Tag Archives: pain

Clothespins, Clips and Clamps

By STella

I want to stress a few dangers of playing with clothespins and clamps.

First, used on the scrotum and labia, or any where else for that matter, but especially there, make sure you are not getting any of the delicate structures in these areas actually IN the clamp. This can cause a lot more than you are bargaining for. Both in pain and nerve or tissue damage.

Secondly, don’t leave these on too long. The whole point is that they cut off the circulation. Thus, they hurt more coming off than while they are on. However, if you cut off the circulation for too long, you get tissue damage. This is NOT good. I recommend no longer than twenty minutes maximum, and less than that if you are using strong clips. Thirdly, some tissue was not designed for exceptionally rough treatment like zippers and heavy weights. Please be careful around the genital area on both sexes. It is easily possible to tear the labia and genital tissue in these areas. As always, it’s your decision as to how you play, but emergency rooms are not my idea of enjoyable play spaces.

Wood versus plastic:

Wooden clothespins are a bit kinder and have less tendency to abrade, thus I would suggest starting with them. Plastic clothespins tend to have much smaller ribbed gripping surfaces, and a ‘feel’ much stronger than the equivalent wooden ones. Extremely small plastic clothespins are very nasty indeed, and many may be used in the same area for greater intensity.

Wooden clothespins are available in several qualities, with the older, thicker ones being a bit better IMHO, and the thin ones more likely to splinter or have sharp edges. As one may purchase 50 of these for perhaps $4 American, these rank among least expensive of toys, and among the most versatile. Almost anything one may do with fingertip squeezing may be done with clothespins, and several things that cannot be accomplished with one’s fingers may easily be done with these tiny household beauties. Of course, this does leave your hands free for other activities….

Clamping Tightness [“too hard!”, “too soft!”, “just right!”]:

Unmodified, most wooden clothespins of quality grip with between 4 and 6 pounds of pressure over an area of 3/16 X 1/2 inches. This is too much for some, and not enough for others. The grip is best increased by wrapping the clamping end with elastic bands, and decreased in several ways. The simplest is by weakening the springs by clamping something that requires the clothespin to be open to its limit for several days. This will reduce the clamping pressure by several pounds, dependent on the initial strength of the spring, the width of the opening, and the length of time one allows for stretching. Carefully pulling the jaws wider than they would normally travel will stretch the spring quickly, but this is harder to control. Wrapping elastic bands around the legs of the clothespin will resist the tension of the spring and weaken the clamping force without permanently weakening the spring.

If you are willing to spend a bit more time, drill straight through both legs of the clothespin legs about one third from the end and thread a bolt through the holes, tightening a wing nut on the bolt will allow for wonderfully precise changes in clamping pressure, since the bolt-nut combination adjustably limits the travel of the legs. It is often best to drill a larger hole or even a slot in one leg for ease of adjustment. This requires perhaps 2 minutes per clothespin and is well worth the time, as the pressure may be slowly increased as hir ability to enjoy the sensation improves. Weights may be hung off of the clothespin as well by hooks or cords attached to such holes and hardware.

‘Standard’ Techniques [suggestions for beginning and advancing]:

One classical place to begin with clothespins is the nipple, but there are many possible variations to this alone. The first grip recommended most often is with the clothespin pointing straight onto the nipple, not from the side, gripping the base of the nipple, not the tip, and perhaps a bit of areola as well. This does not have the same sort of ‘bite’ as grasping the nipple alone may, and often does wonderful things for sensitivity without causing severe pain. It is best to start with a rather weak clamping pressure and work upwards, and if you are just beginning, try not to leave the pins on for too long [start with what sie can endure, and eventually work up to perhaps twenty minutes [I prefer not to leave them on longer than this, YMMV]. The longer the clamping time, the more fierce the sensation caused by removing the pressure. The increased sensitivity afterwards may last from minutes to many hours, depending on the person, the clamping force and time; and several things might be done in this period to use that sensitivity to advantage [beating with the proverbial ‘wet noodle’ or even a featherduster is quite effective]. Ice applied immediately after removing the clothespin may reduce the length and severity of the sensation if that is desired.

You might try putting the clothespin on sideways, with the nipple centered in the the hole in the clamping area. If you do this far enough back on the nipple base or areola, the tip of a large nipple will remain exposed for other things, such as ice, nibbling, or smaller clips and clamps.

You might try clamping the nipple only, or work gradually out from the areola as hir ability to enjoy more increases. Tapping or lightly brushing the tips of attached clothespins is effective, and a light vibrator may also be used if taped to the legs of the clothespin.

One simple device works nicely for both nipples at once on all but the smallest female breasts. Take two clothespins and glue the outsides of the legs together with a slight overlap so then use the clamping ends to grasp both nipples from the sides at once. The pull will vary depending on breast size, but some will be present, thus causing her to jiggle her breasts gently can be fun, and of course, this is often just the thing to add to tickling. Size differences may require an additional short piece of wood to link the pair together, length best found by experiment.

