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- This article is about consensual erotic humiliation; for abusive sexual humiliation, see the main article humiliation
Erotic humiliation is the consensual use of psychological humiliation in a sexual context, whereby one person gains arousal or erotic excitement from the mixed and powerful emotions of being humiliated and demeaned. The humiliation need not be sexual in itself, as with many other sexual activities it is the feelings derived from it which are sought, regardless of the nature of the actual activity. It can be verbal or physical, and can be relatively private or public. Often it can become ritualized, and unlike some sexual variations it can also be easily carried out over a long distance or online. The distinction between humiliation and dominance in an activity such as erotic spanking is that the sought after effect is primarily the humiliation, the activity is just a means to that end.
Whilst mild or moderate humiliation is not an uncommon part of BDSM or other sexual roleplay, humiliation play can be taken to a point where it becomes considered edgeplay by most people, either due to its extreme nature or due to the controversial views on its psychological impact. 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 them is often called the top. Other common names are slave or sub/submissive for the bottom, and Master/Mistress or dom/dominant for the top. A professional dominant who specializes in humiliation play is sometimes known as a humiliatrix.
Humiliation is not the same as domination as the devotee is not necessarily seeking to be ordered about. Humiliation comes into its own as a sexual force when the devotee seeks the humiliation over and above the means, for example when being spanked is primarily valued because of the belittlement involved. As such, it encompasses a range of paraphilia, in particular foot fetish or 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, or it can be complex, involving roleplay or public displays of subservience. It can also be for a set period of time (a "scene") or as an ongoing facet of a relationship.
Means of humiliation
Sexual humiliation is very open ended. Broadly it can be divided into verbal, and physical aspects. Verbal aspects might include:
- Verbal belittlement, such as "slave", "boy", "girl", "missy", "pet".
- Insults and verbal abuse, such as "fat", "ugly", "stupid", "worthless".
- Degrading references such as "slut", "tart", "bitch", "faggot" and "whore".
- Slighting of body parts or behaviors, such as disparaging or cruel references to breasts, facial appearance, genitalia or genital size, bottom, and slighting of mannerisms such as walking, responsiveness, standard of self-care.
- Having to ask permission for everyday activities such as toilet, or eating or spending money.
- Small breasts humiliation, where scorn is addressed towards the supposed inadequacy of the female's breasts or her inability to please a man (and by implication her essential worthlessness as a woman and her breasts becomes an object of play for the man).
- Small penis humiliation, where scorn is addressed towards the supposed inadequacy of the male's genitals or his inability to please a woman (and by implication his essential worthlessness as a man and his penis becomes an object of play for the woman).
- Forced repetition, such as being obliged to repeat back commands to confirm them.
- Forced flattery, such as agreeing that every decision that the dominant makes is wise, correct, and justifiable while additionally praising the dominants physical and personality traits.
- Mockery and ridicule.
Physical and tangible aspects might include:
- Ejaculating, defecating, spitting, slapping or urinating on the bottom's body or, especially, the face.
- Performance of menial tasks or abusive workload such as cleaning the floors with a toothbrush.
- Frequent performance of passive/aggressive sexual services for the dominant, such as erotic massage, cunnilingus, analingus, or fellatio without expectations of reciprocal acts or intercourse.
- Detailed accountability and control (micro-management) as to time spent or activities done, including list of jobs to do, precise directions as to how the housework is to be performed, and exactly how to act and behave.
- Specific rituals and affectations to be adopted. This includes displays of subservience, such as lighting cigarettes, walking a pace behind the dominant, only speaking when spoken to, kneeling or prostrating in front of the dominant when expecting orders, eating only after others or on the floor, low status place to sleep, and a wide variety of body worship activities such as kissing and/or licking the dominant's feet, boots, buttocks, anus, vulva etc. to express acknowledgment, subservience, shame, or even positive emotions such as happiness or excitement.
- Suppressed Freedom of Movement. This may include never being able to leave the room in which the dominant is present without permission, and may be forbidden to leave the house or 'dungeon' in general for the duration of slavery or servitude.
- Detailed punishments for a variety of 'infractions' or misbehavior, such as having to stand in a corner facing a wall for several hours, flogging or whipping, reduced rations, or forced exercise.
- Roleplaying "lower status" beings such as animals (for example dog or horse) or babies (see human animal roleplay and adult baby play).
- Spanking, whipping, restraint or other BDSM activities such as cock and ball torture (CBT).
- Prohibitions or restrictions on clothing. For females a common example is being mandated to only wear revealing bikinis or lingerie. For men, this may include feminizing, cross dressing and/or sissification. Both sexes may be expected to go completely in the nude, with decorative objects such as collars, bands, tiaras, or cuffs being the only exceptions.
- Use of chastity belts or other means of erotic sexual denial.
- Wearing of external signs of "ownership" such as a collar.
- Having friends, family or strangers aware of or witnessing one's treatment (i.e.: public humiliation).
- Erotic objectification, where the bottom is cast in the role of an object, such as a footstool.
- Forced Homosexuality
Some sexual humiliation involves inflicting pain but much of it is far more concerned with ridicule, mocking, degradation and embarrassment.
Sexual roleplaying may or may not involve humiliation. For example, one person might play the part of a dog because they enjoy being mock-forced into it and the top will 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 their inner animal or playful spirit.
Psychology of humiliation
Humiliation in general touches strong emotional buttons, the more so when it becomes sexualized. Because of this, consent and paradoxically a high degree of awareness and communication is needed, to ensure that the result is desirable rather than abusive. For example, a submissive may enjoy being insulted in some ways, but 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 sexualized 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) ones 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".
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 of humiliation are very common, but for most people remain a fantasy - they would have strong reservations about it being public, or engaged in with a partner for real, however erotic the idea may be. Others do explore humiliation with partners, and many people use online humiliation (where 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 via the internet. This is generally considered "safe", as the fetishist can control the time and degree of exposure. However, some adherents have overestimated the net's privacy and found themselves in compromising difficulty, in a rather ironic outcome that fulfills the wish for humiliation far more than originally intended.
Online humiliation allows the submissive to seek fetish partners across the world, to send them embarrassing pictures or to submit to their demeaning instructions without it directly affecting their home life (hopefully).
The process can be conducted via chat and webcam, or via email, or via dating and contact websites or even via online auctions where the person publicly bids for items that reveal their fetishes.
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