Boxing the ears
Boxing the ears, also known as cuffing the ears, slapping the face or face-slapping, is a type of corporal punishment where the recipient's side of the face (mainly the cheek) is slapped with an open hand.
Despite its name, the slap is usually not given to the ears but to the cheek. The face will be flung to the other side in the moment of impact by a hard slap.
There are two main types of such a face-slap: a 'forehand' slap (given with the palm and mainly the inside of the fingers) and a 'backhand' slap (given with the back of the hand and mainly the outside of the fingers). The forehand slap is more common as this is a more natural motion. Slapping both cheeks can be achieved in several ways: 'Round-trip slaps' (往復ビンタ ōfuku binta) consist of a forehand and backhand slap with the same hand, or of two forehand slaps with both hands alternatingly; 'sandwich slaps' (サンドイッチビンタ sandoitchi binta) are forehand slaps with both hands simultaneously.
Boxing the ears differs from other forms of corporal punishment in many respects. It is commonly used as an 'informal', ad-hoc punishment, as opposed to a formal chastisement such as a spanking. A slap to the face is typically given in a spontaneous reaction. Because of this, it is often argued that boxing the ears or slapping the face is not proper corporal punishment at all, but merely a form of violence. The recipient is usually not warned that he or she is about to get face-slapped, there is no positioning or other preparation, and often, only a single stroke is given. Typically a slap to the face has either the purpose to instantly stop some unacceptable behavior, or to deliver punishment as an ad-hoc reaction to hearing the news of some misbehavior.
Although typically an ad hoc punishment, face-slapping was often used in a more ritualistic manner in mid-20th century Catholic schools, with a misbehaving child called to the front of the room, lectured on her misbehavior, and (if she wore eyeglasses) told to remove her eyeglasses and place them on the teacher's desk. (The order to "put your glasses on my desk" was of course a sign to the entire class the teacher was about to slap the student's face in case that was not already known.) The student's head was sometimes held firmly in position by pulling her hair at the top of her head or by pinching one of her cheeks firmly while the other was slapped, and if the student raised her hands to cover her face, she might be subject to the further humiliation that a classmate would be called to hold her hands behind her back. These difficulties of slapping both cheeks repeatedly, back and forth, avoids the 'sandwich slap', which therefore is popular in Japan, primarily with female teachers, who administer this punishment preferentially to boys.
The connotations are confusing and very different from, say, a spanking. It may come with feelings of aggression and violence and hurt the person who is slapped in a much more personal way (because a person's face is the body part that's most closely associated with his or her personality). On the other hand, a slap to the face is very unique in that it does not imply a relationship of authority between the two persons. It is practically the only type of cp that is seen as acceptable among adults who are not in love or partners. When there is a convincing justification for it, a single slap to the face is often socially accepted and may even be regarded with humor (although it is legally assault, unless in self-defence). For example, a secretary might slap her boss in the face when he becomes importunate.
To be slapped in the face in the presence of others is a strong case of "losing face", and causes much attention because of the loud slapping noise. Boxing the ears is therefore very popular in humorous contexts such as in comedy, stage play, movies, and comics. In comics, in the panel following the slap, the character's cheek is often drawn swollen, dark red, and sometimes with a handprint on it.
Boxing the ears in parenting
Boxing children's ears is a widespread parenting method in almost all cultures. By some authors of parenting books, it is considered a more acceptable form of corporal punishment than spanking because of its informal and possibly less degrading/humiliating nature.
Other authors argued that boxing the ears is actually much more hurtful and degrading than spanking, and additionally comes with much greater risks of injury (to the eye, ear, nose, teeth and jaw) or effects often associated with whiplash injuries.; therefore spanking is preferable and much safer. This is also expressed by the saying:
- "Never slap a child in the face: Nature provided a better place."
Boxing the ears in BDSM
Boxing the ears is often frowned on in the spankophile community and is rarely found in spanking novels and other works of this genre. However it is popular among some BDSM practitioners, especially in D/s relationships.
Boxing the ears is a risky technique as the eye, ear, nose, teeth and jaw can be easily injured by accident. In BDSM, the dominant partner is often given the advice to use is non-slapping hand to hold the sub's face by the chin, so the slap can be delivered with greater precision and a lesser chance of injury. This will also help the face from being flung to the other side too harshly. Fingernails should be short and backhand slaps should be avoided.
It is notable that the English language has a good noun for spanking, but no noun for boxing the ears, while in the German language it is exactly the other way round: the Germans have a good and much-used noun for boxing the ears (Ohrfeige, with the verb ohrfeigen, which literally means "ear fig"), but no good word that means spanking and nothing else — although spanking was by no means uncommon in German history.
Due to the absence of a good word in their own language, the German spanking scene has in fact started to use the English word (Spanking, with the germanized verb spanken), as can be seen in their websites such as Spanking-Oase, Spankodrom or Spankingfreunde.
Health and safety issues
Boxing the ears, notably if taken literally, is a dangerous practice which can injure the eardrums and damage the eustachian tube of the victim. The word coining 'cheek slap', corresponding to the German term 'Backenstreich', would be medically less risky and, viewed from a biological anthropology perspective, to the actual purpose of this bodily action more adequate: "The Cheek Slap itself has a long tradition. It was the classic action of a lady responding to the unwelcome attentions of a male. In essence the Cheek Slap is a 'display-blow' - a blow that makes a great deal of noise but causes so little physical damage that it does not provoke an immediate defensive or aggressive action on the part of the victim. Although it instantly pulls the recipient up short, its significance sinks in later." (Desmond Morris, The Naked Woman, 2004, p. 76)
- Backpfeife im Anmarsch (slow-motion video)
- I will give you this painting that I spent alot of time on and put alot of effort into if you will slap me in the face – performance art by Julia Claire Wallace (Blogspot: April 10, 2009)
- Café where £8 buys a cuddle or a face slap – by Richard Lloyd Parry (The Times: October 13, 2012)
- Double slap (おうふくビンタ ōfuku binta) – by Bulbapedia (Pokémon encyclopedia)
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