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Humiliation Play 101: What Is It, Anyway?


    When most people think of BDSM and dominance, they think of spanking, whips, and pain. There's another side to BDSM that has nothing to do with pain play – humiliation play. It's the erotic pleasure of servitude and obedience to a Dominant partner. To some, it might seem abusive, but as along as there is clear communication and set boundaries, it is always consensual. Technogeisha of Life in the Swingset gives some insight into the eroticism of humiliation.

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    In the realm of BDSM it can be an uncomfortable topic. Everyone is used to spanking, flogging, even bondage. These subjects can sometime seem, dare I say, pedestrian. Unfortunately, I don’t particularly enjoy pain play. Not on it’s own anyway. Even with an experienced Dominatrix (Dom) I only come close to the edge, but not over it. What takes me to that place involves hands intertwined in my hair, my head pulled back, being forced to my knees, being told what I can and cannot do, having to ask or even beg for release, and it all starts with the words, “Are you my dirty whore?”

    It’s not just pain or forceful dominance. The power is also in the words – in the triggers. In the real world I don’t approve of the words, “whore” or “slut” being used to shame. I also don’t like being told what to do. Tell me not to do, say, or wear something and I’ll immediately want to do it. In the realm of play, though, the things I can’t abide in real life become erotic. These words, strongly delivered, are a turn on. I long to be told what to do. I want to give my Master complete control of me and enjoy every “Please, Sir” and “Thank you, Sir” I utter. I’m aroused by the fear of being punished for not completing a task or forgetting to ask permission. These triggers are strong and can even work when written. I’ve been reduced to a wet mess with just a text. It’s not about the smack on the ass or a cane across the thighs. It’s about the power exchange. It’s the ultimate mind-fuck.

    At its core, erotic humiliation is about using embarrassment, fear and shame. These aspects can run the spectrum from verbal to physical. It’s also important to note that humiliation and dominance are not exactly the same thing. Humiliation doesn’t always involve being ordered about. Strict humiliation without dominance is when words and actions are used to belittle, not to dominate. The Dom, in the absence of dominance, is sometimes called a Humiliatrix. Personally, I like humiliation along with dominance and a good dose of bondage thrown in. It’s less about embarrassment for me than it is about giving up control.

    Erotic humiliation itself can be broken down into a variety of verbal and physical forms. Verbal humiliation can mean the use of words like slut or whore; being mocked, ridiculed or having your appearance belittled; use of racial or ethnic slurs; asking permission to eat, to go to the bathroom or to have an orgasm; not allowing the Submissive (Sub) to leave the dungeon or house; treated like a pet or an object; being treated or scolded like a child; made to use honorifics such as Master, Mistress, Sir, Ma’am or Daddy. An example would be using demeaning language with the Sub, either in a forced feminization, a pet play or slave scene.

    Physical aspects of humiliation can be; being slapped or spanked; having movements restricted; orgasm denial or orgasm on demand; sexual denial by command or use of chastity device; enforced dress code (i.e.: forced cross-dressing) or required to wear nothing; deprival of privacy such as being watched using the toilet; requiring to wear a collar; performing acts of body worship; performing tasks or acts of service; public humiliation; being used as furniture; being ejaculated on or spit on; used as a human toilet; cuckolding; performing sexual acts without reciprocation. Examples can be the use of spanking to humiliate like a child, using someone as a chair or footrest, forced oral sex or asking the sub to do something embarrassing in public.

    Humiliation, just like pain play, requires discussion and negotiation beforehand to state desired play, set limits and agreement on safe words. It is important to establish a clear safe word in play where words like “no”, “stop”, “ow” or “help” can be part of the scenario. You also need to decide whether it will be played out as just a scene or be part of everyday life. As in open relationships, Communication is very important when multiple partners are involved. Different partners could have different rules and boundaries. It helps to have a Top that you trust & feel comfortable with. Erotic humiliation is about discovering erotic triggers. Constant communication on both sides of the Dominance/submission (D/s) relationship helps to know not only what works but also what doesn’t.

    It can be difficult to understand why someone would find the eroticization of humiliation such a turn on. It can look frighteningly like abuse from the outside. It’s important to know that both the Dom/Top and the sub/bottom are engaging in play that arouses the other. Humiliation is not just about pleasuring yourself, but your play partner as well. The sub tells the Dom what they would and would not like to do, and vice versa, so it is always consensual. Even rape play that looks non-consensual was negotiated ahead of time with safe words and limits. Aftercare is just as important here as it is with pain play. Erotic humiliation is a mind game so there should be comfort and reassurance afterward.

    I feel like this was only the tip of the iceberg on this topic. I can only hope it opened a small window into a kind of kink that has a tendency to live in the shadow of it’s pain play cousin. If you’d like to include some of this into your play the best way to start is talking to your partner. Do a little researching, a little soul-searching and start slowly if need be. There are books that cover the subject by authors such as Tristan Taormino and Midori, plus lots of erotica for inspiration. You can even find classes on erotic humiliation at popular adult stores, fetish events and dungeons. Humiliation is different things to different people. It may take both conversation and experimentation to find what works for you.

    Cross posted with permission from Life on the Swing Set.

    Technogeisha loves to use her passion for writing and research to learn more about open relationships and sexuality. She looks forward to sharing her discoveries with all of you. She writes for Life on the Swing Set and contributes to Sexis Social at Eden Fantasys and other sites. Find her on Facebook as Miko Technogeisha and on Twitter as @Technogeisha.
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