Erotic spanking (also known as spankophilia) is the act of spanking another person for the sexual arousal or gratification of either or both parties. Activities range from a spontaneous smack on bare buttocks during a sexual activity, to occasional sexual role-play to domestic discipline and may involve the use of a hand or the use of a variety of spanking implements, such as a spanking paddle or cane. Erotic spanking may be administered to bare buttocks or normally dressed. Spanking can involve the use of bondage in order to heighten sexual arousal and feelings of helplessness. Erotic spankings are commonly combined with other forms of sexual foreplay, such as oral sex and sexual role-playing.
The origins and scope of erotic spanking and flagellation are largely unknown. One of the earliest depictions of erotic flagellation is found in a 6th century BC Etruscan burial site named in modern times the Tomba della Fustigazione or “Tomb of Flogging” after its depictions of eroticized flagellation. Many cultures describe pain as an aphrodisiac. For example, the Kama Sutra, in particular, goes into specific detail on how to properly strike a partner during sex.
Representations of erotic spanking and flagellation make up a large portion of Victorian pornography. Hundreds of thousands of engravings, photographs, and/or literary depictions of spanking and flagellation (“birching”) fantasies circulated during the Victorian era, including erotic novellas like The Whippingham Papers, The Birchen Bouquet, Exhibition of Female Flagellants or the pornographic comic opera Lady Bumtickler’s Revels. Many well-known people since their deaths have been exposed as having enjoyed spankings for erotic purposes or emotional gratification including renowned British Army officer T. E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”), influential English theatre critic Kenneth Tynan, TV broadcaster Frank Bough, and English writer John Mortimer.
A spanking may be carried out with the use of a bare hand, or with any of a variety of implements, including a paddle, strap, hairbrush or belt. Other popular tools are canes, riding crops, whips, switches, birches, sneakers, rolled-up newspapers, rulers or martinet.
A spank skirt (also called a spanking skirt) has an additional opening in back designed to expose the buttocks. While the name spank skirt suggests that the wearer could be spanked “bare bottom” without removing or repositioning the skirt, this item may be worn for reasons other than spanking (for instance, exposure). Considered fetish wear, spank skirts are typically tight-fitting and made of fetishistic materials (such as leather, PVC or latex).
Regardless of the gender of the wearer, spank skirts are usually considered female attire. The male gender role equivalent might be motorcycle chaps. Other garments associated with spanking as well as humiliation are ruffled or rhumba panties, women’s panties with rows of ruffles on the rear panel or outside.
A spanking bench or spanking horse is a piece of furniture used to position a spankee on, with or without restraints. They come in many sizes and styles, the most popular of which is similar to a sawhorse with a padded top and rings for restraints. The 19th century British dominatrix Mrs Theresa Berkley became famous for her invention of the Berkley Horse, a similar form of BDSM apparatus.