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Bad Toys in Ass Whippings presents "family portraits" of common objects Americans use to spank children. While many parents grab whatever is at hand, others pass down the inclination to use a specific punitive implement from generation to generation, as if it were a recipe or holiday tradition. Some tools of punishment are culturally specific — La Chancleta or the Lokshen Strap — while others, like the switch, seem to know no boundaries. 
And then there are some of us who suffered the additional cruel irony of being spanked with their own toys.This page is under construction. Pardon the mess. 
 Just Wait till your Father Gets Home
The Good, the Dad, and the Ugly 
The little American millenial I was talking to thought it was hilarious but she had already seen the work for the show so she knew the subject and got the pun. A friend said i's funny but you have to decipher it. You need something that doesn't need to be deciphered in the as the catch line.
So I'm still working. How much more time do I have? I want to make a date with a friend of mine who actually does marketing and see what she says.

 Artist’s Statement 

DRAFT (Writing this artist's statement hurts me more than it hurts you.)

It's not my place to tell a parent when spanking is appropriate or not. I don't know how many times the child was told not to play with knobs on the stove. But having been spanked is an experience which is shared by so many that the discussion is multi faceted and worth exploring.

I've noticed that people who were spanked as children laugh about it when they are older. As a child listening to their stories I could never quite understand their ability to laugh about it but even now, reading stories shared on the internet I still find humor in the telling.

Spanking children seems less common in urban areas where you have a lot of ‘helicopter’ parenting. These parents seem far more likely to feel the practice is never an acceptable option.  In this setting children don’t really have the opportunity to get into the kinds of trouble that ‘free range’ children have. Kids who had the opportunity to play unsupervised, who had to be home when the street lights came on, had a world of mischief to get into...and a world of self directed, creative play to pursue.

Parents that spank their children were spanked by their own parents.  They aren’t coming up with some new novel torture.  They are doing to their children what their parents did to them and they are doing it in the knowledge that their parents loved them.  You can’t accuse them of not loving their children only of not thinking for themselves.

It seems to me that whipping children is remnant from an agrarian past but I could be speaking from my own Southern and Western heritage. After whipping obstinate horses, mules and cows to get cooperation it may have seemed logical for a farmer to do the same to an obstinate child.  The problem is that animals have a thicker epidermis and course, protective hair or hide. An exhausted, frustrated parent could forget that and not use appropriate restraint.

The argument in the African American community that whipping a child is an inheritance from slave days is best presented by people like the Reverend Nirvana Gayle who addressed the issue on NPR's Leonard Lopate show on June 19th, 2012 and Dr. Stacey Patton in her That Mean Old Yesterday: A Memoir. But there is no shortage of humor in the African American community about spanking. From Medea's parenting advice, "Beat that ass, beat that ass, beat that ass" to the hugely popular episode of "Blackish" in which "Pops, the live-in granddad played by Laurence Fishburne, was sort of fiendishly animated when he bequeathed a vintage 2-foot section of Hot Wheels track—his whupping weapon of choice—to Dad, his son, like a treasured heirloom"*.

Because spanking is a tradition handed down in a family, the series includes “Portraits” of items used to spank children assembled on the wall just like the family pictures at grandma’s house - some in their original frames, some in new discount store frames. 

Included are belts, wooden spoons, razor strops, flyswatters, switches, spatulas, wire hangers, slippers or "La Chancla", extension cords, etc.

Included also is the family tree, the kind you see in a family bible or cross stitched, but in this case it is a family tree made of switches.

On a second wall there will be trompe l'oeil paintings in the style of William Michael Harnett and Evert Collier depicting the spanking implements.

On the last two walls, whipping around the corner is a series of 4 x 4' paintings of Hot Wheels tracks, presented like orange, minimalist stripes on a neutral grey background.  

In the center of the room is a Hot Wheel track on which are vinyl letters telling the story of an ass whipping.



    Ass whipping object portraits and studies in progress

Example of typical, family portraits, photo arrangement   






Rough layout for Hot Wheels track


After the Adrian Peterson story broke in Sept 2014 and the April 2015 episode of Blackish This series neither advocates nor damns spanking. That's not my place as, Inc.

This item:That Mean Old Yesterday: A Memoir by Stacey Patton Paperback ..... Dr. Stacy Patton writes movingly and passionately about her journey through a ...

Understanding black America and the spanking debate

A photo of Stacey Patton as a childImage copyrightSTACEY PATTONImage captionStacey Patton says her childhood punishments left physical and emotional scars

The NFL football star Adrian Peterson's child abuse scandal has sparked a national debate in America about spanking children and the growing illegality of certain kinds of "abusive" corporal punishments. In a personal piece, author Stacey Patton describes the complex legacy of corporal punishment in black America.

As a young child, my adoptive mother stripped me naked and whipped me with switches, belts, hangers, shoes, and extension cords.

She left physical and emotional scars and called her parenting techniques "spankings" or "good butt whoopings."

Her reasons? Because the Bible said it was right, she loved me, she wanted to protect me from the mean streets, drugs, early pregnancy, and white people who she said wanted to beat me up, lock me in a jail or leave me for dead in the streets.

I heard this message everywhere - at family gatherings, in black churches, hair salons and barbershops, on radio stations, and in the performances of countless black comedians.

I ran away at age 12 and bounced around in foster care before landing a scholarship to boarding school.

Driven to understand why my adoptive mother and most black people believed so strongly in physical discipline, I earned a PhD in African American history and wrote a memoir about the historical roots of corporal punishment in black families and the intersections of race and parenting in modern times.

