Monday, June 27, 2011

Kink Monday - Humiliation

Humiliation is one of those hot button kinks that no one seems to feel equivocal about. Most kinky romance readers either love it or hate it. I know I used humiliation pretty liberally in Comfort Object, Mercy, and Club Mephisto, while I haven't used it at all in other books.

In writing this post, I wanted to get the input of someone who really loved the kink of humiliation in order to give everyone the most positive view of the loving, smexy side of this fetish. I asked my friend "Baby Firefly" for an interview since I think she's a real expert on the emotional side of this topic. I hope you enjoy her wonderful responses!

Annabel: Thanks a lot for agreeing to talk to us today about humiliation. I find this is a widely misunderstood fetish, so first things first. Could you give us your explanation of what humiliation kink is?

Baby Firefly: You’re welcome, Annabel. I think you’re right about it being a misunderstood fetish. Hopefully I can shed some light on it. Note: for the sake of ease, and so I don’t tear out my hair, I’m just going to use dom and sub in this interview. No offense is intended by this.

Erotic humiliation is where one derives sexual arousal, pleasure, or what have you, from being demeaned or degraded by another person. As I see it, this particular fetish is largely psychological in nature, and because of the potential for emotional harm, I would definitely classify it as edge play.

This fetish widely varies from person to person. For instance, being called names like slut or whore can be humiliating and even damaging to one person, but another may take no issue with it. The key is for the dom to have good insight to the sub’s psyche. I think humiliation works best between players who know each other very well.

Annabel: Were you always turned on by humiliation, or was it something that a partner got you into?

Baby Firefly: I wasn’t always turned on by it. I was one of those people who didn’t understand it. My owner is a sadist, and like most, he gets off on inflicting emotional as well as physical pain. We hadn’t planned on exploring it. It just sort of happened. We did a scene involving pet play and discovered that we both really got off on the humiliating aspects of it. After that, we began exploring it more in depth.

Annabel: Oh man, that's pretty hot. Have you ever had communication problems with your partner regarding humiliation? For instance, expressing what was okay and what was not okay, or how far to take things?

Baby Firefly: We’ve been together for nine years now and know each other really well. For us, communication has been crucial in making it work. Before we moved forward with the edgier side of humiliation, we had a long discussion about where the boundaries were for me and for him. After a really intense and degrading scene, we talk about it. The sexual component is only half of it. Processing the emotions it brings up is part of the aftercare. Sometimes I need that, and other times I don’t. The bonus is that not only does it bring us closer, but talking about it always makes for hot conversation.

Annabel: Why do you think so many romance readers dislike humiliation, even consensual/desired humiliation scenes between people in love? Is it due to misunderstanding of the kink? Do you think there is a stigma against it? Do you ever feel stigmatized for enjoying it?

Baby Firefly: As women we’re bombarded with feminism, equality, empowerment. Humiliation opposes the societal norms we’re raised with. It’s been drilled into our heads that that type of treatment is wrong, abusive even. Romantic fiction is largely based on fantasy. And while readers can stretch their boundaries by enjoying things like dominance and submission, it’s difficult for them to take that a step further with humiliation. It makes them uncomfortable and it’s hard for them to sexualize it even when it’s the heroine who desires it.

I do think there is a stigma attached to it, but then there is with most BDSM practices outside of those who live it. I used to be very closed lipped about it even among my friends in the community. It turns out that the hang-up was mine. Funny how that works. I’ve come to embrace it. The wonderful thing about kinky people is how open and accepting they are about sexuality. Now, it’s not something I’d go telling the girls in my book club. I don’t think I’d be invited back after that.

Annabel: This is very personal, but can you share a humiliation scene you participated in that really moved you? Or a humiliation scene in a romance book that you thought was really written well?

Baby Firefly: Well, since posting a very personal scene for all to see would be its own form of humiliation, how can I say no? I’ll leave you with one of my journal entries. Thanks for having me here at Kinky Ever After, Annabel.

A Slut Goes to the Store

Sounds like the first line of a joke right? So not a joke. This weekend I was treated to taste of mild public humiliation. My owner wrote SLUT on my calf in huge letters in black marker. Not so bad right? That's what I thought until he sent me to the corner store at 5:30 PM on a Friday.

The mindfuck of it all was that it was written in washable marker. I could have very easily wiped it off before I went in to make my purchase. But at what cost? I don't particularly like being caned, so as much as I hated it, as humiliated as I was, the word had to stay.

I contemplated how I would play this out on the drive up. Would I try to stand with one leg in front of the other, attempting to hide it and in effect sharing my humiliation and embarrassment with the other patrons? Or would I stand there bold as brass and smirk at anyone who dared to look or whisper?

I ended up pretending that it wasn't there. Yes, I reverted back to my typical coping mechanism. I slipped it on like a skin, remembering how it felt all those years ago in high school.

Cold. Frozen. Above.

I still heard a few whispers. I felt the stares of the guys who stood behind me buying their twelve pack of Busch Lite on their way home from work. I heard them, but would I ever let that show? Not me.

I smiled at myself on the drive home, proud that I'd endured this little humiliation. But the ice crumbled when I saw my owner. He knows how I work. He can see through the layers of ice. The humiliation came crashing down on me full force as he asked me to tell him every little detail.

As I sat in the chair with SLUT glaring at me from my leg, I was so wet that I could barely stand it. Of course like the sadist he is, he let me marinate in that humiliation for a few hours before he gave me the release I so desperately wanted.

I loved every minute of this little task. My face is burning and my clit is throbbing as I sit here and type this. Yes, oh yes. I am a slut.

Many many thanks to Baby Firefly for agreeing to shed light on this often misunderstood form of kinky play, and for sharing such a thoughtful, heartfelt journal entry.

So, how do you all (the Kinky Ever After readers) feel about humiliation in your BDSM romance? Like, dislike, depends on the situation? Have you ever read a scene in a book that was humiliating and yet hot?


  1. Very interesting. I agree with you about humiliation. And as with all things, what works for one, isn't going to work for another. This was a great post/interview.

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  2. Some kinds of humiliation work for me, others are a huge turn off.

    Anything that exposes what we do to vanilla people is a turn off for me, but I get that for some people it's the good sort of hot button.

    I've seen long discourses on the difference between humiliation and degradation and in the end it comes down to personal preference and personal definitions of the two words. What may be degrading (and thus a turn off) for one might be mild humiliation and a huge turn on to another.