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Workhouse whippings

Posted at 10:35 on 1 May 2008 by Pandora / Blake

Tags: bullwhip, Fantasies, other pictures, Victoriana, Vintage, whip

Spankboss of Spanking Blog posted a link this morning to this collection of illustrations which accompanied early editions of the book Nell in Bridewell. I haven't read or heard of this book before, but apparently it's a famous late Victorian story about workhouse whippings. Spankboss is after some higher resolution scans of the twelve plates, so please do comment on his entry if you can help him out. These illustrations are, however, completely new to me. I like them rather a lot.

I think the strong appeal of the above image (and the one following it) is the unusual combination of position and implement. I've seen images of girls stretched out flat and restrained on whipping benches before, and the lifted bottom in the first picture, presumably over a wooden block, is a particularly nice touch. But lying down is a position I would normally associate with more domestic punishments - with hand spanking, tawse, paddle or cane. The cat o' nine tails, birches and single-tail whips of the Nell illustrations are far more commonly associated with victims restrained in a standing position, arms above head - and with whole body or bare back punishments (which we do in fact see later in the series). I love whips, and I love upright whippings, but it's nice to see this conjunction of one of my favourite implements and a very traditionally erotic corporal punishment position.

Bare-back whippings are hot, for me, in a different way to punishment applied to the bottom. Back whipping is sexy because of context, realism; because it fits into a fantasy or a historical setting. It doesn't provide that instant jolt of desire, that masochistic surge, that bottom whipping does. Or at least, not in the same way. It's kind of hard to describe.

(Funnily enough, I had a dream the night before last about bottom whipping using just such a short single-tail whip - a signal whip or similar. The setting of the dream was an old-fashioned boy's public school in which fagging still took place. A bullying prefect had lined up some younger boys who had displeased him for punishment. Trousers down, the boys were perched on a row of playground swings with their bums vulnerably hanging over the edge of the seat. The resulting angle of the swing put them on tiptoe, thighs supported by the wooden seat and upper bodies tipping forward for balance. Their tormentor paced behind them with the coiled whip, giving each a slow, hard six lashes across their exposed cheeks. Some of the strokes were so hard that they made the victim stumble forward, losing their balance and pitching onto the ground in front of them. I have no idea if such a position would be workable, but it was an intriguing image.)


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