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Whipping and abuse are like laudanum: you have to double the dose as the sensibilities decline.
  — Harriet Beecher Stowe
Two French girls whipped with a martinet. Photo: Ostra Studio (c. 1930s).
A whipping at a whipping post.
A woman staked out and whipped.

A whipping (also known as lashing, flogging or flagellation) is a beating or spanking administered with a whip. The term "whipping" is also used more loosely for any spanking or corporal punishment, particularly in a disciplinary context, irrespective of the type of implement used. The term "flagellation", too, can refer to implements other than whips, for example birching and caning.

To administer a whipping, the tail(s) of the whip are lashed onto the body of the person. Whipping can be applied to any part of the body. Most commonly it is applied to the delinquent's back. However, whipping the buttocks is also not uncommon. A true whipping (with a whip) was more often found in a formal judicial or institutional context than in a domestic setting. Whipping was the stereotypical punishment of slaves in Antiquity and in the American South before the U.S. Civil War.

Typically, for a whipping the delinquent is restrained because the purpose is to inflict real life pain. Judicial whippings would often be executed at a whipping post by an experienced man skillful with a whip. Whippings were also given with the delinquent locked in the pillory, or at a cart's tail while the cart was being pulled through the town.

Formal whippings, such as those executed by law, usually had a prescribed number of lashes. These were also called stripes.


The term flagellation has also some specific meanings and connotations. See flagellant for more on this.

Erotic whipping[edit]

The erotic effect of flagellation — especially the flagellation of the buttocks region — has been known for centuries. It is mentioned, for example, in The School of Women, or The Seven Flirtatious Discussions with Alosia by Nicolas Chorier (1612 - 1692). Multi-tail whips and birches were most popular for this purpose.

Flogging at the Folsom Street Fair.

In a modern BDSM context, whipping is considered a rather severe implement that can leave marks and break the skin. Many people whose primary focus is on spanking will not engage in whippings. However, there are also mild whips such as soft leather floggers that are not too severe and therefore quite popular in general BDSM. Floggers are popular with women because they don't require significant upper body strength.

The whipped person is typically naked and is struck on the back, buttocks and/or legs. The impact of the whip's tail(s) is a heated stinging that resonates throughout the body and builds. There is no thud, only stinging strokes.

In the non-BDSM world whippings are typically delivered by a male because a "whiphand" must be strong. In the BDSM world there is no such gender bias: a whip is also the typical implement of a dominatrix. A skillful flagellator practices and has good hand control. The whipped person may sweat profusely and need water once in a while.

The "Whipping-Tree"[edit]

There is a male bonding ritual in which one is "taken down to the Whipping-Tree." This means two rugged adult males go to a remote spot where screaming and sobbing cannot be heard to perform the whipping. Most spankees will ask to be tied to the tree for a whipping. For one man to bring another to a screaming, sobbing state while striking his backside may produce intense emotional release for both and bring the two closer emotionally.

Whipping scenes in films[edit]

Fair Wind to Java (1953) dubbed in German.

The titillating sight of nude or semi-clad women being brutally flogged has been exploited in countless mainstream films since the early days of cinema.

Men are often whipped in movies to illustrate the cruelty of a villain or the injustice of a society, but there is no homo-erotic subtext in these films. On the other hand, female flogging scenes are nearly always designed to be sexually arousing in some way. It is no coincidence that the punished women are always young and beautiful. And, intentionally or not, many whipping scenes contain orgasmic moaning or screaming that mimics a violent sexual assault.

While spanking scenes in films are usually playful and humorous, whippings show a decidedly sadistic desire to inflict serious pain. And some of these harsh lashings suggest a hostility toward women in general on behalf of the filmmakers. Whipping (and torture) scenes in mainstream films have, in most cases, provided an acceptable way to subversively indulge in erotic sado-masochistic fantasies without censorship or offending the audience.

Genres and scenarios[edit]

Whipping scenes appear in every film genre. Historical dramas from Ancient Egypt to the Victorian era, westerns, crime-dramas, adventure, horror, thrillers, fantasy, exploitation, and even science fiction.

The majority occur in the overtly erotic sexploitation field which encompasses the subgenres women in prison films, Nazisploitation, nunsploitation, roughies and even nudie-cuties.

The scenarios are also quite varied. There is judicial punishment, such as a public flogging for breaking the law, and institutional CP in prisons, reform schools, boarding schools, and convents. In historical films, slaves, harem girls, and servants are frequently whipped by their masters for some transgression. Interrogation whipping is quite common where the victim is forced to reveal some information or confess to being a witch or some other crime.

Floggings are also part of strange occult rituals in a number of supernatural horror movies. Women abducted by white slavery rings or psychotic individuals are whipped to make them obedient or for purely sadistic reasons. And there are a few examples of masochists, S&M club performers, and films about the adult film industry itself.

More recently, Bolivian director Jac Avila has created a series of historical sexploitation films featuring extended whippings and torture of suspected witches such as Martyr or the Death of Saint Eulalia (2005), Maleficarum (2011, video), Dead But Dreaming (2013, video), The Passion of Isabel (2017), and Justine (2016), an adaptation of de Sade.

Films within a film[edit]

One of the most unusual scenarios involves inserting scenes from another film or using a behind-the-scenes point of view. The earliest known example is the sexploitation roughie Mondo Keyhole (1966) about the president of a company that produces fetish porn. In one scene we see the making of a whipping and bondage stag reel. The nudie-cutie Starlet! (1968) also offers a unique inside look at the exploitation film industry, including the filming of a whipping scene (video clip).

Another example is the roughie Over 18...and Ready (1969). Here a beautiful bound girl films a scene where she is severely whipped. The camera then pulls back to reveal the whip is really hitting a coat rack.

  • Performance (1970) shows glimpses of a 1930s fetish stag film.
  • Superchick (1973), a shackled Uschi Digard gets her ass whipped while filming an S&M movie. She complains that the actor is hitting her too hard (video clip).
  • Videodrome (1983), people watch grainy footage on TV of an underground hardcore S&M video (video clip).
  • From Beyond (1986), horror film shows an amateur flogging video shown on a TV screen.
  • Of Freaks and Men (Russia, 1997), period piece about pornography in the 1900s. Filmed in sepia tone, it depicts fetishistic scenes of women being whipped with birches.
  • Pimp (2010), an actress playing a fetish star talks about her work while we see clips of her being bound, flogged and abused.
  • The Sex Merchants (2011), about a fetish photographer, is an homage to '60s and '70s sexploitation films in a contemporary setting.
  • The Great Role, from fetish video producer Lupus Pictures, is about the making of a silent movie in the 1920s. We see the filming of the climactic scene of a nude girl bound to a post and given a long and severe flogging.

Nu-West/Leda whipping videos[edit]

BDSM videos (with links) from spanking video producer Nu-West/Leda Productions:


See also[edit]