Mitch Kessler aka "Sir Adam"
to Websters New American Dictionary, the word flog
comes from the Latin flagellare and means, to
beat with a stick, whip, etc, ... but often dictionary definitions
omit important nuances. In actual usage, beating a person with a stick
is more appropriately called drubbing, and hitting a dog with
a stick is usually called, hitting the dawg with a stick
and is a thing which any fool can do. When modern English
was being assembled (largely from parts manufactured abroad) punishing
people by hitting them was called whipping, especially if
an actual horse-encourager was used. Beating or drubbing, not to mention
boxing and cudgeling implied a less formal chastisement
and referred to blunt trauma injuries inflicted with fists or pieces of
was more often applied to various shipboard misfortunes. When a sail,
or rope or a spar becomes unfastened in a high wind, it moves from side
to side with a violent chaotic motion sailors call flogging. A sail might
flog itself to pieces in a storm, in which case the sailor
who neglected to lash it more securely might, himself, be
flogged for his inattention to duty. In British sailors' lingo, catting
does not mean to hit with a cat, (or to gad about at night
looking for pussy) but to tie something securely with many turns
of rope. Hence, a man being flogged with a cat was first catted
to a grating ... but sailors, who seem to enjoy arcane and obscure word
usages, would call the tying up lashing and the whipping would
be called a flogging. Our Modern English and the British Navy got organized
in the same century and this punishing nomenclature came ashore for all
of us to enjoy and be confused by. The point of all this lexicography
is to establish that to flog suggests some kind of back-and-forth
motion, used with more finesse than when a fool hits a dawg with
a stick.,... whereas whipping (on land) refers to a
sharp reversal of motion, as exemplified by the snap of a single-tail
olden days flogging was entertainment only for the spectators. The beadles
who did the whipping got all tired, thirsty and sweaty ... even if they
didnt get scratched, bitten or punched by the victim -- for whom
the exercise was not supposed to provide any pleasure at all. Later, when
more or less consensual flogging became a Darkside sexual thrill ... there
were no witnesses to consider and the victim wanted to suffer.
The Flog-ers still got tired and sweaty, but enjoyed what they were doing,
or were paid enough not to care.
with our Safe Sane and Sensual flogging style its not easy for the
same flogging to satisfy everyone concerned. The spectators can be either
bored or horrified ... The Dungeon Chaperones may approve or not ... The
flog-ee may get too much or too little sensation and the Floger-er
still gets hot and sweaty. Nonetheless, in BDSMs good society
the ability to flog acceptably is the rough equivalent of the expectation
elsewhere that one dance acceptably. Fortunately, flogging is easier
than dancing. The motions are simpler, no one has to walk backwards --and
the music can be ignored.
the purpose of a flogging is to inflict pleasure. This might be the pleasure
of having endured a torturous ordeal with honor, or the complex
pleasure of simultaneously causing, witnessing and vicariously sharing
the other persons struggle with pain. There is a point at which
the agoniste exceeds that which youd expect from
non-contact athletics. When that level of intensity is reached, attempts
at verbal/intellectual understanding become almost counter- productive.
If you understand the desire for such intensity, no explanation is necessary.
If you do not understand, no explanation will be sufficient. Those who
explore these quasi-mystical extremes get there by a route similar to
that followed by other athletes. There is an innate talent and desire,
molded over time by experiential learning and self-discovery. Following
this path guarantees distressingly uncomfortable experiences, and includes
the possibility of injury ... although unlike competitive athletics, the
chance of suffering a disabling accident is exceedingly remote.
to Flog and Be Flogged
For the Bottom, being flogged is simplicity itself. You stand there with
a bare back or bare butt, or both, while someone waves a bundle of soft
leather ribbons in your general direction. Once you grow accustomed to
standing in one place without fainting, you might find you actually like
some contact with the implement. In that case, you still just stand there
... but now you add verbal and non-verbal communication skills to your
routine -- and will be expected to, remember your safeword.
Some people enjoy being hit so hard it hurts ... sometimes so it hurts
a lot. Sometimes it even makes marks or draws blood ... which some people
like a lot as well. Once you realize this, you realize there is yet another
demand placed on the Flog-ee ... making sure the Flog-er has a general
idea of how hard to hit, before starting to do so. Informing your Top
of your limits (in no uncertain terms, if necessary) is called negotiation.
flogging Top needs leg and foot endurance , but can move around a bit,
which relieves strain and fatigue. The active partner also needs a certain
amount of hand-eye coordination, aerobic conditioning and upper body stamina.
The Flog-er is also usually presumed to be the one responsible for hearing
the safeword, a cue to stop hitting, should it be uttered. This includes
making sure the ambient noise level does not cover a frenzied cry of toothpaste
(when a Flog-ee likes to use words like Mercy or nopleasestop
as part of the scene, unmistakable safewords like this sometimes get used.)
