Erotic Humiliation: Why Shame Can Be So Arousing

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Picture this scenario. You’re out in public with your partner, significant other, crush - or even just a stranger. They accidentally trip and stumble into you, tugging off your pants to that your underwear is on display for all to see. 

Then, to add insult to injury, they pull that down for good measure, point and laugh at you - push you so that you stumble, tangled up in your own garments, falling to your knees. They continue to point and laugh, and now everyone else around you is pointing and laughing too

Sounds like something straight from a bad dream - right? Like the classic ‘Oh no I turned up to work or school, and now I’m not wearing any pants!”

But it might surprise you to know that this scenario is an absolute wet-dream, rather than a total nightmare to some people.

But that is not to say it is the norm. Most people try to avoid humiliation at all costs. After all, it is quite normal to get embarrassed, ashamed, or anxious when you think about the humiliating events in your life - rather than turned on.

However, for some people, humiliation is something that they actively seek out. They want these humiliating scenarios to happen to them, and they will achieve sexual arousal and pleasure as a result of it.

It might be a perfectly non-sexual scenario which leads to embarrassment - or it might be a sexual scenario which involved humiliation. But there is always a sexual element; which is why this particular kink is called erotic humiliation. 

What exactly is it erotic humiliation? 

Let’s expand on what we’ve just learned. Explained very basically, erotic humiliation - sometimes known as humiliation play - is the consensual use of physical humiliation in a sexual context. One person will gain arousal or excitement from the emotions of being humiliated and demeaned. 

58954342 - sexy woman with whip on ass, bdsm

In this way, humiliation play is a form of sexual masochism, and may also involve being bound, beaten, or made to suffer in some way to achieve sexual gratification (but not always - remember, sexual appetites are very nuanced).

Interestingly, the acts of humiliation do not even have to be sexual. It is the feelings of humiliation, shame, and degradation which are sought, not the nature of the activity itself. This is why erotic humiliation can be verbal, physical, private, public, or even carried out over a long distance or online. Shame is the name of the game, no matter how it’s achieved. 

Important distinctions

Now, before we dive headfirst into the whats, the wheres and the hows of erotic humilaition and all it’s interesting nuances, here are a few distinctions to keep in mind. Erotic humilation is more than simply enjoying being slapped around or called a filthy slut during sex - there are similarities and differences with other kinks and sexual preferences that maight sound so similar that it;s easy to get them mixed up. 

This is why it’s important to make a few distinctions and gain a better understanding, or risk doing a disservice to those who indulge in this type of play.

Sexual masochism 

Sexual masochism is the intentional participation in an activity that involves being humiliated, beaten, bound, or otherwise abused to experience sexual excitement. Erotic humiliation is a form of sexual masochism. 

Now, it is important to note that Sexual Masochism Disorder is a paraphilia (fetish) that may require treatment. While having a fetish is one thing, it becomes another entirely when there is a risk of harm  - either to the self or to other individuals. Sexual masochism becomes a disorder when it causes real physical or emotional harm, danger or distress to a person - and when it becomes a compulsion that cannot be ignored. 

Sexual sadism

Sexual sadism is a different beast - in that it involved deriving pleasure from intentionally hurting someone. A sexual sadist will humiliate, physically hurt, or terrify another person to achieve sexual arousal or orgasm. This is a difficult one to swallow - so we will make the point here that enjoying spanking your girlfriend does not make you a sexual sadist. Enjoying inflicting intentional or extreme pain on an (often unwilling) partner does. 

This scenario is an example of when sexual sadism becomes a disorder. This happens in scenarios where the sexual acts and behaviors of the sexual sadist cause significant distress to a person (usually the other partner or partners involved), or when it causes significant functional impairment of the sadist (it becomes a compulsion and interfered with leading a normal life), or when it  is acted upon with a non-consenting person

While the masochist gets turned on by pain, the sadist gets turned on by hurting people, making them two polar opposites of each other.

Other terminologies to know

There are some other terminologies that come into play when talking about erotic humiliation. It might sound redundant, but knowing your tops from your bottoms is actually kind of important if you’re interested in this sort of thing - particularly if you want to know what sort of porn to search for, or what sorts of online sites to frequent.

  • Bottom – the person being humiliated. A Bottom can also be referred to as a slave, a Sub, or a Submissive. 
  • Top – the is refers to the person who humiliates the bottom (but it must be noted that Tops and Bottoms appear in other sexual scenarios - so the terms are not exclusive to erotic humiliation). A Top might also be called a master or mistress, Dom, or Dominant. 
  • Dominatrix – a dominating woman, who often takes the role of the sadist in BDSM and sadomasochistic sexual activities. 
  • Humiliatrix – a professional Dominant who specializes in humiliation play

Why do some people find erotic humiliation so arousing?

This is the million-dollar question, isn’t it? Well, depending on who you ask, there are many different answers to it. The fact that humiliation play involves one person who humiliates and another who is humiliated also adds a few other variations to the answers. 

