Posted at 19:21 on 22 May 2008 by Pandora / Blake
Posting about wooden paddles got me thinking. So much of a person's pain threshold has to do with familiarity. As I was discussing with Ludwig in a comment thread recently, familiarity with your play partner, and trust in them, is a huge factor. Familiarity with the scenario is another, although I guess that's counterbalanced by the thrill associated with fear of the unknown. But for me, familiarity with an implement is hugely significant.
My favourite implement is the cane. I think it works both ways: I like the cane, so I'm more likely to be caned than anything else; and the more I'm caned the more I like it. Part of that is knowing I can take it, having the experience to trust myself to let go and accept what's happening to me. Canings affect me deeply but they don't freak me out. I'm very at home with the implement, and however horrible it is at the time, being aware intellectually that I've done this before and it's okay does tend to help. (I haven't, however, been caned to the standards of Lupus or Mood Pictures. I keep going back and forth on whether I'd want to. Part of me would want one of my Doms to do it if anyone was going to - another part of me would want the experience to be "worth something", to be as part of a story as rich as the ones Lupus create. Maybe I'll make my own severe caning film, someday.)
So my inability to take a real paddling has nothing to do with my basic pain threshold. I've been taken pretty deep in the past. It's to do with the type of pain, my body's reaction to it, and how used to it I am. Part of processing pain is shock. The shock of something unfamiliar is much more powerful than the shock of something familiar. Part of the terror of the paddle, for me, is not knowing what to expect.
To me, this would seem to tie into the fear of canes you often see in spankees who are used to the paddle. It's a different sort of pain. It's unfamiliar, it's scary, and your bottom is less used to taking it and processing it and healing from it. As such, an unfamiliar implement used on an experienced bottom is often like being a newbie again. You have to go through the whole learning process again every time you encounter a new kind of sensation.
It occured to me that this process, of familiarising certain bottoms with certain implements (and simultaneously rendering them unexpectedly vulnerable to unfamiliar ones) could be thought of as "tuning". And it's not just canes and paddles, although the American/British school conventions have created an obvious binary. I know subs who can fly from a flogging but shy away from more traditional spanko implements. Anne Rice's Beauty trilogy is full of severe beatings with leather straps and wooden paddles because those are what the author was most familiar with, but there's nary a crop or cane in sight. And I know spankos whose comfort-zone is hand-spanking, plain and simple, and who dislike "harder" implements but can probably take a far harder hand-spanking than I could.
I've certainly been "tuned" to different implements at different points in my life. Which makes me wonder whether it's a question of circumstance - that a bottom is tuned to whichever implements are most readily available when they first start playing, and then re-tuned to whatever is used on them most often - or preference? Do some people just like different sensations and experiment till they discover what they like best? Will I always be tuned to canes, or would be it be possible to re-tune me, teach me to take those severe paddlings I fantasise about? Or is the effect cumulative, and being tuned to an implement doesn't expire when you're tuned to another one?
I doubt I'll ever be tuned to heavy wooden paddles: Mr C. believes that repeated use numbs the nerve endings of the bottom, and he wants to keep me as sensitive as possible. (Although Bailey's self-confessed vulnerability after years of heavy paddlings would suggest that isn't always the case.) And besides, if I was tuned to them, they wouldn't be horrifying any more. And where's the fun in that?
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