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"Flogging" is the act of using a flogger, which is any multi-tailed whip.
When most folks hear "flogger," they usually think of something like a cat o' nine tails. But floggers come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and textures. They're capable of a very wide range of sensations, from soft and gentle to hard and stinging.
You don't need to be into pain in order to enjoy floggers; many floggers have soft lashes which feel delightful on bare skin, and are more like a massage than an old Navy punishment.
On this page, I'll talk a bit about different kinds of floggers and how to choose a flogger for the kind of sensation you enjoy.
CHOOSING A FLOGGER
Different types of floggers produce different types of sensations, so a good flogger is a very individualistic choice. The most significant factors in what a flogger feels like are the number of tails, the width of the tails, and the material the tails are made of.
The sensation of a flogger is difficult to describe; if you've never felt one, it's not really like what you might imagine. Floggers are often described in terms of "sting" and "thud;" some floggers produce a stinging sensation, other floggers produce a heavy, dull impact, and some floggers produce a combination of both.
The tails on a flogger are most often made of leather, suede, or deerskin; occasionally, other materials are used. Suede and deerskin floggers have very soft tails, and are quite gentle. All other things being equal, deerskin and suede floggers feel less intense than leather floggers; the softest of deerskin floggers are not painful at all even with a very firm stroke.
Some floggers have wide, flat tails; other floggers have narrow tails. All other things being equal, narrow tails produce more of a "sting" sensation than wider tails, and thicker tails produce more of a stinging sensation than thinner tails. Most deerskin and suede floggers have wide tails; leather floggers may have tails of any width or thickness, and some leather floggers have tails which are square in cross-section, approximately the size of a leather shoelace. Floggers of this design tend to produce intense sensation.
Different floggers also vary in the number of tails in the design. All other things being equal, a flogger with a large number of tails produces more of a dull, thumpy "thud" sensation; floggers with a smaller number of tails produce a sharper sting. Likewise, the length of the lashes varies; all other things being equal, longer lashes have more heavy "thud" than shorter lashes.
Floggers may also be made of rope or cord. Floggers made of soft, wide rope are very gentle; floggers whose lashes are thin cord tend to be fairly intense. Other materials, such as horsehair, may be used as well; some of these floggers produce a very sharp sting.
When choosing a flogger, think about the kind of sensation you want to create. A suede flogger with a large number of relatively wide lashes is a good beginner's choice; for someone who wants an extremely gentle flogger unlikely to produce any pain at all, a deerskin flogger is a good bet. If you're looking for a flogger that produces a stronger sensation, a good choice is a leather flogger with relatively narrow lashes; such floggers can be quite gentle if they're used lightly, but still produce a sharp sting if used more firmly. For floggers that produce a very intense sensation, check out designs using a small number of narrow lashes, or designs using cord or horsehair. Martinets, which are short floggers whose lashes are short and square in cross-section, are quite stingy.
Occasionally, floggers may have knotted or braided lashes. Knotting or braiding the lashes gives the flogger considerably more "bite" and makes the sensation it produces very intense.
Good-quality floggers range in price from around $60 or so to several hundred dollars. Most floggers are hand-made, and the more expensive floggers often have an amazing degree of craftsmanship. As the price increases, the quality of the materials and the complexity of the flogger increases; less expensive floggers usually have simple wood handles, which are often wrapped in leather, while more expensive floggers may have counterweighted handles, or handles braided in leather, or handles made of carved hardwood. Any decent flogger should last virtually forever, with proper care, so in my opinion investing in just the right flogger is worthwhile. I've seen floggers with handles made of milled steel, transparent polycarbonate plastic, and other, more exotic materials, but at the end of the day, it's how the flogger feels that really matters.
Once you've chosen a flogger (or floggers), it's time to do something with the flogger. So, let's continue on to Part 2, introduction to using a flogger!
What you'll need
A flogger or two, of course! Or more; you may find that you like them enough, and there's enough variation in the sensation that different floggers produce, that you'll want a variety on hand for different occasions.
Most major cities have a BDSM community of some sort, and most BDSM communities have one or two people who hand-make floggers in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. If you're not acquainted with the folks who do this in your area, you can always find floggers online. The ones shown below are available through the Internet, from JT's Stockroom.
For people who like a solid, thumpy "thud" sensation without any "sting" at all, the universal standard for "thump" in any impact toy has got to be the famous Dread Koosh Flogger, a flogger made from rubber Koosh balls, first invented by a user of a Usenet newsgroup dedicated to BDSM. The Dread Koosh Flogger has a special place in the folklore of BDSM; while I'm not aware of anyone manufacturing them commercially or offering them in any retail outlet, they're easy to make with a modicum of leatherworking skill, or even just some Koosh balls and rope. A picture of the first Dread Koosh Flogger, made from rope and Koosh balls, is here.