Princess Kali, bestselling author of ‘Enough to Make you Blush’, a book on erotic humiliation, explains that in addition to the taboo aspect of it, there is also an element of getting a rush from this kind of button pushing. She calls it the ‘skydiving’ of the kink world, presumably because it involves seeking a thrill in a way that seems shocking or incomprehensible to some people. 

We might ask ‘why would anyone want to be shamed and humiliated?’ in the same way we ask ‘who on earth would want to jump out of an airplane?’ It is a difficult concept for some to wrap their heads around, but it’s clear that it provides a level of thrill and excitement. 

Funnily enough - upon a little research, it appears that a lot of people who enjoy humiliation play are usually in positions of relative power in their normal lives. Bosses, CEOs, higher management - positions where they call all the shots. They spend all day telling people what to do, and often have relative stability in their lives. 

Shaking things up a little bit becomes appealing, which is why allowing someone else to take control for a while arouses them. It is the thrill of being in a position that they are not used to that turns them on. Going from respected, feared and admired to ridiculed and belittled is a thrilling turn of events for them.

The origins of erotic humiliation

Perhaps the first recorded instance of erotic humiliation and dominance was found in cuneiform Mesopotamian tablets dating back to around the 4th Century BC. 

According to Anne Nomis, author of The History & Arts of the Dominatrix, the tablets depicted the ritual fetishization in the worship of the goddess Ishtar, goddess of passion, fertility, and warfare. According to the myths, Ishtar worshiped her own vagina and forced men to bow to her in submission. She whipped her subjects as they danced for her, and enticed them into sexual frenzies in “rituals imbued with pain and ecstasy.” 

Ancient Greece was also known for being somewhat kinky, along with ancient Rome. Both these sexually adventurous ancient civilizations practiced flagellation. For example, young Spartans were whipped as part of an initiation rite dedicated to the goddess Artemis and overseen by priestesses. Whether or not it was pleasurable for the young men is debatable, though. 

In India, the Kama Sutra, written in 400 BCE, includes advice about flirting, relationships, power dynamics in marriage, and lots of sex positions. It also includes a section on sexual bites, scratches, slaps and screams, with a guide on four types of hitting permissible in the course of lovemaking, along with the caution that these should only be used on people who find them “joyful.”

Looking back through history, it seems that erotic humiliation has probably always been around, just another of the many kinks and sexual appetites that make humanity so sexually diverse. It’s just that we have photographs and videos to capture our pornographic images these days - rather than stone tablets.

Depictions of erotic humiliation in art

Aside from the aforementioned stone tablets of ancient Mesopotamia, one of the oldest depictions of erotic humiliation and sadomasochistic activities dates back to the 5th Century BC. It was found in the Etruscan Tomb, known as the Tomb of the Whipping in Tarquinia, and depicts two men whipping a woman while having sex with her. 

Pompeii houses another ancient depiction of erotic humiliation; a mistress with wings stands on the wall of the Villa of Mysteries to initiate young women into the Mysteries, which was a sacred ancient Greek initiation ceremony. 

But it isn’t just ancient art that shows this dark and kinky side of humanity. In the 1950s, Irving Klaw, a true pioneer in the world of bondage fetish photography, produced commercial films and photography with a BDSM theme, notably revolving around pinup model Betty Page. 

Other notable depictions of erotic humilaition in modern art can be found in the artwork of Guido Crepax. Crepax created the comic book version of erotic film Histoire d’O in 1975, which has since become a cult classic throughout the world, and contains erotic humiliation elements.  

Depictions of erotic humiliation in pop culture

While the shameful, often sinful nature of erotic humiliation almost serves to add to it’s potency - you could say that our changing values as a society can take the sting out of it. Today, erotic humiliation has almost gone mainstream, existing in most western countries as ‘just another kink’. 

However, it is still considered a subculture, mostly because some people still consider it unusual, and many people who enjoy it hide their tendencies from the rest of society. 

That being said, there are lots of depictions of erotic humiliation in pop culture today - such as the following examples:  

  • Rihanna’s 2010 song, “S&M”, has strong BDSM themes
  • Christina Aguilera’s song, “Not Myself Tonight” features imagery of erotic humiliation
  • Fifty Shades of Grey, the infamous 2015 movie, and its two sequels, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, all have strong BDSM and humiliation play themes. 
  • Various forms of humiliation pornography - including classig BDSM, foot worship and shoe fetishism, sissy play, public humiliation, orgasm denial, forced masturbation - the list really is endless!

It would seem that, depending on what you are into, there is something out there to suit you, all at varying levels of intensity. The rich porn and media landscape means that even the fledgling Sub can venture out into the wide world of erotic humiliation, and test the waters - opting for something as basic and simple as the aforementioned ‘naughty babysitter’ roleplay or cut right across the spectrum to truly hardcore and extreme content. 

