Yaoi Paddle

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Yuri, Uke, and Yaoi paddles
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A yaoi paddle was a wooden paddle with the word "YAOI" printed on or burnt into the paddle end, used for spanking people. It was a common sight among fans of yaoi who attended anime conventions, primarily in North America and other western countries, in the mid-2000s. They were produced primarily by the doujinshi vendor Hendane! Their ubiquitous presence at cons unfortunately caused much misfortune, and many wielders of yaoi paddles injured several con-goers. By 2010, most major cons had banned the use of yaoi paddles as a result.

In addition to the signature "YAOI" printed on each side of the paddle, one side says "softcore side" and the other "hardcore side." It is unknown if there is any structural difference between the two sides, but it is unlikely. A standard paddle is around 25 inches (64 cm) long.[1]

Shortly after the start of the mass production, bans started to follow fast, due to the high number of "incidents" surrounding the paddles on cons. Several of these stories can be found online. All stating something along the lines of "I felt a intense pain running through my bottoms, as I turn around to see who did it, I see this small girl carrying a huge yaoi paddle melt into a group of people in cosplay with more paddles". Some of these cases even stated that the paddle broke/splintered, leading to their upgrade in 2005, and also the introduction of yuri/uke paddles.

In between 2004 and 2006, the paddles gained their massive media surge in response to the bans and police involvement. Following this media surge, even more bans occurred as a preventive measure on cons world wide.[2]

History

The initial yaoi paddle was created in 2002 as a gag gift for the owner of Hendane!, a vendor of yaoi doujinshi at anime conventions. According to the testimony of akicafe (archived), the creator of the original paddle:

I originally made the first yaoi paddle, with woodburned letters and a high gloss acrylic finish for the owner of the company "hen da ne".

It was meant as a joke since he and I are friends and over 33% of his business relies on the sale of yaoi manga and doujinshi, and his business model includes yelling out catch phrases to passerbys in con dealer rooms (such as "geeeeet your red hot yaoi books right here!" and "hot boys in tight pants right here").

He liked the present so much, that he decided to mass produce them (to my dismay, without my final consent).[3]
Reportedly, yaoi paddles were first sold at Otakon 2002. The yaoi paddle grew in popularity after Hendane! began selling them at Anime Expo and other conventions. Their popularity meant Hendane! began mass producing them, and could depend on selling them at cons to make a profit. Whether the original creator of the yaoi paddle consented to this mass production is debatable. In 2005, the paddle was upgraded following splintering and breakage reports.[4] Other designs were also available, such as the yuri paddle, or the seme/uke paddles, but the yaoi paddle remained the most popular. Paddles were sold for a standard price of 35 USD each.
Display of yaoi paddles at a convention booth, dated July 2005

Use

While some con-goers would use them as props for cosplay, many others used them to show appreciation for cosplayers, or simply to make mischief. Many yaoi paddle wielders would use the paddles to spank cosplayers whose costumes or characters they liked, and some cosplayers would jokingly asked to be spanked with the yaoi paddle for fun, or for a photo opportunity. Many fans would ask permission and only lightly spank, but some fans would spank cosplayers without consent, and not always gently. Among some paddle wielders, the practice later extended to non-cosplaying attendees and occasionally convention centre staff. Many cosplayers and con attendees were injured - usually bruised - due to the misuse of the yaoi paddle.

Reportedly, a fan suffered a shattered pelvis and was left as a wheelchair user for many years after being hit by the side edge of another fan's yaoi paddle, and the paddle wielder was arrested and placed in prison. However, this turn of events is disputed since there is next to no major news coverage of such an unusual event. The pelvis is also very difficult to "shatter"; most pelvic fractures are minor and the more serious injuries normally occur due to major trauma and crush injuries, such as being in a road traffic accident. It's likely that this report was just a rumor or an exaggeration.

Chibi Grell Sutcliff of Kuroshitsuji with a yaoi paddle by Minami19, 2013

The use of yaoi paddles can be seen in many vlogs of conventions found across the internet.

