Flogging, whipping, and spanking (as well as a few lesser-known arts such as caning and bastinado are all considered corporal punishment, or CP. These areas of SM are related in that they each involve striking the body in order to cause pain or discomfort, along with other less obvious psychological and physiological effects.
The various types of CP differ in the implement which is used and which part of the body is struck.
Flogging involves multi-stranded whips called floggers, whipping uses a single-tailed whip, and spanking usually uses either the bare hand or a paddle. Caning, obviously, uses a cane, often of rattan, and bastinado uses various types of small lashes and switches including the bastinado, a kind of lightweight cane.
Flogging and whipping are usually applied to the upper back, although that is not a hard and fast rule. Spanking and caning are usually applied to the buttocks and sometimes the upper thighs. Bastinado refers specifically to the beating of the feet.
Corporal punishment is practiced for different reasons by different people. It is practiced by sadists and masochists who enjoy the pain for its own sake, and for purposes of discipline by those into consensual dominance and submission.
Although these disciplines appear at first to be very similar, in actual practice they differ enough to deserve separate treatment. Read on, and you'll see why.
Types of Floggers
There are many, many kinds of floggers available. The business end is often made up of leather straps, but it can be made of many other materials as well. Some of the other materials used include rope, horsehair (ouch!), knotted leather, and rawhide. I even know one leatherwoman who has a flogger made from IV tubing knotted at the ends to keep the blood inside! You know who you are. Talk about a twisted sister!
The material used in the flogger establishes the type of feeling it is capable of producing in the subject on whom it is used. Generally speaking, the thinner the material is, the more it will sting. Thicker, wider, and/or heavier materials produce less sting, but the loss in sting is offset by a greater propensity to bruise. Most bottoms with which I am acquainted (including my boy, Donn) prefer the slapping thud of a heavy flogger to the stinging sensation of the lighter ones, such as horsehair. Which, of course, makes the stinging horsehair flogger excellent for punishment - while a heavy buffalo hide flogger might be considered a reward.
Some of the more common types of flogger are listed below:
If your strokes are not accurate, or if you are simply not careful, the ends of the flogger will "wrap" around the sides of the body, slapping the bottom in places you did not intend. Due to laws of physics which are too complex to go into here, as the flogger wraps, the speed with which it travels increases geometrically. This is the same effect which allows the tip of a single-tailed whip to exceed the speed of sound, producing that sharp supersonic crack we all know and love
Suffice it to say that if the flogger wraps the body, you greatly increase the risk of harming your bottom.
If the flogging is a particularly heavy one, and the subject begins to bleed, be sure to follow proper disinfection procedures to prevent HIV transmission.
Types of Floggings
As a part of standard scene negotiations, the parties involved should agree on the basic nature of the flogging, as there are a variety of ways it can be approached. Some heavy masochists will want you to simply lay on strokes hard, fast, and mercilessly. Most bottoms, however, need time to build up endorphins and to adjust to the intense sensations they are experiencing.
Applied lightly, a flogger can mentally and physically relax the subject, very much like a massage. Blood is brought to the surface of the skin, the flesh is warmed and circulation is stimulated. It creates a very noticeable and distinctive state of mind and body, very near to the meditative state one reaches in transcendental meditation or other forms of deep relaxation. Heavy floggers are more effective if this is your goal.
Discuss goals and expectations with your partner before you begin. If you're not on the same wavelength , what could be a great experience is doomed from the start. We don't want that, do we?
The bottom should be positioned with his or her back to the top. A standing position, leaning slightly forward, is most comfortable for both parties. Ideally, the subject can be restrained (or simply leaned) against a St. Andrew's Cross. If this rather large piece of dungeon equipment is not available, he or she can lean against a wall with both hands placed against the wall.
There are many possible postures for the top, and you'll have to experiment to find one comfortable for you. The most important thing is that you strike as accurately as possible. I often stand well back from the boy, with my left foot forward, in order to take a full step toward him and lay down a hard cracking stroke. It looks something like throwing a pitch in a baseball game (although lifting the leg is a little too dramatic even for me).
Gripping the Flogger
Hold the flogger in your dominant hand. Your grip should be firm but your wrist and arm must not be rigid, as a fluid motion assists in accuracy and control. Experiment to see where on the handle to grip. Holding the handle near the end will allow for the most forceful blows, but may be more difficult to control for beginners. The flogger should feel well balanced, and it should swing with a minimum of effort. Good balance is one of the differences between a cheap flogger and a good flogger.
