Made For the Way We’re Made

We start with a bad situation for Miss Dany Robin.

In the 1960 German comedy Scheidungsgrund: Liebe (Grounds for Divorce: Love), she plays Marylin, who has the habit of rapidly falling in and out of love, and whose life so far has been a series of brief marriages and early divorces. The most recent of the latter has turned nasty, and the discarded ex brings a criminal charge of assault against her with the intention of forcing her to pay financial reparation. Her clever lawyer, Thomas Werther (O.W. Fischer), disposes of the trumped-up threat, and unwittingly becomes Marylin’s next amorous objective. After a strenuous pursuit, she gets him… and more than she bargained for.

Werther is determined to wear the pants in the marriage, though at the crucial moment when he puts his foot down, the only pants he’s wearing belong to his pajamas; she is likewise in her nightie. He picks up a riding whip, causing consternation:

There follows an extended and entertaining chase as Marylin tries everything to evade him:

Everything, that is, except for running out of the bedroom door! But it’s to no avail:

And elsewhere in the house, her mother listens delightedly, realizing that at long last Marylin is properly married to a man who truly loves her.

The same realization takes a little longer to come to Marylin herself. Now it’s her turn to sue for assault, leading to an amusing situation where he demands that she show her injured bottom to the court, and ultimately leading also to her formal admission that she deserved to be spanked and doesn’t want her usual divorce. Happy ending!

The spanking is obviously the pivotal moment in this story, the incident that enables the structural balancing whereby Marylin is first defendant and then plaintiff, and part of the transformative experience that turns her from a marital mayfly to a long-term wife. It was to be expected that it should feature prominently in the publicity:

That’s the poster used in the French- and Dutch-speaking countries of Western Europe. But one detail of the scene seems to have been considered a little much for the domestic German market. Just as a few years later the poster for McLintock! replaced the coal shovel with John Wayne’s hand, so here the riding whip was removed:

The other problem with the riding whip is practical rather than a matter of taste: what’s it doing in the bedroom to start with?

A key point I’ve been making about spanking implements throughout this series is the importance of a fit between context and function. So you might expect Werther to spank his wife using something that would ordinarily be found in the bedroom.

But a riding whip has no place there, so it must have been brought there for the specific purpose of spanking her – at which point, perhaps it does come back to a matter of taste after all. Because of course there is an entirely different bedroom context for spanking, albeit one that’s far more likely to be acknowledged today than in 1960.

Scott Saavedra

Girls who want to be spanked may well be content with the usual range of tools – yes, even the belt!

But specialist manufacturers and retailers also offer custom-made implements for bedroom use, generally in two modes: on the left, the paddle, and on the right, the ‘flogger’, a development of the French martinet.

Paddles in particular will often have appropriate or quirky designs: just as sorority paddles tend to be etched with the Greek letters of the sorority’s name, so love-paddles and the like may have words relating to their function, such as…

But it’s a particular kind of spanking, associated with pleasure, sought after rather than dreaded, which is why there’s a market for these things in the first place.

‘Spank someone happy,’ it says. Preferably the one you love, which is why hearts are also a common theme.

You can also get implements with the business end in the shape of a hand:

You can use them in whatever position you like,

but they are generally small enough not to rule out the most intimate position of them all:

Now, if Thomas Werther had one of those in his bedroom in 1960, there’d have been no plausibility issue in what happens to Marylin!

So go on, if you want to… Spank someone happy!

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