Decline

Con attendees and cosplayers began getting fed up of being spanked or injured by those wielding yaoi paddles, and began complaining on online forums about them, along with other fan behaviours like glomping. The yaoi paddle was first banned by Sakura-Con 2007. As Sakura-Con's Policies state under the Weapons section, "Paddles (all varieties-including 'yaoi paddles') are not allowed."[5]

Allegedly, according to a response to the question "Will yaoi/yuri paddles be banned at Kumoricon?" on Kumoricon's forum:

Probably will be banned.... The ANCEAA has been having a real issue with their new voted in admin, and an even bigger issue with poles up their butts, causing them to beat down on the very foundation of anime... censoring each and every little thing that isn't found "acceptable" at a convention in America.

As a little sidenote, one of the guys on the inside of the Sakuracon admin told me the story of how the Yaoi paddles got banned. Basically, there were a bunch of people on Sakuracon admin that got really annoyed with the abundance of the paddles going around. One of them got so fed up that in order to get his way, he "complained" to the ANCEAA that the paddles were "offensive", thus not creating a family friendly environment for conventions. ANCEAA took every precautionary measure and banned YAOI paddles from being brought to any anime convention within the ANCEAA.[6]

This was followed by several others, leading to a ban in almost every major North American convention by 2010. MCM Comic Con London, however, did not ban their use until 2013, but faced many petitions by con attendees before relenting. Hendane! last sold paddles at j-popcon 2011 in Denmark.

Fan Comments

2006

In response to "....umm...what is a yaoi/yuri paddle?":

In classic form they resemble the spanking paddles used in latent homoerotic rituals in frat houses with the word yaoi carved on them instead of the frat house name.

Some one brought a home made one to a con and then a vender who saw it ran off and had some made up from canoe ors and copyrighted it with an altered spelling so every ones hates him yet wants one of his paddles.

They are used by girls who don’t want to admit their own latent Sapphic tendencies when they lust after effete pretty men. So they gather in groups and spank such bish boys with the paddles to try and prove to themselves they don't like boys who look like girls.[7]

I wouldn't mind if they were gone (I'd like it even). I think that alot the he people who own those paddles and wave them around at con time are rude. I'm not saying that they as a person are rude, but promoting sexuality, via a paddle, at a kid and family freindly con isn't appropriate in my eyes. I've read many a complaint on Livjournal about people being spanked and being given un-wanted attention by the paddle's owners. I belive there is a time and place for such things, (yaoicon...) however, I think it's in disrespect for not only the convention community, but the homosexual community and their supporters.

That's just my opinion.[8]

they do look like a really good way to hurt some one

difernt then props cuz no ones trying to hurt any one with those, inmost cases they took to long to make to risk

but paddles are used for .. paddling[9]

[Kumoricon staff]'ll probably confiscate foam paddles too. Not sure.

I should also mention that if we allow vendors to sell them at all our policy will be like other banned items, you will be expected to take the item straight to your room or your car and not carry it around the convention. That is if we allow vendors to sell them at all. I don't know if we will ask vendors to avoid selling them or not.[10]
The way I understand it, someone got injured from these things last year, on top of numerous complaints from attendees about people smacking them without their consent, particularly in a crowd where they couldn't identify the culprit. If this is really the case I don't see anything wrong with banning these things. They're an open invitation for abuse.[11]

I hadn't heard that people were using the yaoi/yuri paddles to "punish" people who exhibit those tendencies. I always figured it was a fetish item for people who liked yaoi or yuri.

I don't really approve of either of those uses, though. And let me affirm something: it does NOT have anything to do with the fact that it relates to alternate sexual preferences. I'm not fond of the yaoi/yuri fanbase, but it's because of the way it's treated, not because of homophobia.

I am against the paddles for one of two reasons: A) the promotion of S/M fetishes (which aren't appropriate for the con if we care at all about our public image), or B) the likelihood that they will be used to swing at people, since that is what they are designed to do. In the latter case, I think they should be treated just like any other non-prop weapon, since they are made of hard wood, which is capable of hurting people (especially if they miss and hit someone in the head).

I am not at all happy to hear that a vendor not only stole the idea but copyrighted it, but it's hearsay at this point and as staff I wouldn't push that as a particular reason to ban them.[12]

2007

Yaoi/Yuri wooden paddle discussion

Alright so this has been discussed a number of times and the last thread where the OP asked how much they hurt turned into one it might be time to start a thread specifically for this.