Several people have mentioned pulling on clothespins or clips with strings, chains or cords. The nipple itself may also be encircled by a thin cord or thread, I have used unwaxed dental floss to good effect. Avoid slipknots for the obvious reason that they might tighten too far in use.

Pulling off a clothespin is more painful than squeezing the legs to remove it gently, and is the basis for several devices below. Again, the longer one leaves them attached, the stronger the result. It is also possible to flick off clothespins with a flogger or some other striking device, and combining the two is an interesting way to add some bright ‘explosions’ to the sensations of a ‘standard’ flogging without switching instruments or striking harder. When doing this near the front of the body, some form of eye protection is needed, a heavy blindfold will serve nicely.

Other places you might wish to try:

Many areas of the body might do well with a bit of clamping either for sensation or visual appeal. Other parts of the breast, and any portion of the torso and limbs where one may gather a bit of skin come immediately to mind. In view of the tiny expense, one might use many dozens at one time.

Specific classic variations include but are not limited to:

  • a row, circle [or other sigil of your choice] on the belly or back
  • one or more on the labia or other areas of ‘wabbliebits’ [tm-STella] 
  • the inner thigh or arm 
  • a belt of clothespins round the waist 
  • small clothespins on the webbing of fingers and toes
  • the earlobe [the dangling legs of the clothspin brush the neck nicely] 
  • behind the knees and inside the elbows 
  • a circle round the thighs as a reminder to keep them spread 

‘Zippers’ and other tailoring:

Drill a hole through one leg of at least one dozen clothespins, thread them on a thong or cord, knotting them at small intervals, and you have created a zipper. One derivation for the name will become obvious the first time one tugs swiftly on one end of the cord and hears the sound made by the pins pulling off sensitive skin [there may be other sounds as well]. The spacing may vary, longer ones may be made, and double rows of 20 or so clothespins are common. The inside of the upper arm or thigh are rather traditional for these, but most areas of the body are available, one of my own favorites being the side of the body normally covered by the arms, after binding the arms over the head. Ticklish and sensitive.

A ‘tri-zipper’ is my own name for three of these single zippers with one end of each fastened to a central ring [a keyring will do, but try to find something a bit larger]. The ring is centered high on the belly, with the farthest pins attaching to the nipples and ‘wabbliebits’ [tm-STella], perhaps with a bit of spiral towards the center of each region, and the nearest ones fastening to the skin near the center. The look of horrified anticipation as you grasp the ring and begin to pull slowly outwards, each pin popping off in turn as the three zipper lines move towards the most sensitive areas is not to be missed, while pulling faster often causes volumes of coloratura shrieking.

Another design I have not seen elsewhere I have dubbed the Reverse Garter, ‘reverse’ in the sense of pulling down rather than up. Two bands of non-stretch material [webbing, fabric or leather will do] with buckles or other adjustable fasteners are put high up around each thigh, perhaps five inches from the pubis, although this dimension will vary. Sewn or riveted onto the band is a close [almost touching] row of four clothespins on the inside of the leg, with the clamping ends pointing upwards. These are first attached to the outer labia, then the band is adjusted to a position to gently stretch the lips and tightened so as not to be pulled further up the thigh. Intriguing in itself, and provides both more pull and an interesting display when she spreads her legs. Delectable. [N.B. There are major sensation differences between the outer lips and more inner tissues, grasping these areas with the same force is likely to cause considerably more pain than anticipated.]

(Aside from Domina, “The inner labia are no place for zippers or other methods that could tear fragile skin. This should also indicate to you that scrotum are not good places to do this, either. I know people who have had torn labia from weights and zippers in this area. I’ve HEARD of people having damaged testicles from rough play in this area. PLEASE use a bit of sense here.”)

Modifying pins for more intense sensations:

The simplest method is increasing the clamping force with one or more elastic bands round the clamping end, but there are several others.

Purchase some short 1/8th inch diameter brads or finish nails, and a drill of the same diameter. Drill three holes through the clamping end of two clothespins. Sand, grind, or file the ends of the brads to a smooth *ROUND* tip then push them through so they protrude into the clamping area while the clothespin is held open 1/8th inch. Use a drop of strong glue to hold the brads in place, and saw off the excess length from the outside of the pins after the glue dries. This is as it might appear when completed.

Exceedingly nasty, as the clamping force now concentrates primarily on three small areas rather than the entire clamping area. Use this carefully, preferably with a fully adjustable clothespin as above, and make quite sure by testing on yourself first that the ends of the brads are NOT SHARP at all to avoid damage. Useful for those seeking more than a ‘regular’ clothespin may provide.

Several less extreme variations on the idea above are possible, all based on disassembling the clothespin, filing several grooves in the wooden clamping area, then reassembling the clothespin. Grooves and blunt ‘teeth’ aid in preventing slippage, and feel a bit more harsh than flat wood.

Removing perhaps one-half of the side of the clamping area with a saw or rasp provides two benefits, the same clamping pressure will be applied over a smaller area, and double the number of clothespin tips may fitted to the same bit of anatomy. Remember to round the edges slightly with sandpaper to avoid splinters or other inadvertent injury. View from above of the clamping end with the side removed.

