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Drawing of a kneeling woman.
Vintage photograph of a woman kneeling in corner time, with a birch next to her.
French photo of whipping with a rope martinet (Ostra Studio, c. 1930s).

Kneeling is a general term for any pose in which the most part of a person's weight rests on his/her knees. Depending on the context, kneeling can not only be a pose but also a gesture.

There are many kneeling variants, such as:

  • kneeling, thighs vertical (e.g. for prayer)
  • kneeling, sitting on one's heels
  • kneeling, legs apart, sitting on one's heels (a popular slave position)
  • kneeling, on all fours
  • kneeling on one knee, which is a type of crouching
  • kneeling, body lowered to the floor (called child's pose in Yoga)

Kneeling for punishment[edit]

Kneeling for a long period of time is uncomfortable — unless a person is used to it — especially on a hard or rough-textured surface. Therefore, making a person kneel can be used as a form of punishment. In European schools, it once was a common punishment to have students kneel on a sharp, painful object for a period of time, such as a three-angular log of wood, a broom handle or a heap of peas, beans, grits, small pebbles, salt or rock salt. In China and Japan, kneeling is also a traditional form of punishment.

Among especially devout Catholics, some have been known to pray while kneeling in a small pile of uncooked rice as a minor form of mortification of the flesh.

For an example of the kneeling punishment in mainstream literature, see The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (2002).

Spanking videos[edit]

A few of the many corporal punishment spanking videos that include punitive kneeling.

  • Friday the 13th (Lupus Pictures), two girls kneel while holding out books balanced on their knuckles (see photo) as part of a long series of humiliations.

Kneeling on hands[edit]

In this specially painful variation on the traditional kneeling punishment, the offender is required to kneel with her hands underneath her knees. Another form of the "kneeling on hands" punishment is to take a broom handle or similar piece of wood, require the offender to place her hands underneath the broom handle, and then kneel on the broom handle. The offender would be well advised to place her hands in a palms-on-the-floor position (rather than palms-up), because with her palms on the floor she will be able to push the weight of her body upward, relieving some of the pressure on her hands though at the same time causing painful stress to her upper arm and shoulder muscles.

Caution must be used in imposing this punishment since kneeling on hands for more than five to ten minutes may limit the blood circulation.

Kneeling for spanking[edit]

Main article: Kneeling position

Kneeling can also be used as a spanking position, especially variants in which the person's upper body is bent forward. For example:

Kneeling in BDSM[edit]

Kneeling is traditionally a pose of submission because it lowers a person's body and also immobilizes the person. Therefore, kneeling poses are popular for the bottom in BDSM, especially in a master/slave relationship or roleplay.

Kneeling and sex[edit]

Ballet teacher disciplines a student. Ostra Studio (c. 1930s).

Kneeling in front of a standing person brings the kneeling person's head to the height of the standing person's genital area, which makes this pose suitable for oral sex.

Kneeling is usually done on the floor, but it is also possible to kneel on a cushion, the seat of a chair or armchair, a couch, or a bed - which elevates the body and makes kneeling more comfortable.

The on-all-fours kneeling variant is suitable for vaginal and anal sex, known as "doggie style".


See also[edit]