Dealing With The Whip Stigma

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Inevitably, it will come up.

"You do what?"
"That's so cruel!"
"You know where the term cracker came from, right?"
"Ooh, kinky."

How do you deal with people like this? Unfortunately, there's not going to be a prefect answer, and truthfully, each of those comments are based on some truth.

What's important is to be prepared for these kinds of comments and not take them personally. Remember, they are based on the person's beliefs and understanding of what you're doing. So it's up to you to explain (as politely as you can) that "yes, the whip does have a history of being "X", but now days many people are interested in it because of "Y".

Redacted and slightly cleaned up conversation on this topic from a Facebook whip cracking group:

I've noticed that whenever I mention whips or whip cracking, there tends to be a lot of negativity associated with it. Any tips on how to explain what the community is actually about so people stop thinking badly about it?
I ALWAYS get sex jokes.
same here. It's soooo tedious.
E'yup. There's always that person(s) that has to loudly declare their arousal in public.
If I'm practicing by myself the comments are much lighter in their tone, but when I'm with a female presenting student the dude bros will lean into the sex jokes (usually aimed only at the student). Though on the other side, that same student will draw more positive comments from women passing by saying how cool and badass they look etc.
I live in the UK. Every time I have told anyone that I make or crack whips, I get the 'oooh kinky!' response. Indiana Jones is popular, but although Westerns as books or movies once had a huge following, the genre is no longer in favor, so people here aren't as familiar with it as they used to be when I was young.
I think it is interesting that seeing a man with a whip is ‘wow cool' ‘old west' ‘indiana jones' or ‘oh scary' and seeing a woman with a whip is ‘i bet she uses that in bed'. This is not my favorite thing.
I had a local police department SWAT team called to my place of employment because I was out in the parking lot cracking a whip I'd just finished making. Apparently it was echoing off the building and the neighborhood behind us thought someone was firing semiautomatic firearms.
It is sad and scary that our society has come to assume any noises like that are from a shooter
Don't have a problem down under in Australia
I live in "Cowtown" Fort Worth, TX. To avoid jokes, I say, "My husband braids bullwhips, like for cowboys." So here it fits with the culture. Also, people who make sex jokes are usually looking for a reason to make sex jokes. Their comment shows where their mind is and has no reflection on you.
Here in the Netherlands people tend to start looking funny and giggling, associating it with BDSM offcourse. I usually reply it is their own dirty mind that takes them there, not mine!
I rarely get anything negative about the whips, often just confusion. My go too short explanations are
1. It's western arts just like rope spinning, knife throwing etc.
2. It's a sport, we do targeting and learn tricks, like cracking the whip behind our back.
(Sounds silly but it gets the idea across. No use trying to quickly explain complicated routines)
And if violence is brought up:
3. It's a tool just like a hammer or a knife. And just like with most tools, some have used them to to cause damage or harm. But whips are made to make a sound, not to strike things.
We often use the prefix Wild West whip cracking or Indiana Jones and people respond more positively and Gery L. Deer always explains a bit of the physics and that whips will break the skin and to never try to strike a person. I love the tool analogy.
I think one of the best descriptions I read was 'exhibition weapon enthusiast'
I think competitions and Guinness Records do something to help the image of whip cracking. It becomes an area of achievement.
I think acknowledging and respecting that whips have a dark history, particularly in the US, goes a long way. Trying to force all positive onto something which is much more nuanced, more often than not will close the discussion, particularly among folks who might be closer to that history than others. Mostly I try to listen, honor peoples boundaries, and accept that it may not be for everyone.
Try calling it a flow art. Show a video (if you can) of an expert whip cracker like Adam Winrich, Todd Rex, Sylvia Rosat, etc. doing their thing. Depending on your "audience" you could go into the history of the whip as a tool for herding livestock that goes back thousands of years and was never meant to hurt the animals, only manipulate them with sound. And also that many cultures all over the world have whip-based arts and competitions.
When my neighbor saw me cracking a whip, despite me minding my own business and not asking for anyone's opinion, she felt she needed to tell me that it's violence. I tried to explain the worldwide appeal, the competitions, the expert whip crackers and the amazing things that whip performers can do with whips to no avail. So, I left it alone and kept on cracking my whips. I even explained that I saw a Yoga instructor using an Australian Stock whip for therapeutic exercises and that it helps me to unwind, de-stress and relax. She said that I should do yoga. Yoga is great but I love my whip cracking.
Just say you liked the Indiana Jones movies.
I present it as a form of performance art or flow arts. It may catch some people off guard, but so many more people will be interested or thrilled to learn more! It's so fun and satisfying to get that crack!
Ppl need to be educated that it has moved on from its dark history, it's now evolved into a worldwide art form, also a very good meditation practice