Does Gender Matter?

I recently encountered this snippet of F/F spanking in a music video from 2013:

It’s a spanking on white panties, with excellent OTK positioning and fluttering legs. What’s not to like?

Well, the drawback lies in the fact that the role of the spanked girl is played by a drag queen, Sharon Needles. ‘She’ is biologically male.

So… is the scene F/M or F/F?

The question is complicated because there is a contradiction between what the performers are representing and the medium through which it is represented.

We can explore this problem further by looking at some M/F spankings.

02 Perth 195301 Toledo Blade 13 April 1952

In the most literal sense, there are no human figures in these pictures. Both of them represent a man spanking a woman, but the medium of the representation is the ink with which the artists drew them. But we don’t usually think about art with that level of literalness. We don’t look at the ink: we look at the figures.

The point is that the body of the drag queen is the same as the ink: it is the medium through which the video represents a spanked woman. In theory, if you ignore the ink in order to see the figures, then you should also ignore ‘her’ maleness. If the video is F/M, then the drawings are ink/ink.

Here’s another picture for you.

03 Binnie Male

This leaves me completely cold, and I don’t think that’s entirely because I’m just not very interested in caning. The schoolboy is portrayed by an actress. It is, in fact, the English comedienne Binnie Hale, in a sketch entitled ‘Food for Thought’ that formed part of her revue One – Two – Three at the Duke of York’s Theatre, London, in 1947. Here’s what she looked like in real life:

04 Binnie Hale

But in the caning picture, she’s doing a passable imitation of a boy (with Charles Heslop as the schoolmaster) … so is the picture M/M or M/F?

Partly it’s an issue of how effective the representation is, which means how far the image presented occludes the medium through which it is presented. Or, putting it more simply, are we meant to, and do we, see the gender of the performer as well as the gender of the character they are playing?

Here’s Binnie Hale’s younger brother, Sonnie Hale, who co-starred with her in One – Two – Three, but is here appearing in the Emile Littler production of the pantomime Aladdin, which played at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Birmingham, for three months from December 1940.

05 Aladdin Sonnie Hale Jessie Matthews

Sonnie is playing Widow Twankey, who is spanking her son, Aladdin, but we’d have to be pretty unobservant to miss the fact that the principal boy is a girl. In fact, it’s Sonnie’s real-life wife, the legendary musical comedy star Jessie Matthews (who complained in her autobiography that Littler’s script was old-fashioned and ‘reeked of mothballs’). It’s a very attractive spanking picture… but is it M/F or F/M?

So sometimes you are meant to notice the performers’ true gender and sometimes you aren’t. And that brings us back to the spanking of Sharon Needles. Drag queens deliberately cultivate the appearance of femininity, to the extent that they customarily use the pronoun ‘she’ with reference to themselves. They are not like the usual tranny exhibitionists who are so hard to avoid seeing when you search for spanking pictures on flickr. You know, the ones who so unsuccessfully attempt to disguise their masculine features with excessive and ineffective deployment of blusher and out-of-date ‘girly’ hairdos. A bit like this:

06 Danny Dowling

That would be an excellent spanking photo if it weren’t for the ‘girl’s’ face and head. But now take a closer look at her body.

The photo shows the New Zealand stand-up comedian Danny Dowling, who mainly works in Ireland. It was taken in 2012 by Natalie Herzer-Greer, who owns the Galway firm Boudoir Girls and does pin-up photography, and it was used to publicize Dowling’s comedy ‘talent show’ entitled Brand Spanking New.

07 Danny Dowling

Thanks (or rather, in this case, no thanks) to the miracle of Photoshop, Danny Dowling appears in the photo twice. Or rather, his head does. The rest of the girl being spanked is a real girl; in fact, it’s Dowling’s wife, Lorraine Brennan. No unprocessed version of the picture seems to have escaped onto the internet, but here it is, reprocessed:

08 Danny and Lorraine

Now you can use Photoshop yourself to insert whatever female head you prefer!

And indeed, what you prefer is very much the point. At a basic level, gender does matter a lot to me, because I really don’t care for X/M spanking at all. I even feel uncomfortable about the spanking scene in On Moonlight Bay, where Gordon MacRae thinks the spanking he’s administering is M/M, and stops when he realizes that the ‘boy’ being spanked is actually Doris Day.

09 On Moonlight Bay

So the knowledge that Sharon Needles is not a girl bothers me… almost as much as it bothers me that I find the footage still gets a reaction from me, of the kind that schoolboy Binnie never has and never will, because, in a different way, Sharon Needles is a girl – and she is being spanked. Does gender matter? I just don’t know. Do you?

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