A brief introduction is in order; Mistress Alison is a good friend and a very knowledgeable and experienced Mistress, she has also been a frequent contributor to PDQ. She is now available to answer questions from both Mistress and sissies alike, assuming a respectful tone of course. These email conversations may well be included at some future date in PDQ though a request for privacy would be respected. Feel free to write her at email@example.com and please don't waste her valuable time asking "where / how can I find a Mistress?"
Dear Mistress Alison,
I am a post graduate student, originally from the US, currently having to endure the Covid lockdown in the home of the parents of my British boyfriend. How this came about is complicated and largely unimportant, but I look to be stuck here for at least the next month. I'd met his mom twice before and on both occasions she was pleasant if a little reserved, but brief meetings and living in someone's house are very different things. Right from the start two things became crystal clear, she was no happier about the arrangement than I was and that she was definitely the one in charge. What she said went, or else, and as I quickly found out that meant either corporal punishments or petticoating.
When I first arrived she insisted that I sleep in what she called the guest room, while her son Jeff remained in his usual bedroom. When he began to object and tell her that we were virtually engaged she almost shouted at him to be quiet and an ominous hush descended on the room. In a much quieter voice she told him, "How dare you argue with me. You know the penalty, and we shall have our reckoning on Saturday." When she had left the room I asked Jeff what she meant by the reckoning and all he would say was, "Believe me you don't want to know." I was curious, but no more and didn't mention it again.
Saturday morning the whole family assembled in one room, the dining room, Jeff, his dad and Lucy his younger sister. Then his mom came in and said something about us all being here, then she opened a drawer and took out a small notebook. Again there was a strange sense of something about to happen. She opened the book and said, "Jeffrey." He stood up and she started reading aloud from the book, it was a list of all the things she thought he'd done wrong during the previous week. Finally she said something like, "Twenty one demerits," then she went to the tall cupboard above the drawer and opened the door. Inside were hanging three punishment canes with shepherds crook handles, like the ones in old British cartoon comics where all teachers wore mortar boards and carried canes, but there was nothing comical about this, it was scary. She unhooked one and took it out. Jeff held out both his hands in front of him and she hit him across them twenty one times and he called out the number and said, "thank you" after each one. As his punishment went on his voice sounded increasingly strained. I wanted to rush in and stop it, but I had the feeling I would only make things worse.
When his mom had finished she said, "you can thank your lucky stars you have a guest or you would have received those across your bare bottom. Go and change." He said nothing but left the room without looking at me, but I could see there were tears on his cheeks. Then his mom said, "Malcom," and his dad stood up. Once again she read out the list of his misdemeanours aloud then told him the number of demerits. He got his hands caned too, and called out the numbers and said thank you after each one, but then Jeff's mom pulled out a chair from the table and his dad leaned over the upright back and held on to the sides of the seat. I found I was holding my breath. Jeff's mom stood behind him and reached round to unfasten his pants and I realised that he was going to get caned on his bare ass. She pulled down both his pants and his shorts and then walked back to the cupboard and lifted out a much thicker cane. She didn't give me the slightest attention as she walked past me. Then she moved to one side of Jeff's dad and slowly and deliberately hit his bottom many times and again he called out the numbers and thanked her after each one. After the first few blows I couldn't look any more, but I could tell from his voice that he was in a lot of pain. When it was over he stood up, hitched his pants halfway up his legs and walked clumsily to the corner of the room and then stood in it with his hands on top of his head and his pants and shorts round his ankles.
Jeff's mom put away the cane and her book and ushered Lucy and I out of the room. I was too shocked to say anything, but seconds later I got an even bigger shock, Jeff coming down the stairs dressed like a school girl from the 1920s or maybe a bit earlier, grey uniform pleated skirt, white blouse and striped tie, white knee length socks and black T bar shoes. As he went past without looking at me his mom said "Deuteronomy" and then some numbers and he replied "yes" as he went back into the room we'd just left. His mom then said to me "We'll leave them to their lines," and went off into the kitchen. I later found out that she was talking about writing punishment lines and that Jeff, and his father, would be spending the rest of the morning until dinner time writing out the same verses from the bible over and over again. I learned too that this, or something very similar happened every Saturday.
