Flogging: For Introspection and Catharsis
The inner psychology of being “hit” for the pleasure of the recipient
The first time I visited a “dungeon” at a sex-positive party, I was a bit surprised to see people tied up, spanked, and flogged, among other sensation-based types of play. A trained dungeon master supervised the space and offered a tour of the implements in his suitcase. Touching paddles and floggers of many shapes, sizes, and mediums, to wands that emit an electrical charge, I was fascinated by the thought of voluntarily subjecting myself to being punished with these “toys.” Punishment, however, is not the only reason to receive the paddle or whip, I quickly learned. In fact, after speaking to a handful of party guests, many of them reported that their enjoyment of the experience comes from the physical and emotional release of it – they go into a meditative state within which a psychological relaxation overcomes them. The feeling of the “thwap” or “buzz” against their skin is not painful, it’s exciting, stimulating, nurturing. I longed to know more! It only took one or two tries until I fell in love with so many aspects of it – I enjoyed receiving from a trained master, my primary partner, or someone I just met. I started to teach others what I’d learned, and it was a great way to escalate from just meeting someone to getting them aroused and interested in something more. Since then, few parties come and go without at least one trip to the dungeon, or “fungeon,” as some people like to call it, for a bit of flogging or even electrical play.
When I am flogged, it feels like a trance state takes over my mind. It can be an exercise in relaxation and sensation acceptance. I feel outside of myself, beside the impact of the soft, leather strands. An experienced administrator will start slow, with thumps landing lightly at first, establishing rapport and rhythm, taking care to alternate locations, getting the skin warmed up, making the body accustomed to the pattern, increasing the weight of the throw with moderate and incremental strength over time. Together, we have predetermined multiple signals for continued flogging, escalation or de-escalation, and when to pause or stop altogether. I may use a hand signal to show how hard the impact feels, with one to five fingers. I may adjust my stance to extend my backside closer to my partner, giving permission to go harder. I can step in and stand straight up, perhaps with my hands moving to cover my reddened skin, showing that I’m ready to stop. With these pre-negotiables in place, I can feel nurtured, cared for, honored, and attuned to – safety is the most important value for both participants.
With the weight of each connection between the implement and my skin, I find my muscles relaxing, as if they are being tenderized. Alongside the consistency of repetition, my tension decreases when each subsequent delivery of sensation comes. In my relaxation comes catharsis: I find my thoughts hovering around the different ways that I’ve held myself strong in the world of commitments and relationships. I imagine that with every hit, I am exonerating myself from that need to be strong for others. Now, I only need to be strong for myself. I can be as rigid or as sensitive as I want to be, in this moment.
I remind myself how much pain I can tolerate at the behest of others when I feel the amount of impact I can receive when it’s at my request. This repetition with agency allows me to compare the weight of the external world to the weight I choose to own within myself. And in that contemplation, questions come and go: How much is enough? What is the nature of the pain? How was this pain threshold cultivated to protect me? Can I let go enough to really stay present in each moment?
Finally, skin reddened from the repetition, I approach my limit. I turn around to meet eyes with my partner. “Two more please, with all your strength,” I tell him. Back in position, I close my eyes and wait to receive the final, sharpest hits. A yelp jumps out from between my lips. I feel alive, invigorated, aroused, and ready for whatever else the evening has in store. I thank my facilitator before I’m on my way.