's a spanking in the heat of the moment, followed by a reconciliation and then an agreement that this is how it will be; rules will be drawn up together, if broken, penalties, also agreed upon in advance, will occur. It's usually emphasized that it's consensual and the purpose/intent is to help the one being disciplined and make them a better person. One to grow on, literally.

And, yes, it doesn't have to be spanking; corner time, writing lines, loss of privileges; they're usually parental/child or teacher/student type of punishments which is why many are classed as gen and Blair made a little younger than Jim.

The ones where there's a sexual relationship as well are a little more complex to handle as it raises questions of how far the power dynamics of the DD should carry over into the relationship.

But plain old, I get off on spanking; put me over your knee before sex isn't DD, just S/M. [13]

Examples of Domestic Discipline Fanworks

Han gives Leia a spanking, from Shadowstar #6, artist is Mary Jean Holmes
  • The Real World by Saraid is a responsefic. The author notes: "Jim takes his role as Blessed Protector too far and loses everything. A response to the plethora of despicable domestic abuse stories out there masquerading under the too-cute synonym of so-called 'domestic discipline.'" [1]
  • The Maze (1976), a Kraith installment by Joan Winston (Metamorphosis #2, 1976). Kirk, while studying on Vulcan, is in a "Warder-Liege compact" with Spock. This is "the most formidable tool for training the mind ... a highly artificial arrangement ... The Liege has total control over all the actions, and even over the life of his Ward. The Ward is allowed no independent thought, and is also obliged to allow no harm or discomfort to come to his Liege.." [14] Kirk is put in an impossible bind: he must disobey an order, to save Spock's life. In ancient times the punishment was being branded in the face, but the pair settle on spanking as a punishment that will not permanently harm Kirk but that he will never forget. One reviewer called this "either a ridiculously serious story or a seriously ridiculous story." A sequel by Mariann Hornlein, "From Both Sides" (Galactic Discourse #2), has Kirk attempting ultra-Vulcan behavior in order to show Spock and Sarek that this isn't what they want.
  • Hit Me Once by Aramae is a Sentinel example in which Jim and Blair encounter another couple's domestic discipline relationship. The author writes: "If you are a fan of corporal punishment stories, this story ain't for you!"

Meta/Further Reading



  1. ^ See Dr. Alice Miller's For Your Own Good: Hidden Brutality in Childhood, and the Roots of Violence, entire text online at
  2. ^ Cascade Library - Site Information, Archived version (accessed 21 Aug 2009)
  3. ^ Spanking in the Movies and On TV, page found 2012-02-11.
  4. ^ from the story, "Surprise!" by Sondra Marshak in The New Voyages #2
  5. ^ comments by Margie at Prospect-L, quoted with permission (January 3, 2005)
  6. ^ The Divine Adoratrice. This'll hurt you more than it hurts me. 28 March 1999, with addendum 04 April 1999 (accessed 21 Aug 2009)
  7. ^ Annabelle Leigh. Domestic Discipline: Understanding Its Effect On Me (Or Why I Can't Be Fair) (accessed 21 Aug 2009)
  8. ^ from a fan in DIAL #18
  9. ^ comments on Prospect-L, quoted anonymously (March 2009)
  10. ^ comments on Prospect-L, quoted anonymously (March 2009)
  11. ^ comments on Prospect-L, quoted anonymously (March 2009)
  12. ^ comments on Prospect-L, quoted anonymously (March 2009)
  13. ^ comments on Prospect-L, quoted anonymously (March 2009)
  14. ^ Lichtenberg probably invented the Warder-Liege for the Kraith novel Federation Centennial, but it was Sondra Marshak who took time to explore its wondrous possibilities. And Marshak insists there's no slash in her work.