So! Spankings! Generally, the first thing people seem to think of when I say “kinky” (at least, those of a more vanilla/uninitiated persuasion) is usually something along the lines of “Oh, like, spankings and stuff?”
Yes! Like spankings and stuff! Let’s talk about spankings. It seems like a pretty simple concept, right? Take someone over your knee and give their ass a good sound walloping. But it’s not quite so simple as that. There’s a real skill, dare I say an art, to giving a really good erotic spanking, the kind of spanking that leaves the sub flushed and hot and begging for more.
Now, I’ve gotten, and given, a fair few spankings in my time. Some of them were awesome. Some of them were okay. Some of them were just downright terrible. Now, we do need to bear in mind that not every kinkster likes the same things, or the same processes. Despite this, however, I feel like my own experiences, and the experiences of those with whom I interact, have helped me to nail down some basic ingredients to a good, sexy, stimulating spanking.
1) Begin gently.
From the greenest newb to the most seasoned pain-slut, most everyone needs a warm-up before they can take pleasure in hard impact. Warm-up spankings are almost always best done with the flat, open hand; now is not the time to be picking up implements (such as paddles, floggers, crops, canes, etc). In the initial warm-up phase, both parties will likely experience mild stinging and reddening of the flesh, both of the buttocks and of the spanking hand.
Safety note! The ass is the best place for a spanking, really, but if you’re playing on other areas of the body, be sure to steer clear of the spine and vital organs; never do impact play between the bottom of the ribcage and the top of the asscrack. See the diagram below for a comprehensive look at safe spanking zones courtesy of asibdsm.com:
There may be tingling, which in and of itself can be very pleasurable. Don’t rush this phase; the flesh isn’t ready for heavier trauma until it’s good and flushed. As the flesh reddens, that’s blood rushing to the surface tissue, which creates a sort of impact cushion and allows the tissue to withstand higher impacts with lower sensitivity. The flush of the impact cushion also begins the process of confusing the nerve endings, making it harder for the brain to process the pain signals consistently, rendering the pain of impact already more pleasurable.
Once the flesh is red and warm to the touch, hopefully the sub will already be breathing more heavily and perhaps starting to moan, and you’re ready to ramp things up.
Protip for the subs: be as vocal as you can without compromising your headspace. Moaning in approval, whimpering, screaming, and of course using safe words, all communicate volumes to the person who is giving you pain. Being silent tells them nothing and helps neither of you have a good time. I’m very vocal when subbing; sighing in pleasure, humming and moaning, even screaming and crying when things are high-intensity.
A lot of people really get off on the sounds their partners make during pain play, and I find that allowing my body to make whatever noise it wants to make only increases the pleasure I feel. Using safe words is crucial; sometimes it can be hard to interpret whether a scream is a good or bad sign. The red, yellow, green structure works well, especially for new players: green means “give me more,” yellow means “please back off but don’t stop,” and red means “stop everything now.”
2) Vary your intensity.
Once you’re through the warm up, you can start increasing the intensity of the impact or switching to using an implement. If you want to give your hand a break and use a paddle (or something) for a while, be sure to give a few light strikes with the new implement to give the sub a chance to get adjusted to the sensation. Then you can start going to town! Increase the intensity and pay attention to how your sub reacts. If they respond with pleasure, maintain and then increase, don’t back off yet.
Subs, this is where communication gets even more important, so make noise, especially if you’re not enjoying it! Use your body and your voice to communicate how you feel. If you’re anything like me, once you’re through the warm-up, you’ll be feeling more relaxed and receptive. Don’t feel bad if you can’t handle anything more than the warm-up, especially if you’re new, but likewise, don’t be afraid if you want more! Your body can generally handle a lot more than you think.