There are different styles of erotic humiliation 

Erotic humiliation is its own sexual force mainly due to the fact that the bottom wants the humiliation over and above everything else, including its means of administration. For example, while they may appreciate being spanked, they value the belittlement it comes with much more than the actual spanking. 

It also ranges in scale, from basic (desire to kiss or massage feet before sex) to complex (elaborate role play, or public displays of subservience). It can be categorized according to the means of humiliation, which broadly gives us verbal humiliation and physical humiliation - but there are, of course, different ‘flavors’ of humiliation within these categories. 

It’s also important to note that just because someone enjoys being verbally humiliated (called a sissy, insulted, or dominated for example), they may not enjoy physical humiliation (being spanked, being mounted etc). There’s no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to erotic humiliation.

Common types of erotic humiliation

You might also find that people who are into erotic humiliation are into some other, related kinks, fetishes and behaviors. These are the types of things you might also come across if you’re looking for some erotic humiliation porn, or if you’re a beginner who’s looking to expand their horizons a little, and dip their toe into the wonderfully kinky word of erotic humiliation play

  • Verbal humiliation -  probably the easiest and most easily ‘accessible’ form of humiliation. It can focus on ‘dirty talk’ and verbal belittlement using degrading language, even verbal abuse (such as name-calling and degrading reverences like slut, bitch sissy etc). It also includes mockery and ridicule.
  • Forced masturbation - This involves a submissive being ‘forced’ (figuratively - as it’s always consensual) by the dominant partner to masturbate. This can be a type of exhibitionism or can involve the Submissive being forced to perform degrading acts on themselves.
  • Petticoating - This refers to a specific type of sexual fantasy roleplay in which a Submissive male is coerced into dressing like a woman - wearing ‘sissy’ clothes, and often at the demand of a Dominatrix or otherwise dominant female figure (but not exclusively)
  • Begging - this involved the Submissive begging and pleading with the dominant for something (usually sexual). It can be ‘forced begging’ where the Dominant requires the submissive to beg for release for example. It can be regarded as a type of ‘verbal response humiliation’.
  • Public humiliation - this can be overt public humiliation (such as being ‘forced’ to walk the streets wearing a fetish mask) or unseen - such as a man wearing a chastity device or cock ring under his clothing.
  • Small breast or small penis mockery - encompassing mockery of the size of the penis (or in some cases women's breasts). It is a surprisingly popular kink, and involves the Submissive being subjected to ridicule about the size of their penis. Being told to ‘measure it’ or hold up objects next to it - while the dom exclaims over just how ‘small’ it is - can be very arousing for someone who enjoys this type of degradation. 
  • Verbal response humiliation - this type of verbal humiliation can be regarded as a subgenre of BDSM and can involve elements of humiliation including subservient roleplay. This could involve Sub/Bottom having to ask permission for everyday activities (such as permission to speak or go to the bathroom), forced repetition ( such as being obliged to repeat or confirm commands), even forced flattery - whereupon they are forced to pay compliments and flattering language to the Dom. It is closely linked with begging.

These are just a few of the different, closely related ‘types’ of erotic humiliation, and they are by no means the only kinds out there. But what they do have in common is the fact that they are all largely non-physical, in the sense that they do not rely entirely on a physical element in order to be performed. 

In the end, most forms of erotic humiliation do not rely on inflicting pain. After all, this particular kink is far more concerned with the ridicule, degradation, mocking and embarrassment elements, rather than the physical aspect (although, physical contact can sometimes result in these feelings. Take spanking for example). This is a very important distinction to make. 

It is also important to note that not all forms of sexual role play involve humiliation. For example, a roleplay scenario involving a strict parental figure and a ‘naughty babysitter’ would likely involve elements of domination, shaming, and discipline - but it does not mean that it is fully-fledged erotic humiliation. This type of roleplay can just be an expression of sexual exploration and playfulness. 

Some final thoughts on erotic humiliation

Mild or moderate humiliation is a common part of sexual roleplay and BDSM. However, humiliation play can be taken a lot further than that, to a point where it is considered edging due to its extreme nature. This is why there are many controversial views on its psychological impact, making it a highly subjective issue. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, it all depends on context. 

What one person finds humiliating, degrading or otherwise ‘unpleasant’ another might not find humiliating at all. What one person thinks is erotic might be psychologically damaging to another person. It is important to remember that we, as human beings, are a pretty unique bunch. When it comes to ‘extreme’ fetishes or sexual preferences (provided they are not harmful), we should treat them and accept them on a case-by-case basis. 

At its core, erotic humiliation is a psychological form of submission play. This is why limits are important and should be set before engaging in it to ensure that the result is a positive experience for all parties involved and that no lasting psychological impacts are left. 
As long as there is an understanding that, just like foot fetishism or a perpensity to sniff used panties, erotic humiliation is a harmless sexual preference -  it can be a great source of joy and enjoyment.