The Real Little Typists


office gril
louis_malteste_petite_dactylo_01The line drawing by Malteste is taken from the Petite Dactylo (the little typist), which was a spanking novella by Pierre Dumarchey, published under the name of Sadie Blackeyes. The heroine of the novel suffers a series of misadventures, most ending with a spanking or a birching.

Whether or not it was grounded in reality is doubtful, yet there does seem to be an age when typists and secretaries were punished.

As reported here before, whilst at college as part of my course I trained in shorthand and typing under a woman of the old school. This was the 1980s and the 50-something woman had mostly taught office workers since the 1950s when she had received her own training.  When confronted with a student who hadn’t put the work in or hadn’t done their homework (we were learning T-Line at the time), then she would often remark that we were lucky it wasn’t like the old days.

She was heard to mutter in her Glaswegian accent, “Back in the day a girl would get a few swipes of the stick across their backsides for less.”

She didn’t elucidate but it seems up until the 1960s it was common for trainee typists and secretaries to experience a good spanking or even the cane. Of course in those days these trainees were invariably women.

I have written about this before and have read various accounts of CP at adult typing schools up until the 1970s. I remember two women, one trained in the late 1950s and the other the early 1970s, comparing notes about getting the cane at secretarial college.

Both thought it was no big deal. The first said it was a formal thing with a formal note. She had to bend over in an office and get about eight strokes on the seat of her skirt, although she had heard that other girls had been caned on the knickers, including one who had worn trousers to class.

The other said it was unofficial and that she was caned a couple of times rather than get a formal warning, but essential she too got eight on the seat of her skirt.

In another discussion one woman who trained in the 1940s ventured that she had been caned twice on the bare bottom for wasting paper and on a separate occasion for getting a typewriter ribbon tangled. This, she said, because of rationing immediately after the War being a very serious problem and that such mistakes would get you sacked in a real office.

Following on from this I found an article (I think from Forum magazine) on Google reader.

This was about ‘blue-stockings’ and flappers in the 1920s and 30s who were trying to break into business and journalism. Well-to-do women of all classes saw typing and business schools as a way of breaking into a man’s world. Being tough and seen to be tough was an important to them and the prevailing attitude was ‘taking it like a man.’

Ironically, it seems unlikely that young business men were ever caned by anyone, yet serious minded independent girls of the interwar era seemed to have shrugged off corporal punishment as a price to pay or a rite of passage.

Caning before the Second World War in these environments seems to have be rather fiercer and tended to applied to the bare bottom.

One Rose Fenton-Barnes reported, “I had been called into the office several times before by Mrs C-J, all rather bothersome, but I can’t say it wasn’t entirely without merit. This time I was told off right royally and then asked to take up my skirts and so forth. I thought it all a bit grisly when she got out the dreadful stick. Then she told me to take down the necessary and bend over the back of her chair. I didn’t count, but I must have received 15 strokes or more. Jolly well hurt and my tail end looked chopped liver after. Of course I didn’t cry until I was in the ladies room, but I couldn’t sit down for a few days. That was the first time and very much not the last. Those things didn’t get any easier.”

Amy JK wrote of her experience back in the 1930s. “We had a dreadful dragon. One word from her and you would be shaking in your boots. There were always girls going in and out of her office: wide-eyed a terrified going in and usually crying and rubbing their bottoms when they came out.”

“I was one of those girls at least a dozen times. After a dressing down it was bottom bare and bend. No set number of strokes, just fast and cutting swipes until I cried. I couldn’t stand still after, but I was told to dress and get out.”

“It was straight back to our desks in that dreadful room with 20 girls clattering away on their exercises. Hard to sit or concentrate, I can tell you, but a good preparation for work.”

14 Responses to “The Real Little Typists”

  1. 1 ArtieKat

    A female friend of mine who was at secretarial college in 1989/90 in the North-west of England has told me a number of times that their typing tutor would hit their arms with a cane if they tried to peek at their hands under a cloth covering the typewriter keyboard.

    • 2 DJ

      I have heard of that – I have heard lots of stories of informal swats and the like right up until the 1990s

  2. 3 Kat

    I was at 16+ typing school in Birmingham in 1969, myself then aged 19, it was a bear garden. There were four floors and hundreds of girls (some in their 30s who were retraining or on day release from an office).