It will at some point be discussed what will happen concerning yaoi/yuri paddles at animeNEXT. Consider this an opportunity to voice your opinions on the matter. Below are a few questions that will get the ball rolling so everyone can consider as much as possible:

1. What was your first impression when seeing these wooden paddles for the first time?

2. Has your observations pushed you to buy one of your own and for what reason (display/use as a prop/just to be silly/etc.)?

3. Where you at anytime hit by one of these paddles? Was it by a friend, fellow cosplayer, or random passerby? How did you feel about this?

4. Considering the many different reactions to the popularity of these wooden paddles, what would you suggest conventions do to help keep attendee's safe from being hit unwelcomly by a paddle, but without disrupting responsible attendees ability to use it as a prop?

5. In the case of wooden paddles are banned entirely, (please keep in mind it could also lead to an across the board ban on all wooden props), how would you feel about this?

Please use the questions above as food for thought and feel free to share your opinion on things and please respect anyone elses opinion given, even if it's polar opposite of your own.[13]

I was the first person to buy one at Otakon back when Hen Da Ne started selling them there. When I first saw it I thought it was amusing and cool,but I didn't think that it would turn into the huge thing it is today. Wandering around with it over my shoulder I was amazed by how many people actually asked me to spank them. Once more people got them, it was alot of fun, they were too new so people didn't really want to abuse them for fear of banning...and the majority of people with them were 18+ because you DID need ID to buy them. It wasn't as bad back then because the amount of people with them was small. I bought it, because back then it was just silly and amusing. I'm not even sure why I bought the Yuri paddle, but my friend dual wielded them as a joke instead of Keyblades as Sora.

3. (Where you at anytime hit by one of these paddles?) I've been hit more times then I can count over the years. Mainly by friends and people I'm with, or by request for a photo. It's fine if the people ask first, because sometimes you just don't want to be hit. It really bothers me when people don't ask, or are very immature about them. And some people just plain hit too hard.

4. (What would you suggest conventions do to help keep attendee's safe from being hit unwelcomely by a paddle?) I hate to suggest it, but perhaps ban them from inside use or have people at con ops check them and put tape on them, if you're caught or reported for hitting without permission you lose your tape and have to remove it from the con center? Kind of a strikes system? I know it will cause more work for people but... I'd rather them not perma-banned.

5. (In the case of wooden paddles are banned entirely, how would you feel about this?) I would be slightly upset if they were banned, because they are funny for crack pictures or joking around. Some people take it too far though, so I would understand why, should they be banned.[14]
3. Where you at anytime hit by one of these paddles? Was it by a friend, fellow cosplayer, or random passerby? How did you feel about this?

I was hit by a random passerby. I was in a costume where I had very, very limited vision, and was suddenly cracked across my butt with a yaoi paddle. I fell onto my face ( I was in the middle of a picture in a crouched position ) and couldn't see who did it - gone by the time I got around. I had a bruise the next day. I was SO angry I couldn't even think about what to do.

[...]

I bluntly think they should be banned, period.[15]
4. (What would you suggest conventions do to help keep attendee's safe from being hit unwelcomely by a paddle?) The announcement in literature and warnings in person to people seen wielding these paddles against one another that unwelcome use of the paddles is, in fact, ASSAULT. In addition, it should be put out there that people hit with paddles that did not give permission and are not happy with it that they should go to the security desk and ask that the person who used the paddle be given a warning/removed from the con/arrested (in cases where the person has been warned and has not heeded the warning)/ etc.

5. I really don't think they need to be banned entirely. Granted, there are people that are stupid enough to go around hitting people wantonly, but I feel that the threat (and follow-through) of arrest and/or banning from the convention would be enough to deter most people from attacking people with paddles either without getting permission or possibly at all. Especially since the majority of people with paddles are young teens that do not know law or anything about the crimes of assault or battery.

