An examination of humiliation

I had an interesting conversation inspired by the description of an event in my local community, that at first seemed cathartic and, on further reading, went straight to my holy-crap-i-could-never-do-that-to/with-someone place. The topic was humiliation.

I am adamant that I don’t do humiliation. I have struggled with self esteem / self worth my entire life. This has not improved with age, relationships, or significant changes in body type. I simply can’t take humiliation even within the confines of a scene. I cannot watch humiliation play in other’s scenes. I empathize so deeply that just watching affects me for days, at least.

During this discussion about humiliation, we were talking about a scene performed in public that several saw as humiliating – with me being the one who was humiliated. It was argued, with this scene as a case in point, that I find humiliation arousing. The conversation then progressed to who decides what is humiliating and what is not. Is it the people watching the scene? Is it the scene Top? Is it the scene bottom?

I have been contemplating this since my conversation several days ago. I believe the answer to this multiple choice question is all of the above. When people who play are watching a scene, they will inevitably identify with the scene participants in some way. If the watchers empathize with the bottom and feel humiliated, then there is humiliation taking place – for the watcher. This applies to any of the other roles cited above.

I offer this admittedly extreme example for illustration:
Top is urinating on kneeling bottom.

Top sees this as marking his property as his. He is not humiliating her. He is honoring her. For him this is no different than placing a collar on her neck.

Bottom does this for him as an act of complete submission. This is a ritual for her, more symbolic than his collar, as she believes collars have become devalued by the community’s arbitrary use of them. For her, this is the pinnacle of being owned.

This scene, in private, is a ritual bordering on sacred because the two participants understand the meaning and importance of what they are doing. It is a beautiful and intense manifestation of their dynamic.

Move this scene to a dungeon and it suddenly becomes all about humiliation. For the majority of those watching this is not only a hard limit but “disgusting” and “how could he do that to her?” and “he must not respect her at all”.

Would those comments still hold true if the Top was ejaculating on the bottom? I theorize they would not, especially if a blow job was the precursor. Then it would be “hot” or “erotic” or “fucking awesome” for the majority of those observing.

I would also argue that moving this scene into the public eye might change the perspective for a participant. Let’s assume the bottom knows how the regulars in her dungeon feel about water sports. She might then, when watched by those who feel vehemently negative toward this activity, be ashamed that she participates in it, indeed, holds it in high regard. She may find outing herself in this way to be humiliating.

If my thoughts about any of this are accurate, how then does a Top, who is playing with a bottom who has humiliation on her hard limits list, handle all of this? My guess would be a whole lot of in depth communication. I’ve said it before, I’ll doubtless say it again. Tops, I’ve seen your job and I don’t want any part of it.

TMI Tuesday: Things that go bump in the night.

Another Monday, another week, another TMI Tuesday posted. Enjoy Night Time is the Right Time.

Fill in the blank

1. When I can’t sleep I lay awake staring at the ceiling, almost always thinking destructive, cyclical thoughts that guarantee I will not be sleeping the rest of the night .

2. My dream bedroom would be full of pillows and books.

3. If I could wake up anywhere tomorrow it would be in my warm, toasty bed after a full night of blissful, restful sleep .

4. I need to figure out how to get my brain to shut off  at night.

5. Having noses growing in my armpits would truly be a nightmare.

6. Night time is the right time to snuggle under the covers with hot cocoa and a delicious book.

Bonus:  Briefly tell us about your last dream–erotic or not.

Last night I dreamed that the ceiling in all of my upper rooms collapsed (a common nightmare for me when it’s raining). Because the damage was so severe, we opted to put in cathedral ceilings, which is odd because the roof structure had not changed therefore, there wasn’t room for cathedral ceilings. Then again, I often defy the laws of physics in dreams so I suppose it wasn’t all that odd.


How to play TMI Tuesday: Copy the above TMI Tuesday questions to your webspace (i.e., a blog). Answer the questions there, then leave a comment on the TMI Tuesday blog post, so we’ll all know where to read your responses. Please don’t forget to link to tmituesdayblog from your website!


The woman stood under the spray of the shower, lost in thought, while steam filled the room. She had planned on having a solo dance party, as she so often did when happy. Alas, a segment of the morning’s conversation looped through her mind, the bump and grind rhythm of Madonna all but unheard in the background.

He had expected her to cry when he said it: the thing about not being a slave, about not being able to be a slave because of who she is, because of her home life. He was correct in this expectation. A short time ago, in the relative timeline of their relationship, she would have cried, insisting that of course she could, that she would try harder, that she could live up to that title – and that is how she had once thought about the word slave, that it was a title. Instead, she lifted her left shoulder in an almost imperceptible shrug, I am not now, nor will I ever be, a slave This is not news … And? she thought, while the conversation moved on to other things.

In the shower, some hours later, she was contemplative. When did this change? When did slave become just another word? When did it lose its title status? When did she decide it is of no importance what she is called? When did this happen? When did she stop torturing herself, trying to live up to that impossible ideal? When?

She stood exploring the possibilities and, just as the water ran cold, she realized it – The day His collar was removed, she heard, and understood, she wasn’t good enough. The crystal clarity and accuracy of this thought was so powerful that it should have stolen her breath, caused her to stand stock still with shock, a hand on the cold tiles while she regained her equilibrium … something … anything. Instead, there was that same lift of the shoulder and Of course. Of course, that’s when it was.

That day destroyed everything she believed she had become, destroyed the idea of what she thought she was to Him, destroyed her identity, destroyed the small amount of confidence she had managed to gather, destroyed the germ of the idea that perhaps she was worthy.

In the aftermath, she was able to pick up the shards of some of those things. She glued them back together imperfectly. Gaps, where slivers that had been completely obliterated should have been, an agonizing illustration of the parts she could not restore. She pretends she is a piece of Kintsugi, though she fears the reality is that she is held together with passed-its-expiration-date white glue that will surely fail under the most insignificant pressure, leaving her in fragments once again. She doesn’t know what she will do if that happens. It took her so very long to reassemble even this admittedly shabby approximation of what she had been.

Many fragments were left on the ground to be crushed underfoot, waiting to be pulverized into unrecognizable powder, as if they had never existed. Being worthy of anything, finding pride in providing the best service of which she is capable, proving unquestionably to her community that she is who she says she is, having her best efforts lauded. She understands that the only place these things ever truly existed was in her mind, no one else’s, hers alone. These are the things that were left to return to dust. She no longer speaks of them, refusing to engage if any one of them comes up in conversation. Fully grasping now that they had never been real, she will not be seduced into believing again.

Slave is just a word. A meaningless arrangement of letters with which some choose to label themselves or, perhaps, their dynamic. It is not something to aspire to. It is not something remotely attainable. She moves through her days applying herself to her service with the same level of dedication that she always has. Serving Him to the best of her ability, knowing she cannot be proud of her service. It is not good enough. It never was. It never will be. It cannot be. She will always forget. She will always need to think things through. It will always take at least twice as long for her as it does everyone else. She will always be horribly inefficient. She will always miss at least a beat when frightened.

She wishes she could become an unthinking being, obeying perfectly, without error, and without thought or hesitation. She knows that, too, is unattainable.