Hi everyone! Welcome to the A to Z of Sex. I’m Dr Lori Beth and I am your host. We are working our way through the erotic alphabet one letter at a time. Just a reminder this podcast deals with adult content, so if you don’t have total privacy, you might want to put on your headphones. Today the letter is R and R is for Riding Crop (and other impact toys).
I believe that impact play is the most accessible way to test out the boundary between pleasure and pain. The implements used for impact play can range from a bare hand to a bull whip. One of the earliest depictions of erotic flagellation (whipping or spanking) is in the Etruscan Tomb of the Whipping from the 5th century BC which was named after the images in the tomb.
10 to 25% of the population enjoy engaging in sexual practices that involve a combination of pleasure and pain.
Victorian erotic literature is filled with spanking and flagellation scenes and images abound in Victorian erotic images and art. Many well known people enjoy erotic spankings and often this is not discovered until after death.
Neuroscience doesn’t yet have an adequate explanation as to why erotic pain can be experienced as a pleasure but, writing in Psychology Today, Dr David Linden suggests that the best theory likens this to the pain enjoyed when eating foods with chilli peppers. He points out that people who are born into cultures where these are a large part of the food still reject chilli as babies but at about age 5 they will develop a taste for them. He highlights that rats cannot be trained to choose food with chili peppers in them. So it appears that there is a human predisposition to find certain kinds of pain pleasurable and when this is combined with various life experiences, the result is enjoyment from certain types of pain (like impact play). This then prompts the brain to modify the neural circuits and forge the neural connections between pleasure and pain.
Practically, there are two main types of impact sensation: thud and sting. Some people also talk about thump. If we think about these in terms of music, thud would be at the base end and sting would be at the treble end.
Thud tends to be a deep penetrating sensation. Thud strikes are felt deeper in the body – in the muscles, sometimes the bones rather than in the skin. Marks produced are red, bright pink and deep bruises that often don’t show up until a day or so after the experience. Instruments that produce thud include paddles, the hand, closed fist, feet, heavy floggers (made out of bull hide, buffalo hide for example).
Sting tends to be piercing, stinging, narrow line of pain, felt in the skin primarily. Things that produce sting include bull whips, lashes, cat-o-nine tails, canes, birch rods. Marks can be wheals, bleeding cuts, stripes.
Some instruments can provide a combination of sting and thud. Riding crops fall into this category in my opinion. The end of the crop creates a more thuddy sensation but the hard shaft is very stingy. The hand can bring great thud initially but when used to hit someone quickly, can have a really stinging effect. In my opinion, the most sting is created by switches and canes, followed by whips.
Some people distinguish between thud from a heavy rigid object like a paddle and thump from a heavy flexible object like a sjambok. Sjambok’s are some of the most intense thuds in my opinion with an added quick sting at the end.
People often have a preference for thud or sting. Some people can tolerate lots of sting but cannot manage the softest of floggers. Others can manage thud but find it impossible to take even a light strike with a crop.
Slow warm ups make it possible for a person to gradually accommodate to the pain until endorphins are released and it becomes incredibly pleasurable. The endorphin high from an erotic beating can be likened to runners’ high or even the high from some drugs.
Quick intense beatings with no warm up are often incredibly hard to manage. People who do consent to these are usually either very used to intense pain or involved in a power exchange relationship and agreeing to take the pain for the person who is the dominant in the relationship – in an effort to please her or simply because she tells the submissive this is what she wants.
For many an enjoyment of pain goes back to childhood fantasies, and for some to childhood experiences. Corporal punishment is no longer allowed in British schools but for many years caning was a standard punishment. Many generations of people educated in the British system learned to manage ‘6 of the best’ with a cane. For some, the pain turned to pleasure and became eventually integrated into their sexual desires and fantasies. Americans are more likely to talk about being hit with a belt, a spoon, or a birch rod. Sometimes people recreate these early experiences with a consenting partner and so the beating becomes part of a role play. Other times people simply set up for an experience involving a beating and there is no role play involved.
Materials that are more likely to produce sting include rubber, wire, and thin implements like canes, whips, birch rods. Materials that are more likely to produce thud include wide implements like paddles, heavy leather floggers (light leather floggers produce thud as well).
Leather can be made in a form that is more likely to produce a stingy response, like a Scottish tawse which is a flexible strap with a notch in the end. It is quite heavy and will produce some thud but the end tends to cut in a way that produces intense sting.
Impact play can very intimate. Over the knee spankings are extremely intimate. There is close contact with the person who is giving the spanking. Over the knee spankings can be done with a hand, a spoon, a paddle, a tawse or even a hairbrush. All have different textures and different types of impacts.
Different parts of the body can be hit during impact play. Most impact play is aimed at the area between the top of the buttocks and the middle of the thighs. The area at the bottom/underside of the buttocks (the crease between buttock and thigh) is sometimes known as the sweet spot. This spot is known to produce enough pleasant stimulation to cause orgasm.
The breasts are often a good target for impact play using small implements – little floggers, hands, and small paddles. Impact on the nipples can be very intense so if you have not tried this before, start with light strokes.
Here are my do’s and don’ts if you are going to try impact play:
Do learn how to use whatever implements you choose. There are classes available at some BDSM related events. You can also ask people for references to find a teacher. Make sure that learning includes some basic human anatomy and physiology so you learn where not to hit!
Do have a detailed conversation with the person you are planning on playing with – whether you will be giving or receiving – before trying this out! Make sure that you are clear about medical history, any injuries, psychological history – are there any possible triggers to trauma?
Do make sure that you get explicit consent before engaging in any kind of impact play. If either of you is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, consent is invalid. For a reminder about consent, watch this video.
Do start slowly and build up rhythm, paying close attention to the responses of the person who you are beating/spanking. Starting slow allows time for adaptation and this includes time for neurotransmitters to be released. Rhythmic beatings are easier to manage than non-rhythmic ones.
Do make sure to treat any abrasions, cuts or scrapes quickly after the session ends. Untreated cuts, scrapes and abrasions can lead to infections and also poor healing can lead to scars. Make sure to check with any playmate as to what marks are acceptable if any. It can be impossible to guarantee that there will be no marks. People mark differently. Some folks bruise more easily and others heal more slowly. People can also mark differently depending up on medication, cycle and other health and wellness factors.
Don’t play if you don’t have an aftercare plan in place. Sometimes people have intense emotional reactions to this type of sexual activity. The reactions can be at the time of the activity or they can be delayed. It is important to make sure that you have support in place in case you have a delayed reaction.
Don’t play when you are intoxicated. It is harder to make good decisions when you are intoxicated. Impact play can be quite dangerous so it is important to have your wits about you when you engage in it.
Don’t rush your play sessions. Take your time to get the most out of an impact play session.
Don’t play with a new toy without learning something about it first. Make sure you know what the toy can do and what the sensations might feel like.
Most of all you want to make sure that your play is sexy and fun. After all, there is no point in engaging in impact play unless it will increase your sexual pleasure and excitement.
Look out for my comprehensive list of impact toys with pictures and links in my ebook, Impact Toys, on https://drloribethbisbey.com.
Thanks for joining me this week for the A to Z of Sex Write in with your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and visit both websites http://www.atozofsex.com and https://drloribethbisbey.com to learn about alternative sexual choices, types of sexual relationships and to learn to sizzle and create that ideal lasting intimate relationship. For a free 30 minute session with me, head over to http://www.atozofsex.com and click on the button that says ‘book now’. Please join me next week when the letter will be S for Scent and joining me is the Master Parfumer, Roja Dove.