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Erotic spanking (also known as spankophilia) is the act of spanking another person for the sexual arousal or gratification of either or both parties. Activities range from a spontaneous smack on bare buttocks during a sexual activity, to occasional sexual roleplay (such as ageplay) to domestic discipline and may involve the use of a hand or the use of a variety of spanking implements, such as a spanking paddle or cane. Erotic spanking may be administered to bare buttocks or normally dressed. Spanking can involve the use of bondage.
Erotic spankings are commonly combined with other forms of sexual foreplay, such as oral sex, sexual roleplaying and/or ageplay. The most common type of erotic spanking is administered on the bare buttocks, but can also be combined with bondage, in order to heighten sexual arousal and feelings of helplessness.
The origins and scope of erotic spanking and flagellation are largely unknown. One of the earliest depictions of erotic flagellation is found in a 6th century BC Etruscan burial site named in modern times the Tomba della Fustigazione or "Tomb of Flogging" after its depictions of eroticized flagellation.
Representations of erotic spanking and flagellation make up a large portion of Victorian pornography (see 1000 Nudes by Koetzle.) Hundreds of thousands of engravings, photographs, and/or literary depictions of spanking and flagellation ("birching") fantasies circulated during the Victorian era, including erotic novellas like The Whippingham Papers, The Birchen Bouquet, Exhibition of Female Flagellants or the pornographic comic opera Lady Bumtickler's Revels. Many well-known people since their deaths have been discovered to enjoy spankings for erotic purposes or emotional gratification including renowned British Army officer T. E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia"), influential English theatre critic Kenneth Tynan, TV broadcaster Frank Bough, and English writer John Mortimer.
A spanking may be carried out with the use of a bare hand, or with any of a variety of implements, including a paddle, strap, hairbrush or belt. Other popular tools are canes, riding crops, whips, switches, birches, sneakers, rolled-up newspapers, rulers or martinet. (see Category:Spanking implements).
A spank skirt (also called a spanking skirt) has an additional opening in back designed to expose the buttocks. While the name spank skirt suggests that the wearer could be spanked "bare bottom" without removing or repositioning the skirt, this item may be worn for reasons other than spanking (for instance, exposure).
Regardless of the gender of the wearer, spank skirts are usually considered female attire. The male gender role equivalent might be motorcycle chaps.
A spanking bench or spanking horse is a piece of furniture used to position a spankee on, with or without restraints. They come in many sizes and styles, the most popular of which is similar to a sawhorse with a padded top and rings for restraints.
Those who are interested in the practice giving or receiving erotic spankings are sometimes referred to spankophiles. Examples include the poet Algernon Swinburne (as implied repeatedly in his poetry) and the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, as detailed in his autobiography Confessions:
... Miss Lambercier... exerted a mother's authority, even to inflicting on us... the punishment of infants... Who would believe this childish discipline, received at eight years old, from the hands of a woman of thirty, should influence my propensities, my desires, my passions, for the rest of my life... To fall at the feet of an imperious mistress, obey her mandates, or implore pardon, were for me the most exquisite enjoyments, and the more my blood was inflamed by the efforts of a lively imagination the more I acquired the appearance of a whining lover."
Howard Stern's paddle machine, the "Robospanker", has been used on his show to spank numerous guests,, including Jessica Jaymes, Jennifer Krum, Haydn Porter, Tabitha Stevens, Victoria Zdrok, and Valentina Vaughn. 
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In some cultures, the spanking of women, by the male head of the family or by the husband (sometimes called domestic discipline) has been and sometimes continues to be a common and approved custom. In those cultures and in those times it was the belief that the husband, as head of the family, had a right and even the duty to discipline his wife and children when he saw fit, and manuals were available to instruct the husband how to discipline his household. In most western countries, this practice has come to be regarded as unlawful and socially unacceptable wife-beating, domestic violence or abuse. Routine corporal punishment of women by their husbands, however, does still exist in some parts of the developing world, and still occurs in isolated cases in western countries.
Today, spanking of an adult tends to be confined to erotic spanking or to BDSM contexts. The domestic discipline scenario is commonly invoked in erotic spanking, but with a bare bottom or totally nude, with bondage and less direct physical contact being a feature of BDSM.
Spanking can be administered in a number of spanking positions. The choice of position takes into account the spankee's (bottom) comfort in the position for long periods of time, the spanker's (top) ability to swing at the spankee at a comfortable, natural angle, complete access to the spankee's buttocks, the spanker's control of the spankee's position and ability to readjust as necessary, safety, and the amount of strength the top is able to generate from such a position. Positions can also be chosen specifically for added effects such as increased humiliation, elevation and suspension.
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