Leather is a substance made from the tanned hides of animals, particularly cows. Leather has been used in the past for such purposes as armor, clothing, containers, upholstery, and many other purposes. Many of the functions it once served are now more often fulfilled by synthetic materials, but leather remains in common use for shoes, boots, belts, bags, etc.
Leather in BDSM and spanking contexts
Leather clothing and accessories (usually made from black leather) were a common feature of the early-to-mid twentieth century gay male scene, derived in part from the biker subculture. As the early BDSM subculture was in significant part a development of the gay male subculture, it borrowed many of the leather trappings.
Fine leather, as a luxury item, had also been a common feature of the Victorian brothel scene, and from this source, too, entered the BDSM subculture. Leather attire became a sufficiently common marker that the term "Leather Scene" was a common alternate term for the BDSM and/or gay fetish subcultures. Much fetish clothing is commonly made of leather, and the fetishism for leather is called leather fetishism.
Indeed, a "leathering" is an alternate term for a whipping or beating.
"The leather" is a nickname used for the irish school strap.
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