I'm sorry if my criminal law background comes through here... I just feel strongly that the people that randomly attack people with paddles need to be STOPPED. It's incredibly frustrating walking around, looking behind you because you're afraid of being caught unaware by a paddle-wielding maniac.[16]
[...]I've seen some younger attendees carrying them around. Is it still 18+ to buy one? If so, then enforcing the dealer to seriously card people might help. I know being 18 doesn't mean you magically turn into a mature adult, and that it's easy for people to get older friends to buy them, but it might help a little with keeping them in the hands of responsible people.[17]

2009

Hey, I see myself!(for a split second) but I have come to realize that us anime fans are very special people. At social gatherings one will willingly bend over and get whacked with a wooden paddle as hard as the attacker can. And this is our interaction with each other, which would scare the crap out of any psychoanalyst at a con^^ though I'm not one to talk...(looks lovingly at own yaoi paddle)[18]

Thekingboo:

This is a serious question which then you can hide if you wish but..

What exactly is the point of a yaoi paddle? i seriously dont know. :( i see them in every con but ive yet to know what its for.

LabyrinthLadyLover:

I would simply make a joke and say 'bend over and I'll show you' but then I'm just gonna be a perv.

So I shall say, it's for smacking the yaoi fangirls in the butt >.>

Thekingboo:

lol! Thanks for teh explanation.[19]

Description of Yaoi paddle madness at AWA by Inaritricx, a con vlog showing cosplayers using a yaoi paddle on each other:

little had i known, they banned it. xP i ended up getting by badge taken away, without a warning or anything. and the guy sat there and WATCHED me paddle someone then he took it away. like wtf?! he said the only reason they kept the Yaoi paddle was to take kid's badges away! Wat jerks! =0 but i got it back so it was all good! ^.^

2010

Where can I buy one? It is next to impossible to find one online. Also it seems every time someone asks this question people get upset and mods on forums shut it down before a answer can be found. All this means is some yaoi fan girls ruined it for everyone and we can't have that. Not saying people running around hitting people with them is good but for those with self control it is a shame. We need to remove the stigma from yaoi paddles. I personally want one just to hang one the wall as a interesting conversation point. But again can't find a place that sells em and I never go to anime cons despite how much I have always wanted to. So can anyone help?[20]

HaruhiF427:

yaoi paddles hurt like holly hell

mhithrha:

and my friends were really swingin' em, too. D8

HaruhiF427:

omg one time someone hit me in the head with one of those.

GODDAMMITTHATHURTSOMUCH

mhithrha:

D8

OH GOD

THAT MUST HAVE SUCKED

HaruhiF427:

I WAS SOOO LUCKY I DIDN'T NEED TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL

SHE HIT MY HEAD LIKE A FUCKING BASEBALL[21]

2017

The yaoi paddle is…an odd yet fascinating relic of the ‘weeabo’ phase everyone went through, specifically prevalent throughout the Naruto and Kingdom Hearts fandom in thy early days.

[...]

Now you would think this would be something reserved for say an after dark or +18 panel, but no, it wasn’t. This was a very real thing people carried around with them on the convention floor

People would go up and slap each other on the ass with these in public, in front of everybody.

Not only was this acceptable behavior, it was downright expected! Something that by today’s standards would be considered sexual harassment was acceptable

[...]

if you wore a Naruto, Sauske, Sora, Riku, or Org. XIII cosplay from 2006 to 2009, you were officially fair game and you might as well have been wearing a target on your ass, regardless if you were in to that or not. [22]
okay just stay with me for a second and think about kids whose parents drop them off at conventions or even chaperone them at conventions.

I hear kids now a’days say stuff like “I hope my mom doesn’t see anything weird while she’s dropping me off,” and I find out they define weird as a bearded man in a seifuku or a Jojo cosplayer.

In 2007 you had to pray to god your dad didn’t pull up the the convention center to see Sasuke Uchiha bent over, both hands on the ground, ass in the sky, bracing himself as a Kingdom Hearts character raises a yaoi paddle behind their damn head, readying the swing.[23]

2018

Bringing Paddles To A Con? That's A Paddlin

Back in the early 2000s, yaoi paddles were a fast-spreading trend that took over anime conventions across North America. These oar-shaped devices were originally invented as a joke, but their saucy nature made them an overnight hit. Nerds who bought these paddles would use them to smack their friends (and sometimes, strangers.)

