Whip me! Beat me! Make my flesh sing, err... sting!
If you're new to the BDSM scene, or just new to the idea of using a flogger as a way to give someone pleasure, it can be a bit overwhelming when looking at all the options available for something as (seemingly) simple as a flogger. However, you'll quickly realize that compared to all other instruments (crops, paddles, slappers, canes, etc.) the flogger is the most complex to shop for and has the most options of any non-electric tool.
If you want to know why someone would use a flogger, read The Sting is the Thing. And then learn when to use a Flogger vs. Paddles, Crops, & Slappers or How to Correctly Use A Flogger. But here is what you'll need to know to help you understand all the options and how to chose the correct flogger for your needs.
Construction - First you’ll need to know the basic construction of a flogger, which consists of a number of strands of leather (or sometimes other materials) called 'falls' that are attached to a handle (sometimes called a ‘hilt’). The handle has the ‘grip’ which is where you put your hand. This grip often has a ball that separates it from the falls and another ball of the very back edge called the ‘pommel’. This pommel is the furthest away from the falls. Pommels often have a loop or ring to make it easy to hang the flogger when not in use.
Sensation - Floggers are typically described as causing ‘sting’ and/or ‘thud’. Sting is exactly what it sounds like, a sharp stinging sensation that will fade over time (unless reinforced with further blows to continue and expand the stinging sensation). Thud is more about the force of the impact and has a deeper, duller sensation than does sting. Another way of thinking about it, is that an open-handed slap causes sting while a closed-fist punch causes thud, but neither one necessarily causes any lasting damage to the body.
Unbalanced vs Balanced - In a balanced flogger, the handle is designed to offset the weight of the falls. This puts the balance point at the inside leading edge of the handle, where it will put less stress on the wrist of the person wielding the flogger, something that is very important when performing long sessions. Balancing does add to the cost, so it may not be worth it if you’re just casually playing around or experimenting. But it’s a virtual requirement for the serious players or anyone who enjoys long sessions.
Fancy is another term for balanced. The balancing is achieved by putting an elegant silver loop on the tip of the handle. It's an easy way to balance a flogger, adds a convenient way to hang the flogger between use, and looks very nice.
Shot Loaded is also another term for balanced. The balancing is achieved by building pieces of lead into the pommel. It allows for a smaller pommel which lets experienced users employ some advanced techniques.
Cow, Deer, Elk, Buffalo, or Rabbit - The type of leather used to make the flogger can make a huge difference in the feel of the toy. Cow should even be broken down into 'suede' and 'oiled leather' . One thing to keep in mind however is that leather is a natural product, not man-made, so there is always some variation from one 'batch' to the next. For example, if you compare two toys, both made from oiled leather, one might be a bit thicker than the other, or a bit stiffer, harder, softer, or whatever the variation might be. Likewise the color they're dyed, although technically the same can be slightly different because one hide might take to it better than the next batch.
Suede is what you're most likely familiar with because it's quite soft and often used in making clothes (suede jacket anyone?). It's soft and flexible, delivering a nice thud mixed with just a little sting.
Oiled Leather is the most serious of all the possible leathers. It's somewhat stiff and capable of delivering moderate to severe sting (see Thickness below for more details). This is the tool of choice for experienced players who are into major sting and possibly some pain. Although technically that should be 'one of the tools of choice' because they'll likely want to both warm up and cool down using a different flogger.
Combo means that a flogger has falls made from a combination of leathers, usually half are suede and half are oiled leather. This can provide a very pleasant mixture of sting and thud sensations with a single blow.
Deer skin is comparable to kid leather. Thin as cloth, light as a feather, and soft as silk. Is has a very light thud with virtually no sting to it. It’s just the thing for playing around with partners who aren't into pain, or for the end of a very intense session when the nerves are already singing.
Elk is a little bit thicker than cow hide while being naturally as soft as suede. With a medium thud and light sting, it's perfect for warming up or ending a session
Buffalo (American Bison) is very heavy (often three to four times as thick as cowhide) and gives a deep thud with little sting. Not recommended for the weak-of-arm to wield for any length of time, or to be used on the easily-bruised (unless you'd like to wear your stripes as badges of pride.)
Rabbit is softer than deer skin and almost always has the fur still attached. It’s virtually incapable of causing any sting and is so light that there’s hardly any thud either. Great for anyone who is into sensation play.
Non-leather floggers also exist. Rope floggers made from plastic, nylon, or hemp ropes; strap floggers made from nylon straps (like those on a backpack); rubber floggers made from thin strands of stretchy rubber. The list of possible materials is endless. These you’ll need to judge for yourself. Consider how light or heavy the material, how stiff or flexible, how soft or rough, and anything else you know about it to help you figure out how it’ll react when being used.
1”, ½”, or ¼” wide - The width of each fall changes how it feels when it strikes. The narrower it is, the more sting there will be. Wide falls create more of a ‘thud’ impact. The most common width is ½” especially for Deer, Elk, and Suede, while Buffalo runs 3/4" to 1" wide. Because Oiled Leather creates the most sting naturally even at 1/2" wide, it’s also the one most often available in a ¼” width that makes the sharpest sting possible.
20, 30, 40, or more Falls - The last thing to consider is how many falls are on the flogger. With more falls, there is an added ‘thud’ component to each strike as well as the possibility of spreading the sensation to a larger area (depending on how the blow was aimed). With fewer falls, the sharper the sensation (which adds to the sting factor) and the smaller area that is struck.
Now, armed with this knowledge, when you shop for floggers and see a listing such as “Flogger, Combo, Fancy, 40 Falls, 1/2" Wide”, you’ll know that it’s a flogger made from 20 strands of ½” wide suede and 20 strands of ½” wide oiled leather that is balanced by an elegant silver loop at the end of the pommel. See, that's not so tough to figure out now, is it? Now go out and make someone's skin sing.
Tuesday January 4, 2011
Whip me! Beat me! Make my flesh sing, err... sting!
Commenting is closed for this article.