You can probably guess what this article is about from the title, but it’s not just about canes. It’s also about past trauma, baggage, and phobias.
When we entire the scene, very few of us come in with a blank slate. Even if we’ve never played in a BDSM context before, there are still things in our past that will affect how we react to certain things in scenes.
But what does that have to do with canes?
Well… I know a lot of people who adore canes. The sensations, they say, are exquisite, and they will go into great detail about why canes are the ideal spanking toy. You’d think, listening, that the cane is able to transport you to another world… and for some people it can do that.
There is something about the sharp, biting snap of the cane. Something about the fierce line of fire that rips you out of the world and leaves you breathless, they say.
There is an intensity to it that many implements don’t have. And it’s more than just how the cane feels. With canes there are rituals. There are specific ways to cane a person and many kinky people adore a good ritual punishment.
Making the receiver count. Forcing them to hold their place or else… specific positions and controlled ways to react when receiving the cane are designed to push you into a specific headspace that can be exciting.
Historically the cane is also connected with other various kinks, like ginger, for instance. Altogether it’s become something of a legendary tool. Like the hairbrush or belt, the cane is strongly connected to the scene.
It can be brutal or elegant depending on the type of cane and the thickness. Six of the best, delivered with skill, can put a sub into subspace in two minutes.
And I hate them.
I had a bad experience when I was a child, with an abusive adult who used to hit me with a hollow metal arrow rod. Once it split the skin on my arm wide open. I still have a scar.
It wasn’t technically a cane, obviously. But the first time I heard someone use a cane the sound instantly sent me flashing back to being hit with that arrow.
When I finally let someone use a cane on me, I found the sensation also to be very similar—though there was no damage, of course, because the person who caned me was experienced and knew about my fears, so he was very careful.
Thicker canes can cause that kind of damage, on purpose sometimes, or when wielded by someone who doesn’t know what they are doing. There’s a reason canes are used in prisons for severe penal punishment.
In general, it’s not something you have to worry about during a play scene. But it doesn’t matter. I will likely never be able to enjoy being caned, and it’s very close to a limit for me. In fact, it is a limit with anyone I don’t know extremely well.
It’s probably a pity. I mean, I know so many people who love them that I often feel like I must be missing out on something.
I don’t like being afraid of things. I don’t like phobias. So at various points I’ve forced myself to endure the cane from people I trusted well. They went easy on me, and I tolerated it, but I never relaxed enough to get any kind of enjoyment from it.
My reactions were probably ridiculously extreme, but that happens to things that connect to deep emotions. I wasn’t feeling the bamboo or rattan canes that were actually being used on me. I was feeling that metal arrow.
So, I let myself get caned a few times, just to prove to myself that I could handle it… and then I moved on. It’s a trigger for me and I accept it. I would no longer call it a phobia, but it’s something I don’t like, and I don’t enjoy… so why put myself through it?
If you are new to the scene, or thinking about exploring, you should be prepared to discover something out there that you just won’t like. It might be because it reminds you of something scary. It might be because you just… get nothing out of it.
It could be any reason, but eventually you will find something that squicks you. This is normal and it’s okay.
It’s fine to set it as a limit and never look back. It’s also fine to explore in very limited ways, just to see where the lines are and what you can handle.
What isn’t okay, is for anyone to push you into exploring something you aren’t comfortable with. No sub or Dom is required to experience every single implement, style of play, or kink in order to be considered valid.
Canes are one of the most iconic punishment tools and I definitely have a punishment kink—but I can say no to being caned and I’m still a sub. If someone says “C’mon, you have to experience it at least once” they are wrong.
You really don’t.
No matter how iconic it is. No matter how many people love something. No matter how many people in the room are doing that particular thing. If you don’t want to try it, you don’t have to. Period.
Peer pressure is for high school, not for the scene.
This goes for internal pressure to conform too. If you hate belts and everyone around you is talking about how sexy belts are, it can start to feel like you’re wrong in some way for not liking it. That can lead to you agreeing to try it, even though you really don’t want to.
Deciding to explore something in order to get over fears is one thing. Being goaded into it is something entirely different, and it won’t work anyway. You will never be able to force yourself to enjoy something, or get over your fears unless and until you are ready to do so of your own will.
This isn’t just about implements. It’s also types of scenes, kink activities, styles of submission, even things like Daddy kink. If calling someone Daddy is a squick for you, then it doesn’t matter how popular the genre is, you’re not going to enjoy it and you shouldn’t feel bad about that. Life is too short.
So, in case you need someone to tell you this. It’s okay to say, ‘no thanks, I’m not really into them,’ and just walk away. That’s called taking care of yourself and policing your own triggers, and it’s a good thing.