A design for testing the clamping force of clothespins: Tradition demands testing on the web of one’s hand, this is well and good for impromptu buying and to get a subjective feel for the actual sensation of a new design, but lacks precision and repeatability, qualities dear to the heart of any engineer. Some thinking and a bit of experimentation resulted in the following frame to directly and accurately measure clamping force in clothespins. With minor modifications, it serves to measure certain other sorts of spring-clamp pressure as well. I recognize the source of error from measuring the force at the hole rather than the clamping area, but it is a difference both trivial and consistent, and thus may be ignored for comparative testing.

Select two boards longer than 8 inches, wider than 1 inch, and perhaps 1/4 inch thick, and place them together, lying flat on top of one another. Drill a hole through both 5 inches or so from one end. Put a bolt through this hole, and thread a wingnut on the bolt. Clamp the other end of the boards firmly to a table or bench, slide one leg of the clothespin into the tapered space between the two boards, then tighten the wingnut. This frame will hold the clothespin for testing. Once the pin is held firmly in place, use a thin cord attached to a spring tension scale [I use an ‘anglers scale’, accurate from 1 to 28 pounds, any ‘pulling’ scale with a hook will do], and pull downwards against the clamping area until the clothespin opens. This measurement will vary from the pull necessary to just open the jaws to a higher reading before the jaws reach their limit of travel. As mentioned, the ‘standard’ clothespins I have tested fall somewhere in the region of 4-6 pounds, stretching for several days may yield less than 3 pounds, and manual stretching of the clothespin spring will swiftly reduce the pressure to 1 pounds or less. If one has the time and interest, coding the various strength ranges of tested clothespins for different tastes and applications is possible, either by color or by filing groove patterns in the legs to select by touch. “Twenty of the red ones for a start, I am in an evil mood tonight.

Basic Cock and Ball Torture

So What’s the Thrill?

Obviously the cock is the organ of the male body most effectively wired for pleasurable sensation, and there are huge stretches of the pleasure/pain boundary to be explored in its vicinity. But arguably more important is the psychological angle: for many men, cocks are the center of sexuality and a symbol of sexual potency and when someone helplessly undergoes abuse of his most precious appendage the psychological charge is immense. A site normally associated with indulgent pleasure is being transformed into a vulnerable target for punishment and pain. There are also clear links between CT and interests in sexual control and chastity.

Parts of the Penis and How to be Cruel to Them


A structure of several layers, the core layer being spongy tissues (the corpora cavernosa) that engorge with blood during erection and the arteries that supply them. Within this and a little closer to the underside is the urethra (the duct that carries urine and semen) and around it muscle fiber, nerves and minor blood vessels covered in a loose layer of skin. The shaft is the least sensitivepart of the cock, though the sensitivity of the skin that covers it increases greatly when stretched during erection — appropriately, because an erect cock, being under pressure, is far more fragile than a flaccid cock. The flaccid shaft can be struck with the palm of the hand, knuckles or objects like small ‘cock-whips’, rulers and beaters (though avoid excessive force – see below); squeezed with hands or otherwise pressurized with bindings; scratched and abraded with fingernails and rough-textured objects like stiff brushes; subjected to extremes of hot and cold (temperature play); pinched on the surface skin with fingers or clothespins and clamps. When erect similar treatments could be applied but much more gently. In both cases avoid too much pressure on the underside, where the urethra is closest to the surface.


The fold of skin that covers the glans when flaccid and should roll back to expose it on erection is basically skin with nerves and blood vessels, and a little more sensitive than the shaft, particularly on the inside. Even when it has been removed by circumcision, a remnant usually remains, particularly of the frenum, a web-like structure that attaches it under the glans and can be a very sensitive site for pinching and pegs. The foreskin as a whole can be squeezed, stretched and twisted fairly firmly to no real ill effect.

Glans (head)

Primarily spongy tissue (the corpus spongiosum, erectile but less so than the shaft) covered in a thin, tight and highly sensitive skin layer. The most sensitive part of the dick, even more so in many circumcised men, and particularly so at the ridge at its base, the corona. Little effort is needed to produce results, and some men find even gentle stroking difficult to bear. Can be struck like the shaft, squeezed, pinched, subjected to temperature play, rubbed and abraded and so on. Sometimes a little water-based lubricant helps things along.

Urethral opening or meatus (piss-slit, pisshole)

Often very sensitive and tender, particularly just inside, which in many people is an unexplored territory, and can be carefully teased with fingers or other objects such as cotton buds, lubricated if less discomfort is desired, and also stimulated by pulling and twisting on a healed Prince Albert piercing. However the urethra is sterile inside and any objects to be inserted more than a centimeter (0.5″) or so should be sterile too. See Catheters and Sounds for more details of urethral play, which has its own potential dangers.

Special Techniques

Much enjoyment can be gained by exploiting the cock’s propensity to increase and decrease in size somewhat independently of the conscious control of its owner by various forms of cock bondage. One of the most common pieces of male SM wear is undoubtedly the cock ring, a metal or rubber ring (the latter are usually vacuum cleaner drive belts repackaged by fetish shops at a vast premium) through which first balls (one by one) then cock are slipped when flaccid and which can give a pleasantly constricted feeling when erect.

