Fraternity and sorority spanking

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Left: Theta Chi fraternity paddle, Univ. of Cincinnati, 1962. Right: Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority paddle, Penn State, 1967. (Photo: Jameslovebirch.)
L to R: Greek initiation paddles from the University of Cincinnati, Missouri and Nebraska (photo: Jameslovebirch).

College fraternity and sorority spanking is part of the annual hazing rituals associated with recruiting (or "rushing") prospective pledges during what is called "rush week". Enduring a sometimes brutal paddling is often the central event in the final initiation ceremony. This ritual is performed with a special wooden "Greek paddle" with letters and other symbols representing the fraternity/sorority, the university, as well as personalized markings.

This is primarily a North American phenomenon, but is related to the now-banned "fagging" (underclassmen forced to do servile duties for older students) once widely practiced in English schools. Recently, universities across America have officially banned all forms of abusive hazing. However, hazing rituals are still conducted in secret at some universities, and even high schools. Every year news reports surface about students being injured during illicit hazing exercises that went too far.

Hell week[edit]

After being selected from a pledge drive or recommended by an upperclassman, the candidate endures a grueling hazing or rushing process that can last for several weeks. The last phase, known as "Hell week" or "Greek week", ends in an initiation ceremony (sometimes called Hell night or pledge night). During the trial period of hazing, a pledge essentially becomes a willing slave to the other members. Typical degradations include extreme servitude (often while wearing little or no clothes), scrubbing floors and toilets with a toothbrush, being pelted with eggs, mud or garbage, eating disgusting items, forced binge drinking to the point of vomiting, and humiliation through age play or cross-dressing.

For example, a male pledge might have to attend classes dressed in female clothes or appear in public in his underwear or a ridiculous costume. Pledges are often required to wear a special cap or beanie related to their house or dress in specified articles of clothing, particularly items matching their school colors. Female pledges might be restricted to one (unflattering) hairstyle and forbidden to use makeup or forced to wear garish lipstick and rouge, etc.

Infantilism (a punitive form of adult baby play) was a once-popular hazing practice that dates back to the 1930s, possibly earlier (see Professor Marston and the Wonder Women in the films section below). For example, an unidentified vintage newsreel (c. 1950), shows a spanking line of pledges dressed in baby clothes getting smacked with rolled up newspapers (YouTube clip). In the television sitcom Unhappily Ever After ("Sorority Girl", 4:6, 1997), two sorority pledges are forced to wear baby clothes, large bonnets, and make babyish noises. In the comedy film Pledge This! (2006), sorority president Paris Hilton forces her candidates to eat spoiled sushi and walk around campus wearing diapers and baby bonnets.

Other hazing practices during pledge week include performing elaborate pranks, stealing a symbolic item of university property, or gathering unusual items in a scavenger hunt (which may require acts of petty theft). The college films Killer Party (1986), Dead Scared aka The Hazing (2004), and Pledge This! all show sorority pledges forced to find and/or steal specific items.

A number of college-based horror films such as Hell Night (1981), Killer Party and Dead Scared center around hazing activities that require pledges to spend a night in a scary, abandoned mansion on or near campus that turns out to be inhabited by evil spirits.

Assuming the position[edit]

Theta Chi fraternity paddle from Final Exam amateur video (photo: Jameslovebirch).

The paddling ritual is usually reserved for the final initiation or oath ceremony. Sometimes this is done in a quasi-religious fashion with the senior members dressed in monkish robes or Grecian togas/gowns. Typically the pledge is ordered to "assume the position" and bends over (in many cases this means grabbing one's ankles) to receive a certain number of hard swats from a specialized Greek paddle. He or she might also have to recite an oath of loyalty or repeat after each stroke: "Thank you, Sir/Miss, may I have another?" (There is also a spanking video producer named ATP Studios, an acronym for Assume the Position.)

A fraternity paddle spanking of this type is depicted in the cult comedy Animal House (1978) and can be seen at Youtube. Sorority pledges are paddled in the 1980 porn film Co-Ed Fever. Sorority sisters Brinke Stevens and Michelle Bauer endure similar initiation paddlings in Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama (1988). Paddling scenes also occur in Vampires of Sorority Row (1999) and its 2000 sequel Vampires of Sorority Row II (see [1] video clips).

On television an entire episode of 21 Jump Street ("Hell Week", 3:6, 1989) was centered around fraternity hazing rituals. Undercover cop Johnny Depp becomes a fraternity pledge and is smacked once with a Greek paddle during one of his many tests. (Video clip at YouTube.)

Trading licks[edit]

A variation is trading licks, in which two pledges are made to take turns paddling each other.

The Greek Paddle[edit]

Paddle from Delta Phi Epsilon, Georgetown University, GA.

