Happy Sunday! I’d like to welcome Razz to my little website. We just recently “found” each other on Twitter. I’ve crawled over his website recently. I like how he thinks and how he explains the different aspects of BDSM.
The Art of Humiliation.
“You silly little girl.”
What do you think when you hear those words? Does it strike you as amusing? Childish? Perhaps it causes your cheeks to flush hot and a feeling of being uncomfortable and awkward to rush though you. A simple phrase that for some can be discounted, yet for others can signal the start of a fulfilling journey into humiliation.
When a bottom is humiliated they are responding to a direct attack on their dignity, their self-respect and their self-worth. As this takes place they may feel embarrassed, ashamed, they may even start to cry. A whole variety of responses can emerge as they respond to psychological and emotional triggers buried in their psyche.
This is not something a Top can force in the same way as causing pain by a flogging or restriction with rope. True humiliation play requires a deeper understanding of how this specific bottom works, their specific triggers and the context within which it might take place. For example, the use of the word “bitch” can be deeply insulting to some people, seen as a badge of honour for others and have no impact on the rest. So while calling a bottom “bitch” might make the Top feel they are humiliating someone, if that someone doesn’t respond to it humiliation has not taken place. It therefore falls upon the Top to create the context within which the bottom can genuinely feel their pride being stripped away.
Sometimes the context comes pre-constructed. A professional dominatrix offering “verbal humiliation” whilst portraying herself as cruel and aloof and dressed in leather in a dungeon may be enough to create a context in which a slave can play. For others it may evolve as the reasons for feeling humiliated become clearer, such as the couple that start with spanking and over time “Daddy” takes his “lil” over his knee for being a bad girl. Neither approach is inherently wrong and a skilled Humiliator will use both to their full advantage.
During a session it is important to maintain a consistent narrative and to feed new aspects of play in carefully. Although a full-on assault can be dramatic, few bottoms will find it as rewarding as building the tension and maintaining it over a prolonged period. My approach is often to find a specific focus for the session, particularly when the relationship is new. I use this to underpin the narrative, so we either build towards that defining humiliating act, or it is reintroduced as our time progresses. For example, one submissive I had was ashamed to be naked in front of men on account of how she had been raised. Our time together would often focus on this point, building to the point where she had to undress and be inspected, the ultimate act in her humiliation. Along the way lots of little steps were taken, such as my using the word “whore” in her native language as her name, having her kiss my shoes at various points and even the way she was punished being ritualised. Had I inserted into this narrative something she did not find humiliating (such as having her face slapped) it would have undone a lot of work and reduced the impact of her experience.
This latter point is where many Tops go wrong. They assume that an act is seen as humiliating by itself and fail to appreciate the psychology that underpins their bottom’s response. Throw in a few swear words and a bit of shouting and it is bound to leave their bottom feeling deeply ashamed and begging to session once more. In the short term this might work, but longer-term relationships aren’t built that way.
Creating the right context and scene takes time and effort. Communication and honesty underpin this. The bottom has to be honest in saying not only what they find humiliating, but also why, and clearly signal places the Top must not go. At the start this may be difficult, particularly as exposing our weaknesses to people we barely know and trust doesn’t come easily. As the relationship evolves it is essential this kind of conversation takes place.
This is particularly important where some of the taboo forms of humiliation are involved. Using a person’s race, gender, sexuality or religion can be particularly hurtful if done in the wrong way. This is because the lowering of self-worth can extend beyond that one person to their entire community. A Mistress I knew had a Jewish submissive who played out concentration camp fantasies. At the end of the sessions he would always break down and had to be reassured that he was a “good Jew”. One of my own submissives found herself in conflict between her desire to be humiliated because she was Indian and her external fight against racism, constantly questioning whether she was betraying her cause by craving what she publicly despised.
This brings safety to the forefront. Unlike other forms of BDSM there often aren’t physical injuries to show something has gone wrong and the wound can take some time to form. A misplaced word here or a strange action there can trigger memories and emotions that can explode. This is not to suggest that all humiliation players are damaged souls and abuse survivors, far from it. Yet even the most well balanced individuals, as their sense of self-worth is stripped apart, can find themselves curled up on the floor sobbing.
In my view this makes aftercare essential. Both Top and bottom need to spend time together, not only to help understand what can be done better next time, but also to help the bottom regain some of their self-respect. How this is done varies from person to person – one submissive may just need to be left alone for a while, another may need to be held and reassured as soon as the session ends. Again this comes down to the Top reading their bottom and understanding them.
To my mind there is no exact science to humiliating a submissive. It requires a degree of empathy and trust that I have not experienced in any other form of BDSM. For that reason I view humiliation play more as an art form to be enjoyed. When played well that enjoyment can be transformed into a deep sense of reward.
Razz is a London based Master, rubberist and rigger. His photography, erotica and musings on all aspects of BDSM can be found at http://www.thisisrazz.com