Sunday, 20 November 2011

Humiliation and conditioning

I know I am talking much about humiliation at the moment, but it is a big part of my kinky thoughts and fantasies at present.  We all know that humiliation and what people find humiliating is subjective and varies from person to person.  Also, what some people may find humiliating in a hot way others might find abhorrent, which could be a result of many things, such as an incident in the past.  It is by far the most complex issue of my (anyones?) kink as it is fundamentally psychological and as such brings cerebral complications with it.

But what makes something humiliating?  How much is this associated to social conditioning?  Because humiliation is such a broad topic and I cannot have possibly have experienced all that is possible I shall discuss a few points and see where we get.  

Exposure of flesh:  Being stripped naked in private or public can be thought of and many people find the act of doing so humiliating.  Why?  Nakedness is natural isn't it?  I often walk around my flat naked and have done so in the past without blinds!  Social conditioning has taught us not to expose ourselves in public, and so what is actually quite natural can become a psychological trigger of a humiliation act.  For example,  in front of another, to whom I have relinquished control I can feel quite exposed and humiliated?when naked, particularly if that person is clothed.  This feeling is exacerbated with an audience, particularly one of my peers.  However, exposure of particular areas, such as my breast, genitals and bottom with my clothing still on, just re-arranged is actually more humiliating.  I suppose this is because these areas are those we are taught we should not expose, particularly in public and the presence of clothing surrounding these exposed area only highlights that feeling.  If there were no thoughts on nakedness or beliefs on what is or is not correct with respect to exposing human flesh then maybe these feelings of humiliation would not be there.

Public humiliation:  I suppose this is any act that causes embarrassment to the victim with the presence of an audience.  Is this more humiliating than having no audience?  I think so.  We all care about what people think of us and so an audience can really heighten the effect of the act.  I also believe that if the audience is known to the victim then the feelings of humiliation are even more heightened.  Why is this?   I believe we like to think we have the respect of our peers and secretly worry that by performing certain acts in front of them then we may lose that respect?  Why do we think any respect may be lost at all and why do we worry?  I suppose because secretly we think we should be doing these sorts of thing, still less enjoying them and the opinions of others does matter whether we like it or not.  But has anyone thought that in our world you may GAIN the respect of your peers by doing such things in public?  I have done in the past and it has really helped me enjoy the scene, rather than worrying about what they may or may not think of me.

Sexual acts:  There are many of these that could fall under this banner but I guess anal sex is quite a common one and is one I have experienced (gasping with shock anyone?).  I have often heard anal sex described as degrading and humiliating.  I know I think of it in that way, in fact that is one of the many reasons I enjoy it; it is the psychology of the act that is a real trigger for me.  I think if it in such a manner because I have been brought up to think it is wrong and unnatural (and I am sure I am not alone in this).  I have been conditioned.

Positions for punishment:  There are so many positions we subs can be made to adopt to have punishment administered to us.  For me (again, I am sure I am not alone here) those positions that expose me, such as bent over with my legs apart I find humiliating.  I guess that harks back to the fact I have been told I should not expose certain parts of my body to people (other than when it is necessary or of course when with my partner).  I also find positions where my bottoms is raised with respect to my body (I recently did a scene with HH where I was laid flat with a cushion under my bottom that was large enough to really raise my bottom in the air.  Why was this humiliating to me after all these years of playing at CP scenes?  I believe it is because I have never had my bottom so highlighted before.  It made me feel that my bottom was being objectified, something I had not experienced in a CP scene before.  Why is objectification humiliating though?  This one I truly cannot work out!

Folks, if you have made it though this larger than usual post and have some thoughts on this then please do comment.  It is a broad subject and you will probably have very different views from me.  I just want to try and understand this subject a little.  It really does interest me. 


John said...

Interesting post, Leia. From a top's perspective humiliation is tricky too. The top is aware (or damn well should be!) that the pain of humiliation (mental pain) may last much longer and be felt more deeply than the pain of a spanking or caning. We may know that the person being humiliated in a scene is excited by the humiliation and yet we have to be very sure that such a powerful weapon is being used safely.

