For ages hand tawsing was on my list of "hard limits". Not that I would never, ever do it; I knew I wanted to try it sooner or later. But I was determined that the time, place and person I did it with would be right.
I've always been aware of hand tawsing as an intense, realistic, historical punishment. I learned all about Scottish schoolchildren getting "the belt"; English and American schoolchildren being caned or rulered on the hands. I even had my hands fake caned age 9 (for getting ink on my fingers while copying out the alphabet with a dip pen) on a school trip to a Victorian reenactment center, as we were told how unfair it would be, having to go back to your place and try to write neat letters with a throbbing, swollen hand. (In retrospect that school trip was pretty formative). In both school history lessons and a lot of the prim Victorian literature I grew up reading, hand punishment was far more mentionable than punishment applied to the buttocks.
It wasn't until I entered the scene that I encountered it as something people might do voluntarily. I read about fellow kinksters in discipline relationships having their hands strapped as a quickie punishment before being sent back to their desk. I once watched Lucy McLean teaching a mutual friend to do it, and I saw a number of friends get it during group roleplays with the Northern Spanking crowd. I even witnessed Leia-Ann Woods and another friend take double hand tawsings from Lucy and Amy Hunter, with both palms outstretched, crucifix style, and both tawses snapping down simultaneously. Holy shit.
I found it a fascinating punishment to watch, primarily because of the eye contact. An experienced hand tawser like Lucy can tell her victim to look into her eyes, and hold her gaze even as she lays on a devastatingly accurate stroke. There's something electric about it: the eye contact, the unique exposure and emotional vulnerability of your disciplinarian being able to watch every expression flicker across your face. You can't hide your head in shame; you have to hold it high. I love that, the way it encourages stoicism, especially when the whole room is watching. The position has always seemed a proud, brave one to me - standing tall, freely raising your palm, even though you know what's going to happen; even more so after the first strokes have been laid on, when you must do it again with your hand already sore. It takes a lot of courage.
I knew I wanted to try it, one day, but I also knew I didn't want it to be sprung on me in the middle of a light-hearted group roleplay. My fear was that I would find the whole experience incredibly intense, would cry and so on, and I didn't want to react that way in public unless the context was appropriate. It wouldn't be right for a casual fun punishment, and it wouldn't be right unless there was the opportunity for aftercare if I needed it.
In the end, that's not how it happened. First, I was asked to dish out light to moderate hand tawsings in sessions and custom shoots, and I needed to know what it felt like, so I ended up taking a few strokes privately, in a spirit of professional enquiry. None were hard enough to feel "real", but they reassured me that this was something I wanted to do.
When I was planning scenes to shoot with Leia, we were trying to think of more scenes for her topping me, and I mentioned the idea as a way to avoid marking my bottom before my big caning scene (or to avoid showing marks, after it). I knew she had considerable experience in both giving and receiving hand tawsing, so I trusted her to be safe and accurate. And having seen her take much worse hand tawsings than I was about to, I knew I'd have no excuse not to go through with it.
Dirty Hands is a witty, elegant, "short sharp shock" style punishment set in the world of the Ladies' Pony Club, the sequel to Lady Godiva. The prim and proper, "keeping up appearances" mood of this setting perfectly suited hand tawsing as a punishment. If you've Stephenson's Baroque cycle, you might recognise where I got the idea for the hand job on the yacht...
Fundraising Week is over at the Pony Club, and Miss Blake the Treasurer reports to her friend the President, Ms Woods. Leia has a bone to pick with Pandora. She knows Pandora has been messing around with her - Leia's - husband, and in fact Leia witnessed a rather unsubtle hand job taking place during the yacht cruise. Leia doesn't intend to take it lying down, and she means to make the punishment fit the crime. She knows a good way to ensure that Pandora's dirty hands don't stray where they shouldn't from now on...
I particularly enjoyed the dialogue in this, including some very sharp one-liners from Leia. I also enjoyed getting to play faux innocent, always good fun especially when you know you aren't going to get away with it!
For the tawsing itself, we negotiated 8 strokes, four on each hand, which we thought was the minimum to make for an interesting video. As a first timer, though, this meant they couldn't be full force, as even four at that severity is an extremely serious punishment. Instead Leia started out medium hard, and got a little harder towards the end. It still stung like blazes, and I couldn't help wincing as I held my tender palms up one after the other, knowing what was coming next.
Still, I survived, and I found the whole experience quite hot, more than I expected. This is definitely solidifying into an interest of mine. Now that I've done it once, I want to do it again. I'm tempted to try some properly hard strokes next time too. I really am my own worst sadist at times!