November/December 2001
by dark whisper


“Worthless whore, you’re not fit to wear that collar.”

This an example of degradation. A grouping of words taken in context that are designed to tear one down emotionally, and make one feel like they are powerless/stupid/ugly and cannot necessarily think or react on their own. An abusive situation that has no place in BDSM or any relationship. This is completely different than humiliation play.

Humiliation often plays a major part in a D/s situation. Now, before you tell me how wrong I am, please consider the following: “Who’s whore are you, My precious slut?” How many times have you seen or heard these types of words, and felt their power? Does it make a submissive angry? Hurt? Or does it pretty much melt the submissive, or possibly even makes them wild with the need to do just about anything to please the dominant? Can it be a positive statement that engenders excitement and a feeling of power? I know that for me, it surely does.

So why is the first thing said when discussion comes up about humiliation: “Oh, I don’t like humiliation,”? Because there is a huge misunderstanding about what humiliation really is. I found myself explaining the difference the other night when several submissives I know shook their heads and flat out said they hated humiliation and it was a hard limit for them. “

Basically, degradation is used to tear one down... make them feel or look stupid/clumsy/worthless. It’s never a positive thing..

Humiliation on the other hand... can allow one to look waaaay down deep inside.

Things like saying: “what a beautiful slut you are” or “that’s My little bitch” - doing things that are embarrassing, but making you feel like you’d crawl through broken glass if they asked...

It’s empowering... not engendering powerlessness. Does that make sense?”

A friendly acquaintance was there, and spoke of the differences in the types of play that includes degradation and humiliation. She often uses degrading words in topping - a stronger form of humiliation “play”. Some people really draw to hearing those terms, because they know the dominant does not really believe that about the submissive. It’s about context, and using it as a tool to strip away the masks and the protective shell to reach the person within. This can be VERY dangerous if it is used indiscriminately, or by one who doesn’t understand what the submissive could be feeling as those masks are stripped away.

I cannot stress the difference strongly enough here. If there is any question in the submissive’s mind that the dominant might really see the submissive as worthless or stupid - it can cause real emotional damage, and should be stopped immediately if it is determined that the submissive is truly feeling the words/activities in a negative manner.

Degradation play (versus humiliation play) is considered a form of edge play, and if it is undertaken, PLEASE make sure that: a) both parties are aware that it is play, and b) that there is a huge amount of trust going on between the top/bottom.

Humiliation play, on the other hand can be such a turn on for both parties, and is used, to some degree, by quite a good percentage of Dominants and submissives. I, personally, enjoy being called nasty names - but ONLY by One I trust enough to know that he really doesn’t believe that about me, but knows that it excites us both. Anyone else dares to call me nasty names is very likely to find themselves either alone, or limping quite badly for the next few days. ~a slow grin spreading over full lips~

I guess the point comes to trust. Do you trust your dominant to the point where you can safely go to these places, because you know, deep inside, that the words are brought about not to hurt, but to excite and perhaps to go a bit deeper into the person inside? If no… then this might not be the type of play for you. ~a soft smile~

Safe travels, dear visitor.