You will probably want to start out with light, slow, caressing strokes. Allow your bottom to become comfortable with the way the flogger feels. These strokes can be nearly anywhere on the body, although I would avoid the head and face no matter how light the strokes. An experienced bottom will use this time to psychologically prepare for the events to come. A sense of anticipation will probably rise in both partners. Enjoy it, feel its near tangibility, let the flogger kiss the flesh, linger lightly, stroke, tease and arouse. There's plenty of time for pain later - a good flogging must not be rushed or hurried.
Maximizing the Flogging
Some bottoms expect to be pushed to their limits, or beyond. Sometimes a flogging is a challenge, a test of strength and stamina, and the bottom will respect you for pushing the envelope. My boy considers a good flogging one in which he is sorely tempted to safe out but does not. My goal, then, is to read his reactions carefully, and gauge my responses accordingly. I play along a razor's edge. Too tame and it seems trivial and senseless, lacking a certain je ne sais quoi like soup without salt, and at worst a complete waste of time. On the other hand, too fierce and the enjoyment can disappear just as quickly. The type of flogging we both enjoy requires a kind of nonverbal communication that comes only with time.
Obviously, this is my preference, but it is not a universal one. Your Mileage May Vary.
A flogging is a very intense experience for both the bottom and the top. The bottom, however, bears the brunt of the physical trauma. Realize that he or she may be experiencing a very intense emotional and psychological high; for some it can be a spiritual experience. You as the top are your bottom's anchor to reality, and their guide. You are responsible for them. You must bring them back safely to themselves.
When the time has come to wind the scene down, don't just drop the floor out from under your bottom, leaving him or her to come down unguided and uncontrolled. Instead, allow external reality to slowly reassert itself.
There are several ways to handle aftercare. You can simply lessen the severity of your strokes gradually, which will let the bottom come down. You can "talk" the bottom down. You can switch to a different flogger. The point is that you take the time to bring the bottom down slowly.
What do I do? I take a more intimate approach, which is extremely effective and enjoyable, particularly because a flogging is more than just an SM scene for Donn and I. I stop flogging when I know he is about to safe out and notify him in a clear, strong voice that "it's over, boy." Then I approach slowly to where he is hanging slack-armed from the cross, limp and worn out, shaking and shivering, chest heaving and face flushed, and invariably crying with great sobs that wrack his frame. I enfold him lovingly in my arms and let him collapse against me, knowing that not only is it over, but he has made it through - that he has my approval and my love - and that in my arms, always, he is safe. "Thank You, SIR! Thank You, SIR! Thank You SIR!" he says over and over - perhaps with more sincerity than at any other time. There's no other time quite so special to me. There's a feeling I get that I've felt at no other time. That's why I am a leatherman.
Whipping is the use of a single-tailed whip (e.g., a bullwhip).
Whipping is what most outsiders and many novices think of when they think of SM. This is because it is one of the most visually exciting activities in SM.
Single-tailed whips are absolutely not recommended for the beginner. (Aside from Domina, "PLEASE pay attention to this. These are DANGEROUS tools, and they take hundreds of hours of training and practice to use.") Actually, I wouldn't recommend them for anyone. Very few experienced players ever really master them.
If you want to hang one in your dungeon, by all means do so, but if you think you are going to use it on another person, you need a reality check. Bullwhips are not toys. They are serious pieces of equipment that can slice flesh to the bone. What you will do is take a great risk of harming your bottom, perhaps permanently.
Over the years I've been in the SM scene, I have met a total of FIVE individual knowledgeable enough and experienced enough to use a whip safely. And, although I feel safe using smaller (4-6') whips, honesty compels me to acknowledge that I am not yet skillful enough to safely use the larger whips. I hope to someday count myself a whipmaster, but I have not yet reached that level of skill.
For more information on the use of single tailed whips, check out the Bullwhip FAQ on Slakkars homepage.
Spanking is a much more personal and intimate than other forms of discipline. There is nothing quite like the feel of your boy bent over your knee, bare ass arched upwards, quivering with a combination of fear and anticipation. For the bottom, too, it provides a very unique feeling - both physically and mentally.
Spanking evokes memories of corporal punishment many of us experience in childhood. For this reason, many spankees look for tops who fit the roles of Daddy, coach, a big brother, or other authority figures.
