Humiliation vs Shame vs Embarrassment vs Objectification vs Degradation by MrsB

I happen to be married to a really perverted guy. When he and I met, he let me explore the limits of my libido for the first time (so far, no known limits; expanding along with the universe), and showed me how to let myself be a really, really perverted gal. I was new to kink, and his kink informed my own in a very formative way. So as a result, I like to play with other really, really perverted guys and gals.

One of the really perverted things I have been both drawn to and repelled by(*) is that type of play we kinky people call Humiliation. I’ve met lots of people into Humiliation Play in the last decade, and I’ve discovered that no two bottoms/subs/slaves/littles/pets mean quite the same thing when they use that term. It’s more of an umbrella term for lots of different types of emotionally submissive play. Under that umbrella are humiliation, shame, embarrassment,degradation, and objectification. (I may have left some out. Let me know if I have.)

What I’ve discovered is that it’s not enough to tell someone that you’re into Humiliation and leave it at that. Most tops/doms/daddies/mistresses/owners I meet have a more general understanding of the kind of play that lies under that umbrella term. I’ve tried for years to explain why I like certain kinds of Humiliation and not other kinds, and I have yet to satisfy myself or any of my potential play partners, so I’ve shied away from that kind of play with others for fear of a Bad Experience.

I don’t want to shy away from it anymore. So this is really a personal exercise for me to define what I think each of the following terms means, whether I want it, and under what circumstances. I hope other people find it useful, too, since I’ve noticed I’m not the only person who has trouble finding the right language to talk about this stuff.

Humiliation

To humiliate: to cause a painful loss of pride, self-respect, or dignity

I love everything about this definition. As both a submissive/bottom type player, and a Dominant/Top type player. It’s masochistic (“painful loss”); it fulfills power exchange goals; it allows for all kinds of delicious creativity. To use this term in a discussion with a play partner is an invitation to get to know each other better. Find out what makes the other person tick. What do you fear? What do you crave? Why? What are your neuroses? What do you want, need, despise? What do you spend lots of time thinking about? It’s not enough to say someone is into humiliation – each person has different sources of pride, self-respect, and dignity. Find out what they are. Then find out what is the healthiest way to take it away from them.

Which brings me to what I view as the sub-sets of Humiliation:

Shame

Shame: The painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, etc, done by oneself

This, for me, is the most explosive, potentially hot, and also potentially toxic one. It’s tricky; it’s dangerous. It’s awfully closely related to guilt, and more importantly, self-worth. I love to feel ashamed in a scene. It makes me really, really hot. This bothered me for a long time. There I was, an intelligent, educated, modern woman and feminist, with plenty of shame issues to overcome in her day-to-day life (as every woman does), and feeling ashamed in a scene made my pussy dripping wet. This in and of itself, I thought, was shameful. (A viciously hot cycle for anyone who could figure it out.) I took lots of time to think about this. It was a process. I’ve worked it out for myself now, and I’m OK with how I am and why this works for me.

BUT! There is a big But here for me. I only consent to this kind of play with people I trust, because sometimes I carry the shame with me beyond the scene. This is something I do not want. I know there are people who like to hold on to the shameful feeling they get in a humiliation scene; they want to enjoy it, feel it linger, process it. More power to them. I don’t know how they do it. For me, it’s not healthy. I have no interest in emotional masochism outside of play. I view shame as a very personal thing. It is related to our own self-images, our self-esteem, how valuable we view ourselves as people. One feels ashamed of oneself. We are each our own harshest critic. We internalize it. It can warp us.

There are lots of ways to prevent this from happening. I need evidence that you care about me despite my exposed flaw. If I don’t get some kind of validation from my play partner either during or after a scene involving shame, I may end up hating something about myself, and/or hating the person who made me feel that way. I don’t want to resent myself or my partners. The best validation for me is a hard cock/swollen pussy. Let me touch it. Fuck me. Have an orgasm brought on by my humiliation. It proves to me that you are just as fucked up as I am, in your own perverted way. That’s my aftercare. Then, check in with regularity in the days after. Continue to be my friend/lover/partner. That way I know you, the person I care about and trust, are OK with my flaws, you embrace them even, and I don’t have to beat myself up about it.

