Flogging & whipping
"The master-at-arms assisted the prisoner off with his
shirt, leaving him naked to the waist, but throwing the garment loosely over
his shoulders. Removing the port gangway ladder, his wrists were made fast,
with a lashing, to the brass man-rope eyebolts, and his ankles to a small
grating laid on the deck. Thus standing straight up, his arms were
stretched considerably above his head. The assistant surgeon then stepped up
close on one side of the man to see that the punishment was not excessive.
The boatswain had, in the mean time,
produced a green baize bag, which contained the 'cats.' These consisted of
a wooden handle, about fifteen inches long, covered with cloth, with nine
tails of white line about as thick as thick pack-cord, twenty inches long,
and the ends 'whipped,' not knotted. One of these cats was handed to the
chief boatswain's mate, who was mildly cautioned by the captain to 'do his
duty, and not favour the man, or he would be triced up himself.' ...At this
the master-at-arms removed the blue shirt, and [the] boatswain's mate swung
round and brought the 'cats' down across the man's shoulders, the
master-at-arms called out, aloud, 'One - two,' and so on, until 'twelve,'
when the captain said, 'Stop. Take him down.'" Quotation and illustration
from Edward Shippen, Thirty Years at Sea; the Story of a Sailor's Life,
A real life account,
victim of the SACHSENHAUSEN CONCENTRATION CAMP
(recorded in the
Polish Documentary Institute)
Flogging or flagellation has been an integral part of
our history in one form or another as long as there seems to have been
history. It has been used for sexual practices, spiritual practices,
religious, judicial and even medical practices. Syrian priest, like
countless other religious leaders, believed that the gods could be appeased
by the use of scourges and would spend hours whipping themselves profusely
with an instrument made of twisted woolen cords armed with small bones. Even
today, Shiite Muslims indulge in the practice of public self-flagellation.
It had become the custom to regard the recital of thirty
psalms while taking the discipline (i.e. about three thousand strokes) as
equivalent to one year's canonical penance. So that to scourge oneself while
reciting the whole Psalter was to execute five years of penance. St. Dominic
Loricatus is related to have accomplished in this manner one hundred years
of penance (i.e. twenty Psalters), spreading the penance over one week. And
during one or two Lents he is said to have fulfilled in this way one
thousand years of penance, scourging himself night and day for forty days
while he recited no less than two hundred Psalters. (From the Catholic
Encyclopedia Vol. 5, transcribed by Joseph P. Thomas)
By the eleventh century the Franciscans were extolling
self-flagellation as a penance. And the Italian Benedictine St. Pietro
Damian organized group flagellation for laymen. Two hundred years later a
procession of fanatical flagellants - closely linked to the Flagellant sect
- set out under the auspices of St. Anthony of Padua. This austere saint,
theologian and preacher-keen to combat manifest sexuality - was in fact
adding to the sexual ferment. In 1260 unofficial processions of voluntary
scourgers, each member heartily whipping the man in front of him, started
streaming through Italy and out into northern and central Europe. The
participants, all male, carried banners and candles, and they sang as they
marched. (From The Illustrated Book of Sexual
© 1974, 1982, 1997-2001 G. L. Simons)
I might mention, there are a great number of tales of
confessors making use of their powers of absolution to force their
parishioners to beat them. In ancient Rome, judges would decorate the
walls of their courtrooms with various types of scourges in order to strike
fear into the hearts of criminals, many of whom would be ordered to endure
whippings of such severity that more than just a few of them died from the
wounds inflicted upon them; Austrian soldiers who misbehaved were made to
run the terrible gauntlet.
Flogging has also been reputed to have a good amount
of medicinal value as well. At various times throughout history, it has been
promoted as a way of 'stirring up the body's stagnating juices,
dissolving the precipitating salts, purifying the coagulating humours of the
body, clearing the brain, purging the belly, circulating the blood and
bracing the nerves.' It has been used as a treatment for insanity,
laziness, depression, obstruction of the bowels and even for lockjaw and
choking. ("A History of the Rod
Flagellation and the Flagellants in all Countries, from the Earliest Period
to the Present Time" by William H. Cooper B.A. 1865)
first overtly pornographic work on the subject of flagellation was published
in the year 1718, and was entitled 'A Treatise on the Use of Flogging'.
With the appearance of this book, flagellation became a passion throughout
Europe, so much so that the French soon dubbed it 'le vice anglais,'
the English vice, a nickname which would stick for centuries and can apply
to either flagellation or corporal punishment.
