Erotic humiliation is the consensual use of psychological humiliation for the erotic excitement or sexual arousal of the person being humiliated and demeaned or of the person humiliating, or of some spectator, and may be part of BDSM and other sexual roleplay or accompanied by the sexual stimulation of one or both partners in the activity. Erotic humiliation may take place in private or in public. The humiliation need not be sexual in nature; as with many other sexual activities, it is the feelings derived from it that are sought, regardless of the nature of the actual activity. This is usually a feeling of submission for the person being humiliated, and dominance, for the person doing the humiliation. It can be verbal or physical, or in private or public. Often it can become ritualized, and unlike some sexual variations it can also be easily carried out over a long distance (such as online). Humiliation is an example of the power dynamic that exists in a D/s or M/s relationship. For example, in an activity such as spanking, the sought effect is primarily the humiliation; the activity is just a means to that end.
While fantasy and fascination with erotic humiliation is a prevalent part of BDSM and other sexual roleplay, relatively little has been written on it. Humiliation play can, however, be taken to a point where it becomes emotionally or psychologically distressing to one or the other partner, especially if it is public humiliation. Erotic humiliation can become extreme enough to be considered a form of edgeplay, which some consider may best be approached with advance negotiation and use of a safeword. This is a highly subjective issue, and depends greatly on context.
Terminology and overview
The person being humiliated is often called a bottom, and the person who humiliates the bottom is often called the top, though these are standard terms used in general dominant/submissive role play and are not specific to humiliation interests. The top, if female, sometimes is called the humiliatrix. Other common names are slave and sub/submissive, for the bottom (irrespective of gender), and Master/ Dom (male top), and Mistress/ Domme (female top).
Humiliation is not the same as dominance: the devotee does not necessarily seek to be ordered about. However, elements of erotic humiliation may be part to a number of dominance based activities. Humiliation comes into its own as a sexual force when the devotee seeks the humiliation over and above the means: when being spanked is primarily valued because of the belittlement involved, for example. Humiliation therefore encompasses a range of paraphilia, including foot fetish, shoe fetish, body worship, spanking, bondage, and most BDSM styles. It can be as basic as the desire to kiss and massage feet as a precursor to sex; and it can be complex, involving roleplay and public displays of subservience. It can also be for a set period of time (a "scene") or an ongoing facet of a relationship. The humiliation is not intrinsic to the act or the object. Rather, it is semiotically charged by the shared attitude of the partners engaged in the act. They invest specific acts, objects, or body parts with a humiliating aspect.
Means of humiliation
Many scenarios may give rise to sexual humiliation. Some scenarios may be based on verbal abuse and others on physical aspects, for example:
- Animal play, which describes the submissive as a pet, dog, girl, or bitch; making the submissive eat and drink from pet food and water bowls.
- Verbal belittlement, with such words as slave, boy, girl, missy, and pet.
- Insults and verbal abuse, such as fat, ugly, stupid, and worthless.
- Degrading names, such as slut, shit, bitch, and whore.
- Racial and ethnic slurs.
- Slighting of body parts and behaviors, such as disparaging or cruel references to breasts, facial appearance, genitalia (including size), buttocks, and slighting of such mannerisms as walking, responsiveness, and standard of self-care.
- Requirement to ask permission for everyday activities, such as going to the toilet, spending money, and eating.
- Forced repetition, such as the submissive's being obliged to repeat commands that he or she has been given and to confirm them.
- Forced flattery, such as agreeing that every decision that the dominant makes is wise, correct, and justifiable, while additionally praising the dominant's physical and personality traits.
- Mockery, derision, and ridicule.
- Scolding of the type commonly reserved for children.
- Ejaculating, spitting, and urinating on the submissive's body, especially the face.
- Forced sexual degradation, including such acts as erotic massage, cunnilingus, analingus, and fellatio.
- Detailed accountability and control (micro-management) as to time spent and activities done, including lists of jobs to do, precise directions as to how the job is to be performed, and exactly how to act and behave.
- Real Humiliation is the act of making a person carry out specific tasks which involve other real people who are not aware that there is a task or dominant relation issuing the task in the background.
- Specific rituals and affectations to be adopted. This includes displays of subservience, such as lighting cigarettes, walking a pace behind the dominant, speaking only when spoken to, kneeling or prostrating oneself in front of the dominant when expecting orders, eating only after others or on the floor, and low-status place to sleep.
- Deprivation of privacy, which may include the submissive's never being able to leave the room in which the dominant is present without permission.
- The dominant watches while the submissive uses the toilet.
- The submissive's being forbidden to leave the house or 'dungeon' in general for the duration of slavery or servitude, etc.
- Discipline (BDSM), including erotic spanking, slapping, whipping, restraint, and other BDSM activities (such as cock-and-ball torture (CBT)).
- Dresscode (BDSM): prescriptions and proscriptions of clothing, even in public.
- Erotic sexual denial, including the use of a chastity device.
- Wearing of external signs of "ownership", such as collars.
- Public humiliation, in which the submissive's friends or family, or strangers, are aware of or even witness the treatment.
- Erotic objectification, in which the submissive is used as human furniture, such as a footstool.
- Forced anal penetration, with dildos, anal plugs, and similar objects.