Embarrassment

To embarrass: To cause to feel confusion or self-consciousness; to disconcert; to fluster. Embarrassment usually refers to a feeling less painful than that of shame, one associated with less serious situations, often of a social nature

Embarrassment is like Shame’s exhibitionist cousin. One cannot be embarrassed without an audience. When you have chocolate on your face, and you don’t realize it until after you’ve given a 90-minute presentation to your colleagues – that’s embarrassing. If you got chocolate on your face at home, and happened to notice it in the mirror 2 hours after you ate the chocolate, that’s just realizing you should wipe your face.

If I’m subbing to you and you want to really take the humiliation to another level, put it in front of an audience to add embarrassment to the shame. But beware that I will most likely get defensive in front of those voyeuristic fuckers over there whom I don’t trust. If you want to see angry/bratty/snarky MrsB, this is the way to go. I will threaten to kick you in the nuts. I will call you a fucking asshole. I might step on your toe with my stiletto, or do something to fuck up your perfect rigging. I will provoke you. I know full well what the consequences are. Scenes like that can be cathartic and fun, but they’ll be very different from scenes in the privacy of home. I can’t get embarrassed if it’s just you and me.

If you really want to break me, do a humiliation scene complete with embarrassment in front of an audience, and then tell me that if I talk back you’ll stop playing with me. I will do one of two things: shut down quietly, or break down explosively. BEWARE: this kind of scene may have a Bad Ending. I don’t want the scene to end when I break down. I want to push past it. I will feel like a failure because you are setting me up do to something that’s close to impossible for me. The trick is to make me feel like I’m not a failure. I need a reward for my efforts. Let me have some success after my total failure. See above re: swollen genitals and orgasms. Or (less ideally but still good) give me a task you know I can complete, and let me complete it. Let me please you.

Now, onto something very different:

Degradation

To degrade: To reduce in worth, honor, strength, character, rank, status, etc.

This, to me, is the essence of Power Exchange. I find it difficult to be satisfied in play without some kind of degradation involved. WHAT is reduced by kind of play, and play partner. In a simple rope scene, it may be agency. In a pain scene, it might be strength or endurance. If there is D/s involved, it’s status. But in any case, the thing the sub agrees to give up is transferred actively to the top in the form of power and control. The sub is degraded in direct proportion to the empowerment of the top. And I think it’s really important to note that while the word “degradation” normally carries a hugely negative connotation, when used in a BDSM context I am not necessarily implying something unpleasant or negative. Becoming reduced or “less than” can be a really wonderful experience when that’s what you want.

When I sub, I want to feel like you are worth more than I am. I want to feel lesser than you. I want you to feel like More than me. I will do what I can to allow you to feel that way. If I’m the top in the scene, I want to feel like I’m better than you are. I want to feel more powerful. I want my status to be elevated. In play involving really intense Power Exchange, I want the bottom to feel degraded on multiple levels; I want them (or me) to feel like their needs and wants don’t matter at all; I even want them (or me) to feel that their only desire is to please and elevate the top; therefore a total loss of ego on the part of the bottom is the ultimate goal. This is the essence of degradation for me, and it plays an important part in my overall concept of kink.