I guess I'm saying no more than humiliation play demands good knowledge of and communication between the players. It is probably not something to rush into early on in a play relationship. But of course if the communication is good it can provide real spice to a scene!

Eric G. said...

Very interesting thoughts, Leia. I've always been excited by the humiliation aspect of scenes, particularly CP scenes. Like you, I'm not really sure why or what actually should be humiliating to us. What is humiliating about an attractive female being exposed? Well, certainly not if she's posing nude for the purpose of modeling. Why would someone feel humiliated when acting out a scene recognized as kinky play and for an audience who enjoys seeing it? Why is any consensual sexual act considered degrading? Why would a position assumed for punishment be more humiliating than the same position posed for another reason? Context is part of it, and as you say, we're conditioned to judge things without considering them rationally. Maybe, in order to fully enjoy the humiliation, we shouldn't try too hard to be rational.

Whatever the answers, we have what we have, and there's enough common ground that we will often agree on what feels/looks like humiliation. It's a special kind of humiliation, though, where we get to sample the feelings without actually being degraded. It's exciting to see you feeling humbled, shamed, embarrassed, exposed and vulnerable, and I can't imagine thinking less of you for it. What you do is attractive, and what you are is attractive, so how could that be a state of dishonor?

Henry Higgins said...

A very intereting post!

I used to distinguish between humuliation and embarrassment. I used to say that embarrassment was a very hot button for me but I didn't like humiliation. My limits have evidently moved a little!

But there's no clear boundary between the two: it's a continuum, not a binary division. For me, most of the things you describe (unwilling exposure, objectification) are causes of embarrassment. But YMMV. And there are so many words: embarrassement, mortification, humiliation, degradation.

There are some things I still won't do in a scene, and which I label humiliation. These are things that might make my victim feel bad about herself: I won't say a girl is stupid, or criticise her appearance. But in the right context I'll certainly say that she did something stupid, or inspect her in embarrassing and intrusive ways. The line I draw is that it's good (especially in role-play) to make a girl feel guilty about something she's done, but not to make her feel bad about who she is.

This is really one of the (many) areas where communication is key. Everyone has their own trigger words. One girl might squirm in embarrassment to be called a "little slut" while another would be mortally offended.

And of all the things I did to you that day, it's interesting that it was having your bottom raised for a strapping that you found most humiliating!

This is getting far too long. I shall see whether I have time to expand in it on my own long-neglected blog.


Leia-Ann Woods said...

John - Oh gosh yes it is. You don't want to take the bottom to a bad place in their psyche so you are totally correct when you say that communication is the key between all parties involved.

Eric - I think to a large degree there is conditioning of the social kind involved. Without such conditioning would we find these things humiliating? Would we know to think in such a way? I agree that rational thought is often not present in such scenes and so can colour how we think on certain acts. I have worried in the past that my peers would no longer respect me if they saw me perform certain acts. With some people I still cannot and one of those people is my closest friend. Is this rational? No, because she is the person least likely to judge me in the world!

Leia-Ann Woods said...

Henry Higgins - Hello! I think I have never had my bottom isolated in quite an extreme manner before so it certainly was one of the most humiliating aspects of the weekend, but not the most humiliating; I have not shared this here, I guess for irrational reasons - fear of judgement! Indeed making someone squirm is fun but making someone feel bad about the person they are is just plain wrong and getting it right is not always easy. Also I can find that things become less humiliating with people over time, perhaps this is simply a case of getting used to the situation I may find myself in. Do post on your blog if you have a moment, I would love to hear what you have to say.

Kaelah said...

This is a very interesting and difficult topic, Leia-Ann! I tried to write a comment, but it got so long and complex that I decided to take some more time and write a complete post about the topic instead. Thanks for the thought-fodder! :-)

I'm definitely with you about positions and different levels of nudity, both aspects can be very hot! I only enjoy humiliation in a very specific context and only with my mate Ludwig, though. That's because for me these fantasies are very closely connected to very intimate and explicitly sexual scenes, and that it something I only share with my partner. In non-sexual scenes similar acts can be a complete turn-off.

