Sixty years later, it’s still a question of need

“I’ve got a lot of faith in the hairbrush” –  Brooklyn barber Frank Desidero, 60 years ago.


An article last week in the UK’s biggest selling newspaper the Daily Mail asks ‘Should Women Be Spanked?’ It features a reprint of a 1950s newspaper clipping purporting to demonstrate how far women’s rights have come.

Predictably, 60 years ago, four New York men who were asked about spanking their wives all said it was an appropriate form of  discipline.

“I’ve got a lot of faith in the hairbrush,” commented Brooklyn barber Frank Desidero.  “In my business a man sets a lot of store by the results he can get by a hairbrush properly applied.”

Parking lot attendant Teddy Gallei agreed, saying:  “It teaches them who’s boss. A lot of women seem to forget this is a man’s world.”

But hang on a minute.

if you look more closely at the original article, believed  to be from the New York Daily Mirror, the Daily Mail version of the question was not what actually asked.

The actual question was: If A Woman Needs It, Should She Be Spanked?

If you think about it, these two questions can elicit two very different responses.

The American journalist Daphne Merkin in an essay published in the New Yorker suggested all women nurture a secret longing to be spanked “as a facilitating prelude to the enactment of lust.”

She was talking about a sexual need.

In my novel Spank: The Improbable Adventures of George Aloysius Brown, erotic discipline was an important element of foreplay for George and his wife Pem.

Yet 60 years ago, George, a quintessential English gentleman and respected civil servant, would have answered a resounding ‘No’ to the question  ‘Should Women Be Spanked?’

But he would have argued that need in a healthy consensual relationship is an entirely different matter.



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