This is a true story that may seems harsh by 21st century standards, but spanking was very common in the 1960s.

In the summer of 1966, I was 16 years old. I had been born and raised in New York City but my mother was from Paris, France. My mother was from a small town in Normandy which I had visited several times throughout my childhood, but that summer I was lucky to be able to live in Paris with an aunt and uncle who let me live with them while I took an intensive French language course at a school in Paris. The household consisted of my mother’s younger sister, her husband, and their three children, two girls aged 13 and 10 and an 8-year-old boy. My uncle was a successful finance-type so they were wealthy and lived in a large apartment in Paris 9th arrondissement. It was lovely, and they were a wonderful family.

I had been spanked several times in my childhood; I don’t know any kid who was raised in the 1950s or 1960s who wasn’t, but I was sure those days were over for me. In France, the main instrument used to punish children was the martinet. For those who aren’t familiar with the martinet, it is a small whip with a small handle and 6-12 thin leather throngs:

The martinet was used to punish children because it hurts like hell but doesn’t cause any lasting damage. During my first month in Paris, I saw each of my cousins spanked with the martinet at some point. They screamed bloody murder while being spanked but then seemed fine afterwards.

Over the summer I had fun, too much fun, which led to my bottom experiencing the martinet. I made lots of friends at the language school, and even started dating a friend boyfriend I had met through another cousin who was my age. I stayed out past my curfew several times and was threatened with a spanking but never took it seriously. Then, one day I arrived home after my aunt had received a phone call from the language school that I had been skipping classes and often arrived late in the morning. My grandmother was visiting that day and she told me she didn’t know how things worked in America but while I was in France I needed to behave. I sassed her a bit saying I could do what I want, at which point she told my aunt that I needed a session in ‘la chaise espagnole’.

Later that night, after all the kids were in bed, my aunt and uncle asked me to join them in my uncle’s study. When I walked in he was pulling an armchair to the middle of the room and holding the martinet.

He smiled at me and said, “I love you, Ellie, and I know this will be good for you. My grandmother then told me to take off my dress, kneel on the seat of the chair, lean over the back of it, and grab the back legs of the chair. I could tell they weren’t joking so I did as I was told. I wasn’t all that nervous; how bad could a little child’s whip hurt? I was kneeling on the chair and then my grandmother told me to pull down my panties. Now, having a 16-year-old pull down her panties for a spanking in America would be considered unthinkable (we have information to the contrary; ed), but the French aren’t as puritanical and hung up about nudity. I was embarrassed but I pulled my panties down and bent over the back of the chair. My uncle then gently put his hands on my waist and positioned me so that my legs were pressed against the back of the chair and my body was stretched down, leaving my bare bottom positioned perfectly to take the martinet. I was half-French but having been raised in America I definitely felt humiliated in this position, completely naked except for my bra.  He told me to stay in position and then he started whipping me.

The first few strokes of the martinet didn’t hurt too badly, then they started to really sting. After a couple minutes it started to feel like hot razor blades being struck into my skin and the pain was unreal. I began to yelp out after each stroke, soon the yelps turned into loud wails and soon I was screaming and crying and begging for mercy. Each time I moved or put my hands back my aunt pushed me back down and told me to remain in place or else my uncle would start over. I don’t know how long I was in that position or how many strokes I took, but it felt like an eternity and by the time it was over my bottom felt like it was on fire.

When my uncle finally finished, my uncle helped me up off the chair, kissed the top of my head and gently told me that he hoped I learned a proper lesson and that he would never have to chastise me with the martinet again. I went to bed sleeping on my stomach with a throbbing and sore bottom, but felt fine the next morning.

I was never late for school again and never missed another class that summer.

I know that many reading this will consider the punishment I received to be harsh, but my aunt and uncle were very loving and treated me like I was one of their own daughters that summer, and I have nothing but love for them, and am even grateful that they made me take my French language studies seriously.

The martinet started to fall out of favor with the French in the 1990s as attitudes towards spanking evolved, and in 2015 France made it illegal to hit a child with one.

EH