-- or make provision for someone else to hear and signal a cue -- to-stop.
flogging is at least slightly different, even between the same partners
using the same equipment and the same scenario. The range of what different
people do at different times in different combinations is virtually infinite,
and ranges from the merely symbolic to the ... and this is not necessarily
a bad thing ... profoundly traumatic.There are as many ways of doing
a flogging (or S/M) as there are combinations of people doing the
doing. There are, however, some common features that exist to a greater
or lesser degree in all floggings. Old-Guard 70s Sexual Revolutionists
will recognize this pattern from Masters and Johnsons landmark books
Human Sexual Response and Human Sexual Dysfunction. The
analogy is not far-fetched. S/M is sex. Its just that there are
different cultural norms about where and with whom you are allowed to
there is a decision or negotiation phase which
may take place days before the actual event. This is where the consent,
bargaining and acceptance takes place, and limits are set.
The process may be as simple as two strangers noting the pocket in which
each carries their Black Hankie. The more explicit the negotiation, the
fewer chances there are for surprises ... which is not always a good thing.
Although it may never be explicitly stated in words, somewhere in this
process is the determination of, what the scene is about ...
the relationship being enacted ... if there is fantasy or role-playing
involved ... what is to be done, what is to be imagined, and what the
aftermath is hoped or expected to be. Much of the sense of safety
-- emotional and physical, will be established in this phase. Between
new partners, discussion and exploration can occupy a great deal of time,
to very good purpose. In well-established couples it may consist of nothing
more than saying, Wanna Play?
is the time to find out about possible health considerations ... a weak
back for example, or cardiovascular diseases. By inquiring into these
things, a Top shows experience, expertise and caring, which increases
his or her perceived dominance. Practically speaking, even young, apparently
fit people can suffer from conditions the Top should know about and have
a plan for. The two most important are diabetes and asthma. Diabetics
may respond to stress by passing out ... which may be a trivial, even
common occurrence requiring only a bit of rest or a sugar imbalance
requiring adjustment or even emergency medical care. The person with the
problem is the one responsible for knowing what ought to be done about
it. Under stress, asthmatics may experience sudden difficulty in breathing.
Again, the sufferer should be able to propose a plan for evaluating and
responding to the problem should it arise. In most cases, for asthma,
this means having their medicated inhaler within easy reach. People with
seizure disorders should also reveal the fact, along with instruction
on how to respond to an incident.This is not only about the flog-ee. It
is also important that if the flog-er has any pre-existing conditions,
his/her partner should know ... and should have means to quick-release
any restraints and know how to respond. It might be worth mentioning that
more is not always better in discussion and planning.
If events do not follow an overly-explicit plan (once called an agenda)
disappointment follows ; especially if fantasies, hopes and desires become
confused with actual abilities and intentions.
can begin long before the first blow. Even the physical process of dressing
for the event, selecting the gear to be used, or moving from the ordinary
world to the space in which the flogging takes place, influences
what is to follow and how everyone feels about it during -- and after.
Some people will use scenarios with assumed characters, plot points and
dialog to get them where they want to go. For others, the simple act of
assuming the positions of flogging, the moment of putting on a collar
or restraints create the desired mood and level of excitement. It is neither
polite, nor even accurate to assume that scripted or theatrical
is the same thing as artificial or insincere,
as anyone who has studied acting can attest to -- nor can quick-starting
pairs be assumed to be casual or perfunctory in what they do.
a flogging begins, purposeful action is the key to success
fumbling is the enemy of enjoyment. This is the last point at which to
adjust lighting, temperature and sound levels. This is where blindfolds
and other props go on, where clothes come off, where final
adjustments are made. The actual work might, depending on personal factors
of all kinds, be done by the Top alone ... by the Bottom alone ... each
attending to their own spheres or by a Dungeon Attendant
of some kind. These choices will also affect the psychic impact of the
the intent is affectionate, sensual ... or at least non punitive -- a
flogging should start at a much lower intensity than it will eventually
reach. At the very least, this helps the flog-ee adjust to the physical
stress gradually, and establishes trust in the flog-ers ability
and intentions. It also affords the flog-er the opportunity to estimate
the flog-ees resolution and probable endurance. These moves are
introductory ... even a bit tentative. Specially selected warm-up floggers
might come into play at this point.
boundaries between stages are not clear cut. Stimulation ends
essentially when the Top notices that the Bottom is responding to it.
More importantly, this stage is the point ... at last ... at which things
are starting to be FUN ... HOT ... SEXY. The flog-ee is beginning to relish
the sensations and anticipate more ... the flog-er is beginning to feel
the way the scene is going to go. Both will probably be breathing more
quickly, and through flared nostrils. This stage might include verbal
exchanges such as threats promises, or reassurances. It might
also include introductory or exploratory touching, such as muscle-kneading,
skin stroking, light slaps, pinches or scratches -- anything by which
the Top communicates, Im here, and the Bottom responds
is where the flogging- proper occurs. It progresses from a low end, through
a mid-range, to a peak, and back again. Communication, both verbal and
non-verbal will be most frequent and intense at this stage. The Top will
most likely either be establishing a pattern and rhythm, or will be deliberately
randomizing the blows. Most Bottoms will have more pleasure from regular,
predictable impacts; more of a sense of punishment from chaotic sensations.
