Professors C Nemesis and P t Woodgnome
(Dept. of Antisocial Sciences, Draconis College)
to the Master for such a warm welcome. For those of you who dont know
us already, I am Professor Nemesis actually, I think that one way or
another I do know most of you and I expect to know the rest shortly. I shall
be delivering the major part of todays lecture. This is Professor Woodgnome
and he will be demonstrating his fine control of all things electrical and electronic
and looking after the slides and sound equipment, and preferably not
pressing the Big Red Button. Not if he knows whats good for him.
of this years lecture is Pure and Applied Discipline in a Long Term
now look, do you think we could get all the sniggering and giggling over straight
away? This is a serious topic, and although it has fallen to me to discuss it
on this particular occasion, I would remind you that it is also a major part
of our coursework on Human (and Other) Sexuality. Those members of the student
body who report to me on a tutorial basis will already be aware that this topic
is regularly covered in the end of year examinations. I am conscious that many
of you are not members of the faculty and are attending today out of respect
for the late Professor, or out of general and I trust not prurient interest,
but those students who have listed this as one of their course options will
need to research in greater detail the matters upon which I will touch today,
and will need to treat them with all seriousness.
have in previous lectures already identified our case histories; Professor Woodgnome
is passing out brief notes on the couples to those of you who are not already
acquainted with them, and for your sake Ill offer a few background details.
case history relates to a heterosexual married couple, N and F. N is a senior
police officer; F is a professional woman who runs her own business. They are
both in their late forties and their relationship is only a few years old. It
is a second marriage for N and F has had several previous relationships, based
on serial monogamy.
a sexual submissive; F is a sexual dominant; neither of them is interested at
all in taking the opposing rôle. This couple feels no need for discipline in
the context of control or punishment. They claim that this element of their
joint life is purely sexual. F likes to hurt N; N likes to be hurt by F in the
form of sado-masochistic play between them, often in a semi-public place.
hope that we are not going to have much more sniggering.
would remind all students of the difficulty with all this qualitative data.
We can describe specific pairings; we cannot argue from the general to the specific
nor from the specific to the general. We simply do not have enough couples to
form a statistically significant sample, and furthermore all our data
if data you can call it is based on narrative. Im sure I dont
need to remind my own students about researcher bias and social desirability
bias at this point, but those of you from other discipl I mean, those
of you who come from other academic areas might consider that we ask our volunteers
how they behave and how they feel and we write down what they tell us. They
may be mistaken or lying; we, in making deductions about behaviour, filter their
histories through our own experiences and beliefs. There is no measureable evidence.
ladies and gentlemen, that data is not the plural of anecdote.
N, as I say, is submissive. He is highly intelligent, strongly motivated in
his chosen profession, and extremely successful at it. He claims to have been
aware for most of his life of a degree of sexual submission, and his first wife
and various partners before and after his first marriage have been intelligent,
strong minded and successful women. However, he did not act directly upon his
inclinations until such time as he met his current partner, F. His relationship
with his immediate family is good; both parents and also his sister have, or
have had, white-collar occupations. He has encountered since early childhood
strong female rôle models, but his relationship with his father is sound. His
father, however, was also a police officer and for much of Ns childhood,
the constant presence was his mother, who worked only part-time outside the
home, rather than his father whose duties caused frequent absences.
the other hand, was brought up by a single mother, and her formative years did
not include particularly strong male influences. Her choice of profession took
her out of traditional female areas. She is strongly opinionated in matters
of sexual politics and her family basis is weak.
wish to consider Freud? We might argue that N has chosen a partner who resembles
his mother in strength and organisation. F, on the other hand, may be combining
her desire for a strong and reliable male partner the father so decisively
absent in her formative years with her own desire to be in full control
of her life and therefore also of his.
back, please, ladies and gentlemen, to your earlier notes on cultural norms.
In particular, consider that for both N and F, they are acting against the cultural
norms of both their gender and their occupation.
is a further complication added by Ns use of pain as a defence mechanism
and a stress reliever. This takes, as far as can be established, two forms.
