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.