With some men, unfortunately, the difference in size between tumescense and detumesence is so large that it’s impossible to find a size that stays on all the time but isn’t dangerously tight and uncomfortable on erection. As David Stein recounts: “I once made the mistake of putting on a metal ring at home before going out. At the bar, when I lost my erection in a moment of distraction, the ring came off, slid down the leg of my jeans, hit the floor witha clang, and rolled away.Not the way to make a good impression.” A variation on a ring is a simple cock strap that goes round the same site, often made of leather or neoprene and adjustable to size.

During a scene, the snugness of the bindings could be increased so that erections are deliberately made uncomfortable or painful (there are some hazards to this — see below): with some people this can result in a particularly vicious circle with the discomfort itself exciting further erection. This can be achieved with cords, laces or thongs, for example tightly connecting loops around the glans with loops anchored round the base of cock and balls. A variety of purpose made cock straps is also available for the purpose, such as the ‘anti-erect’. There are obvious links here to chastity techniques.

In addition, cocks are often the focus of specialist techniques including clothespins, electricity, piercing (temporary and permanent), pumping, and waxing.

Health and Safety

Circulation Blockage

This is probably the biggest danger in cock play, as pain may not be a reliable indicator. Tissue that’s deprived of blood eventually stops hurting — which doesn’t mean it’s okay! It may be irreversibly damaged. Any binding is too tight if it cuts into the skin and causes bleeding. Any binding is on too long if it causes the cock or ballsac to become cold or numb, but the third typical sign of circulation problems in limbs that are bound — loss of color — is less reliable in this case. The cock and ball sac normally become engorged with blood during sexual arousal, turning reddish or purplish as a result, and up to a point genital bondage just helps that process along. Circulation could be dangerously impaired by tight bindings before there’s much loss of color.

A better sign of impaired circulation is edema, or visible swelling, of soft tissue in the cock or scrotum below or around a binding. While such swelling isn’t dangerous in itself (it will normally go down on its own after circulation resumes), whenever it occurs the bonds causing it should be loosened or removed as soon as possible in order to prevent damage. Avoid genital bindings that can’t be removed easily even when there’s swelling. Tie with a bow-knot or some other knot that will release easily if you pull on the ends — and be sure to leave the ends long enough to get at. Keep blunt-tipped emergency medical technician’s shears (scissors) available to cut bindings in an emergency. Don’t use a metal cock ring that’s tight when the cock you put it on is soft. It’s going to be a lot tighter when that cock gets hard, and you won’t be able to take it off until the cock softens again — which might be a long wait if the ring has caused severe edema.

To sum up: A good rule of thumb is to loosen tight genital bindings enough to restore full circulation every 20 to 30 minutes even without any signs of a problem. And in no case should anything tighter than a comfortable ring or harness be left in place overnight or throughout an extended scene.

Retrograde ejaculation

If a man is forced to come while tightly bound around the genitals, the semen may be forced back down the urethra and reabsorbed into the body. Deliberate retrograde ejaculation is a practice of Tantric yoga, and although possibly uncomfortable, there doesn’t seem to be any direct medical research on whether it is harmful. Evidence from vasectomies suggests frequent retrograde ejaculations might at worst lower sperm counts or generate antibodies to semen. An isolated incident should be nothing to worry about.

Other problems

Foreskins can be torn, and if circulation in them is cut off for very long, the tissue won’t retract normally and could even die and slough off.

Be gentle with genital piercings: if you rip a ring out, you’ll need medical help to repair the damage and avoid a nasty scar, infection, or worse. If a ring does tear out, use an ice pack and local pressure to stop the bleeding (see the First Aid Manual) until you can get to a doctor.

A fracture, when an erect penis is struck hard and “breaks” with a loud cracking noise, is an unlikely but potentially serious problem, a medical emergency that requires prompt treatment by a physician. As first aid on the way to the hospital, use ice packs to control bleeding. But if you avoid hard blows to a hard cock, you won’t risk the problem in the first place.

Ball Torture (BT)

Ball Torture refers to a range of techniques to cause sensation, discomfort and pain in the male testicles and scrotum. Common examples are squeezing with hands, slapping and beating with hands and other objects, crushing using various vice-like devices and applying pressure with bindings, straps and weights are favorite techniques. Often found in conjunction with cock torture (CT), thus CBT.

So What’s the Thrill?

As most men know, the balls are highly sensitive, particularly to pressure. Most men find handling, stroking and squeezing gently is a pleasurable sensation in itself, and the boundary between strong sensation and outright pain seems particularly malleable here. For many people there is also the thrill that the balls are regarded as probably the most delicate and vulnerable part of the male anatomy and using them in SM games requires great trust and carries a particularly intense charge.