A subset of Degradation is:

Objectification

To objectify: [I am using the classic feminist definition for the purposes of this entry; it seems more relevant to our kink definitions of “objectification”] The seven features of objectification are
1. instrumentality (to treat as a tool used for a purpose)
2. denial of autonomy
3. inertness (to treat as though lacking in agency)
4. fungibility (to treat as though interchangeable with other objects)
5. violability (to treat as though lacking in boundaries)
6. ownership (to treat as though capable of being bought or sold)
7. denial of subjectivity (to deny the validity or the existence of the object’s thoughts/feelings)

While Degradation implies a lowering or reduction of these things (rank, status, worth, strength, etc), Objectification implies an elimination of these qualities. I have told people in the past that I love to be objectified; now I realize that isn’t strictly true. I have learned that in order to be fulfilled in my kink, I need to feel like an active participant in it. I think it takes a special kind of mindset to feel that one’s active participation in a scene goes only as far as surrendering one’s right to self. It’s difficult for me to find that particular mindset when it’s needed.

Now, if someone is attempting to objectify me and I’m not actually expected to “act” like an object (that seems like an oxymoron) – then that makes for a hot scene. I do enjoy the dilemma posed when the goal is to objectify me (for the pleasure of the top) but I’m unwilling to do so (for the preservation of my pride). There is a give and take there; I’m required to actively subjugate my own pride for the pleasure of the top and I feel like I’m participating in something. If I’m to be an object from the get-go, I get bored. The one kind of objectification I nearly always like is sexual objectification – I love to be reduced to a body or even a body part for use. (The feminist in me is pitching a fit as I write this, but deep down, she loves that I’m owning my sexual desires this way.)


So, patient readers, there you have it. My own personal breakdown of the age-old Humiliation vs. Shame vs. Embarrassment vs. Degradation vs. Objectification question.

(*)The top in me goes: “Attracted to AND repelled by? Internal conflict! HOT.”

 

This writing was kindly lent to us by MrsB.

More of her writings can be found on her blog: Marginalia

 

“The Addiction Of Labels” by Ferrett Steinmetz

I had a girlfriend, once, who was special to me. She held me with the strength of mountains, and she studied all the most fascinating things so whenever we talked she brought me glorious bouquets of new concepts, and whenever I looked into her beautiful wide eyes I longed to kiss her. Every. Damn. Time.

Yet I dated other women. That made her nervous. How could she be special to me when I loved other women, too? What assurances could she have that I wouldn’t leave?

So she asked for a special reservation of the term: “Girlfriend.” She alone was my girlfriend. All the others? Were sweeties. That term signified our special bond, the esteem we held each other in, and that was how she was special to me.

Except.

I still dated other women. And when she saw me speaking well of them in public, or heard that I was courting someone new, she got nervous. How could she be special to me?

So we reserved the nose-moop. When I touched her nose, I went “Mowp.” With every other girl, I went “Meep.” The fact that I reserved this one word for her alone signified how special she was to me.

Except.

I still dated other women. And when I talked about them on Twitter, she felt lonely. How could she be special to me?

So I got her a stuffed bear that was hers alone, the sole gift from her to me.

Except.

So we got jewelry we bought, and wore, specifically for each other.

Except.

So I got books that were only shared with her.

Except.

So I made special date nights that were reserved for her, and her only.

Except….

And each of these special moments were absorbed into the body of our relationship, and still she needed more proof. It was a steady drug I gave to her, and she built up a tolerance for it, to the point where I’d point at the “Girlfriend” and the “mowp” and the necklaces and the bear and the books and the date nights and all the other things I haven’t even mentioned here, and still she didn’t feel like she was irreplaceable in my life.

Because she didn’t feel it inside. All the external validations were merely quick-fixes that lasted maybe a month before vanishing into the lack of self-worth. I’d spend hours enumerating all the reasons why she held a special position in my life, all the wonderful things I loved about her, but they disappeared like dropping stones into the ocean.

Deep down, she didn’t feel like she could offer anything unique.

So she wanted more. And I was already getting snarled on the hundreds of special memories we’d set up like tripwire, these elaborate ceremonies we had made to make her feel better, except by now they didn’t make her feel better, they only made her feel more insecure if I slipped up and forgot one of the endless numbers of special things I was now obligated to do for her.

