Corporal punishment has been increasingly understood in western industrial societies as having a sexual meaning. This article examines alternative interpretive frameworks or discourses of corporal punishment. Three main such discourses are described: the judicial, the comic, and the sexual. The prime focus of the article is the examination of how the sexual discourse has become elaborated, and has intersected with and subverted other discourses. The competing claims for both essentialist and constructionist explanations of this process of sexualization of corporal punishment are critically reviewed. A more adequate account is then outlined comprising the following elements: embodied subjectivity; gendered power relations; the focus on the bottom; practices, representation and pornography; and historical contexts, specifically modernist/postmodernist narratives.