Position & Posture
One of the factors that sets spanking apart from other forms of discipline is the deliberate and sometimes ceremonial positioning of the participants. While some spankings are haphazard, I prefer spankings that include the ritual of positioning.
Both the spankee and spanker adopt positions that facilitate and enhance the spanking. These positions generally work to the advantage of the spanker and the disadvantage of the spankee.
The spanker enjoys the following advantages from their position:
The spankee realizes the following effects from their position:
Following are descriptions of various positions that I find erotic, their distinguishing characteristics, tactics that can be used to enhance them, and precautions to take. All descriptions assume a right-handed spanker.
|The spanker should raise their right knee slightly, turning up the bottom
further. In the case of a woman or man spanking a boy, she should make sure his penis is
pressed firmly against her right thigh and aimed to the left.
By turning their upper body to the right, the spanker can get a fuller swing and more comfortably apply a stronger swat.
By combining all of these tactics - the raised knee, the elbow in the back, the hand in the small of the back - the spanker can effectively pin the spankee down and spank the daylights out of them.
_Over the knee
I've found the following tactics can be used to enhance and focus on positioning:
From an anonymous USENET posting
Caning is the SM practice of striking the body (usually on the buttocks) with a cane for mutual erotic pleasure.
Canes come in a wide assortment of materials, lengths and diameters. Selecting the cane that is right for you can be a time consuming process, but fortunately it is one not to dread but to look forward to.
Each of these three variables affects the caning experience:
A good cane should be flexible, allowing it to bend with each stroke.
If made from any porous material as all "natural" canes are (e.g., bamboo, rattan), it must be covered with several good coats of varnish. This is especially important if the cane is to be used on more than one bottom. Canes are very difficult to disinfect, and since caning often involves bleeding (usually very little, but bleeding nonetheless), hygiene is paramount to prevent HIV transmission. The varnish makes it easier to effectively disinfect the cane by covering the naturally porous wood with an impermeable barrier. If your cane is natural and unvarnished, do not use it on more than one partner.
The length of your cane should be somewhere between 24" (two feet) and 36" (three feet) in most cases - 30" to 36" is most common. Longer canes (up to around 42") are acceptable for experienced caners only because their use requires greater skill. Diameter determines how sharp the pain will be. Your cane should be somewhere around 1/4" - slightly thinner for a real sting and larger (up to 3/4") for a thud.
Taking Care of Your Cane
Store your cane in a dry, cool place - away from sun, heat and moisture. Hang it vertically to keep it from developing curves and bends.
Every year or so, sand the varnish from the tip of the cane, so the naked wood is exposed. Stand cane, exposed end down, in a flower vase or other water-filled container overnight, to allow the wood to absorb the water. Then varnish the tip to keep the moisture within the cane.
This will make the cane last much, much longer, and will maintain its flexibility.
Before you begin a caning, there are a few safety precautions you should take. First, make sure the room is not too cold. Cold muscles are far more prone to serious injury, and will recover more slowly from the blows. Avoid hitting the tailbone or anywhere bone comes near the surface. This is why caning is usually done on the buttocks.
Here are some tips on where and how to apply the cane:
Defined by Ambrose Bierce in his Devil's Dictionary, as "the art of walking on wood without effort," bastinado is an ancient technique of foot punishment which involves beating the soles with canes or lashes. The etymology of the word is Spanish, and the literal meaning is "to beat with a stick." However, the word bastinado can refer to a kind of stock made to restrain the feet, or to a stick used to strike the feet, or to the act of striking the feet with such a stick. It is known as "falanga," "falaq" or "falaka" in Arab countries and "falaggas" in Greece.
In the countries where this punishment is most commonplace (i.e., Asian and Arabic nations), the public display of the foot is considered to be humiliating, so humiliation is a major dynamic of bastinado. The humiliation aspect is particularly strong when the subject is male.
Bastinado was commonly used as a form of torture during the Inquisition. Perhaps this explains the Spanish word for a practice common in the Middle and Far East, as the Saracens were thrown from Castille back to Northern Africa and the Middle East in the late 15th Century.
Bastinado, as it is practiced in real life, often leaves its victims crippled for life. The foot contains many tiny bones and tendons, which are easily damaged. If you do experiment with foot torture, use extremely lightweight instruments that will sting the skin without causing any trauma to the underlying tissues, such as thin switches cut from a tree.
If you have an interest in bastinado, or foot punishment in general, there is an internet mailing list called FPML (the Foot Punishment Mailing List) which is about, as you guessed, all kinds of foot punishment.