I followed his mom into the kitchen and before I could say anything she said, "I hope you weren't too embarrassed by that, but it's the only way they'll learn. A good caning followed by a dose of petticoat discipline keeps the male of the species in order." I was very embarrassed and also shocked and I asked if this was some old English custom I'd missed. She told me, "It is in my family, my maternal grandmother caned and petticoated her husband and my uncles, my mother did the same to my father and my brothers, and I have continued to apply the same methods to my husband and son. And if you are serious about getting engaged to Jeffrey then I suggest you continue to discipline him as I do. He will expect it and it is good for him, good for all males in fact, men and boys. The key to any well run, happy household is a strong, determined woman who underlines her authority through discipline. Men, if left to their own devices, will always regress and stray."
There was a difficult silence as she looked directly at me as if expecting an answer. I couldn't think of anything appropriate to say, staying in her house was difficult enough without upsetting her. Eventually I asked, "What about Lucy?" She replied, "I enforce the same strict standards of behaviour, but as a female she is allowed the privilege of having her punishments in private, without the humiliation of an audience. And generally I use a slipper rather than the cane and of course I can't petticoat her so use mouth soaping and corner time instead." While I'd heard of corner time and naughty steps for young children and could figure out the (ugh) mouth soaping bit, I'd never heard the word petticoat used a verb to indicate punishment and asked her what it was.
She filled me in about the basics (which are obviously familiar to you) and then added, "Being caned may hurt them physically, but being petticoated and the childish punishment of writing lines hurts something far more sensitive, their pride. It takes away their masculinity and they find it incredibly humiliating, even more so if it is done in front of outsiders, and they hate it. Given a choice they would take the caning, even a caning on the bare bottom which is humiliating as well as painful, over petticoat discipline, but of course they don't have any choice, not in that or anything else, giving men a choice is like giving children a choice, entirely counter productive." I asked her, "Don't they object? Why is it they just let you do it?" I was truly puzzled and meant the question seriously but she was almost brusque as she said, "I've told you, they don't have any choice. They do as they are told. You'll find it really is the best way to deal with them. They don't respect weakness or anything other than the firmest of hands, and as I mentioned before it is good for them. They transgress, they get punished, and then after a suitable period of contrition and atonement they get forgiven, order is restored and everyone goes away happy."
I went upstairs and Googled petticoat punishment: Wikipedia described as it as a sexual fetish and most of the others were heavily biased towards its sexual connotations, your site was the first to treat it anything like the way Jeff's mom had described it, though many of the letters in it had an obvious sexual content.
After he'd finished writing his bible verses (that day it was Deuteronomy 21: 18-21 about rebellious sons) Jeff was made to keep the school girl uniform on the for the rest of the day and every time I tried to talk to him he wouldn't look at me and was obviously very embarrassed by his predicament. I wanted to ask him if his meek acceptance of being beaten by his mother had any sexual context, was it an example of the notorious English vice, and several other things too. It was made more difficult by our having little or no privacy. We can't leave the house together because of the lockdown rules, the garden is pocket handkerchief sized. Most of the question and non answer session we conducted by text. The next day when he was dressed normally I asked him the same questions and he went all British on me saying, "That's just the way things are, it's always been like that," and "I don't know really, it just is." Now when I ask him he just clams up or says can we talk about it later when lockdown is over and things are back to normal. Now I take my permitted Saturday exercise in the morning so I don't have to watch his punishment, but I still have to see him wearing that stupid school girl uniform.
I found your replies to previous enquirers to be sensible and balanced as well as having the benefit of first hand experience. So may I please ask you some questions? Is it legal to cane children, I thought that sort of thing had gone out with the last century like smoking on airplanes. Is there a sexual element, on either side, to Jeff's mom beating and petticoating him? Is she right that he would actually want me to continue doing it? If the answer is yes, does that make him a masochist? Could there be any other skeletons in the closet? What do you think my next step should be?
I would really value your opinion here.
Thank you for your most interesting letter.
Before answering the specific questions you asked I shall make some general observations.