These weren’t rituals. Rituals were things we could have done together to grow closer to one another. But we were close. These were exclusions, designed to keep other people out rather than to grow us as a couple, labels designed to exalt this person above the other smoochy-folks I had.

Eventually, we broke up. I realized I could not reassure her and remain polyamorous (well, technically, given my wife, I’d become polyfidelitous). And I was tired, so very tired, of always having to reassure this wonderful woman of how goddamned wonderful she really was, because though she was smart and clever and sexy, I never found a way to communicate with her that she could everfeel that.

Maybe there was a way to make her feel loved in a way that didn’t strangle me in the process, but if so, I couldn’t find it.

And so I left. Because I wasn’t making her happy, and she wasn’t making me happy, and I worried that if I did go polyfidelitous that would just be another label that would wear off in a month.

To this day, I’m skeptical of labels. I think they have an addictive quality. Sure, sometimes you see a couple making a single rule and that’s it – “You can’t sleep with them in our bed” – but more often what follows are a cascade of additional restrictions, each designed to wall off the other partners in some way as a proof of love, each time the couple being convinced that this, this new thing will reassure them once and for all.

When the truth is, if you need a special label to survive, often they either don’t speak your love language properly, or the life they need to live is going to take such a great toll on your self-esteem that they can’t stay in good faith.

All the labels in the world can’t fix that problem, and it’s only going to make it worse to try.

They’ve gotta know why you love them, and all the restrictive rituals in the world can’t patch that hole.

And to this day, sometimes I’m sad. She’s not in my life, and can’t be. But some days I sit around, and feel the hole that she’s left behind that has never actually healed, missing all the little things that came from her and no one else.

Yes, I dated other women. Because they had their own unique charms, just like she did, except thankfully the women I date these days mostly understand just how incredible and unique they are to me, and I love them and crave them and need them.

But they weren’t her. They couldn’t be.

She was irreplaceable. Even more so now that she’s gone.

What label could encompass that?

 

This article was kindly lent to Utah TNG by Ferrett Steinmetz

More of his writings can be found on his blog: The Ferrett

“New ‘Dom’ on the scene ready to play” by Busty McGee

 

How many times have we seen this posted in groups, sent in messages, as a status, “new Dom to the scene and want to explore”. First let me say I think it’s exciting to see BDSM turning into less of a Taboo act. I find it unfortunate the reason is because a crappy novel was written by an ill-formed author but the fact that one crappy novel has turned BDSM into an actual topic of discussion is a wonderful thing. The more who try to understand the less we have to hide in the shadows.

A pitfall to the mainstream of society finding out about closed door activities is sometimes a new person to the scene might have a difficult time locating correct and safe information on how to practice BDSM. Enter sites like Fetlife, a place where people can ask questions, discuss issues, and seek answers. Fetlife can be a wonderful tool for a new person to the scene to fill their head with knowledge. It can also serve as a hunting ground for predators who are looking for their next victim to abuse. An unfortunate side effect but the world can be a dark place and wherever there is Light there will also always be Dark.

When I am contacted by someone new to the scene my first question is, “Have you gone to any events?” I wish I would have started going to events a lot sooner than I had but no point in lamenting the past, I go to events now and it has made all the difference. Events are a way to put an actual face to an avatar. They are a way to safely meet someone from the internet as you as surrounded by others who are there with you. Events also allow you to meet other like minded people by providing an opportunity to see if you have chemistry with a potential partner in a “no pressure, no expextations” type setting, (espically Munches). I personally like to use events as a way to vet potential playmates by requesting they met me at an event first before any play takes place. If they are unwilling to fulfil such an easy request then they are unworthy of my time and attention.

