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Taming the shrew

Spanking was popular, and routine, in Hollywood romances until the late 1960s

By WITW Staff on April 23, 2016

Onscreen Spankings: A Look at How Films Punished Liberated Women

From the early days of cinema up through the 1960s, a spanking was just a routine part of many onscreen romances. With the camera rolling or not, Hollywood studios reinforced the idea that spankings were a healthy part of a woman’s life. Read about Hollywood's once prevalent trope of spanking women and watch the entire video here:

Posted by Jezebel on Monday, April 18, 2016

An impressively comprehensive survey by Andrew Heisel and published on Jezebel has unpacked the Hollywood trope of independent women being spanked, and thereby “tamed” by their romantic interest — a theme that proved so popular, by 1963 there were over 280 instances of films that included a spanking scene, often as a prelude to romantic involvement.

While the films themselves tended to claim spanking as an “old-fashioned” tradition, records of spanking as a form of discipline for women are rare before the last century. Whereas in the past it was considered typical, and legal, for men to beat their wives, the idea of spanking women appears to have arisen as a modern response to modern anxieties — Hollywood’s fascination with spanking, in this light, reflected a desire on the part of society to reclaim increasingly liberated women by infantilizing them, and to reassert a man’s right to discipline his spouse through force in a society that no longer legally condoned such practices.

Spanking can, of course, play out erotically, but even in that respect the Hollywood tradition falls short. Rather than promoting sensuality, spanking scenes typically focused on reinforcing the premise that women required physical punishment to behave correctly, and more so, that women secretly desired to be put in their place. It wasn’t so long ago that whether a man could be held legally accountable for spanking a spouse was a question of geography — as one Chicago judge insisted in 1933, “Women may be emancipated but it’s still a man’s prerogative to spank a misbehaving wife.”

Read the full story at Jezebel.