Friday, April 19, 2013
Story: Pride comes before
In retrospect, Mark wondered how he could have been so stupid. He’d got carried away. By that book – that stupid book.
He’d been given it by a stranger, shoved into his hand without a word or a look, just a rapidly disappearing figure in the crowd. And he had the book.
“I am proud to be a Man!” it was called. It was about male equality. Equality with women! It had taken him a while to really understand that. But the book said that men could be the equals of women – were their equals if only they knew it. Men didn’t have to be spanked. Men could choose when to have orgasms. Men shouldn’t have to wear sexy revealing clothes for the pleasure of women. On and on – over five hundred badly-printed pages, bound together with big metal staples, presumably from some kind of underground press. At first, he thought it weird and repulsive in its strangeness. But he found it compelling and read on and on and on – this book, hidden in the ironing basket where he knew she’d never have reason to look. You are her equal it said. You are strong. You have dignity. Stand up and say “I am proud to be a man!”
Then one day he came to the fateful section. “Men will never be liberated from oppression, until women are liberated from oppressing” it declared. It wanted women to come to accept men as equals. Talk to your wife about male liberation. It said. Read this book together.
He hadn’t, for a long time. But he knew that if any husband had a chance at converting his wife to the cause, he did. Alice was a sweet, kind person, only seven years older than him, and she treated him well. She whipped him, of course, when he deserved it, but as a duty not a pleasure. He had his own allowance to buy clothes. She usually let him come, once she’d had her own orgasms. Under the influence of that book – that mad terrible book – he’d half convinced himself that she was a secret male liberationist already.
So he spoke to her. And she listened quietly. And she asked to see the book. She listened carefully as he turned the pages, and showed her how it demonstrated the cruel tyranny of women over men, and spoke of a better world. After a while she stopped him and asked just one question – whether he’d spoken to any of her friends’ husbands about this. She seemed relieved that he had not, but asked him to close the book and stop reading at that point. She had taken the book, and gone to phone her mother.
And then she’d come back and explained how she felt about this. She did not shout, or threaten, or punish. She simply spoke, calmly and steadily, about the importance of household order, about the betrayal that his secret reading represented to her, about her regrets at how laxly she had treated him, and determination to correct this terrible error she had made.
And now they do read the book together.
Every Saturday, the book is set on a low lecturn that she has bought specially for this purpose. Mark, naked, is tied securely over a whipping bench, so that his face is just above its open pages. He reads a page, aloud. It is turned over, usually with the tip of a cane, then he reads the other side, aloud. She never says anything in response. Once both sides have been read, she begins: sometimes with strong, deliberate strokes, other times with a flurry of flicking whippy actions. The whip is mainly applied to his buttocks and thighs, but occasionally she tends also to his shoulders, his calves, or whips around to reach the front of his thighs. All of these areas are a mass of weals and welts, criss-crossed on top of one another.
While his wife is whipping him in this way, Mark must come up with and carefully articulate five separate, cogent reasons why whatever has been stated on that page of the book is wrong. Sometimes this is easy, as the false ideas can simply be countered one by one, but sometimes the book will be developing a single mad idea of male equality over several pages, and to come up with five different refutations of the words on the page can be difficult. Particularly when Mark is howling in pain, and fighting to gasp out his carefully constructed arguments in favour of female supremacy.
But it continues until he succeeds in producing five reasons for treating the ideas on that particular page with the contempt that they deserve. No matter how long it takes, eventually he finds five reasons. And then the whipping ends. She reaches down, and neatly tears out the page – by now often unreadably stained with tears and spittle, and he takes it in his mouth, chews one hundred times and swallows it. That piece of madness has gone, and only the simple good sense of wifely discipline remains.
Then she usually takes a break - sometimes as short as the time to have a cup of tea, sometimes as long as a trip to the shops or even the cinema. Once she visited a friend at this point in the process, and returned the next day. He remains in place, of course. When she takes a long break, she is careful to cover the next page with a cloth, so that he cannot rehearse the five arguments he will deploy next time. For shorter breaks she does not bother. He generally finds that it is only under the direct influence of the whip that he can really appreciate the incoherence and stupidity of the book’s ideas, in any case. But eventually she returns, and they do another page. Most Saturdays, they do three, sometimes four.
Mark has had many opportunities to regret his actions, of course. He particularly regrets that the book is so long. They recently reached the first anniversary of this new regime, and are still less than halfway through the book. He would one day like to meet the authors of the book. He would like to see them bent over this same whipping bench, receiving the same treatment that he is receiving. And when they were striped and sore, their backsides ridged and bloody from floggings applied on top of floggings, when their mouths were bone dry from screaming hopeless pleadings for mercy, when they start with fear at the merest sound of Alice’s movements, that could foreshadow an agonising stroke. Then, Mark thought, then he would ask them a question.
“How proud do you feel right now, to be a man?”