Madmusician said...

Speaking as an amateur top, who has paid for several sessions with girls on the spanking scene (though not, alas, yet with Leia; but this I hope to rectify in due course), there is nothing more exciting for me than having a girl stand before me naked waiting to be told what her punishment will be, or indeed, being made to stand for several minutes naked after it. I am also very keen on having the girl stand naked with her hands on her head facing a mirror for some time; she is out of control and longing for something to happen, which may be being told to bend over for something more painful! Time is all-important here; but for me naked humiliation will always be as vital a part of a session as any pain I can persuade the lady to accept.

Teacher Slayer said...

Humiliation certainly adds a volatile element ( and no, not in a chemical way there Dr Evil ;) ) to proceedings.

I had to sit through class in my boxer shorts with my school shorts removed recently. Didn't annoy me at all because I am comfortable with my body, audience or not.

Equally, put in the OTK position I can't handle it. The humiliation disarms me. Again, audience or not!

With those I trust it certainly magnifies the impact in a good way.

Redhead said...

I think you may have the keys in upbringing and social conditioning. Tops and bottoms who may have been taught that certain things were taboo or have had memorable embarrassments in their lives can, through play, touch on and enjoy manipulating those sensibilities. I was brought among my mother’s somewhat bohemian friends, in a very open home and nudity amongst my friends and then their kids (Switzerland and Germany after all) was/is absolutely common place. I remember arriving at a friend’s house one evening without swimming gear and being asked to give the kids their swimming lesson as their mom had a lousy cold. That was pretty normal. She and her husband were medical professionals, as were most of their friends. Saturday discussions over supper inevitably turned to the medical profession’s seemingly favorite topic: sex, and none of us felt embarrassed or humiliated. Of course, when visitors from the US or England came, we fully respected their feelings and even wore something in the sauna!

Regarding England and the US, I may be wrong, but I think school systems and puritanical ethics may have lead to people being sometimes unhealthily repressed. When one of her girlfriends said something about children being seen and not heard, I do remember my mom telling her in no uncertain terms what a load of rubbish that was!

So while I’ll always respect anyone’s sensibilities, apart from robbing someone of their innate dignity, (which is a touchy fantasy to play with, but it can be enlightening and fulfilling between trusted friends), I don’t have a natural understanding for embarrassment or humiliation. I can be annoyed by my own incompetence, such as forgetting the theatre tickets, but it’s not really embarrassment. Indeed a close friend, and play partner, whom most who’ve posted here knew well, often said I couldn’t be embarrassed. Perhaps being surrounded by performance artists for much of the time has emphasized that.

So in SM play generally, it’s the fulfilling the desire to lead and drive someone (with their gift of trust and obedience) beyond their previous physical, but more importantly mental conceptions of what is possible that is the turn-on for me. As I often say, these are things which only precious friends can share in trust.

Sorry if this is rather “me” oriented, but I just wanted to give examples of how my open upbringing and friendships had conditioned me. I’m not sure if it helps any.


Abel1234 said...

Really interesting post to read - thanks for sharing such insights.

I guess the other main type of humiliation that I sometime inflict is verbal - not ever (along the same lines as HH comments) in saying anything at all nasty about the girl, but in talking about why she is being punished - or making her do so. If that's in front of other people, so much the hotter (in the right context).

Leia-Ann Woods said...

Hey folks! Thank you all for your comments and thoughts. It has really helped me find the basis of my fascination with humiliation (public and private). Redhead and Kaelah you were particularly helpful. TS - I know you well enough to know where your buttons are ;-)


I was wondering Leia......

How long did it take for the welts to fade from the switch

Miami Bob

Leia-Ann Woods said...

Hey Bob - A wee while, but being superficial marks they faded relatively easily. The thighs took the longest.


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