The so-called "Greek Paddle" comes in many shapes and sizes. Some have even been adapted from boat oars and canoe paddles. However, the larger sporting goods companies have been producing standardized oak paddles (22 inches long, 3.5 inches wide) for many decades.

Usually these are customized and given to the pledge as a memento after they become a full member. One side of the paddle generally has the name of the university, school seal, and name of the fraternity/sorority chapter printed on it. The reverse side has a decal with that chapter's coat of arms, engraved greek letters representing the chapter, plus a "to-" and "from-" dedication.

Punishments with the Greek paddle may also occur as a way to enforce the rules and bylaws of the fraternity/sorority. Recreational paddling at campus parties and during spring break vacations is increasingly common as evidenced by the profusion of amateur photos and videos posted by students on countless websites and Spanking blogs.

Sorority hazing in the news[edit]

Rutgers University[edit]

For seven nights in January 2010 a pledge at Sigma Gamma Rho at Rutgers University in New Jersey endured severe paddle spankings as part of her initiation. She was struck 201 times. On the eighth day — unable to sit, her buttocks covered with blood clots and welts — she went to the hospital. Then she reported it to the university. Rutgers police arrested six members of the sorority on charges of aggravated hazing, alleging they repeatedly beat at least three pledges in January. A university official, and the pledge who reported the incident, put the number of victims at seven.

The university immediately suspended the Rutgers chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho, as did the sorority’s national organization, headquartered in North Carolina.

San Jose State Universtiy[edit]

Another Sigma Gamma Rho pledge at the San Jose State University chapter filed a civil lawsuit against the sorority. Courtney Howard, a former student at the university, charged that over a three-week period in 2008 she was subjected to progressively more violent hazing from Sigma Gamma Rho members. Ms. Howard claims in her suit that they beat her and other pledges with wooden paddles, wooden spoons, and a cane. "I had welts and bruises all over my butt to the point where I couldn't even lay down because it hurt so bad," said Howard.

Howard's attorney says there is a psychological aspect to this type of hazing. "With African-American fraternities and sororities, there's often this notion that this is being done to allow young people to empathize with what their ancestors went through, through slavery," said attorney John Griggs.

San Jose State suspended the sorority chapter until 2016. Four of the sorority members have pleaded no contest to misdemeanor hazing charges, and were sentenced to 90 days in county jail, two years of probation, and are barred from any further involvement in the sorority.

University of Maryland[edit]

In March 2011, a 22-year-old Zeta Phi Beta pledge at the University of Maryland alleged that her sorority sisters took her off campus and punched, choked, and beat her with a wooden paddle as part of a hazing ritual. The pledge reported the incident to authorities and now seven students are facing charges of felony second-degree assault and misdemeanor hazing.

A video clip of an ABC News report on this incident can be watched online.

Sorority hazing in pulp novels and comics[edit]

Erotic, fetishistic spanking novels about sexy sorority girls date back to the 1960s with paperbacks such as Lesbian Sorority (1964). The lurid cover illustration depicts the forced paddling of a nearly naked pledge.

Various illustrators such as Bill Ward also did sorority spanking cartoon art for men's magazines in the 1950s, '60s, and '70s. (See sorority girl paddling by Ward from Snappy, July, 1957).

Among the erotic spanking novels of Martin Pyx are three titles that involve sorority punishments: Summer Frolics (1989), Spring Fevers (1992), and Birch Fever (1994), all published by Blue Moon Books.

Today, many new titles are also sold in electronic (e-book) form. A few that feature kinky scenes of bondage and discipline are:

  • Kidnapped Sorority Sister by John Savage
  • Sorority Sex Slave by JJ Argus
  • My Secret Sorority: A Novel of Erotic Instruction by Imelda Stark (2010)
  • Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities by Alexandra Robbins (Hyperion, 2011)
  • Sorority Girl (2011) by JJ Argus
  • Gwen’s Sorority Days by Rollin Hand (DT Publications, 2013)

There is even a 160-page comic book (or graphic novel) called Hazed from Image Comics. This is a dark comedy about three young girls and their perilous journey through the world of sororities. The cover shows a close up of a Greek paddle dripping with blood.