The scrotum is a loose, flexible bag of skin that contains the testicles (the “balls”), two bean-shaped organs of fibrous material covering soft gland tissue in which sperm is produced. Plentiful pressure-sensitive nerves in the testicles account for their extreme sensitivity to blows or squeezing. A ridge on the outside of each testicle, known as the epidymis, extends up to form a lump on top and contains tubules that transfer sperm. Attached to the top, next to the epidymis, is the spermatic cord, an elastic tissue that connects the testicles to the rest of the body and contains the vas deferens, the duct between the epidymis and the penis. Since sperm production requires a lower temperature than the normal body temperature, the testicles usually hang outside the body, but the spermatic cord can draw them up into the body when cold. The scrotum also contains some fluid.

Various implements to use

Hands are the obvious weapons: precisely controllable and always available. Slap (gently), punch (more gently), or flick with fingertips, and carefully squeeze with the fingers. Get the balls in the bottom of the scrotum, then twist the scrotum around above them to prevent them slipping out of your fingers.

Probably the second most popular items are ball bondage toys. Cords, ropes, laces and bandages can all be wrapped in various ways around the balls to stretch the scrotal skin, force balls apart or together and put pressure on individual balls. A classic basic tie is a loop around the base of both cock and balls, a loop around the neck of the scrotum and then a loop between the balls to force them apart. Leather and fetish shops usually have a range of (usually leather, sometimes rubber or neoprene) toys with various arrangements of straps purpose made for ball bondage, for example: Cock and ball straps and dividers anchor the balls in place round the root of the scrotum and cock and pass around the scrotum vertically to separate the balls.

Ball stretchers are straps of various sizes that go around the top of the scrotum horizontally, forcing the balls down into the stretched sac. Alternatives are bandages, ropes or leather thongs which can be gradually wrapped round to increase the pressure. Just a modest strap around the top of the scrotum will have the additional effect of trapping the balls and preventing them slipping out of range. Parachutes are parachute-shaped devices with a hole in the middle for the scrotum to pass through, with the parachute itself resting on top of the balls. Ball weights are then hung from chains below the parachute. Weights can also be hung from arrangements of chain or rope. Be very careful with weights: some men can work up to hanging quite large weights from their balls, but there is some danger to the practice. Weights of 500g-1.5kg (1-3 lbs) should be enough to give sensation and be safe.

As well as weights, light objects that move can be hung from balls. A London top has experimented with dangling a spherical jumping toy from Toys R Us in a string bag attached to ball bindings or parachute. Crushing the balls can be achieved with various clamps or bondage equipment like cling film (saran wrap) or elastic bandages (Ace bandages). DeBlase says he has read “of an American Indian torture that involved soaking a piece of rawhide and then sewing it up to tightly encase a victim’s scrotum. As it dries, it shrinks, increasing pressure”. He also speculates about experimenting with an inflatable blood pressure cuff, and suggests putting gravel inside the elastic bandages to add abrasion to the repertoire of ball techniques.

Toys for beating need to be fairly light and delicate. An ordinary pencil is quite adequate, especially for rapid light strokes on a well-secured ball. Some people use a small, soft cat o’nine tails called a ball whip. One source of hard objects suitable to the task is music shops: try bell-beaters designed for playing hand-held cowbells, or mallets topped with dense rubber balls of the sort used to play glockenspiels and chime bars!

Other specialist techniques could be applied to the balls. See elastrators, electricity, play piercing, shaving.

Health and Safety

The key thing to remember is that levels of tolerance vary enormously. When you’re playing with anyone new, always start out lightly with any kind of stimulation to the balls and increase the intensity gradually. With an established partner or in “self-abuse,” you can safely begin at a higher level and move faster, but you should still be very sensitive to his (or your own) reactions as you go along. Probably the single most important danger signal in this area is intense and often rapidly increasing pain, so the bottom must be able to let the top know unmistakably when he’s had enough. In the vast majority of cases, a bottom whose consciousness is not dulled by alcohol or drugs will have no difficulty in distinguishing between a level of pain that is erotically stimulating and pain that signals real damage.

Probably the most common form of genitorture involves pressure exerted by “ball crushers,” the hands, or weights. While even a heavy, experienced masochist is almost certain to beg for relief well before damage is done through steady pressure alone, if you have any doubt whether you’re injuring him, stop. Ball stretchers aren’t hazardous within reasonable limits, but don’t get impatient and over do it. Begin with a narrow stretcher band and work up to wider ones gradually, carefully monitoring the bottom’s (or your own) acceptance of the increasing pressure. Do not leave the any genital bindings on too long and certainly not overnight – a good rule of thumb is to remove them every 20 or 30 minutes and allow the circulation to return to normal for a while. See the Cock Torture briefing for more on the dangers of circulation blockage in cock and ball play.

Much more potentially hazardous is any bondage in which the balls are tied to something else, such as another part of the body or a hook on wall or floor, and might be yanked by a sudden movement: for instance, if you tie a rope or attach a chain between his ankles and his scrotum so that if he tries to move his legs he pulls on his balls. Don’t combine this kind of bondage with any other strong stimulation that might cause him to yank on his balls involuntarily, in reaction to pain elsewhere, unless he’s otherwise so tightly restrained he cannot move enough to put pressure on them. And never tie someone by the balls to a wall, post, etc. in a standing position without additional support: he could lose his balance or faint and put his whole body-weight on them.

