Most people try to avoid humiliation. They’ll look back on humiliating events in their lives with great embarrassment or even shame and anxiety. It would seem quite odd then to a great many that there are actually some people who actively seek to enter into scenarios where they are greatly humiliated and are even able to achieve sexual arousal as a result of this humiliation. This phenomenon is known as erotic humiliation and is actually a very common fetish under the BDSM umbrella, which is often incorporated into other types of play.
Erotic humiliation is a consensual arrangement with all participants. There are a number of different levels of play people enjoy – from lightly embarrassing someone during sex or play, to humiliating them, to completely degrading them. Also, what one person finds humiliating, another might not find humiliating at all. What one person finds to be erotic, another person might find psychologically damaging. As erotic humiliation is a psychological form of Domination/submission play, it is important that desires and limits are set and agreed upon before beginning to ensure it remains a positive experience, and that there are no lasting negative psychological impacts as a result. It is also always a good idea to have a safe word (which when said by either party will stop the scene immediately) put in place. As long as we understand that erotic humiliation needs to be conducted with care, just as with other more physical forms of BDSM, it can be a great source of joy and empowerment.
So, why exactly do some people enjoy being humiliated?
This answer is very different depending on who you ask and what position (the one who humiliates or the humiliated) the person takes. I think Princess Kali sums it up best in her incredible book, Enough To Make You Blush (which is honestly my favourite book I’ve read so far this year and would highly recommend to anyone interested in erotic humiliation) when she says:
‘In addition to the taboo, there’s also an element of “getting a rush” out of this kind of psychological button pushing. It’s exhilarating. I knew someone who was a skydiving instructor and I would always hear people ask him the question “Why would someone jump out of a perfectly good airplane?” so I sometimes feel like humiliation is the skydiving of the kink world. Why would someone want to be knocked a peg or two down off a perfectly good social hierarchy?’ (p. 26)
There are many myths about erotic humiliation. A big one is that only those who have been abused and have low self-esteem like erotic humiliation, but I can tell you from experience that this is simply not true. Many of my clients who have come to me for erotic humiliation and degradation are in senior positions in high profile jobs. They’re often the breadwinners for their loving families and are charismatic people with what could be seen to many as an ideal life. They often tell me that the reason they like to be humiliated is because they spend all day long telling people what to do, and their relationships are so full of love and adoration that they find it relaxing and enjoyable to shake it up – to give someone else the control and not have to think for a while. They get a thrill from being put in a position that they are not at all used to.
Humiliation is a great tool for overcoming anxieties and throwing off limitations that stop us from living in the moment. The wonderful @mandy_facts responded to my call for people to tell me their experiences with humiliation and why they do it, in an amazing essay on her experiences with sissifying her husband:
‘”You really like stockings don’t you honey” – I deepen your embarrassment. Yes. Your humiliation. I want to feel you overcoming it. It’s an emotion you’ve put on yourself. You’re in a safe space. I love you. You love me. Yet still, even after six months of this, you feel it.’
She goes on to detail that this humiliation is not simply about embarrassing her husband and making him feel uncomfortable:
‘Humiliation is a wonderful tool. For me, it’s not an end in and of itself. I have no desire whatsoever to call you names, make fun of your appearance, of who you are. If anything, I want the opposite. To free you of constraints. To allow you to be who you are, in a safe space. Our self imposed boundaries seek to limit us. We’ve built a society full of rules, where following the rule has become more important than what is right. Consenting adults? We are, so why shouldn’t we do what we like doing?’
What kind of things do people do in humiliation play?
Again, this is another question where the answer will vary greatly from person to person. This kind of play can be split up in multiple ways such as by level of intensity – embarrassment, humiliation, degradation, or dehumanisation. They are also categorised as physical or verbal. Intensity in itself is quite subjective; something that might be a small embarrassment for one person might be deeply humiliating or degrading for another. I have some subs that have gained a rush from getting dressed up and dancing for me as I laugh on at them. For others, that kind of act is far too humiliating an idea for them that they set dancing for me as a limit. For others, it might not be either humiliating or erotic in any way.