Many of us are finding that life is challenging under the Covid /corona lockdown and as we see from the news it has brought out both the best and worst in people. For you it has brought the discovery of a previously unknown aspect of your boyfriend's and prospective fiancé's home life, but the real question is: does it change anything? All couples discover things about each other as they progress through life together and some of those things are surprising, some they like, and, in the general way of life, many of those things they don't. Marriages are not made in heaven, they're made here on earth and it takes a lot more than just love, it takes effort, tolerance, patience, understanding and many other things besides. You have to work at it.
You have discovered that Jeff's mother punishes or corrects him in a particular way that you find disturbing and does so with at least his acquiescence. It is not as if you have discovered he was trafficking children or she was running a crack house, none of those involved are making terrorist bombs or crystal meth in the garden shed. The man Jeff has become, the man you presumably love because you are thinking seriously about marrying him, is the product of his genes and his upbringing and part of that upbringing involved corporal punishment on, I assume, a regular basis. He obviously accepts it as normal because for him it was the norm. Without it he probably would have become a different person, though it is pointless to speculate in what way he might have been different. Remember you love him for who he is and what he is, now, here today; his past is largely irrelevant what matters is the future.
I will now try to answer your particular queries to the best of my ability.
Corporal punishment was abolished in state schools in 1986 but remained in use in private schools until 1998. In England it is still legal for parents to beat children, though other parts of the UK have different laws, but the dividing line between reasonable punishment and physical abuse is very much a grey area and there is currently a concerted campaign to ban it entirely. However, neither Jeff nor his father are children, in the eyes of the law and in reality they are adults (I won't comment on Lucy) who could, at least in theory, simply refuse to accept this treatment or in extremis report it to the police. In the past female on male domestic violence was treated more as a joke than a crime; the aggrieved wife waiting behind the door with a rolling pin being as much a staple of cartoons as burglars in striped jerseys carrying bags marked swag and teachers wearing mortar boards, and any man who defended himself was more than likely to end up being the one charged with assault. But this has very largely changed and the police now take such allegations seriously, so if either Jeff or his father wanted this to stop then they have the means to do so. However, the emotional cost of doing so would be enormous, would Jeff want to see his parents divorced or his mother go to gaol?
I doubt there is any sexual connotation to Jeff receiving corporal punishment from his mother. You provide no evidence either way, but it would in my experience be unusual. If you had told me he was secretly dressing as a schoolgirl in the privacy of his own room then I would have said that it was most definitely a sexual thing. There may, however, be some sexual frisson in her beating his father, and it could be mutual or one sided. Again, in the absence of any evidence there is no way I can tell. Wielding power over another individual, especially somebody physically stronger than oneself, can be highly erotic and also addictive, and very few of those who have experienced real power relinquish it easily. Jeff's father may not enjoy the actual experience of being punished, but he might well be sexually excited by her dominating him. That is their business and theirs alone so I will make no further comment.
The question of whether Jeff wants you to continue to treat him as his mother does is more complex because the answer is probably yes and no. Until he met you the most important woman in his life, probably the most important person in his life, was his mother and she was and is very strict with him. He regards this as the norm. From what you've written his relationship with her is in all other respects normal, conventional, vanilla, or whatever you wish to term it. He wouldn't have taken you to meet her, twice, or been staying in her home when the lockdown was imposed if this wasn't the case. The fact she agreed to your being a house guest means you had been given her approval as a prospective partner for her son. All mothers find it incredibly hard to let their children go, the two biggest wrenches come the day they start school and the day they leave home, either to go to university, or to start a job, or to get married. We have to come to terms with the fact that the child we brought into the world and loved and nurtured no longer needs us, we are surplus to requirements, redundant. As a consequence no mother believes any woman is good enough for her son or any man for her daughter, Richard Nixon once said, "Behind every successful man there is an astonished mother-in-law." Fathers tend to be the same with daughters, but only a mother protects her son like a tigress does its cubs and all mothers believe that no woman will ever care for him as well as she has done. Jeff's mother told you to continue doing what she does because she believes she gave her son the best possible upbringing and wants it to continue by proxy.