Let me back up if you're still a little confused. Yaoi is a special type of grown-up cartoon that features intimate romantic relationships between two men. If you need me to draw out the connections between yaoi and sore bottoms, you're too young to be reading this.

Anime Matsuri, a major convention hosted in Houston, Texas, is one of many events that have explicitly banned yaoi paddles from being sold and carried at their events, probably because it's not a great idea to encourage people to hit each other at your events.[24]
the true cutoff between millenials and gen z kids is who remembers yaoi paddles and who is about to have a very unfortunate Google search[25]

Kids these days are so lucky at conventions. Back in my day we used to slap each other with wood yaoi paddles and you would get “glomped” wether you liked it or not

[Image of Usagi Tsukino as an old woman]

Now that I’m thinking about it, maybe my anxiety is so bad because I used to live in constant fear of being glomped or paddled by hetalia cosplayers[26]

2019

Gotta love me that... that... looks at smudged writing on hand gay fetishization oar[27]
Thank god yaoi paddles and “vibe check” didn’t exist at the same point in time can you imagine the chaos[28]

Fanworks

Fanart

Cosplay

Crafts

  • Yaoi Paddle by ChibiAngel86: sculpted oven bake clay cellphone charm (2009)
  • Yaoi paddle by DesertedRose: original paddle design (2009)
  • yaoi paddle X3 by Spottedmask022: original paddle design (2010)
  • Keychains by LTDQTY (2017)

Further Information

References

  1. ^ Yaoi paddle on the Spanking Art wiki
  2. ^ Where did Yaoi Paddles come from? (archived), asked by Toshinou Kyouko and answered by Dimitri mx, August 2015.
  3. ^ The History of the Yaoi Paddle, archived May 22 2009
  4. ^ Yaoi Paddle Upgrade, by AnimeNewsNetwork, posted 2nd of June 2005.
  5. ^ About Us - Policies, accessed December 2019
  6. ^ Response #17 to Will yaoi/yuri paddles be banned at Kumoricon? by Brack, November 30, 2006
  7. ^ Reply #3 to Will yaoi/yuri paddles be banned at Kumoricon? by Vondan, November 29, 2006
  8. ^ Reply #6 to Will yaoi/yuri paddles be banned at Kumoricon? by Neko_Chan, November 29, 2006
  9. ^ Reply #9 to Will yaoi/yuri paddles be banned at Kumoricon? by superjaz, November 29, 2006
  10. ^ Reply #15 to Will yaoi/yuri paddles be banned at Kumoricon? by guspasho, November 29, 2006
  11. ^ Reply #18 to Will yaoi/yuri paddles be banned at Kumoricon? by guspasho, November 30, 2006
  12. ^ Reply #23 to Will yaoi/yuri paddles be banned at Kumoricon? by Radien, December 18, 2006
  13. ^ #1 by -Kitsu]
  14. ^ comment by ShinigamiKaitou, 2008
  15. ^ comment by Jantra, 2008
  16. ^ comment by AnimeLore, 2008
  17. ^ comment by itsuki<3pudding, 2008
  18. ^ comment by ynoys1 on Glomps And Yaoi Paddles At NYAF 08, Dec 30 2008
  19. ^ Comment on MCM expo: Axel + yaoi paddle by LabyrinthLadyLover, October 26 2009
  20. ^ Yaoi Paddles - person al post by FRAGF0X, August 18 2010
  21. ^ Comment on YAOI PADDLES by mhithrha, Oct 10 2010
  22. ^ Only true convention veterans will remember by lennythereviewer, May 2017
  23. ^ May 31, 2017 by vampireapologist
  24. ^ 24 Rules Professional Cosplayers Must Follow by Marcy Cox, JAN 23, 2018
  25. ^ by tomsawyee, February 22, 2018
  26. ^ May 24, 2018 by CRAZiECRiSSiE
  27. ^ comment by Ricky roll on "The Rise and Fall of the Yaoi Paddle", May 2019
  28. ^ by arkadycosplay, October 20, 2019
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