Consensual Whipping In Africa

I was intrigued to Google up (by accident, like all the best Google finds) this account of severe but consensual ritual whipping of women in Africa, complete with a photograph. This is a “traveler’s tale” in the best sense:

Eventually we escaped the grips of Omorate on a truck to Turmi, two hours away. Although Turmi doesn’t differ much in its layout, it was certainly a bit cooler. Turmi is home to the Hamer people and we were fortunate to witness the rare bull-jumping ceremony.

woman whipped in Africa

Beautifully decorated women challenge the young men to beat them brutally with whips. Although reluctant, the men eventually give in to the women’s constant taunting and deep gashes are gouged in the smiling women’s backs. The boy who is being initiated, the Jumper, is required to run across the backs of ten bulls stark naked with his hair frissed into a giant afro. He has to do this four times, and if successful, then enters into manhood.

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  1. Aslyn commented on October 27th, 2008:

    The part that has me scratching my head is WHY would they do that? We’re not talking light application of a flogger here, but severe and potentially disfiguring beatings. Honestly, it kinda reminds me in a way of the old Lupercalia festival of Ancient Rome, and the ritual passage into manhood rituals used in Sparta, although that time it was the male that had to endure the flogging.

    Also, the article reads as a little disjointed. Am I maybe reading it wrong?

  2. SpankBoss commented on October 28th, 2008:

    It’s somebody’s travel diary, essentially — you were expecting maybe Hemingway? ;-)

  3. Mia commented on October 28th, 2008:

    I saw this on Travel Channel once! It’s an interesting idea, giving up your body for the good of another person–in this case, helping him to become a man. As far as I know, the women aren’t forced into it; maybe peer pressured, but not forced. They even egg the men on to mark their bodies. Call me crazy, but any time I know my husband has had a difficult day, I always offer my bottom up for a spanking and a little stress release for him. It’s something for the both of us. Sure, we both get sexual pleasure from it, but I also love that I’m part of his emotional relief. Maybe these women see it as a noble thing to help their boys become men. And some people just aren’t scared by disfigurement. Many folks wear their scars and wounds as red badges of courage. (Many of us spankees certainly think of our bruises and welts in that way.) I, for one, am not at all shocked nor upset by this (until/unless I find that they’re forced to do it against their will). Thanks, Boss!

  4. Aslyn commented on October 28th, 2008:

    An interesting thought, Mia. I suppose I hadn’t quite looked at it that way. Thanks for enlightening me.

    And Boss, if I thought Hemingway would have written about something like this, I expect you’d have already posted a snippet of it on the blog ;)

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