The most common injuries to the balls during genitorture are abrasions (usually from rough-surfaced bindings, such as rawhide or scratchy rope), bruises (usually from slapping or whipping the balls), and tiny cuts (which might happen in any rough play when the scrotum is pulled tight over the balls, or during a shaving), minor injuries best treated with sensible first aid such as cleaning with antiseptic. Bruises generally heal by themselves, though an ice pack can limit swelling. Medical intervention is not usually necessary unless the bruising doesn’t fade normally or you suspect an infection.

More serious is a hematoma, which occurs when an injury ruptures larger, deeper blood vessels and a pool or pocket of blood forms between layers of tissue, such as between the scrotum and the balls. The pocket of blood will generally clot in a short time and form a hard mass. Externally, it will appear as a firm, bulging, or swollen area. A small hematoma will usually be reabsorbed without lasting damage. One that is large or keeps growing (because fresh blood keeps accumulating) can “squeeze” adjacent structures, including nerves and blood vessels, reducing circulation to the area and impairing sensation and other functions. If the pressure of a large hematoma is not relieved, permanent damage can result. Prompt medical attention is indicated.

In men who are predisposed to them, minor injuries to the balls can precipitate subsequent swellings, called hydroceles or spermatoceles, in which fluids other than blood build up in the space around the testicles. They can be corrected at one’s convenience unless they become infected, in which case prompt treatment is required. Another problem to watch out for is an epididymal cyst; this is not typically caused by trauma but if you notice any unexplained swelling or mass in your partner’s scrotum, or your own, do not engage in such play until you know it is harmless or have it corrected. Also, avoid ball bondage entirely with anyone who has a scrotal hernia.

Probably the most serious damage that might occur to the balls during erotic genitorture — which is not to say that it’s likely — is rupture of a testicle. This is when the outer covering of the ball splits and allows the contents to spill out into the scrotal sac. Besides causing extreme pain, often accompanied by nausea, a ruptured testicle will make the scrotum swell rapidly, and internal bleeding will nearly always create a large hematoma. The ballsac will appear black and blue and be massively enlarged. If this happens, go to an emergency room immediately! The most likely causes are suddenly yanking on the balls or hitting them with a heavy, blunt instrument. Symptoms similar to rupture occur in cases of testicular torsion, which is when the spermatic cords and vessels that suspend the testicle within the scrotum become twisted or kinked, interrupting the normal flow of blood, etc. There will be intense pain, and the scrotum will swell rapidly and be extremely tender to the touch. Surgery must be done within six hours of the onset of pain or the testicle will be lost.

Canes: The Rod of Rods

By Gary Switch

The cane is the reason why erotic flagellation is known as the English Vice.  As iconic as the maritime cat-o’-nine-tails, Scottish tawse, fraternity paddle, and the American bullwhip may be, none is so perfectly suited to the task at hand.  None possesses the elegant severity of a thin, swishy wand of rattan.

    Rattan is the stem of a giant tropical Asian grass, growing over twelve feet tall.  Bamboo won’t do.  It lacks flexibility and is prone to unexpected splitting, its hollow shaft suddenly sprouting razor-sharp edges — although whipping with split bamboo rods was a form of capital punishment in ancient China.  Synthetics (Delrin, Lexan, and fiberglass) make popular canes.  They’re available clear, and in black and other colors.  They don’t fray or dry out, but they’re denser than rattan, hence too severe; and lack a natural direction of bend, hence harder to control.  And they have all the aesthetic appeal of artificial flowers.  Nature does it best.


    The cane became the rod of choice during the Victorian era, usurping the birch.  There were several contributing factors:

    1.    Availability.  British and Dutch traders opened up the Far East at the end of the eighteenth century and began importing rattan for use in wickerwork and furniture.  Nilgiri canes, from a district in eastern India, became the standard instrument of academic correction.

    2.    Modesty. A birching must be delivered on the bare, and the Victorians were uncomfortable with indecent exposure.  As a French commissioner noted, “One is astonished at seeing English masters remove a garment which the prudery of their language hesitates to name.”  A cane is effective over the drawers, even over the trousers.

    3.    Durability.  A bundle of birch switches, even soaked in brine, shreds to pieces after a whipping or two.  A single cane can see to hundreds of bottoms.  When the end begins to split, it is simply trimmed and returned to service.

    4.    Efficiency.  A memorable birching requires dozens upon dozens of strokes, its effect resulting from the cumulative sensation of hundreds of minute cuts and scratches.  Six of the best with a cane is sufficient for a brisk but unforgettable experience.  Every stroke counts.  The cane’s flexibility permits its tip to attain speeds of up to 200 miles per hour.

    5.    Favorable pain-to-damage ratio.  The cane’s smooth, round cross-section, lightness, and speed transmit maximal deep-down sensation while causing minimal surface trauma.  Intense sting and several days sitting-down discomfort — an ideal reminder for students — may be inflicted leaving only stripes that soon fade.  A stringent birching slashes the loins into a bloody shambles.  Thus frequent caning is both practical and humane.