When I begin a discussion on humiliation play, I determine whether my submissive enjoys more physical or verbal forms of humiliation. Most of my real-time humiliation sessions begin with having my submissive knock on the door and then wait on the doorstep on their hands and knees. I make them crawl when they’re in my presence. I find this effective for getting them into sub space. Also as I am quite a petite woman, having men who would generally be much larger and taller than me down on the ground crawling for me immediately makes me feel in a more powerful position and the humiliation flows easily.
Physical forms of humiliation I often like to engage in and am often asked to do are:
- Spitting (generally in the face/mouth);
- Golden showers (urinating on someone and/or in their mouth);
- Face sitting/queening;
- Forced foot/boot worship (forcing them kiss, lick, suck my shoes and feet);
- Trampling (literally walking all over them);
- Ass worship (having them kiss and lick my ass);
- Orgasm denial and control (being in control of when/how they can orgasm, if I allow them to at all);
- Objectification (using them as a footstool, a table or a chair);
- Animal play (having them act as an animal – for example, dog play where they’re not allowed to talk and must instead only bark or use body language to communicate etc).
Some example of verbal forms of humiliation I often engage in are:
- Insulting (based on appearance, intellect, success – whatever they desire);
- Focusing on a specific area and drawing attention to perceived inadequacies (small penis humiliation is a popular one, where men like to be told how tiny and pathetic their penis is etc.);
- Name calling (this ranges in intensity from things like “little boy”, “puppet” “pet” to terms like “slave”, “pig” or “sissy” up to harsher ones like “bitch”, “slut” and “whore”);
- Commands (having certain commands they must complete without question and/or rules they must adhere to);
- Forced flattery and self-degradation (making them refer to me in terms of greatness such as “Goddess” and degrading themselves – e.g. “You are smart and beautiful and I’m nothing but a worm… no, I’m not even a worm. I’m worm shit”).
How can I get into humiliation play?
Humiliation play can be an extremely fulfilling and empowering form of arousal play for all involved if it is done correctly. It is recommended to always have a safe word just in case things get a bit intense. You may think that you don’t need one as you’ve never needed to use one before or because you feel it will be more exciting without one, but it’s always a good idea to have one just in case. Also remember to discuss what’s going to happen and negotiate desires and limits precisely beforehand. If a client tells me they enjoy verbal humiliation that’s not enough. I need to know what kinds of verbal humiliation. As for things like name calling I need an idea of what names they like to be called, what names they’re okay with being called and what names they do not want to be called or might find it traumatising to be called. With whips and canes it’s easy to start light and work up to more intense play, gauging your subs reactions and threshold. While subs may have differing thresholds for pain, the path from light to intense touch takes a very similar route. Minds are more complex and all minds differ in their start and end points, and journey from light to intense play.
Humiliation play is something that is best done with someone you can trust and feel comfortable with (either personally or as professional). Humiliation play can be a deeply personal sort of play, which can bring things to the surface you might not have even realised were within yourself or your play partner. I would definitely recommend doing a lot of research on psychological play before diving into it and make sure you have a good think about specific desires, fantasies and your limits.
As a Domme who has engaged in a lot of humiliation play, I can’t even begin to tell you how many submissives I’ve had come to me telling me they want to be humiliated, but then seem to find it too humiliating to express exactly how they fantasise about being humiliated and often say: “Just whatever you want to do to me.” This is not a truthful answer and it does nothing to help either party get the best out of a session or scene. Humiliation and degradation are extremely broad terms and while it may be quite… humiliating… to discuss in detail how you want to be humiliated, it is really in your best interest that you do. On the flip side of that, if you are the dominant and your new submissive says “just whatever you want to do to humiliate me.” Don’t take that as answer – make sure you negotiate everything before beginning and don’t forget the importance of aftercare! Aftercare is extremely important after any form of BDSM play, especially psychological play.
Finally, if you really do want to get into erotic humiliation, make sure you go get yourself a copy of Enough To Make You Blush. It truly is a fantastic introduction to humiliation play and also has a lot of great ideas. Also make sure you go read and up vote @mandy_facts essay on her experiences and if you have any other questions about erotic humiliation or comments, stories or anything else you want to talk to me about, please tweet with the tag #DesireIntoDiscourse in your tweet or tweet @_Mistress_Ava.