They Spanked Women in the Old Days

Above is the famous scene in McLintock! where The Duke publicly spanks his estranged wife played by Maureen O'Hara with what looks like a shovel. It contains one of my all time favorite lines:

"Let's not let an old Indian raid ruin a good barbeque - Meat's ON!"

That's what I call a man's movie. What's funny about it is that this spanking scene was used for basically all the movie posters and promotions! The poster below even refers to the spanking - it "wallops the daylights" out of other Westerns. Noticed they at least had the decency to remove the shovel from McLintock's hand for the movie poster. That would be taking it too far, I guess.

It seems to be all in good fun, right? Well, The Duke looks dead serious here. Maybe Maureen has reason to be scared - she looks horrified. Of course, the crowd just stands around and chuckles at the public spanking. Ha, Ha, Ha.

Of course, McLintock! is not alone. You'd be hard pressed to find memoribilia for the film Kiss Me Kate that doesn't feature a woman receiving a spanking over a guy's knee.

This sort of thing would be roundly condemned today, and probably rightly so. But there is a certain degree of hypocrisy today - where a McLintock! poster would be prohibited, yet women are degraded at every turn in advertising. I touched on this on my previous post A Long Time Ago Everyone Hated Women. I'm in the business of nostalgia here at Retrospace and simply find this sort of thing interesting - I'll leave it to the sociologists to work it out.

It's pretty interesting to look at all the examples in comic books. One minute superheroes are rescuing damsels in distress, the next minute their spanking them. Below the Dark Knight spanks for the camera. Click here to see Superman do the same.

The Phantom clip below is pretty good, but the worst comic book spanking simply HAS to be in Superboy. Click here to see the public humiliation unfold before your eyes.

Let's also remember that TV was no safe haven for women getting swatted by their men. Desi regularly spanked his wife on "I Love Lucy" - a fact that has inspired the ire of many commentators. See 'em here.

And on a similar tangent....
The next film doesn't feature a public spanking - it does, however, feature two women knocking the crap out of each other on the movie poster.

The Legend of Frenchie King is what happens when the French try to make a Western. On the bright side, it stars Claudia Cardinale and Brigitte Bardot. On the down side, it's brought to you by K-Tel. I never knew they were in the movie business.

On a related note, read my post on Sexist Ads.

You Might Also Like


  1. There was quite a lot of spanking in movies and television back then. I think it still amazes me when I see it in an old movie I might watch. I guess it's not something we see anymore these days. We definitely probably won't. Our times which are so PC tend to be hypocritical. They would decry something like this, but lyrics that degrade women as well as music videos are totally cool today. They even win awards.

    1. AnonymousMay 06, 2014

      Lyrics that degrade women are accepted by some members of society, but all scientific studies show that when women are disrespected, the whole culture suffers, Look at modern Israel: women have equal rights AND equal responsibilities. Israel is a world leader in medical advances.

  2. I actually love all these images. Ah look, it was all in in good clean fun, right?

    I have to admit that I just love a man movie these days. I recently got The Dirty Dozen from rapisdhare and there is not one female in the movie unless you coun the one Telly Savalas (as Maggot) kills and cause the feces to hit the fan.

    I am not saying that men should paddle gals. But look, we are talking about the Duke here and the rules get a tad bent.

    Actually, great piece and well researched. I like you site for that. You seem to continually pull a theme out of the air and then give a quick but informative write up. This post really wolloped me.


    1. Then you need to go back and watch again. You are in error. Besides, IT'S A WAR MOVIE!!!! WTF!?

  3. Keith- What bothers me about today is exactly the point you bring up. We pretend to be so respectful to women, yet at the same time rap lyrics and advertising is absolutely denegrating! Truth be told, I have much more respect for the mindset of the 50's and 60's. Sure, they spanked, but it was all in fun... they would have been HORRIFIED at the misogynistic lyrics in today's hip-hip "songs". Yet this kind of hip-hop is NOT frowned on, but rather applauded in today's culture. Go figure.

    Willy- I agree, it's all good clean fun. Say what you want about how sexist these images are, the incidence of rape and violence against women has skyrocketed since those days.... so which culture had a real respect for women - then or now?

    Thanks for the comment: "You seem to continually pull a theme out of the air and then give a quick but informative write up". That is exactly what I am going for; no long well researched expositions on a subject, just quick, fun, interesting with lots of eye candy!