There is the purely sexual: sex is a counter to stress; his occupation frequently
leads him to feel stressed; the particular form of his chosen sexual foreplay
reduces that stress. However, he also expresses the need for an extreme form
of the behaviour in its own right, even without consequent or subsequent sexual
activity, using a ritualised form which is intended to eliminate from his conscious
mind the unpleasant part of his daily workload. This may involve extremes of
behaviour from F towards him, demanding complete submission. Both subjects describe
this as non-sexual, although further questioning did reveal that F finds satisfaction
in the degree of trust expressed by N towards her even when she treats him with
now move on to our second couple: the homosexual pairing P1 and P2. For the
sake of convenience we have tended to refer to them as P and Alpha. P is a professional
sportsman in point of fact, a rugby player and Alpha, who is some
twenty years older than P, was also a professional rugby player in his youth
and has moved since his retirement into the spheres of training and management.
couple is obliged to combine both a private (sexual) and a professional relationship;
one of the means by which they avoid the difficulties of one bleeding into the
other is through physical discipline. I would at this point like to refer you
to your previous notes on Behaviourism, and in particular to the lectures on
operant conditioning. For those of you from other faculties, that, in simple
terms, means that Ps future behaviour is determined by the consequences
of the past. A specific behaviour on his part an action deemed unacceptable
by Alpha is followed by an unpleasant consequence. That is, P misbehaves
and he gets a spanking from Alpha.
behind this is that the consequence makes P less likely to repeat the behaviour.
This is the classic stimulus-response which was covered earlier in the term.
We are talking negative conditioning here: making Ps unacceptable behaviour
less likely to occur by having him associate it with pain. By the way, I would
remind you at this point that negative conditioning is not the same as
negative reinforcement. Negative reinforcement would act by removing something
that P disliked; positive reinforcement presents P with something that he does
like. Punishment, since it presents something that P does not like, is negative
conditioning. Those of you who wish to go deeper into that topic should refer
to Professor Pooky Verdes December 2009 article So Why DYou
Need to Know This Stuff Anyway? or, although in my opinion it is not as
clearly set out, to Professor Montgomerys treatise Yeah, What She
this pairing we may also look at specific shaping, in that Alpha selectively
reinforces successively closer approximations to target behaviour by the use
of punishment implements of varying severity that is, a mildly inappropriate
behaviour on Ps part may result in a spanking; a seriously unacceptable
action may result in the use of a cane.
the case of this pair, Alpha is agreed to have authority over Ps professional
activities, but he has not sought, nor has P granted him, general authority
over Ps personal life, even insofar as it affects Alpha directly. However,
they do also use milder pain play as part of their range of sexual activity:
Alpha appears, as was true of F, to enjoy the measure of control over P and
the expression of trust by P; P in turn enjoys the attention granted him by
P and the endorphins resulting from such behaviour.
We may also at this point observe
that there is another couple with links to Alpha and P; these individuals, H
and T, also male homosexuals, have on occasion behaved towards Alpha as P does,
with similar consequences. You may wish to review your notes on social learning
theory and to observe accordingly that Ps awareness that H has been punished
for some behaviour increases the likelihood that P will avoid that behaviour
Those of you who have kept up to
date with your reading lists will also be aware of The Insular Argument. That
is our third case study: there are several examples in the available materials.
Insular pairings are commonly but not exclusively same sex, and for the heterosexual
couples, either male or female may be the dominant party. I refer you here to
the copious material available on the subject of learned helplessness as it
relates to the non-dominant individual, and to attributional or explanatory
style. These individuals frequently appear to have pessimistic explanatory style:
their view of negative events is personal and pervasive, as evidenced by the
frequent expression of its my fault, I cant do anything right.
It is common for learned helplessness to be associated with ill health when
the individual makes poor choices in relation to medication, diet etc.
Check your notes on Adornos
authoritarian personality who sees everything in black and white, and who needs
to live according to strict social conventions and order. This individual, commonly
referred to as a Brat, requires both somebody to look up to, and somebody to
look down on (Mr Barker, there is no need to repeat 1960s comedy routines in
here. See me after the lecture please). The Brat requires somebody to tell him
what to do, believes that there is a single right way of behaving
and that he must achieve it, is usually insecure and copes badly with change.
It is not uncommon for him to end up in a tightly structured hence Insular
community which he perceives as a safe place where he and his associates
live according to the Just World hypothesis.
The dominant personalities in Insular
(also known as Stanford, Zimbardo, or Milgram) relationships, by contrast, are
frequently authoritarian, sometimes to extremes. It may be argued that they
have an interest in maintaining the learned helplessness of their partners,
in order to satisfy their own desire for moral and physical superiority. In
fact, they are as much examples of Adornos authoritarian personality as
their Brats are. They are both 'safe' as long as they know, and act according
to, their assigned rôle, which is either being told what to do or having someone
else to tell what to do.
To that end, there is an apparent
quantification of behavioural characteristics, a grading scheme, designed to
justify both the activity of the dominant and the passivity of the submissive
parties by providing the system with order and a hierarchy. On that subject
I would refer you to Professor Montgomerys popular work Aye, But
Its All Pish Anyway, Specially When They Say Its Not About Sex,
and the subsequent volume by Professor Pooky Verde, The Daft Buggers Have
Forgotten That They Made It Up.
Now, thats enough from me;
Im sure Professor Woodgnome will be pleased to answer any questions that