    Each day we would pick up an assignment – it could be comprehension or summary or a copytyping exercise (shorthand was handled in a smaller seminar room) and then we had to find a free desk on the main floors with dozens or more women to write it up touch typing. Hand it in and go and get the next assigment.

    If you had been late that week, fallen behind or had a negative report from the small group sessions you would be called in to the senior tutor’s office to ‘discuss it.’

    Sometimes it was firm advice, a warning or just a bollocking, but it was just like school, as often or not I was there for the cane (especially for being cheeky to staff or for lateness) I lost count of the five, six and somtimes a dozen strokes swiped across my bottom in my time there. First offence on the seat of my skirt but more usally on the knickers. I was caned on the bare twice (both times I took 12) and I wasn’t alone.

    You have to understand that every few minutes someone would be called to the senior tutor’s office. After a time they would come back and carry on working. Not all had been caned of course, but sometimes they would be crying or had been, even the older girls. I always wondered.

    In those days we never questioned it.

    I wished I had appreciated the adventure of it more at the time. There was nothing sexy about it at the time.

    Kat xx

    • 4 DJ

      You paint a vivid picture. I can image a 20-something woman walking back to her desk with a sore bottom trying not to let anything show in her eyes as she tried to sit down without wincing.

      I suspect though that this is only in my imagination. 😉

      Thanks for a great story. 🙂

    • 5 ArtieKat

      Was the senior tutor female, Kat? I’m assuming so.

      • 6 Kat

        Hello Artie.

        Yes you are right, the senior tutor was a woman – Mrs Cathcart – five foot nothing and if she had smiled her face would have shattered . Almost all the staff were women. The only male tutor ran the computer course and he sat behind a glass window with big computers with spools going around. All a mystery to me at the time.

        You have a prescient imagination DJ – but think 30-something I am sure. Mrs C was as old as the ark and I doubt of she saw much difference between a woman of 30 or a girl of 19 like me.

        • 7 ArtieKat

          Thanks very much for your reply, Kat. I have a good picture now of Mrs Cathcart! Would you like to comment further on the circumstances of your two bare bottom canings?

        • 8 DJ

          I can see it now – thanks for a great contribution. Tell us more. 🙂

  3. 9 Thomas AHRENDT

    I would like to know if anybody has a idea whay that photo with the ladies wear in white Is about. The one looks like she’s over the knee about to receive a paddling

    • 10 DJ

      No idea what you mean Tom – what photo? Did you mean to comment on something else?

  4. 11 Gillian

    Loved this.

    I was at a business college in the mid-70s – not as grand as it sounds – pretty much like the one Kat describes, only it was near Southampton.

    We had the cane too, only ours was not official. We had fines and demerits and a weekly report back to our employers. At best we had to go in Saturday morning for a pointless refresher.

    Unless you agreed to take a few with the stick. By a few I mean as many as it took to make you cry. I was stubborn. 🙂

    If you were flying solo it was knickers down. Otherwise it was knickers up. I guess the old battle-axe didn’t want witnesses when she crossed the line.

    It was completely sexual for her. Stayed with me too in that way I guess. Enough said about that.

    Jill 🙂

    • 12 ArtieKat

      How high a pain threshold did you have, Jill?????

    • 13 DJ

      Hi Jill

      You don’t sound too sorry. You obviously have an abiding interest in spanking.

      I sense you have more to tell. ?

      Thanks for your contribution.

  5. My grandmother went to secretary school in the 60s in the States, and she says corporal punishment was common for mistakes or slacking. All the students were girls. The paddle was administered by the male supervisor, the only male in the office. They had a strict rule that the punishment had to be over one layer of clothing, so skirts or dresses and slips (if worn) came up and the paddling was on the panties. That is, until some of the girls figured out that their knee-length skirts were much more protection and took to coming to work without underwear on, knowing they could bend over without showing their charms! My grandma said the female section supervisor would go to the bathroom with the girl to be punished and confirm that she was bare under her skirt before sending her to the boss for punishment. He had an office with a big glass picture window so he could watch the girls for slacking, so all of the paddlings were witnessed by the room! She said it was usually 1, 2, or 3 very hard swats, with a maximum of 5, and that typing through tears and seat-squirming were common aftereffects.

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