England has long been represented as the natural home of
flagellation I am pleased to say. Thus, "Perhaps it was the cold climate
which originally aroused in Englishmen a desire for whipping." "Nowhere in
the world do we find such a deep affection for the rod." ("The Golden
Age of Erotica" by B. J. Hurwood ) And again - "Flagellation-mania (the
desire to beat and flog) and preference for the use of the rod may be
described as a specifically English abuse; it was so widespread among all
ranks and ages that it formed one of the most interesting features of their
sexual life." ("Sexual Life in England" by I. Bloch)
There were many high-class brothels in the nineteenth
century. One of the most famous of these was run by a Mrs. Theresa Berkley
(or Berkeley) of 28 Charlotte Street. She was a "governess", i.e. she
specialized in chastisement, whipping, flagellation, and the like. She was
even credited with the invention of the Berkley horse, an ingenious flogging
machine that earned her a fortune. (From The
Illustrated Book of Sexual Records.
© 1974, 1982, 1997-2001 G. L. Simons)
Today, may people still find pleasure at the business
end of the scourge. It is regarded as a tool of sensuality, an instrument of
passion and affection. This is
we begin our journey into Flogging. While many outside of BD/SM would be
unable to understand flogging in any way other than as a punishment, inside
the lifestyle, it is widely regarded as the most prolific of all play
styles. A skilled person can give any variation of sensations over any part
of the body, using an instrument made up of a handle and tails called the
The handle of a flogger is generally made of wood and
may be leather wrapped and weighted. I own a pair with weighted steel
handles to balance the extra long, heavy tails. The tails can be made of any
material, leather being the most popular, but with fur, rope and cordage
also being used. They can vary from simple home made items to purchased ones
like the one (pictured above). Comes with one
set of soft suede as shown and one set of flat rubber.
The suede can sting or stroke;
providing the mildest sensation of any of these whips. The flat rubber, on
the other hand, is possibly the most severe sensation available with these
whips, being very stingy and a bit thuddy. The rubber can also be put in the
freezer for a little while, to give a whole new dimension to sensation play.
Neither material is very likely
to leave lasting marks, so this flogger makes an excellent choice for a
http://www.tops-and-bottoms.co.uk/floggers.htm or the Braided Cat-O-Nine
Tails - VT03 from FP costing a massive £300 -
Contrary to what some might think, it's not simply a case
of having a whip in your hand and going hell for leather for the sake of
it, there are lots of things to consider. Your average sports whip
cracker, if they fancied having a go, would probably do an awful lot of
damage - that is not the name of the game! In fact, it doesn't need
to hurt at all.
The first thing anyone's going to ask about using a whip
on a human target is, 'why'?
People enjoy using whips in an SM context for many
Whips as part of the D/s Dynamic
A couple in a long term Dominant/submissive relationship
may include the use of whips as part of a scene as a demonstration of the
consensual power exchange that exists between them. This does not mean
that the submissive is necessarily a masochist. In a lot of cases subs
don't particularly enjoy pain, but get an emotional high from knowing that
they are pleasing their partner - making the experience worth while to
This may sound bizarre to someone who isn't involved in a
D/s relationship, but in actual fact it is an extremely powerful
interaction, bringing two people together in complete trust.
Pain and injury are two different things, and the key to
enjoyable use of whips in SM is two fold. On the one hand, it requires
endurance of pain (or exposure to the possibility of pain) whilst trusting
that injury won't occur. On the other, it requires extreme concentration
and skill to create just the right amount of pain/ sense of danger /
excitement, without betraying the other person's trust in your skill.
When everything comes together, it can be a very powerful
experience for both people involved.
Pure SM? On the other hand, whip play might take place
between two people who have no interest in consensual domination and
The 'Top' (whip master/mistress) may - or may not - gain
pleasure from giving pain, or watching the reaction of their play partner
may get an adrenalin high from the situation, and the care they need to
exercise in order to avoid harming the other person. They probably enjoy
the physical effort involved, and almost certainly gain pleasure from
seeing the mark of their handiwork appear on the other person's skin. They
probably also enjoy the attention their play will inevitably attract -
there is more than a hint of theatre to using a bullwhip in a dungeon
One thing that seems to be agreed though, is that a whip
master or mistress in a (D/s or SM role, or somewhere in between) gains no
sexual pleasure from using the whip. Indeed, sexual pleasure would reduce
their control and make the whole thing unsafe.
The 'Bottom' (on the receiving end). May gain sexual
pleasure - or may not. Some people just like the sensation of the whip on
their skin, or the excitement of the situation. For some, there is a sense
of relaxation and stress release. Interestingly, there is some
(scientific) evidence that flogging and whipping helps to stimulate the
Taking a Whipping
So far this whole section has focused mainly on the People
who wield whips. But, of course, if we had no one to whip the whole thing
would be pointless.
The following is for the benefit of anyone who might be
curious about the feel of a single tail against skin, and as a step over
to the 'other side' for the people who wield them :o)
briefly touched upon in the Whips in SM Intro, enjoyment is derived from
the effects of a whip for many reasons. The main reason being a love of
pain (masochism), another, as an act of submission, but more often as a
combination of both.
More often than not, there is an adrenaline boost going
on when you find yourself standing in front of a whip - not just the
first time either. This in itself can heighten the experience, making it
By putting yourself at the mercy of a skilled whip
master/mistress you are also taking on a degree of responsibility. They
may have your welfare in their hands during the scene, but you have a duty
to them by being honest at the outset.
