I went to a high school where getting swats was common – and males and females were treated the same.
While the vice-principal could order the paddle for you, it was actually administered by the gym teachers, who alternated weeks. One week it was the male instructors, the other it was the female coaches. If did not matter what gender the student was, you could be paddled by either a male or female instructor.
The procedure was that if you were to be paddled, you were given an orange card (known as a ‘paddle card’) to carry around with you. Half an hour before the end of the last period of the day, the orange card would get you excused from whatever class you were in to get your swats. Of course, everyone in the class knew that if you got up and left early, you were going to be paddled!
Once you left, you hurried to your gym locker and changed into your PE clothes. The thin nylon shorts the boys and girls wore offered the same (non-existent!) protection, which was supposed to make things equal.
You stood outside the door of the appropriate set of coaches to await your fate. Once called into their office, you gave them the card and you would then be told to bend over a small table. One of the coaches would pin your hands to the small of your back while the other would administer the swats.
The male gym teachers were always more lenient than the females. The ladies always seemed to take great relish in smacking you as hard as they could and snickered as you cried out after each swat.
You were normally given either three or six swats. But if you were a member of any school club (sport, cheerleading etc), you got an extra two smacks, as you were supposed to set an example for everyone. So you really could get five or eight swats from a nasty wood paddle.
The first two swats were usually greeted with howls of ‘oh my’ or just a loud ‘owww!’. If you swore or used foul language, the swat did not count.
When I was paddled, I could usually hold out until the third swat before I started crying. By the end (usually eight), I was bawling like a baby. When you were done, there was no recovery time and you were basically pushed out of their office to get your street clothes on and the next person was taken in to be paddled. Waiting in line, hearing the howls and cries and seeing the crying students leave the office after punishment, was almost as bad as getting the swats themselves.
If you got five or more swats, your butt would be bruised and incredibly sore. Riding home on the bumpy school bus added to the punishment. And for me, that was just the beginning – as I walked from the bus to my house, I knew my mother would be there with her hairbrush to really blister my butt – bare bottom this time. Whatever the school missed, she most certainly took care of!