    1. I was born in 1954; there was NO spanking norm at any time in this country. "I Love Lucy" was comedy, purely silly. Oh, and btw, there has never been a time-period when all Americans owned their own houses, Blacks were not better off during slavery and JESUS was not born in the Winter time.

    2. "The incidence of rape and violence against women has skyrocketed..."
      Perhaps women feel freer to complain, and to report rape and other abuse?
      My sister was forcibly raped back in the '60s. She reported it. She was raked over the coals by the police, the hospital and then by the prosecutor. She was accused of lying. She had left her husband (due to neglect and violent abuse) and was divorcing him. She had children, so was sexually experienced. That was held against her.
      The man who raped her was acquitted and she was further accused of making a false report.
      This did not discourage her from complaining when a divorce lawyer attacked her in his office. Seven other women came out and testified that he had raped them. In his office. His female secretary came to his defense. It went nowhere; the attorneys' mutual protection society (Bar Association) protected him.
      The parking attendant at my bank told me of being raped by the District Attorney, several times when she was a clerk in his office. She contracted chlamydia from him, which damaged her tubes and uterus and probably contributed to the miscarriage of his baby. Her complaints were laughed at but to shut her up he had gotten her the parking attendant job.

  4. None of you idiots "get it".....! Your assinine talk about "degrading women", and the "social implications" of spanking, etc....) Is everybody gay these days? For men, spanking a woman is nothing more than a "plausible excuse" to get our hands on a sexy chick's sweet ass! It is also part of an intricate sexual interaction, that is none of your ____ing business.... (Unless it's on a movie poster.....)Many women love it..... but will seldom admit it.
    The rest of you fags can lobby congress to outlaw this "degradation of women", or better yet..... why don't you ponder the Superboy "faggotry" if that's what "floats your boat"?

    1. Ha-ha! Finally someone who isn't taking this nonsense seriously! Sex is fun; different strokes (pun intended). I love rough sex, but a man who trats me rudely in public will never be my lover.

  5. anonymous - Did you read the post and comments? No one condemned it - if that's what floats you and your lady's boat.

    Read it over again, maybe you were letting your emotions get the better of you... drink a glass of water maybe. If you read anything above you would've seen...

    "Sure, they spanked, but it was all in fun... " and

    "I actually love all these images. Ah look, it was all in in good clean fun, right?" and

    "Say what you want about how sexist these images are, the incidence of rape and violence against women has skyrocketed since those days.... so which culture had a real respect for women - then or now?" etc.

    Dude, I think it's safe to say you completely misinterpreted the entire post and all the comments. So, before you take off calling people "fags" - make sure you've actually read everything first.

  6. Well, actually I did get the impression you disapproved . . .

    These days the whole view of spanking has changed and yet basically it's still the same. The difference is that movies today tend to admit that it's just foreplay. Since Secretary, they could hardly do anything else (but maybe you watch only old movies and haven't got round to that one yet?).

    As for McLintock!, well, it's hard to see Wayne as a liberal, but on this subject, he was. He always refused to hit a woman in his films - ever see him punch a woman? of course not - but he obviously didn't include spanking in that restriction.

    Consider the plot (and remember Wayne financed McLintock!). He plays a man who's been unable to satisfy his wife sexually for 20 years and now she wants a divorce, understandably enough. Meanwhile, coincidentally his daughter is spanked by his hired hand and, instead of refusing to speak to him again, she wants to marry him.

    And at once, Wayne realises what he's been doing wrong (he doesn't actually say "Like daughter, like mother!", but that's the subtext) and rectifies the situation with a public spanking. Afterwards, O'Hara changes her mind about the divorce and clings to the back of his carriage.

    We may reasonably conclude that we're meant to assume, from the film's closing lines, that the two of them have carried on spanking until sundown. And of course they get back together again. The film's a romance.

    McLintock! argues for sexual freedom. It doesn't see spanking as kinky, but simply as another sexual activity. Its moral could be summed up as: if your wife wants to be spanked, get on with it, don't take 20 years over it and don't fret about it. It's only degrading to women if it isn't consensual - and that is true of all sexual activity.

  7. In all fairness to The Duke, Maureen's character was acting like a real witch to pretty much everyone the whole time and George Washington McClintock more than anybody had ample reason to open up a lifelong spleen of anger on her backside.

    1. Now we're SO-O-O-O enlightened. Women are treated much like men. They are put in jail, their children taken away, instead of spanking them and letting them go back to their homes.

