BDSM is a way to explore the things that excite, frighten, or captivate us, in a safe, controlled setting. I think “kink” can be defined as any non-conventional sexual practice, which is, of course, extremely subjective.
Kink expands our perception of eroticism, from something that’s genital focused and orgasm driven, to something that’s more inclusive of our entire bodies and minds.
What Is Corporal Punishment?
It’s simply physical, bodily punishment: the consensual administration of pain. I’d say it’s quite popular, though the severity that a person enjoys varies widely. There is a misconception that corporal is always severe, and most people who tell me they’re “not into it” are actually just not into extreme pain.
I would say nearly all of my subs enjoy some degree of corporal punishment, whether that means that they enjoy the endorphins of heavier punishment, or they just enjoy the submissive, humiliating aspect of something like an over-the-knee spanking. I’d still call that corporal!
Why Do People Love Corporal Punishments?
Pain can release endorphins, the neurochemicals that act on our opiate receptors to give us a natural, exhilarating “high.” I would say the endorphin rush is the simplest reason people crave corporal, though some other factors can compound this. For example, giving someone consent to hurt you can feel very submissive and intimate—you’re at their mercy, which requires a deep trust.
Corporal can also be part of a role play. Some people even fetishize the object they’re being punished with, like the canes, crops, or paddles themselves. The image of a dominatrix holding a whip is iconic—that in itself can be exciting to a sub. And then many people feel a thrill at suffering through something, pushing themselves, forcing themselves to endure. It’s a test, a challenge that can lead to a feeling of accomplishment.
Common Rules In Corporal Punishment
It’s important to know where is safe to hit a person. Butts are popular, of course—they’re thick and meaty, with no delicate bones that you could injure. There are charts available online that show the safest places to hit someone.
Always start with a warm up. Hitting someone lightly at first will start to trigger endorphins so that by the time you’re hitting them hard, they’ll have an easier time and feel more pleasure and excitement. I personally like to begin striking someone with hands before I get to implements; hands feel more sensual and less scary, so they help build trust and relax my partner before we get into heavier equipment. Don’t use equipment you’re not comfortable with—whips especially can feel unwieldy and be dangerous if you’re not experienced.
Safe words are important, of course, though it’s very rare in my scenes that someone uses them. I rely a lot on intuition and reading the person’s breathing and body language. Trust is also very important. The Bottom must have trust in the Top, obviously, but a Top should also know they can trust the Bottom to vocalize their limits and do their own part in keeping their self safe.
Typical Corporate Punishment Session With Subs
Every scene is different, but I typically like to begin with some non-painful sensation play to help the Bottom get present in their body and sensitive to my touch. Most people are quite nervous when they step into a dungeon, especially if it’s our first time playing together, so I like to relax them and get them into a sort of subspace before anything too intense happens.
Sensation play can include feathers, pinwheels, vampire gloves, or just running my hands lightly all over their body. I will then usually move on to spanking or light flogging—something to get their attention without causing any real pain yet. Florentine flogging is one of my favorite things for this stage. It’s typically quite light and rhythmic, and gets the person accustomed to being hit without being hurt—like a sort of kinky massage. This style of flogging with light, leather floggers can give your sub a taste for what corporal can feel like, without actually causing pain or any marks.
I often do corporal scenes with someone tied to a St. Andrew’s cross, and sometimes blindfolded as well, to take away all visual stimulation and draw their attention to sounds and physical sensations. I tend to do somewhat frequent verbal check-ins, particularly when it’s someone I haven’t played with much before. When a Bottom has a consensual non-consent fantasy, I have to be even more careful—since checking in verbally would kill the illusion of non-consent, it becomes even more vital that I’m sensitive to their breathing, reactions, and other bodily cues. It becomes tricky to care for a person while indulging in their fantasy that you don’t care at all, but I enjoy the challenge of finding different ways to subtly make sure they’re okay and engaged in the scene. I’ll up the intensity at times, bring it down, increase it again, and so on. This is really pleasurable for me and feels like I’m creating art in the person’s experience.
My personal style is more seductive and sensual than purely strict, so I like to tease my sub in between hurting them. It’s fun to get someone to a point where they’re not sure if they’re more turned on or tortured.
Safety Precautions To Follow
Yes! Safewords should certainly be discussed, especially if either player is new to kink, or if they haven’t played much together. As I mentioned before, it’s vital that you know what parts of a person’s body are safe to hit. Not all equipment is as easy to use as you might think, so please don’t take an implement you’re unfamiliar with and go straight to another person’s body with it. I think whips can be the most difficult piece of equipment to get proficient with. If someone craves the sharp, localized sting of a whip or cane but you’re not comfortable using these yet, try starting with a crop instead. It’s much easier to control.
A dragon tail whip is another alternative to the classic single tail. The sensation is less intense, and an inexperienced whipper will find a dragon tail is easier to use with precision. Whatever implement you use, I always recommend warming someone up thoroughly so you can get a sense for your power versus their pain tolerance, as well as triggering those endorphins I mentioned earlier.
If you have someone tied up during corporal, make sure you know some basics of bondage—for example, it can be dangerous to have someone tied to a Saint Andrew’s cross with their arms above their head for too long. I have had two Bottoms faint from this, so now I’m very careful with how long I’ll keep someone in this position. When I do use this position, I’ll do it early in a scene when a person is fresh and not too tired. When a scene gets intense and you have your partner deeply in subspace, they might not even realize that they’re starting to get tired, thirsty, or need some sort of break.
Make sure you watch out for them—that’s part of the Top’s role. It can also be good to have someone tied up on a bench, bent over with their butt towards you. I find this position can be easier for hitting your target, and you’re not in as much danger of accidentally hitting their spine, neck, or head.
If your sub enjoys face slapping, there’s a proper technique to this. I always lay my palm gently across their face first, then take a quick slap landing exactly where my palm had been. Face slapping improperly can really injure someone, so think of it as more of a humiliation tactic than a way to hurt them.
Lastly, rubbing arnica gel into skin can help with bruising.
How Can I Explore Corporal Punishment?
For beginning equipment, I would say light floggers, a paddle, and a crop are all easy implements to get started with. Go slow and have fun. Unfortunately, a lot of new kinksters seem to believe that more and harder equals better. Being too aggressive doesn’t make you a better or more authentic dominant. Kink should be a positive force in our lives, whether that means it’s fulfilling, exciting, challenging, or just pleasurable. Express genuine care and respect for the people you play with, and look at every scene as a collaboration between the two of you.
To learn more, I would recommend taking an in-person class, or hiring a professional dominatrix to give you a private lesson. Books are fine, but when your canvas is another person’s body, nothing beats in-person instruction.
Mistress Lux is a professional dominatrix. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, she travels internationally with her subs in pursuit of all things fun and freaky. She has been a professional kinkster for over a decade, and specializes in bondage, corporal, tease and denial, and all sorts of gender play.
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Images from Mistress Lux unless credited otherwise
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