Riding the rail was a punishment of Colonial America in which a man was made to straddle a fence rail held on the shoulders of two men, with other men on either side to keep him upright on the rail. The victim was then paraded around town or taken to the city limits and dumped by the roadside. Injuries from the ride could, if the victim were stripped, result in a cut crotch that often made walking painful. The punishment was usually imposed in connection with tarring and feathering.This photo, linked from the Wikipedia article, entitled "Rebs on a Fence," illustrates the punishment:
Of course this reminded me of "fence-sitters," a derogatory label for bisexual persons, and gives a whole new perspective of what it means to "sit on the fence." I wrote earlier about reclaiming the identity of fence-sitting, since the societal fence between straight and gay is a false barrier that bi/pan/omni-sexual folks seek to dismantle. What might it mean for patriarchal monosexual society's fence to be an instrument of torture through genital mutilation and mob justice enacted upon social miscreants?