  8. Gilligan - "the incidence of rape and violence against women has skyrocketed since those days...."
    Actually, you're wrong. These things are more visible nowadays because people actually talk about it, but the incidence of rape and violence against women are falling, not raising. Between 1993 and 2006, sexual assault fell by more than 60%, and only because of the work of anti-rape, feminist activists.
    If you look to earlier times, you might think that rape rates were so small because of low reporting to the police, but you're forgetting facts like the only kind of rape that was (and often still is) acknowledged was stranger violent rape. Plus a woman who'd report being raped would be considered ruined. Plus spousal rape and domestic violence were considered oxymorons. Plus arranged marriages? Sleeping every single day for the rest of your life with someone you didn't choose? How's that not rape? And what about black women in slavery times?
    I do find there's way too much space for improving in current times and that there's a hypocritical attitude on people who watch Mad Men and think we're so much better now. But denying the advances that we did have and looking back with nostalgy to way worse times doesn't help at all.

  9. To all the 'good clean fun' posters.

    Spanking can be fun, but its ubiquity in the '50s is appalling because it shows how explicit a woman's place was. And spanking is still violence against women if its not consensual (i.e. S&M).

  10. AnonymousMay 04, 2011

    Can we just be clear, 'cause I read that last comment two different ways.
    S&M (and D/s and DD and LDD and all like that) requires consent - anything that's NOT consensual is, indeed, abuse.

    Oh, BTW - spanking is NOT always sexual. It can be both consensual AND non-sexual. There are certainly fewer people who engage in such behavior, but it can and does happen.


  11. Spanking is violence. It is an act of hitting and hurting another. It is a degrading act of violence if you just grab a woman and spank her because you do not like the way she is acting. Some posters may want to call this 'good clean fun', but the spankings depicted here are not supposed to be consensual. They are assaults. Regardless how the women in these pics and cartoons have supposedly acted, these men have no right to treat them this way.

    I'd consider being spanked to be 'good clean fun' about as much as you men would consider it 'good clean fun' to be sharply bitch slapped in the face by a woman every time you got 'fresh'...and without recourse--you can't hit her back or complain, you're powerlessly forced to take the slap and suffer in silence like you had to take it from your mom.

    1. That's right. A real man has to take a slap from a woman he has just dissed.
      I knew a fellow who hit his wife (not spanked but really slugged). She stepped into their bedroom without saying a word. She came out and shot him once in each shoulder with his .32 revolver and told him she'd put the next one halfway in between if he ever struck her again. He didn't ever test her. He laughed when he told me.

  12. My wife brought this type of relationship to MY lap. I was stunned, literally - took 2 days before I could functionally think properly. It isn't abuse, rape, coercion ... it isn't anything if you don't like/want/need/ask/etc., for it.

    Movies stir feelings to get better exposure. You honestly think the makers had a CLUE about anything other than "Hey! Let's have a woman get spanked on the big screen!!! They will spend lots of money, and talk about it forever!!!" - sadly, that is the bottom line.

  13. Spanking women in the 1960's and older was just Liberal sexual fun. It had nothing to do with condoning misogynism or violence against women. Infact in the old days Chivalry was the law when it came to domestic violence NOT misogynism. We were NOT like the muslims. If a man ever beat his wife or raped his wife back then, he was chased down by the police to be brought to a whipping post to be pubicly whipped 40 times. Conservative laws and most of the media back then highley upholded and respected women. And women smacking men around was still considered funny. Sure women were not the head of the house or anything. But husbands were demanded to treat their wives with Chivalry.

  14. Actually in the old days, the complete oppisite of beating women was true.

    Back then in most countrys such as the France or the States.. Husbands who abused their wives were the only ones who were legally spanked. Most vengeful familys, friends and nieghbers of the abused wife or woman would actually chase the abusive husband or abusive man down and try to whip him for what he did. No one liked wife beaters back then, in fact back then... they hated wife beaters ten times more than they do these days.. in the 1870's.. Conservatives used to pass laws that allowed police men to whip a husband who was abusive to his wife. Way before the 1870's... almost all countrys out there would only throw the abusive hasband in jail with out a flogging, or a cat of nine tails put on his bare back. The old laws of our nations had whipping posts back then ever since the 1870's.. and it was used to only punish abusive husbands. History itself even states this. Now a days the law only arrests husbands for abusing their wives... The law no longer takes them to a whipping post to whip them.