Hazing in mainstream films and television[edit]

Still from amateur video with paddle and pencil gag (photo: Jameslovebirch).
  • For Men Only is a 1952 B-movie about fraternity hazing that leads to tragedy. Pledges are repeatedly humiliated and must wear a sign around their necks that says "Scum". On the campus green one pledge assumes the position and receives four hard smacks from a large Greek paddle. He has to recite "Thank you, Sir. May I have another?" after each stroke.
  • I Married Joan ("Initiation", 1953), TV series starring Joan Davis. Joan is mistaken for her sister who was pledging a sorority and gets paddled, along with other hazing tasks.
  • Sorority Girl (1957), a Roger Corman B-movie about a bitchy, domineering coed (Susan Cabot). In a fit of rage, she gives a sorority sister three hard whacks with a big Greek paddle. Video clip at YouTube
  • The Flintstones ("Ladies Night at the Lodge", season 4, 1964), Dressed as men, Wilma and Betty attempt to join the Water Buffalo Lodge and end up getting a painful initiation paddling. (Photo still)
  • RENT-A-GIRL (1965) is an exploitation film with two scenes featuring women being beaten with an engraved Greek paddle. However, this is part of an initiation ritual for a private sex club, not a sorority. The second paddling deals with the sadistic humiliation of another club member. (See the video clip at the Internet Archive.)
  • The Mod Squad ("A Place to Run, a Heart to Hide In", 2:10, 1969); M/M fraternity paddling of a pledge.
  • Fraternity Row (1977) is based on a true story of an accidental death-by-hazing at an upper class college in the early '50s. The poster art by Birney Lettick (image) shows pledges bending over for a paddling. Lettick also did the controversial spanking cover art for National Lampoon's September 1975 issue (image.)
  • Kentucky Woman (1983), another example of a paddling initiation in a non-college setting. In this made-for-TV film, a woman (Cheryl Ladd) is forced to take a job as a coal miner. In order to be accepted by her male co-workers, she has to endure a humiliating initiation ritual. After being covered in grease, she has to bend over and receive a few hard smacks from a wooden board. (See video excerpt at Dailymotion.)
  • Silent Madness (1984), obscure slasher film released in 3D. A disturbed teenager watches three sorority girls being paddled during pledge week. He then joins them, gets drunk, and is paddled himself. Video clip at Youtube
  • Killer Party (1986), horror-comedy about the initiation of three sorority pledges. One girl assumes the position for a single paddle smack before the scene is interrupted.
  • School Daze (1988), a group of male fraternity pledges line up for sadistic paddlings in this Spike Lee film. Video clip at YouTube.
  • Witch Academy (1995), horror-comedy about sadomasochistic sorority girls initiating a new pledge. Three masochistic sisters paddle each other in one scene (video clip).
  • Son of the Beach (2000-2002); TV series on the FX network. A montage in the episode "Witness for the Prostitution" shows a brief sorority paddling initiation of two girls. Watch the clip at MyVideo.
  • Sorority Girls' Revenge (2001), campy exploitation comedy with a special ping-pong paddle used repeatedly on four sorority pledges as well as two Peeping Toms captured by the girls. (Paddling scenes occur at 9:30, 1:02, and 1:24.)
  • The Hazing aka Butchered (2003), horror film, two girls get extensive spanking with large round paddle (video clip).
  • Kottentail (2007), campy horror film with underwear-clad sorority pledge smacked with a ping-pong paddle (video).
  • 1000 Ways to Die (Spike TV, 2009). In the episode "Stupid is as Stupid Dies", three sorority pledges are brutally paddled during their hazing period (video clip).
  • Die Die Delta Pi (2013), routine retro-slasher horror yarn; five sorority pledges each get four initiation paddle swats.
  • Life of the Party (2018), Melissa McCarthy as a mom who goes back to college and gets paddled (just one stroke) from her daughter in a sorority initiation ceremony.

Sorority fetish films[edit]

Pencil & water color sketch of Kailee by Jameslovebirch (2012).
Kiri Kelly in Sorority Hell Night; watercolor by Jameslovebirch (2012).

A chronological listing of selected underground corporal punishment and BDSM films involving sororities. There is also a spanking video producer called Spanking Sorority Girls that is entirely devoted to this subject.

  • Nudie Cuties (multi-volume series) - Something Weird Video has released scores of vintage stag films including a 1930s sorority short Slappa Nu Thi (Volume 30). Volume 338 has Sorority Secrets and vol. 350 includes Naughty Sorority Girls, both from the 1950s.
  • Co-Ed Secrets (aka Ladies Behave Yourselves on YouTube) is a 5-minute silent stag film (c. 1956) featuring three lingerie-clad college girls. A pledge is bound and spanked with large, oddly shaped sorority paddles and tickled with feathers. She later gets her revenge by paddling the other two girls. Several edited versions exist on YouTube, but the complete film can be viewed on the Internet Archive.
  • Bizarro Sex Loops! Volume 23 (released by Something Weird Video); compilation of silent 8mm bondage-spanking loops from the late '60s to early '70s. "Worms for Initiation" shows a blindfolded sorority pledge getting paddled and forced to eat "worms" (really bits of spaghetti).

See also[edit]