Jeremy Bentham’s weirdness #1

One of Jeremy Bentham’s interests was prison reform. He opposed arbitrary and unfair punishment. He believed that a system that was fair, matched to the crime, and impersonal would be respected by criminals and both be more humane and more effective in rehabilitating them.

So he didn’t have much understanding of actual human beings. The application of some his principles unintentionally made prisons even more nightmarish than they were before.

The treadmill avoided giving prisoners the satisfaction they might get if their hard labour actually achieved something useful. Similarly, the rule that prisoners had to be silent at all times was supposed to allow them to contemplate their faults and focus on improvement, and stop them encouraging each other in criminality. But people can’t function without social contact. It drove many prisoners mad.

Illustration by John Willie.

But the authorities overlooked one of Bentham’s ideas, that’s since been taken up by bdsm dungeons and porn makers, enthusiastically enough to make up for all those years of neglect. That’s Jeremy Bentham’s Amazing Steam Powered Whipping Machine.

The offender is secured to the machine and the punishment can be set by setting the steam gauge on the whipping arm, to a certain number of strokes, at exactly the same strength each time. 

Possibly this image seems sexier for people who read Popular Mechanics and hang around hardware stores. But it does lack the personal touch.

The idea was that punishment could only be just if the same crime always got the same penalty. So whippings by prison officers were unfair, because some had stronger arms, or they might go easy on one offender and really whack away at the next one.

Bentham’s invention was fair, and dungeon mistresses (starting with Theresa Berkeley) and makers of fladge porn soon brought the great man’s dream into reality.  


Detail from 1970s “Oh Wicked Wanda” strip. I think the girl under the table is called Candyfloss.

2 thoughts on “Jeremy Bentham’s weirdness #1

  1. I could be Candy floss or Wanda, depends on what the full story was. Wanda was Dom, Candy was Sub. both equally sexy, both independent of men if they wanted to be cause they had each other. That’s why they went on those journeys, kinda free boarding without sex on the mind since they had each other to fill that need

    • Hi Magnum PEI,
      I think the big red sleeves we see above the table are Wanda’s style, so she’s receiving the tonguing, not on her knees giving it. Which means the girl on her knees getting her bottom smacked is most likely Candyfloss.

      I wish that Penthouse would publish an edition of the Wicked Wanda series. I’ve only seen a couple of strips. I understand – instant Google erudition – that Bob Guccione had a falling out with Fred Mullally, who scripted the original series. After that they replaced it with a copycat cartoon series scripted by Guccione himself, which was much cruder, less interesting, less sexy and less funny.

      So maybe there’s an ego issue keeping the Mullally stuff unpublished. But they should go down to the Penthouse basement, and re-release the amazing adventures of Wanda woman. I’m sure she likes her covers hard.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *