Monday, November 23, 2009

Is Spanking a MEME?


Recently a meme went around on the spanking blogs.  I have seen these things before.  They’re fun, but being a blog neophyte, I didn’t really understand the word “meme.”  I finally got around to pulling out my dictionary (good ol’ Webster) and looking it up.  Wasn’t in there! The fact that my preference was to use the actual tangible, book dictionary is enough to date me, but that’s another issue.  How do I find out about this word?  Wikipedia, DUH!

Here is the Wikipedia definition: A meme (pronounced /miim/, rhyming with "cream"[1]) is a postulated unit of cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena. 

Now this is a relatively new word, which is why I did not find it in my relatively old Webster’s dictionary.  It was coined by the famous atheist and evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins in his book “The Selfish Gene” (these are facts that most bloggers probably know, but I did not).  What in the world did this have to do with the blog game?  I had to read deep into the Wikipedia to find out that bloggers have co-opted the word to mean something that propagates in the blogosphere. (Aside: I think the internet version should be called bgene, pronounced bean, in analogy to weblog, i.e. web-gene)

But, to the point.  The meme idea fascinates me.  Is spanking a unit of cultural  practice, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through rituals or other imitable phenomena?  I think it may be.  I have often wondered where the whole concept of spanking comes from, and how people come to need it.  If spanking is fundamental to our culture it would propagate, and occasionally mutate, to give us the rainbow of spanking tastes we observe today.  I would probably be a cultural mutant.  Would the meme idea explain the disproportionate number of female to male spankees? What cultural evolutionary benefit would spanking provide to its adherents that would make them more successful?  I may have to read “The Selfish Gene,” or some of memeticist Susan Blackmore’s work.  I wonder if she’s a spanker.  She sounds like a spanker.

13 comments:

Danielle said...

I think you can write/do a meme about spanking but spanking IS not a meme. Though, I'm not a native (English) speaker... so I may be wrong.

Once husband and I have been asked to take part in a meme on ASGT, a spanking blog. It was fun to do and you learn about other people's thoughts.
Danielle

Throck said...

Hi Danielle,
You write very well for someone who is not a native English speaker. I wonder, is spanking part of the culture of the people of your native language?
I still think spanking is a meme, not in the blog game sense, but in the sense of the wikipedia definition.

Danielle said...

Husband and I had a chat about your question, more in general than only spanking. Protection of a person's freedom/privacy is important in Holland, while on the other hand our gouvernment decides what we're allowed to do or not. Therefore spanking in schools was already forbidden in the fifties. I think it's no part of our culture, especially not when I compare us with Great Britain.

Throck said...

Hi Danielle,

Does your statement "that it's no part of our culture" in Holland mean that adults don't practice spanking, and is it because there is no concept of spanking in Holland because it was outlawed in the schools so long ago?

Danielle said...

Hi Throck,
I prefer to respond in a private mail if that's okay with you.

Throck said...

Hi Danielle,
That's fine. The email is throckmorton58@gmail.com.

Throck

Burl Apsack said...

I am so very sorry. I was following your blog and then it disappeared. I cannot explain it but I suspect that I probably deleted your blog in error while I was clearing out inactive blogs. I have have added my name to your list of followers again.

Throck said...

Thanks Burl,
I check your blog regularly too. I have been so busy lately though, that I haven't given blogging the attention I want to give it. I'll try to do better. Glad to have you back.

Throck

Danielle said...

It seems things haven't changed Throck, concerning blogging I mean. You should be spanked for neglecting the blog..;)
I hope you're okay!

Anonymous said...

Interesting idea but I don't think it qualifies as a meme. Blackmore is easier to read than Dawkins but not so well argued.

Memes are also discussed in two of Dennett's books, Consciousness Explained and Darwin's Dangerous Idea.

Steven Pinker is also worth reading.

Throck said...

Danielle,
I'm back! Thanks for thinking about me.

Throck

Throck said...

Anonymous,
You may be right. I still haven't gotten around to reading Blackmore or Dawkins yet, but plan to.

Regards,
Throck

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