  15. Spanking an unruly wife (or daughter) was not considered beating or abusive unless she was injured. Various means were used to subdue contentious, nagging, harping wives. Today women are arrested, jailed, divorced. What "overkill."

  16. Maybe in Asian or African countries. But not in many North American countries or European countries that had a way more Chivalrous view of how to treat wives and women. (Spanking or beating women was a great big crime and a sin just like adultry and treason were in the old days)

    Ever since the stone age even. There were some Kings who passed laws and codes that outlawed the strong from harming the weak.

    No one back then would even give a turd if a woman attacked her husband either... unless she killed her husband uprovoked. There were no laws in history that even stated anything about what to do if a wife attaked her husband (unless she killed him.) But there were laws that stated things about what to do if a husband even layed one finger on his wife. In most ancient Christian Culutures.. a husband who attacked his wife in anyway provoked or not... was either sued, fined, arrested, thrashed or brought to a whipping post to be pubicley caned or spanked. History class tells you this. Not feminist fiction or the fictional false "Rule Of The Thumb" that has nothing to do with domestic violence.

  17. Better To stare at It Then The Act , Or Sure The Act Hurt's ; >>

  18. AnonymousJuly 18, 2012

    When spanking was legal, divorces were fewer. Is there a connection? Probably. Is it cause and effect? Probably not.

    Yet, before the mid-1960s, women were less inclined to have a knee-jerk reaction to spanking. It wasn't that women liked the idea so much as their values placed saving their marriage above protecting their bottom!

    Today's woman often entertains a contrary view. Despite pretenses, she is actually less sophisticated than her great grandmother when it comes to love a marriage. Often raised by a single mom harboring some unresolved grudge against a father, former lover, or ex-husband, and trained like a organ grinder's monkey to compete with men in the workplace, young women experience considerable difficulty adjusting the the normal rhythm of domestic life. In a nutshell, she really has trouble getting along with men on a long term basis.

    Propaganda aside, spanking before the mid-1960s was actually more of a symbolic act than it was actually beating a woman into submission. Although verbal protests were common, actually resistance was nonexistent. Women excepted men to act like men. Part of being a man was to be able to put a woman across his knee and calm her down. Despite mainstream media images of the day, there was an expectation of at least partial nudity on the part of the woman.

    The post-1960s hysteria over spanking was largely the result of excessive feminist influence on policy makers. At the time, feminism didn't have a real track record. It have given women the right to vote. While there had been that misadventure with Prohibition, relatively few people actually had the foresight to understand the consequences of neutering men. Yet, the decline of America began about a decade after women were granted equal rights and special protections from the supposed evils of men.

    1. I think divorces were fewer for other reasons.
      Reason No. 1. It was hard to get a divorce. The courts made it very hard to get and there was no such thing as "no-fault divorce."
      Reason No. 2. Divorced people, both men and women, were shunned from society. I remember hearing people say things like "He/she seems like a nice person; but, the truth is he's/she's divorced. I don't want to associate with them." Most people didn't want to be in that situation.
      Spanking, if it ever really happened in marriage, had nothing to d with the divorce rate.

    2. Ease of divorce was something feminists wanted since before women obtained the right to vote. Thus, it should come as no surprise that, following passage of no-fault divorce laws, something on the order of 8 out of 10 divorces are filed by women.

      It's also interesting to watch younger generations of feminists try to play like spanking in marriage never happened when a war on spanking closely followed the women's liberation movement of the 1960s. The reason a war on spanking became necessary was, as parents of previous generations knew, spanking remained effective with girls long after it ceased producing the desired effect with boys. This prevented boys and girls from being treated exactly the same.

      Only spanking didn't just stop being effective when girls were in college or got married. The same bare bottom paddling that made teenage daughters behave themselves in high school also worked wonders when applied to the behind of their mothers! That's one of the messages in McLintock! The other is that getting spanked makes women respect men.

      Essentially, feminists have sought to subvert every male dominated institution. Marriage was merely the first. They compared it to slavery.

  19. AnonymousJuly 24, 2012

    How about just saying spanking is erotic and fun among consenting adults? Most of these pictures are a REAL turn on for people who fantasize about being controlled or controlling their lover.

    All the posters are of gruff strong male archetypes dominating young women. Not one was of an adult spanking a child. This is obviously some disguised BDsm site for people who cant come out and say...

    Damn that turns me on.

