Whether you call it cat o' nine tails or martinet, this tool is the perfect example of how objects are designed by their purpose. Of how human machinery creates its own cogs to run better, smoothly, ruthlessly.
I am informed by wertperch that in English a martinet means a tyrant while smartalix points out "that martinet is also a term for a mean nitpicking officer to this day." Interesting. See what I said about French being a universal language?