    In discussions of caning, one case always arises.  The civilized pleasure of erotic flagellation bears no relation to the brutal ordeal suffered by American vandal Michael Fay in Singapore.  He was dealt four strokes from a rod half an inch thick and four feet long, wielded with maximum force by an executioner using a two-handed grip.  (The original sentence was six strokes — Fay had a good lawyer.)  Such judicial barbarity results in bloody furrows and permanent scars. Not safe, not sane, not consensual, no fun.  Not what we’re talking about.  But remember that atrocity was perfectly legal – yet they call people of kink depraved!

    So why did British aristocrats crave to recreate their dread schoolboy discipline by patronizing flogging brothels and paying the likes of Alice Kerr-Sutherland (author of A Guide to the correction of Young Gentlemen) and Theresa Berkley (inventor of the Berkley Bench) a guinea a stroke?  Because it hurts so good!  You and your partner may be enthusiastic spankers ready to try other flavors.  Spanking is a thud.  Caning is sting and burn, a sharply focused sensation, a compelling excursion into the entertainment potential of your central nervous system.  It’s ecstasy for endorphin junkies, heaven for heavy players, paradise for bottoms who’ve learned to process pain into pleasure.  Pain is when I stub my toe.  Pleasure is when I’m tingling in anticipation of the next stroke.  Caning can be severe or sensuous, decadent or decorous, spontaneous or scripted.  Incorporating a single implement into your play can add oodles of atmosphere.


    A practical recreational rod measures about 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch in diameter (the narrower, the stingier), and from 24 to 32 inches long.  A yard-long school cane is difficult to control without much practice.  Considerably less expensive than fancy paddles and floggers, canes have another distinct advantage:  their impact makes very little noise, an important consideration if your bedroom has thin walls with nosy neighbors on the other side.  (Noise made by the recipient is another matter.)

    A good cane need not be straight as an arrow.  In selecting one, stroke vertically in its natural direction of bend and beware of any wobble to the left or right.  A few gentle swings should reveal its flexibility.  Do not attempt to bend the cane into a circle; this will damage it.

    The British public school tradition insists on a crook handle for hanging the cane menacingly on the wall, but a loop attached to the end of a straight cane serves the same purpose.  Sometimes the end of a cane is steam-bent into a complete turn to form a handle, but the best natural handle is the knob at the root end of a rattan stalk.  Knob-handled canes are rare indeed.

    Some merciful schoolmasters used to brace the crook against their forearms in a style that prevented any wrist action, also shortening the cane’s effective length.  If you purchase a crook-handle cane, be sure the crook is properly aligned relative to the cane’s natural bend to suit your grip and stroking style.  Crooks also serve to prevent the cane from flying away, as does a straight-cane handle wrapping.  Use a thin leather thong (kangaroo is ideal), racket-handle tape, shrink-wrap, or bicycle handlebar wrap.  Electrical tape works too, but lacks elegance.


    Canes are usually sanded to remove some or all of the bark and to smooth the joints.  A “peeled” cane with all the heavy bark removed is much less dense, so it’s less severe as well, making it a good cane for beginners.  It’s also more fragile and should be frequently examined for splinters.  Unsealed, such a cane soaks up bodily fluids like a sponge so its use should be restricted to light play or limited to one particular bottom.  Sealing a sanded cane with repeated light coatings of shellac, varnish, or polyurethane prevents it from soaking up bodily fluids.  Leaving all the bark on results in a heavy, stiff cane with joints that may cause more bruising than you’d like.

    Canes should be stood upright with their business ends in an inch of water and left standing overnight every few months.  The fibers will draw in the water, keeping the ends from drying out and splitting.  Purists advise sanding and resealing the end each time, but this isn’t necessary if only the very end is left unsealed.  The tip should never dig into your target, anyway.  A split end may be trimmed off, but be sure to sand it to a smooth, rounded tip before re-use.  Taping the tip retards splitting.


    It requires remarkably little force to deliver a memorable cane stroke.  Think of it as a whip, not a stick.  Think badminton, not tennis.  Wrist alone (if your wrist is strong and supple) will be enough to satisfy many bottoms.  Wrist and forearm combined suffice to deal an exhilarating cut.  A wrist flick right at the end of the stroke can be devastating.  Chastisers used to hold a book (try a Bible, if you’re very kinky) under their caning arms to limit the power of their strokes.  A saber-stroke-style slash with shoulder, elbow, and wrist all fully involved is probably over-doing it.

    Practice on a cushion upholstered in a nappy fabric (or a teddy bear) so you can see where you’re striking.  Aim a few inches short of the edge of the pillow because a power stroke will reach further and wrap around more.  Begin with the cane up next to where you want to strike, tap, draw back, and let it return mostly by its natural recoil, applying very little additional force.  Gradually increase the involvement of your wrist and then your elbow.  Start the stroke further away from your target but continue to begin each stroke by drawing back, allowing the cane’s end to achieve maximum travel.  Your goal is an even impact of about the last third of the cane’s length.  You don’t want the tip to cut in.  Once consistent accuracy has been attained, you can develop fancier strokes in your own personal style.