Ideally, both parties will be intensely focused on each other. At least,
one hopes the Top will be devoting complete attention to the Bottoms
reactions and what is causing them. Some Tops will want to devise strategies
to remind them to check their Bottoms condition from time to time
without breaking either partners mood.
as with vanilla sex, partners may want to prolong the experience
... or even take a break without actually losing contact. This might be
because of the Bottom wanting more, but being, for the moment, unable
to continue. Intermediate Safewords are useful for this situation.
Some Tops develop an uncanny ability to not throw the blow that would
have caused the Bottom to use the safeword. Part of the trick for doing
this is to watch for a deep intake of breath (which is not a gasp) immediately
following a stroke. The ribcage expands, the Top sees it, and does not
land the next stroke. The Bottom is amazed, and often impressed! In a
few moments the scene continues. Another cause for a pause might be a
non-catastrophic physical problem that should be corrected before continuing
-- for example, a foot-cramp or a too-tight wrist cuff. (Which could occur
in vanilla sex, too ... come to think of it).
hands over head posture, especially when combined with tight
wrist cuffs, can leave the fingers deprived of blood. For people not suffering
from a circulatory disorder, up to twenty minutes of reduced circulation
is essentially meaningless -- so long as there is a perceptible pulse,
no swelling and no discoloration of the fingers. Still, after 15 or 20
minutes it becomes advisable, and reassuring, if the Top grasps the fingers
of the Bottom, feeling for unusual coolness with the palm of the hand.
Another quick check is done by pressing any unpainted fingernail until
it turns white, then releasing. The pink color should return within a
second or two. Otherwise it may be time to change position and adjust
time to time the Top may want to assess the amount of skin and muscle
trauma by feeling the heat of the skin. With experience, this can be done
without making contact by slowly bringing the underside of a wrist or
forearm close to the back. If it feels as if there is a dry heat rising
from the skin it means the flog-ee has been well and truly stimulated.
It could be time to look forward to ending the scene, or backing down
and building up again. An intense fiery heat could be the first sign of
bruising. Inexperienced Tops can get a sense of this, without over-flogging,
by trying the technique on fresh, fiery-red sunburns. A good painful first-degree
burn, (such as a lobster-red shoulder sunburn) will put out about the
same heat as the beginning of blue bruise concerns.
people actually reach orgasm as a result of being flogged. This gratifying
reaction is more common in women and more visible in men. But actually
this is a fairly rare treat. More often, the peak of a flogging scene
is the point just over the absolute limit of the flog-ees tolerance.
It is usually the point at which the Flog-ee will use the safeword, even
if the consequence is the irrevocable stopping of the scene, or the imposition
of some pre-agreed penalty or default. Not every flogging can, or should,
reach this point. Some flog-ers will consciously strive to stop the flogging
exactly one stroke before the flog-ee safewords. The sudden
remission of pain in this way can actually have more impact on the flog-ee
a flogging ends with both sides feeling really good. Good, however, is
experienced and expressed in different ways for different people. Either
party might feel spent, exhausted and languorous, or energized and alert.
For most people, sexual arousal is more probable after a less-than-to-the-limit
flogging than to one that tested out the parties.
is enough! Nough said? In addition to completing the Masters and
Johnson analogy, there is an afterwards period ... at least
for intense flogging -- that approximates the post-orgasmic changes (most
noticeable in men) after genital sex. Emotionally, the flog-ee will need
either 1) to receive after care: be comforted, reassured, cuddled, or
2) to be abandoned, ie: left alone to enjoy inner space
or just to become composed. Some peoples whole objective in being
flogged is to trigger an endorphin release -- which they would like the
leisure to enjoy. (Yes, this is very similar to rolling over and
going to sleep ... but what can you do? Its one of those things
you just have to work out or get over. ) But physically, ... a well-flogged
person is stressed, fatigued, probably dehydrated, possibly disoriented.
They may have broken skin (and therefore subject to infection). They are
very susceptible to chill. Its generally considered the flog-ers
responsibility to meet those physical needs without subverting the overall
experience -- even if the flog-ees emotional need is for abandonment.
In that case, a typical Top Ploy is to throw some kind of
cover over the flog-ee, and leave something to drink within easy reach,
after making with some scene -appropriate pseudo-harsh remark. Improvisational
Theatre can be contrived without being insincere.
own feeling is that abandonment should be simulated and not real. Playing
in public, the flog-ee (unless there is specific agreement to the contrary)
should not be left alone. Even in private, the flog-er should keep the
flog-ee under observation, even if hiding to do it.
Flog-ers need their own brand of aftercare sometimes. These are mostly
emotional needs for (not necessarily in this order) 1) admiration, 2)
declarations of submission and/or satisfaction, 3) reassurance of forgiveness
for excesses, real or imagined. Flog-ers physical needs ... muscle
massage, something to drink ... a shower -- usually can wait.
of the benefits of Public Play (at clubs or parties) is that it is possible
for others to tend to both parties after-care needs.