From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Erotic spanking is the practice of spanking another for the sexual pleasure of either or both parties.
Playful, mocking erotic spanking is very popular among lovers in intimate situations and may lead to more intimate play and sexual activities.
More formal forms of erotic spanking are common among spanking fetishists. Erotic spanking of this kind is generally regarded as a BDSM activity, although many spanking fetishists don't consider themselves sadomasochists because their fetish is on spanking only and not on typical BDSM style activities.
Those interested in giving or receiving erotic spankings are sometimes known as spankophiles or spankos, a term that is often considered synonymous to spanking fetishists but may also include people for whom spanking is more an erotic fun activity than a sexual fetish. Examples of celebrity spankophiles include the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) and the poet Algernon Swinburne (1837-1909). In more recent times, there have been the confessions of Daphne Merkin in Dreaming of Hitler.
Representations of erotic spanking and flagellation make up a large portion of Victorian pornography (see 1000 Nudes by Hans-Michael Koetzle, the first acknowledged homosexual spank star in 1853.) Hundreds of thousands of engravings, photographs, and/or literary depictions of spanking and flagellation ("birching") fantasies circulated during the Victorian era, including erotic novellas like Lady Bumtickler's Revels, The Whippingham Papers, Wezzellian Behaviors, Yerbouti Ermine or An Exhibition of Female Flagellants.