Spanking Paddle

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A spanking paddle is a usually wooden instrument with a long, flat face and narrow neck, so called because it is roughly shaped like a canoe paddle, but existing in more varied sizes and dimensions, used to administer a spanking to the buttocks; it would be too hard and heavy to use safely on the back.

Types and terms

A spanking paddle can sometimes be called shingle, apparently after its form, or be given names (rather like weapons in military and police units), especially when used in an organisation, that allude to its hot effect on the paddled posterior, such as ass-burner, butt-buster. Educators and children in households where a paddle is used for discipline sometimes award the paddle such nicknames also, such as "Lola's bane," "The 'Board' of Education," and "Mother's Little Helper." (Confusingly, sometimes non-wooden flat devices, such as straps, and wooden spoons are wrongly called paddles, even in official institutions.)

The term fraternity paddle or sorority paddle is commonly used in American and English for any paddle which is used in a fraternity or sorority for hazing or punishment, or kept by an alumnus/alumna (e.g. to discipline his or her children) or deliberately ambiguous (e.g., in BDSM role-playing), especially if it carries Greek-organization markings.

Paddles are preferably made from (expensive but durable) hardwoods, such as maple, oak, mahogany or walnut, and finished with varnish or teak oil; plastic is an inferior imitation as the effectiveness is related to the specific gravity to limit air resistance, though some modern paddles are made of Lexan (plexiglass being too likely to break--allegedly that occasionally happens even to hardwood; of course the measuruments are also relevant).

Nevertheless some paddles are sometimes not factory-made but home-made or home-modified objects, e.g. a baseball bat with the action end flatted to half or less, as used on cadets in Columbia Military Academy; especially in domestic discipline (and in BDSM) various pervertibles are used, including the kitchen utensil cutting board (wooden and paddle-shaped)

As a paddle is flat and inflexible, unlike a cane or whip, it is too blunt to cause stripes but bruises can result from excessive force. Generally the physical impact is therefore not greatly increased, only the humiliation, if administered bare-butt, except in the case of the holed paddle, which has holes drilled in it in order to make the surface unsmooth and reduce air resistance (since the 1930s US teacher Harold Spencer discovered this way to reduce the un-aerodynamic cushioning effect of air, the original, oblong model was known as Spencer paddle), which causes the victim to blister much faster (The holes may be beveled to reduce the chances of blistering.)

Furthermore a long model (including the handle) increases the leverage and hence the force applied on the punished skin. While a big blade looks frightening, it spreads the force over a larger surface, and so with equal weight it would hit less intensely. A narrow shape can be more cane-like, to concentrate all the force of one or several consecutive blows on a single buttock or parts of it, rather than across the entire behind, to cause more intense pain and worse bruising.

On the other hand, if the damage allowed is limited, inflicting strokes less intensely allows prolonging the duration of the ordeal of the paddling, as to work over different parts of the butt; prolongation is also possible by pausing, which has the added effect of causing the victim to suffer further mentally (and ponder the offense being punished) while having to wait for the next painful installment.

As there is quite a market for paddles in regions where paddlings are still (or again) administered in hazing or education and in family households, as well as in erotic spanking, there are companies which cater for one or more of these markets, often in combination with other items (disciplinarian or not), for fraternity/sorority, home, and erotic use, but most of the terms and names these use are rather arbitrary. There are also various roadside and resort novelty shops that sell paddles (small and large); these are often decorated with humorous motifs and instructions such as "Board of Education," "Heat for the Seat," "How to Paddle Your Wife," and "Frontier Tail-blazer."

Very similar, though usually not named paddle, can be the wooden 'sword' (often bamboo and usually flattened; otherwise it is rather a cane) used for corporal discipline, mainly on the buttocks, but also on the hands, in the Far East, such as the Japanese shinai (a practice sword made of bamboo, used in Kendo), which is common practice in popular, expensive private 'after hours' schools

Often a child is paddled while others, e.g. the siblings (who are thus deterred), are present so the child is further humiliated.

Scope of use

It is commonly used in the (mainly Southern and rural) United States as a method of spanking (see physical punishment on the buttocks), called paddling after it (the corresponding verb is to paddle), especially on children by school educators. It is not infrequently found and used in homes to punish children.

Judicial punishment

Fiction often gives the impression that official corporal punishments (court sentences and additional prison discipline) were generally applied to the back and/or clothed, but in fact in many legal and cultural traditions the bare buttocks were and are more often beaten, even publicly, with a variety of instruments, whip- and multi thong-types as well as wooden implements, including the notorious cane, birch, but also flatter, solid ones that fit the description of a paddle (regardless what name is used, e.g. 'sword'), as shown on this CorPun photo from China circa 1900.

Social discipline

Some school traditions enforce(d) rules by paddling offenders. In the University of Missouri until World War II, any freshman found on the 'quad' (the most prestigious square on campus}, had to offer his 'insolent' posterior for punishment along a paddle line formed by swatting seniors.

Paddling is also by far the most used painful method of hazing, especially in so-called Greek fraternities and sororities, both as a rite of passage and as internal punishment (rather rare; occasionally even for seniors breaking major rules), but in some even additionally in so-called paddle games, the rules of which are designed to determine when which pledge(s) must suffer a paddling or sometimes how many strokes of the paddle, usually received from the eager upperclassmen or one assigned pledge-master; sometimes, however, they are ordered to administer the paddle to each-other (winner to loser, trading licks or even in a chain-formation). Paddles can be carried ostentatiously as a symbol of disciplining authority even when no actual use is intended, small models even worn from the belt; some fraternities and sororities require their pledges to carry such paddles on the belt until their eventual admittance. Accordingly they may be inscribed or branded with personal and/or fraternity/sorority symbols (often Greek initials) and or text, etc., and offered as gifts by pledges being admitted into membership to the official mentoring "big brother"/"big sister" in the fraternity or sorority, either for actual use upon eventual initiation or as a symbolic relic where paddling is no longer practiced: the ornamental use of paddles as personal trophies that may be displayed (e.g. in a frat/sorority house) or handed down as a momento or family heritage has given the paddle longevity.

Other play and traditions

Of the course the paddle is also a favorite implement for non-disciplinary spankings, as is often the case with paddle games (such as trading blows) or a paddle machine or spanking pyramid.

Paddling as Punishment in U.S. Schools

The paddle is the most popular implement in US schools that still allow spanking. Typically, with two or more administrators present, the student is told to bend over and receives the prescribed amount of hits (called licks, swats, pops or whacks) of the paddle, normally in an office, not publicly. In a single-gender school, the student may even be told to drop outer clothing and possibly underwear too, heightening the humiliation factor of having to receive the paddling dressed down or even bare bottom (nearly exclusively in private run schools, however). Most urban public school systems in the United States, such as Chicago, have banned spanking and all other forms of corporal punishments. However, there is a growing trend to restore paddling in some areas in recent years. Some private schools still use corporal punishment.

See also


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