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Erotic humiliation is consensual psychological humiliation in order to produce erotic excitement or sexual arousal. This can be for the person being humiliated and demeaned or for the person humiliating, or for some spectator. It may be part of BDSM and other sexual roleplay or accompanied by the sexual stimulation of one or both partners in the activity. Humiliation is a subjective issue, and is dependent on context. It does not need to be sexual in nature; as with many other sexual activities, it is the feelings that are obtained from the experience that are desired, regardless of the nature of the actual activity. Usually there is a feeling of submission for the person being humiliated, and dominance, for the person implementing the humiliation. Erotic humiliation can be done verbally and/or physically, and can take place privately or publicly. Some individuals assume an acting role and others prefer to be spoken to in a degrading way. A classic technique that can be used to put the submissive into a bottom mind space is to humiliate them while also providing them with sexual stimulation. Select individuals who desire this form of humiliation also use it to acquire emotional release. Humiliation can become ritualized, and unlike some sexual variations it can also be easily carried out over a long distance (such as online).
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.
Terminology and overview
The most common name for the individual being humiliated is the bottom, and the opposite individual who humiliates the bottom is often called the top. However, these terms are standard ones that are used within general dominant/submissive role play and are not specific to humiliation interests.
- If the top is regarded as a female, they are sometimes called the humiliatrix. Other common names include Master/ Dom (male top), and Mistress/ Domme (female top).
- For the bottom (irrespective of gender), other common names are slave and sub/submissive.
While elements of erotic humiliation may be part of a number of domination and submission-based activities, humiliation is not the same as submission. The recipient does not necessarily seek to be ordered about. Humiliation comes into its own as a sexual force when the recipient seeks the humiliation over and above means. For example, when being spanked is primarily valued because of the belittlement involved. Humiliation therefore encompasses a range of paraphilia, including foot fetish, breast 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.
- Animal play, referring to the recipient as a pet, dog, or bitch; making the humiliated one eat and drink from pet food and water bowls.
- Verbal belittlement, with such words as boy, girl, missy, and pet.
- Insults and verbal abuse, such as fat, ugly, stupid, sick, disgusting, and worthless.
- Degrading names, such as slut, shit, bitch, cunt, and whore.
- Disparaging or cruel references about breasts, facial appearance, genitalia (including small penis size, erection difficulties, or circumcision status), buttocks, or about behaviors such as walking, responsiveness, and hygiene.
- Requirement to ask permission for everyday activities, such as going to the toilet, spending money, and eating.
- Forced repetition, such as the humiliated one 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, eye contact rules, 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. In recent years, the gender reversed form of cuckoldry (where the man has sex with a woman outside the relationship) has become more commonly referred to as "cuckqueenery" or "cuckqueening" (sometimes also spelled "cuckquean"). 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.
- Enemas cause feelings of humiliation which are key to many of those engaged in klismaphilia,  and watching the consequent defecation can amplify that humiliation.
Sexual roleplaying can involve humiliation. For example, one person might play the part of a dog because they enjoy 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 simulated rape are 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. As the Internet has grown and continues to grow, so does online humiliation. Anecdotal reports indicate that the proportion of men being dominated by women on the Internet, through some type of personal service provided for a fee by the woman, vastly exceeds the instances of a woman being dominated online by a man, or another woman.
Common methods of online humiliation:
- Public pillory
- Embarrassing photographic or video assignments for submissives, who must publicly post pictures or videos of their humiliation. The dominant may require public acts or exposure. Sometimes humiliating words are written on the submissive's body before photographing.
- Requiring the submissive to post publicly their name, address, phone number, employer, or other personal information.
- The requirement for submissives to keep online journals detailing personal information, such as masturbation frequency, thoughts or fantasies, technique or aid(s) used, and disposal of semen (if the submissive is allowed to masturbate).
- The requirement for the submissive to place themself in chastity, and to publicly post a picture showing their status.
- 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, or give the dominant direct access to their bank accounts and credit cards.
- Homework slavery, in which the submissive must do the dominant's homework or occupational work.
- Repetitive assignments, such as copying the phone book.
- Humiliating the submissive by changing information on social sites.
- Controlling the submissive's computer remotely, through remote desktop software the submissive is required to install.
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- Erotic hypnosis
- Erotic sexual denial
- Financial domination
- Sexual fetishism
- Midori (美登里) (2005). Wild Side Sex: The Book of Kink Educational, Sensual, And Entertaining Essays. Daedalus Publishing. 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. doi:10.2466/pr0.83.6.491-498. PMID 9819924.
- Different loving, p. 162
- Different loving, p. 102.
- 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.
- Different loving, p. 517.