    1. A proper, non-injurious spanking turns her on, too. The sting of having her bare bottom spanked makes her genitals swell, tingle and get wet in eager anticipation of what's coming next. Check out how her nipples become hard knobs during a spanking.
      Either a bare hand, especially the tough, callused hand of a working man, or a thin paddle is ideal for the man who doesn't do manual labor. A paint stirrer stick for a 5 gallon pail is ideal. Wood, not plastic.
      The plump buns of a woman are specially designed for spanking purposes.
      If you wear boxers, your erect member will push against her belly if you have her in the "lap" or "across the knees" position for spanking.

  20. all the spankings are on cloved bottoms how she asopes to fell it

  21. Prior to the mid-1960s there were three basic assumptions in American society. One was that a badly behaved female is never too old to wind up over a man's knee. That's the common thread in the onscreen McLintock spankings. There isn't much difference in how a man goes about spanking a mother or her older daughter. Another was that, appropriately administered to a female's bare behind, spanking was not inherently abusive. While wife beating was not tolerated, spanking was permitted. Third was that spanking one's wife is an acceptable alternative to consulting a divorce attorney. That is the subtle message in the last McLintock spanking scene.

    After the mid-1960s, two things changed. One was the much touted rise of feminism. While it gets most of the blame, the second factor is often overlooked. That was professional counseling coming of age. Feminists were grasping for political clout and counselor were yearning to make money.

    Spanking presented a problem for feminism because, while spanking men and older boys tended to be counter productive, it remained thoroughly effective on teenage daughters and their mothers. Thus, in the name of equality, spanking had to go.

    As a result of feminist propaganda, especially after the rise of agenda-driven junk-science academic research in the 1980s, spanked bottoms were lumped in with black eyes and broken teeth. It was also claimed that spanking was the gateway to even worse domestic violence.

    Professional counselors faced a similar problem. Because spanking was a threat to profitability, it had to be demonized. After all, if a husband could handle his wife or his daughter, who needed a counselor?

    Even worse, because spanking often represented the authority of men in the home, the result was a subtle war on men that is still permeates movies, television, and advertising today. Men went from knowing best to being evil buffoons.

  22. sixofthebestMay 19, 2013

    The nostalgic spanking movie that I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing through-out the bygone era is called "Roots of Heaven", Where a naughty mature big game huntress named Madame Orsini, is spanked on her bare bottom, Thanks to the leader of a group named Morel. In my opinion, an excellent movie.

    1. That one was a true classic indeed.

  23. Yes I agree with any adult getting spanked, but it must be done the right way, she must be in a bent over position, tied down, butt sticking up, where she cant wiggle from head to toe, the person spanking her must be the opposite sex, and have a strong hand, she must be paddled with a wooden paddle with holes in it, and there should be at least 100 people watching this in public. The spanking should last a good hour.

    1. Did you get off two times or three while you were typing that, Pervy?

    2. AnonymousMay 24, 2015

      The wife must submit to the spanking. Force used to get her bent over with her skirt up - pants are a sign and a symptom of a rebellious woman - is unacceptable. A wife is an adult, not a child, even if she is only 12 years old (still legal in a few places). If she balks, refuses, or threatens to call the cops, your marriage is in trouble.
      After spanking it's time for sex, preferably from behind.

  24. No one mentioned Wayne spanking Maureen on the fountain in the "Quiet Man". The scene has been cut from the movie now, too bad, it was the crux of her change.

    1. There was no spanking in The Quiet Man. I think you are thinking of Donavon's Reef. That is where the spanking at the fountain took place.

  25. McClintock is a western version of Taming of the Shrew. Oh and by the way there are actually two spankings.

  26. Your are right Anonymous! The first spanking takes place in McClintock's living room where Patrick Wayne spanks Stefanie Powers otk with a coal scuttle. Later in the movie when John Wayne's character decides to set things straight with Maureen O'Hara's character that the suggestion of a spanking for Maureen O'Hara leads to the spanking scene in front of the livery stable with Patrick Wayne supplying John Wayne with a coal scuttle!

  27. AnonymousJuly 31, 2015

    In the 1950's wives were disciplined by their husbands and accepted it. I remember one occasion my father caned me for getting bad marks in my homework and told me I had to stay in all week as punishment. Mum was more sympathetic and let me go out one night when dad was out. He found out and caned mum for countermanding his punishment. This wasn't a regular practice but she was caned from time to time.