|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
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. 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, causing most major cons to ban their use.
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.
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.
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I originally made the first yaoi paddle, with woodburned letters and a high gloss acrylic finish for the owner of the company "hen da ne".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).
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. 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.
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.
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, and 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.
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.
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.
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.
[...]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.
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! ^.^
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.
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. 
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. 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.
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
Gotta love me that... that... looks at smudged writing on hand gay fetishization oar
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
- Page one and page two of Yaoi/Yuri wooden paddle discussion, posted by Kitsu in 2008.
- Where did Yaoi Paddles come from?, asked by Toshinou Kyouko and answered by Dimitri mx, August 2015.
- The Rise and Fall of the Yaoi Paddle (video) by Red Bard, May 2019.
- Yaoi paddle on the Spanking Art wiki
- Where did Yaoi Paddles come from?, asked by Toshinou Kyouko and answered by Dimitri mx, August 2015.
- The History of the Yaoi Paddle, archived May 22 2009
- Yaoi Paddle Upgrade, by AnimeNewsNetwork, posted 2nd of June 2005.
- comment by ShinigamiKaitou, 2008
- comment by Jantra, 2008
- comment by AnimeLore, 2008
- comment by itsuki<3pudding, 2008
- Only true convention veterans will remember by lennythereviewer, May 2017
- May 31, 2017 by vampireapologist
- May 24, 2018 by CRAZiECRiSSiE
- comment by Ricky roll on "The Rise and Fall of the Yaoi Paddle", May 2019
- by tomsawyee, 2018