    After you’ve achieved control, practice on your partner’s clothed hindquarters.  Use a wide, thick belt to protect the lower spine and kidneys.  Insist on detailed feedback.  You’re looking for an “Mmmmm!”  You might chalk the end of the cane to tell exactly where your strokes land.  British school prefects used to do this as an aid in striking repeatedly in precisely the same spot, a sadistic practice that is extremely painful and may result in deep, long-lasting bruises.  Spread your strokes around.

    Stand to the side and a bit forward of your target, so that the far buttock won’t receive the brunt of the blow.  The ideal is an even stripe across both buttocks.  Since this is difficult to achieve, you’ll want to move from your forehand to your backhand side periodically, in order to evenly treat both cheeks.  The sulcus, or crease between the buttocks and thighs, is extremely sensitive, as are the backs of the thighs, because they lack the natural padding of the butt.  If you intend to stimulate these areas, decrease the force of the strokes you direct there.


    There are two main schools of caning technique.  English-style traditionalists insist upon power strokes only, with no warm-up, while the West Coast school enjoys inflicting a variety of intensities.  Many sources insist that there is no middle ground in caning — that strokes are either wimpy or wicked.  Striving to please my partner, Rebecca, who loves to receive the cane but has a low pain threshold, I have proved that moderate strokes are possible with practice and sensitivity to each individual cane’s response.

    A cane has a natural rhythm, useful for delivering a massage of rapid pitter-pats.  An educated wrist can endlessly vary the intensity, unexpectedly interspersing harder shots to keep the bottom alert.  This massaging technique is an excellent way to learn to control the force and to stimulate sensitive but delicate areas where a full stroke would be dangerous, e.g. palms of the hands, soles of the feet (bastinado), insides of the thighs, armpits, belly, breasts, and genitals.  The narrow tip of the cane is perfect for tickling those hard-to-reach spots.  Such rap-tap-tapping is a great warm-up for power strokes.

    Severe strokes demand ceremony, both in giving and receiving.  For some, formal ritual is an essential element of caning.  The ceremony begins with the commands, “Unbutton.  Let down.  Assume the position.”  Dangling shirttails are “taken up,” tucked or pinned out of the way.  The drawers may be slowly, humiliatingly lowered by the chastiser, or left up with a promise to lower them if the culprit proves unruly.  A fearsome whistling swipe through the air puts the subject in the proper frame of mind.

    The position is usually bent over, so that errant strokes will miss entirely rather than impacting the lower spine.  (But aim low to avoid the tailbone.)  Bending over tightens the flesh of the buttocks so that the stroke is felt more keenly.  Lying prone is a good position for subjects of novice caners because downward strokes are easier to control, and unstretched buttocks are more padded.  A pillow may be put on the far side of the target area to harmlessly absorb any wrap-around.

    Power strokes must be slowly served and savored.  The pain is two-fold:  the surface smart at the moment of impact and the delayed internal fire as the compressed nerves spring back.  To masochists, the sensation of a perfect stroke is as exquisite as an orgasm, and one has been known to lead to the other. Allow plenty of time for full appreciation of the blooming pain’s slow burn before you deal the next one.

    Strokes are awarded in sets of six.  Counting by the culprit is key.  “One.  Thank you Sir/Ma’am.  May I have another?”  Penalty strokes are awarded for miscounting, flinching out of position, or attempting to shield the target area with a hand.  Bondage is seldom employed, since voluntary submission is an essential part of the correction ritual.


    It is customary to create a closely spaced grid of parallel stripes, each welt bearing twin red edges, to demonstrate your superb control.  An expert caner is capable of producing stripes that will last for hours, days, or weeks, according to the recipient’s pleasure.  “Gating” is the fiendish technique of crossing such a pattern with a diagonal stroke, often drawing blood where the stripes intersect.  (Obviously, if blood is drawn, the cane must be carefully plastic-bagged and disinfected, but it’s a rare bottom who hasn’t had enough well before this point.)  Schoolboys returning to their dormitories after a session with the headmaster, used to rate the severity of their thrashings by having classmates count the number of “stars” on their bottoms, where strokes had crossed.

    Afterward, the culprit may be required to hold position and forbidden to rub the afflicted area until permission is granted to rise.  It is customary to kiss the cane and express gratitude for the exertions of the chastiser.

    “Thank you, Miss, for having corrected me.  I ask your pardon for the trouble you have taken, and I promise never to steal again.”  —    —  Harriet Marwood, Governess, by John Glassco


  •     “The Art of Caning,” by Peter Fisk, Checkmate #13, November, 1995.
  •     “Sensuous Caning,” by Conrad Hodson, www.sexuality.org
  •     “Canes and Caning,” by Mitch Kessler, SandMUtopian Guardian, #19
  •     Thy Rod and Staff, by Edward Anthony
  •     An Illustrated History of the Rod, by William M. Cooper, B.A.
  •     A Guide to the Correction of Young Gentlemen, written by a Lady (Alice Kerr-Sutherland)

This article originally appeared in Prometheus, Issue #35.  All rights reserved.  Do not reprint without permission.