If you continued to do all the other things his mother does for him, like cook the same food in exactly the same way for example, always put his needs first and generally treat him as the most special person in the history of the world he would be delighted. Whether he would still feel the same if the quid pro quo was a regular Saturday caning followed by a dose of petticoat discipline is a moot point. Most men do have a submissive side, Jeff's father almost certainly does, and as the old saying goes, like father like son. If you were to decide that you wanted carry on as his mother has advised, and I stress that the you is a singular pronoun, then provided you approached it in the right way he would probably be quite amenable to you doing so. If, and it is a big if, you decide that is way your future lies then I suggest you discuss it further with his mother; not only will she be delighted that her son is in the safe hands of a like minded woman, but she will probably be able to advise you on the practicalities of how to make the transition as seamless as possible.
If he agrees to accept your authority in this way it doesn't necessarily mean that he is a masochist, a much misunderstood and misused term. As I said previously he probably has a submissive side, which it only takes the right women acting in the right way to bring to the fore. Handled correctly you can make this the dominant trait of his personality. Whether you do so or not is your choice.
I imagine he is like everyone else and has things in his past that he would far rather were kept private, rather than exposed to the common light of day. This makes him normal. I've always believed that no good ever came from raking around in cupboards for skeletons. As your relationship develops he may decide to share them with you, or he may not. Generally speaking, as we get older we become more willing to share with wry amusement the follies of our youth.
I suggest that your next step should be to do nothing and think hard about the kind of relationship you want with Jeff. I think he is right and you should wait until you have the space and the privacy for a full and frank discussion about his past and your future in a less highly charged atmosphere. Both of you need to be completely honest with all your cards on the table.
Assuming that you haven't rejected an FLR out of hand then it is important that you take and retain control of the preliminary discussions. You set the time and place and the agenda, don't ask him, tell him. If he is naturally submissive then he will agree without any argument, but if he is not then he may well raise objections, which you should quash however reasonable they might seem. There are two possible opening gambits you could try. Gambit 1: Say something like, "Nobody could have failed to notice the degree to which you are under your mother's control, and since it was you who invited me in the first place I assume you wanted me to see it. I also assume that this was your roundabout way of telling me that you wanted me to exercise the same degree of control over you when we are married." Gambit 2: Say something like, "I have seen the strict control your mother exercises over you and the beneficial effect it has had on your character and your behaviour so I fully intend to continue her good work throughout our marriage."
His reaction will determine how you direct the rest of the conversation. If, as I strongly suspect, his default position is through nature or training to respect and defer to female authority then he will be profoundly grateful that you have taken the initiative and made the decision on his behalf. Though it may be necessary to reassure him that you have no intention of using such harsh methods as his mother, unless his behaviour merits them. If his reaction is vehemently negative, then you maybe you should ask yourself if you still wish to marry a man whose mother commands more respect and has more control over him than you ever will. But be aware that he may deny everything because he his embarrassed or ashamed and if you suspect this then reassure him that you understand his need and tell him that being in an FLR would be mutually advantageous and say that having a well trained husband is like having a properly trained dog; he'll be obedient, loyal, affectionate and fiercely protective, a treasured companion and a joy to have about the home. It is never about cruelty, it's about him expressing his love through submission.
I am now going to proselytise and say that I think you have been handed a golden opportunity on a plate. Jeff's mother has done all the hard work and it would take little effort on part to turn your fiancé into a sissymaid, and before you say that isn't what you want out of a husband you should consider the advantages. Why would any woman choose to do her own household chores when she can get someone else to do them for her at zero cost? I also firmly believe that all men should be kept in chastity; having him securely locked up where it counts will mean you get great sex whenever and however you want it. There are two old sayings, "Men keep their brains in their underpants," and "If you grab their balls and pull hard enough their hearts and minds will follow," and both have a very large grain of truth in them. Another thing from which all males benefit is a programme of figure training by being made to wear a corset. Not only does this improve their posture and carriage by correcting their dreadful tendency to slouch, but its gentle embrace will serve as a constant reminder of your authority over him. However, those are only my opinions and it's entirely up to you to choose what sort of marriage you want and the precise nature of your relationship with whomsoever you decide to share your life.
Whatever you decide I wish you both well for the future and would love to receive an update at some future date.
In the meantime keep safe and stay well.