Knowledge is power. This is a phrase most of us are familiar with because it holds true throughout time. The more informed we are the better decisions we can make which will hopefully result in the outcome we are looking for. This goes for most, if not all things in life not just BDSM but is especially important for BDSM. Being knowledgeable is your greatest weapon in keeping yourself and others safe. As a new Dom, being knowledgeable will allow you to safely top you submissive without fear of breaking them beyond repair. As a sub, being knowledgeable will allow you to recgonize a Dom who’s objectives are much more selfish and dangerous which can cause damage to your person if not corrected.

This is so important I’m going to say this again.

Being informed about BDSM will help you recgonize red flags for potential danger.

In mainstream society most of us are aware the wolrd is full of selfish people out there who are more concerned about their own wants and needs more than the person they are with. Those assholes who treat you like a princess and then never call you again after you finally have sex with them. Well guess what? Now that BDSM has started to enter into the mainstream those same assholes have found a new playground for hunting. They now have the chance to invole from just a typical one night stand, “they charm, they fuck, they leave”. To a much more dangerous one night stand filled with BDSM debauchery, “they charm, they slap, smack, flog, fuck, they leave”. I’m honestly not sure if one is worse than the other because they both require a certain level of asshole to achieve such horrible mind set. They have no concern for aftercare because they know they won’t be around long enough for it to matter to them.

Aftercare is extremely important!! I mean super important guys! We cut ourselves open, sometimes literally and most of the time emotionally, every time we play. One has to be prepared for the possibility for drop to occur. That sinking lonely feeling where, even though you’re completely surrounded by people, you still feel as if you are utterly alone…or maybe that’s just me. No matter how you experience it, it’s common for drops to occur. Your brain receives a rush of endorphins and all those other yummy chemicals that floods you with the warm tingling feeling of happiness. Drop is like a sugar crash and it’s important for your mental health to try to counter act it as much as possible. If a Dom doesn’t even take the time to check in, make sure their submissive is doing ok, eating chocolate, listening to music, filling their head with good vibes once again, then that’s a Dom one should avoid.

The Doms who forgo protocols to address an owned slave/sub directly. The ones who claim to have experience but when asked, “How do you provide aftercare to your bottoms?” not only have no idea what you mean but see aftercare as an unnecessary subject to even mention. The Doms who don’t take the time to negotiate a scene with you before play has even started. The Doms, who frankly, don’t give a shit about and will leave you feeling used, abused, and unwanted when they are done. They exist and they are dangerous. Being well informed about BDSM will help you develop your own vetting process so you have a better advantage of avoiding them. You will know the right questions to ask and have a better idea on what a correct responds should be.

Speaking as a Dom who doesn’t have years of experience under my belt, I feel much more comfortable playing with someone when we have both discussed our limits and limitations. Where I should and shouldn’t hit if it’s an impact scene. Do you have any medical conditions? Do you want humiliation play? What should I say to put you in the right space? What words could be a possible trigger for you? What your safety word is?!?! These questions don’t even being to scratch the surface on everything that needs to be cover they are just offering an example of what should be asked by both parties. If you are reading this and are thinking, “That’s more personal information than I wish to give anyone.” Then you should really ask yourself if BDSM is right for you.

Engaing in play can be an extremely intiament act. You are opening yourself up to another in a way which gives them power over you. Why would you want to hand that over so freely without any forethought to the outcome? Giving someone the power to potentially bring you to your breaking point is a lot of responsibility, why give such responsibility to someone you are not able to trust?

Trust they will keep you safe. Trust they are able to make sure their “toys” are in better condition than they were when they got them. Trust that they are just as much there for you as they are for themselves. Trust that can only be gained through knowledge.

Being knowledgeable about BDSM will help you navigate these kinky waters which still have to be sailed in the shadows. Let the knowledge you obtain about BDSM be your lighthouse to safe shores while helping you to avoid the rocks. The more knowledge you have the brighter your lighthouse will be.

This writing has been kindly lent to us by Busty_McGee from Fetlife.

Here is the Original Writing

Here is her Fetlife Profile