• Darkside Magazine

Degradation and Humiliation in BDSM


Every day we are asked to do degrading or humiliating things. We may often do them out of a rote response. A man asks a woman to smile on the subway, and she complies without thought. It's not a day for her to take on the antiquated norms in our culture. A man's boss tells him off in front of his coworkers, and he submissively takes the undressing instead of defending himself. He needs his job more than he needs his self-esteem.

These microaggressions we face in everyday life happen at any age, income level, and culture. They may look different, but the effect is the same. These daily stressors wear us down and make us feel defeated.

Learning to accept these everyday stressors is a challenge. As with any difficulty, sometimes the best course is to walk toward the issue rather than walk away. Researchers have found that accepting and embracing the feelings associated with any adverse event leads to greater psychological health.

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/feeling-okay-about-feeling-bad-is-good-for-your-mental-health-2017091412398?utm_content=buffer79d11&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=buffer

How does this correlate to the practice of degradation and humiliation in BDSM? Quite a lot.

We wear labels our whole lives. Good son, competent teacher, loving mother. Our egos attach themselves to those labels, and we begin to believe they define us. This is especially true for the identifiers we give ourselves. Any questioning of the validity of those labels hurts us.

"I'm nothing but a worthless whore."

BDSM has found an angle to soothe the fragile ego and reframe our internal narrative. When a top humiliates a bottom, they place the bottom into a state of vulnerability.

The top continuously reinforces this falsehood while physically bringing the bottom pleasure either thru pain or sexual experience. These acts confuse the brain. The messaging in the mind reorganizes and places the humiliating label as one that derives pleasure for the receiver. The receiver is able to "own" the name, and it can no longer harm the person. It becomes just a word.

“I like how it feels when I am a called a worthless whore.”

Such a scene concludes with the top issuing some sort of nurturing kindness. This can be a cuddle, a snack, or merely an enjoyable conversation. Anything positive will cap off the scene as one where the receiver of the humiliation has now seen that the negative feelings are not real. They are not a worthless whore. Their bodies and minds have confirmed this.

"Humility is the positive outcome of humiliation, and sometimes the best thing that can happen to a leader, particularly a leader with an oversized ego, is to suffer through an embarrassing failure." - Bill Treasurer, A Leadership kick in the Ass.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kathycaprino/2017/01/25/how-being-humiliated-can-make-you-a-great-leader/#4a5f0c0cbb73

Humility develops us as human beings. Being humbled helps us embrace our humanness and accept imperfection. Choosing to be humiliated allows us more control over the humiliation. We needn't guess whether it will be a positive experience, we know it will be. This choice allows us to relax into uncomfortable feelings, process them in a positive light, and recognize our need to be humble with others.

Degradation can have the same effect on our egos. The ego is not in charge when someone is crawling across the floor or poised over a dog bowl filled with cum and being ordered to lap it up. Degrading acts strip us away to our most humble and vulnerable parts and exposes them to another. This act of lowering oneself with a trusted partner reinforces that without the trappings and bows, we are still desired and wanted.

Sexual trauma causes deep emotional wounds that, for some, end up hurting for the rest of their lives. While we cannot erase the source of injury for victims, there are ways we can develop resilience. Personal growth insulates us from the jagged cuts caused by cruel acts and is one of the kindest things we can gift ourselves.

When our sexuality is used as a weapon against us, we are reduced to our sexual parts. Degrading sexual acts allow us to safely dig around those parts of our brain and retool them. A horrific memory of a reprehensible act is replaced by a comforting one. One where our sexual parts are used and treasured concurrently. The action of replacing these painful memories scuttles them further back in our minds. The newer, safer memory is then accessed first as opposed to the older one. Repeat this enough, and we can achieve enough mental distance from trauma to be more elastic to it.

Then there is the Theory of Positive Disintegration by Kazimierz Dąbrowski to consider:

https://positivedisintegration.com/Thekeypoints.htm

He experienced and witnessed great acts of evil and courage during WWII. These experiences became his major course of study following the war. His theory is founded in the belief that a person can overcome the tragedies of life thru heightened self-awareness. A great many of us trudge thru life feeling out of control. We just grin and bear the struggle. The theory is that we can reimagine ourselves as ideal. With enough work on our internal messaging, we allow our ideal selves to emerge. Engaging in acts of degradation or humiliation act as confrontational and intentional. A person dives into a negative thought and does battle with the internal message. Arising from this battle whole means we can move closer to our imagined self. We witness the emergence of courage thru acts of viciousness.


Those with sadistic tendencies benefit from these types of play as well. When someone has dark thoughts, culture teaches them these thoughts cannot be acted upon. But the feelings persist, and the person feels abnormal. Exploring their sadistic nature with a partner that trusts them creates a safe environment to explore these thoughts. Safe exploration reinforces that the person is still healthy and good despite their barbarous ruminations.

As much as we don't want to admit it, there is little in the world we truly control.  Given we get few opportunities to feel in control, when someone freely exchanges power, we must acknowledge and relish that moment. Dominant individuals may find heightened sexual desire in power and control. The permission to revel in absolute control can be affirming. The more latitude given to someone, the more they are able to declare these parts of their sexual personality. This is often why the giver of degradation or humiliation will feel great thanks to the receiver.

It's not surprising that many new to BDSM list any acts of degradation and humiliation to be off limits. Loads of us started pursuing this lifestyle to enhance our sex lives, and many of us stayed because of how it strengthened our sexuality and sense of self. Whether it's being someone's fuck doll for the night or groveling at the black boots of a stately Mistress, these acts have value beyond what we realize. These are tools to be used thoughtfully and wisely just as we would use a whip or rope. With them, we can normalize thought and reframe the evil experienced.

Pretty good for a worthless whore.


By CJ

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