The Peterson controversy spotlights the struggle between the black community's deeply rooted attachment to spanking and laws that criminalise a disproportionate number of black parents for that behaviour.

Corporal punishment is deeply embedded in Christianity and Western culture, and in African-American culture it is related to slavery and Jim Crow segregation. Slavery and post-emancipation racial terrorism may be part of our story, but it is not the whole story.

Too often discussions on race and harsh parenting techniques are essentialised as pathologically black or black poor, even though the practise is more variegated by class and religion.

America is a nation where 90% of all parents across racial and ethnic groups use corporal punishment at some point, but there's a prickly cultural divide between blacks and whites on what is deemed appropriate.

Many blacks are defending Peterson with arguments that "a good whooping" is love and not abuse, and that it keeps children in line and hopefully safe from the wrath of the police or the prison system.

Studies show that black parents are more likely to use corporal punishment than any other group. Why?

Historically the black body has been subject to racial control, through centuries of slavery, lynching, sexual violence, reproductive legislation, surveillance, segregation, mass incarceration, police practices, and popular entertainment.

Black parents have responded to this systemic violence by debasing their children through harsh physical punishment. But few parents view spanking through this lens. It has simply been considered by most to be a core feature of black identity, quality parenting and responsible citizenship.

Underlying black parents' attachment to spanking is a very real fear, based on black sufferingand random violence at the hands of white people.

Blacks are quick to defend the need to spank and feel misunderstood when criticised in a society where the consequences for stepping out of line are much harsher for black children than white ones.

When former professional basketball player Charles Barkley said that "I'm from the South. Whipping - we do that all the time. Every black parent in the South is going to be in jail under those circumstances," he accurately represented the historical black perspective on parenting throughout the US.

A photo of Stacey Patton.Image copyrightSTACEY PATTONImage captionStacey Patton is the author of a book on the historical roots of corporal punishment in black culture

In fact, whipping children has long been a badge of cultural superiority and morality in black communities.

Many black parents identify the refusal to spank as "white," viewing white parents as too permissive and not in proper control of their children, especially in public spaces.

The Peterson controversy exemplifies how this tradition of harsh discipline is clashing with growing anti-child-abuse laws that punish parents.

Though corporal punishment is still legal inpublic schools in 19 American states, sentiment is shifting in favour of non-physical methods of discipline. This sentiment is informed by 50 years of scientific research on the negative impactthat hitting has on children's developing bodies and brains.

One question is whether these anti-spanking laws and white people's righteous indignation over harsh black parenting expose an agenda beyond a genuine effort to protect children.

Maris Poll

Since black parents are most likely to spank, these laws put them at greater risk for arrest, thus feeding the incarceration pipeline. And since most black families are headed by single parents, a parent's arrest often sends their children into foster care, which also feeds the juvenile justice and adult prison pipeline.

What is striking to me is that white America seems very comfortable with teachers, principals, police officers, prison guards and neighbourhood watchman brutalising black bodies, but criminalises black parents for doing the same.

One would hope that we can repel and denounce all efforts to portray violence as a means to discipline and punish.

The controversy and cultural clashes around the Peterson case are signs of a society in the process of reconsidering long-accepted traditions and practises.

Whatever happens to Adrian Peterson, this issue is a sleeping giant that has awakened and can no longer be ignored.

Stacey Patton is a senior enterprise reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education and the author of the book That Mean Old Yesterday.

Michael Eric Dyson of Georgetown wrote as much in a New York Times op-ed this week.

"The lash of the plantation overseer fell heavily on children to whip them into fear of white authority. Terror in the field often gave way to parents beating black children in the shack, or at times in the presence of the slave owner in forced cooperation to break a rebellious child's spirit. Black parents beat their children to keep them from misbehaving in the eyes of whites who had the power to send black youth to their deaths for the slightest offense. Today, many black parents fear that a loose tongue or flash of temper could get their child killed by a trigger-happy cop. They would rather beat their offspring than bury them."

What Overparenting Looks Like From a Stanford Dean's Perspective

“...people have created another form of slavery known as “parenting”.”

Understanding black America and the spanking debate - BBC News


Sep 21, 2014 - In a personal piece, author Stacey Patton describes the complex legacy of corporal punishment in black America. As a young child, my ...

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News And Features | Spare The Kids

DID THE SPANKING VIDEO GONE VIRAL LEAD TO THIS TEEN'S DEATH? ... Stacey Patton, founder of the web site toldBlack America Web that after that video, she's not .... ...

Discipline or Abuse? Viral Videos of Spankings Expose Once Private ...

Nov 7, 2011 - By Dr. Stacey Patton ... These kinds of reactions support the contention that African Americans are ... When does “spanking” become abuse?

And I  cite:


Which is the point—and that’s what made this Black-ishepisode so outstanding. The multigenerational cast made it possible to acknowledge that getting whupped was a completely normal occurrence for a previous generation (and we turned out OK), but it’s a tradition whose time has come and gone.

Here’s what happened (spoiler alert): The youngest son, Jack (Miles Brown), thinks he’s hilarious, hiding from Mom (Tracee Ellis Ross) in a department store until she loses her composure out of sheer panic and terror. Time for Jack to get spanked—but Mom wants Dad (Anthony Anderson) to do the deed. Then, in true television-comedy fashion, madcap family high jinks ensue.

Pops, the live-in granddad played by Laurence Fishburne, was sort of fiendishly animated when he bequeathed a vintage 2-foot section of Hot Wheels track—his whupping weapon of choice—to Dad, his son, like a treasured heirloom.