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Root Ginger Is a Dominatrix's Secret Weapon

Figging is the BDSM practice of using ginger root for anal stimulation. Yup. Put the stir-fry down, people. We’re talking ginger root, up the arse.

by Gareth May
May 25 2015, 7:24pm

"I tether Alice to the bed, arms stretched out, ankles secured with cuffs to a bar hanging from the ceiling, exposing her lovely bum. I blindfold her, because this is a heavy sensory thing about to go down.

"I've brought a whole ginger root (it looks like a fat gnarled old hand), a small knife, and a glass of water to the bedside table. Choosing the longest 'finger' of the root, I slice lengthways from its tip to the end of the palm, putting the other fingers aside. The pungent smell makes Alice squirm, because she knows what's coming.

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"I straddle her body and get to work on my sculpture. I take my time in whittling a smooth straight cylinder, removing the tough outer skin. The sharp smell is strangely sexy. I lean over to the table and dip my art piece in the glass of cold water to keep it fresh.

"Untangling myself from her body, I slide round to the business end. With full access to her lovely bum, I slowly work the ginger root inside…"

Christian Grey eat your heart out.

This erotic scene is described by Mistress Isobel, a British-born, Toronto-based dominatrix who lists "figging" as one of her areas of expertise.

Figging is the name given to the BDSM practice of using ginger root for anal stimulation. Yup. Put the stir-fry down, people. We're talking ginger root, up the arse.

But why is putting ginger up your bum a thing to do?

"Drinking the juice fires up your whole body and is thought to be an aphrodisiac," Mistress Isobel says. "But it's only figging if the whole ginger root is up in there," she adds, describing how the exposed root gradually warms the orifice leading to a subtle burning sensation growing with intensity as the "sub" clenches their buttocks (often induced with a spanking session with the ginger left in).

There is generally a feeling of helplessness that subs enjoy and being unable to remove a very hot item from their bottom can be a thrillingly freeing experience. They give over responsibility of their body and mind to me and I can sweetly abuse that as I see fit.

"Something like Tiger Balm may have a somewhat similar effect," Mistress Isobel continues. "But only ginger gives such a hot, hot heat."

According to some, the insertion of ginger root into the anus or vagina can lead to longer and stronger orgasms. But does it count as one of my five a day?

Rather weirdly, the origins of figging have more to do with the equine than the erotic.

An old school equestrian practice, a piece of ginger would be inserted into a horse's anus just before the start of a parade; the horse would then keep its tail up due to the irritating burning sensation whenever lowered, leading to that arced tail aesthetic so popular amongst horsey folk.

Also known as "gingering," or "gingering the tail," it was common among horsemen, showmen, and even soldiers; in other words, pretty much any horse-based job that requires a horse to look as elegant as possible, all the while surreptitiously having ginger rammed in the poor thing's rectum. In fact, it became so popular that horse show organisers had to ban it and "ginger swabbing" was deployed to detect ginger in or around the horse's anus. (And you think your job is bad?)

Less specifically, the act of shoving something up a horse's arse (including eels. Yes, eels) was known in the trade as "feaguing" and it's from this that figging was derived.

Not wanting to leave all the fun for the little ponies, figging was soon popularised in Britain by the ruling classes. Why? In order to do much the same for human beings as they did for horses—keep them in check.

And where better to deploy such a formidable form of torture than at the Victorian public school, where a ginger root up the arse and a thwack on the buttocks soon brought errant pupils into line. Curiously, Mistress Isobel's clients that enjoy a spot of figging often do so as part of a "scene" involving "harsh, judicial, Victorian-era punishment in a school, stately home, or Bedlam asylum."

But what do they get out of?

"They enjoy feeling humiliated and put through the paces without any real-world consequence," Mistress Isobel informs me. "There is generally a feeling of helplessness that subs enjoy and being unable to remove a very hot item from their bottom can be a thrillingly freeing experience. They give over responsibility of their body and mind to me and I can sweetly abuse that as I see fit."

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Mistress Isobel explains that there are two options once figging gets underway: recoil from the impact—tightening the grip on the root and so increasing the maddening heat—or stay relaxed and take the full sting of the cane (the oftentimes accompaniment to a session of figging).

Once the initial heat subsides, a warming feeling replaces it—a sort of minty tingly fuzz, one can imagine—and this can then play into the hands of those experiencing "sub space," where the body releases endorphins to counteract the dished out pain.

Mistress Isobel says there's another bonus for putting ginger up your jacksy: "A freshly figged back passage is quite eager and receptive after the root has been removed."

So, if you've ever got ginger going spare, you know just what to do with it.