You should tell them if:
You are ill (this includes minor conditions)
You are on any medication which may affect your balance
or your ability to cope with the whip
You have a partner outside of the scene who knows
nothing about your interest
You are pregnant
You are a complete pain slut
You don't like pain
The list goes on but I'm sure you get the picture.
Some practical tips for safe play
It's always a good idea to check out the person you're
going to be playing with. Just because someone says they can use a whip
safely, doesn't always mean they can. Ask around, or ask them to tell
you who they have whipped before. If in doubt, don't play!
Try not to move too much during the whipping. It can be
off-putting to the person whipping you, but more importantly it could
cause injury if you shift position as the whip makes contact. If you
feel uncomfortable during a scene, let the person you are playing with
know and they will stop.
Don't turn around or move your head to try and get a
better look. You could lose an eye!
Try to relax through the scene. If you tense up, it may
Tell your Top if you feel unwell during a whipping.
Arrange a safe word or safe sign to end a whipping scene
in a hurry. If you are prone to 'spacing out', having someone with you
who knows you well enough to call a halt if necessary would be of
Don't try and 'annoy' your top into giving you more
punishment. Nine times out of ten this doesn't work and the only
punishment you'll get is a premature end to your whipping.
Whips don't have to hurt but It's very, very nice when they
Whether or not it does, really is in the hands of the
person using it, hence the importance of playing with someone you trust.
Also, make sure they are aware of your general tolerance and reaction to
A very good article about pain in an SM contact can be
http://public.diversity.org.uk/deviant/sspain.htm and is well
worth a read regardless of your orientation.
Tops on the bottom
I would recommend that anyone who is thinking of using a
single tail on someone, takes at least one lash them self. Most of
the whip folk I know, have done this and would agree it was a worthwhile
experience. (even if they hated it)
From personal experience, it helped me to get a better
perspective of what my play partners experience each time they stand
before me. Also, being in a full time D/s relationship, I now appreciate
the extent of David's submission (he doesn't like pain) far more than I
would have, if I had never tried it :o)
Choosing a Suitable Whip for SM
As previously discussed, there is a fair amount of
difference in the way whips are used in SM and sport cracking, so you're
going to need a whip that is right for the job!
Regardless of what sort of whip you fancy, there are
certain generally desirable characteristics. These are:
Predictability: When you have mastered a throw, every time
you use that throw, the whip should to respond in the same way. If the
same technique only produces the same result nine times out of ten, the
whip's no good for SM. Some whips are very predictable when used in a
certain way, but not when thrown differently. As long as you have worked
out what it's limits are, that's fine.
Usability: The whip needs to be suitable for how and where
you intend to use it. Mastering an 8 foot bullwhip for use in SM is a
great achievement. No good buying one, though, if you've got nowhere to
practice with it; or your local club hasn't got the space to throw it.
Short whips (e.g. 4 foot signals, 3 or 4 foot snakes) are
more usable in clubs; and are faster to master, but are limited in what
you can do with them. Short snake whips win over signal whips for playing
with lots of partners in one night, because you can change the cracker.
But signal whips are wonderfully elegant little whips, and keeping one as
'our special toy' can really add something to proceedings when you play
with a loved one.
The Right Weight: Regardless of quality, if you find a
whip tiring to use, you will struggle to be safely accurate with it
throughout a scene.
Moreover, as most SM whip cracking happens in spaces that
limit how you use your whip, you're going to be using the same technique
over and over again - making muscle fatigue more of a issue than it is for
sport whip crackers.
So unless you're willing to develop the necessary strength
and fitness, don't buy a whip that you're not comfortable throwing.
Snake and signal whips can be heavily loaded with lead to
make cracking easier. This usually creates a slower action, which is fine
as long as that's the rhythm you're after. At the other extreme, if they
are too light, they may require a lot effort to get a crack. The risk
there, is loss of accuracy or over-reaching if you 'muscle' the whip to
get a noise.
What About a Whip's Accuracy?
If you have the skill, as long as the whip is predictable,
and you don't struggle to throw it, you can probably make it safely
accurate. If it throws off to one side, you'll be able to compensate. If
you have to throw it hard to make it crack loudly, you can throw it with
less energy when whipping someone. So, to a large extent, accuracy is more
about how you use the whip than it is about the whip itself. Restraints
can help keep your target still which helps accuracy. Many subs also find
they enhance the experience by letting them have something to fight
That said, there are a few things to think about:
Whilst learning, most people find it easier to become
accurate with short whips than they do with long ones.
Most people find whips with handles to be more accurate
than the same length whips without.
It is fairly easy to get accurate with a whip if you
practice with it. The real key to safe SM whip use is in being able to
finely judge distances.
If you feel we've missed anything, please let me know via
Good luck, and enjoy!