Doms, this is the phase when you need to start paying very close attention to the signals your partner is sending you with their voice and their body. You can keep increasing intensity until you feel (or become aware) that your partner is approaching the limit of what they can take. This is a good time to back off, switch things up (perhaps choose a different implement, or change from spanking to stroking or scratching), and start the low-to-high intensity cycle over. As you and your partner develop more rapport, trust, and communication skills, you might find that you’ll be able to go through increasing numbers of these cycles, the both of you giving and withstanding impact levels you never imagined possible.
3. Exploit the body and mind’s natural tendency toward rhythm.
We humans are rhythmic creatures. Every cell in our bodies participates in a perpetual dance to the beats of our hearts and the tempo of our breath. A good spanking tunes in to these rhythms and dances along, creating harmonic resonance between partners, joining the both of you in the exhilaration of a shared erotic experience. Dominants and submissives have both reported experiencing altered headspaces during impact play; tuning oneself to a rhythm and narrowly focusing one’s attention (in the case of the sub, on the sensation; in the case of the dom, on the sub’s body responses) are a cooperative recipe for an altered state of consciousness. This altered state, not too different from a kind of hypnotic trance, increases the sensitivity and receptivity of both partners and dramatically increases the quality of the experience due to the elimination of cognitive distractions.
Once you’ve found and settled into your rhythm, and are into your intensity increase/decrease cycle, occasionally disrupting the rhythm and changing things up can be very stimulating. I’ll give you an example from my own experience: in one of my favourite pain play sessions, my partner was nearing the top of the impact cycle while hitting me with a belt. Belts can be really intense and are not for newbies, by the way! Just as I was nearing my limit, my partner broke the rhythm and then very lightly and quickly slapped the leather end of the belt (NEVER HIT WITH THE BUCKLE END) up and down my buttocks and the backs of my thighs, before starting the impact cycle again. It felt so good, a momentary reprieve, but not without sensation.
The reprieve serves an important physiological function as well; when you reach the height of the impact cycle and move back down to light impact, the brain releases a veritable flood of endorphins into the body to mitigate and manage the pain, and commence the healing process. Many feel the endorphin flood akin to a drug rush, similar to a runner’s high. Repeating the impact cycle several times can increase the intensity of the pleasure and relaxation that comes from this endorphin flood, sending many a sub into the very pleasurable state of subspace (I will explain subspace more thoroughly in a forthcoming post, but there are links on my resources page that can teach you all about it in the meantime).
It’s important to not disrupt the rhythm too often, though, because that can get frustrating for the submissive. When I’m in the middle of a beating, a great deal of the pleasure comes from sinking into and surrendering to the rhythm, and when this is disrupted too much, it really kills my headspace, which makes me cranky, which makes everything hurt in the bad way, and then the spanking is over and I need a really good handjob before I can regain my obliging disposition. Give the submissive time to sink into the rhythm and feel their body flow with it. Give them time to surrender to the entrancing pulse and thrum of their stimulated nervous system. It’s one of the best parts of impact pain play, in my opinion.
4. Get creative with spanking implements.
Impact play toys need not come from the sex toy shop, especially if you’re on a budget, and especially if you’re a new player. There’s no need to go busting your budget on a high quality leather flogger if you haven’t tried the wooden spoon yet. Or the plastic spoon. Or the spatula. Or the (washed and sterilized) fly-swatter. Or elastic bands. Table tennis paddles. Wiffle bats. Rubber gloves. Hell, you could fold a scarf and try “whipping” your partner with it, just to see how it feels, if you’re curious but nervous about pain tolerance.
Lightweight objects tend to be easier to control, and better for beginners, but beware the slender rod! Skinny sticks hurt like a motherfucker; there’s a reason why caning is generally practiced by more advanced players. It’s generally a good idea to steer clear of metal, too, as sharp edges can do unintentional damage. But don’t let a lack of specialty toys stand in the way of your sexplorations!
So there you have it, kinky comrades! The skill and art of spanking. Questions? Comments? Something I need to elaborate on? Drop it in the comments!