- Cuckolding, a mostly heterosexual fetish in which the dominant woman has sex with a man outside of the relationship while the submissive man may or may not be present. If the man is not present, he might help her choose what clothes to wear when she meets the other man, or they might get together afterward so she can tell him about it, either while having sex or in addition to withholding sex. If the man is present during the cuckolding, he may or may not be allowed to pleasure himself while watching. The cuckolding may or may not be followed by sex between the couple. Another variant of the cuckolding fetish is that a heterosexual couple fantasizes that another man has already impregnated the woman.
- The submissive's having to ask permission to orgasm during sex or masturbation.
- The submissive's being forced to wear a gag or restraints on the body.
- Forced masturbation in a humiliating manner.
- Feelings of humiliation are key to many of those engaged in klismaphilia.
Sexual roleplaying can involve humiliation. For example, one person might play the part of a dog because he or she enjoys being mock-forced into it, and the top might emphasize the lowness of the bottom's status as an animal, whereas another person might play the role of the dog without any element of humiliation, simply as an expression of an inner animal or playful spirit.
Psychology of humiliation
Humiliation in general stimulates the same brain regions that are associated with physical pain, the inference being that humans evolved to remember social rewards and punishments as strongly as they recall physical reward or pain in response to their environment. As with any form of pain experimentation in a sexual context, consent and (paradoxically) a high degree of awareness and communication are needed to ensure that the result is desirable, rather than abusive. For example, a submissive may enjoy being insulted in some ways but be genuinely crushed and devastated if humiliated or insulted in other ways.
Humiliation play is also connected to sexual fetishism, in that non-sexual activities may become sexualised by association with arousal, and also may be associated with exhibitionism in the sense of wanting others to witness (or being aroused by others witnessing) one's sexual degradation.
For some people, activities such as name-calling are a way of achieving ego reduction or getting over sexual inhibitions. For example, between gay people, terms usually associated with homophobia may be used, such as faggot and dyke.
As with all sexual activities, some people have sexual fantasies about humiliation, and others actually undertake it as a lifestyle or in a scene. Sexual fantasies relating to mild humiliation are common. Some humiliation roleplay (pup-play and age play in particular) is combined with loyalty and care-giving to the extent that these fetishes can be seen as exercises in trust rather than primarily a humiliation fetish. The desire to be beneath the other partner during intercourse, the idea of "getting caught" (as in having sex in the garden or woods), and mild rape fantasies (in which the people imagine themselves to be forced in ways they would like, and which are different from any real form of rape) are mild emotional games that emphasise status, vulnerability, and control. However, for most people such ideas remain fantasies; the people would have strong reservations about the fantasies' being made public, or engaged in with a partner in real life, however erotic the idea may be. When someone reveals a fetish to a partner, this usually is a result of great trust. However, the desire to be humiliated may be a motivating cause for confession, in that the act of confessing can itself be humiliating. Many people worry about being ridiculed for their fetishes, and such ridicule from their partners could be psychologically catastrophic. Therefore, many people use online humiliation (in which the humiliator and others are involved via the Internet, using chat, email, websites, etc.) as a compromise between exhibitionism and reality on the one hand, and safety and anonymity on the other.
Online humiliation is the desire to be seen in a sexually embarrassing context on the Internet. This practice allows the submissive to seek fetish partners from across the world.
Common methods of online humiliation:
- Public pillory
- Embarrassing photographic or video assignments for submissives, who must humiliate themselves on camera, etc.
- The requirement for submissives to keep online journals detailing personal information, such as masturbation frequency and details.
- Verbal abuse
- Publicly bidding for items that reveal their fetishes.
- Money slavery, in which the submissive must buy the dominant gifts and pay the dominant's bills and taxes
- Homework slavery, in which the submissive must do the dominant's homework or occupational work
- Repetitive assignments, such as copying the phone book, etc.
- Forcing the submissive to post pictures of himself or herself online
- Humiliating the submissive by changing his or her stats on social sites
- Erotic hypnosis
- Erotic sexual denial
- Sexual fetishism
- Strip search prank call scam, an incident in which erotic humiliation has been raised as a legal defense in a civil lawsuit
- Wild Side Sex: The Book of Kink Educational, Sensual, And Entertaining Essays. Daedalus Publishing. 2005. p. 48. ISBN 978-1-881943-22-8.
- Giannini, AJ; Colapietro, G; Slaby, AE; Melemis, SM; Bowman, RK (1998). "Sexualization of the female foot as a response to sexually transmitted epidemics: a preliminary study". Psychological reports 83 (2): 491–8. PMID 9819924.
- Different loving, p.162.
- St. James, Sindy (2008). How To Get Her To Watch Porn. SecretLifePublishing. pp. 108–10. ISBN 978-0-9818039-5-1. "there is an entire fetish surrounding this act, mostly connected with female-dominated relationships. ... The man can or cannot be present while the woman is having sex with another man (it's overwhelmingly heterosexual cuckolding with this fetish). If the man is not present, he might help her choose clothes for her "date," or they might get together afterward so that she can tell him all about it in detail, either while having sex or in addition to withholding sex as part of the female domination aspect of their relationship. If the man is present during the cuckolding, he may or may not be allowed to pleasure himself while watching his partner have sex with another man. Also, the cuckolding may or may not immediately be followed by sex between the couple. Impregnation and Pregnancy Fetish ... you and your partner fantasizing during sex ... that you both just found out she is pregnant... it can involve cuckolding ... When it is a part of the cuckolding fetish, the fantasy involves the "other man" having impregnated her, and his sperm being stronger than yours, and several other kinds of (agreed-to) humilation."
- Wild Side Sex, p.47.
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