Noun: The sister of one's father or mother.
Well, yes. Strictly speaking that's correct, but the a-word packs more of a punch in spanking fiction, doesn't it? Enter an aunt, or aunty, and you know that some naughty girl or boy is going to get a well-deserved lesson sometime soon.
Mr Tawse has posted a great photo set today, which has had me mulling over the myths and magic of aunts and aunt-ship. In my experience, in real life aunts/aunties are a mild, good-natured lot - more likely to be handing out treats than laying down the law. But through the distorting lens of a spanko imagination they are transformed into CP super heroines...
I have nephews and nieces and am, I think, as sweet as sugar to them (although I'm well aware of their shortcomings). I have more than my fair share too; my mother was one of six children and so was dad, so my extended family was very extended.
Family events involved a mob of uncles and lots of aunts too, both by marriage and by blood. I have to say one of my mother's sisters could have been the model for a spanko-fiction aunt. Aunty J - who is sadly no longer with us - was my mum's younger sister and was, when we were kids, particularly no-nonsense.
She never laid a finger on me, but just being around her made me feel nervous - it was as though she had x-ray eyes that could see into my soul. As a proto-spanko I felt that if anyone was going to bare my bum and give me the roasting I deserved then Aunty J was the one who was equipped to do it.
But why does the strict aunt myth have such traction? Go back the best part of a century and the stories of the comic writer PG Wodehouse are bristling with scary aunts.
The best (or worst) of them was Bertie Wooster's Aunt Agatha. Bertie says of her: "When Aunt Agatha wants you to do a thing you do it, or else you find yourself wondering why those fellows in the olden days made such a fuss when they had trouble with the Spanish Inquisition."
Bertie's a grown man - although an idiot - and as far as I know Agatha never threatens physical punishment. However, you get the distinct impression that wasn't the case when Bertie was a boy. Agatha is the epitome of the disciplinarian aunt.
A last thought, as I've gone on a bit. Aunts seem to come in two distinct forms in spanko imagination. They're either like Wodehouse's Agatha - an old dragon - or they're really rather attractive, think the marvellous Clare Fonda or Veronica Bound of Punished Brats.
I suppose the thing is that a good-looking aunt (or uncle for that matter) is the adult who could put the imagined young person over a knee, but who it's also OK to be attracted to. Sexual attraction and spanking - a heady mix for a young mind.