IN EVERYDAY LIFE, it’s fair to say that it sucks to be humiliated. But when it comes to the world of sex, some people might feel differently. Yes, you read that correctly: humiliation and sexual pleasure can go hand-in-hand. If you get hot and bothered by your partner spitting in your mouth and calling you a “dirty little pig” or some other degrading name, you’re not alone. Welcome to the kinky club.
We’re about to break down the humiliation kink, which are totally cool, by the way. “As long as all activities are consensual, safe, and do not cause harm to oneself or others, there is no need to label desires or fantasies as abnormal or unusual,” says Linnea Marie, a board-certified sex educator.
If you’ve been curious about what a humiliation kink is, why it can turn people on, and how to give it a go in a safe way, look no further. Here is everything you ever wanted to know about humiliation kink.
What is a humiliation kink?
A humiliation kink is when you’re sexually aroused by humiliation. As Marie explains, it falls under the BDSM umbrella as a form of sexual masochism, which is when you derive pleasure from things that are tedious, painful, and, yes, humiliating. Think: Roman Roy in Succession jerking off to Gerry calling him a “filthy little pig” from behind the bathroom door. Legit, it’s about getting off by being debased. We’re here for it.
“Humiliation kink is generally seen as a verbal form of kink, where individuals invite consensual phrases and words that make them feel humiliated,” explains Ness Cooper, a therapist and the resident sexologist for JeJou.
Playing with humiliation can also include consensual physical acts such as getting spit on or slapped with the intention of humiliation. It’s a very versatile kink, which is one of the reasons it can be so fun.
Why does humiliation turn some people on?
Humans have immensely creative brains, and sex is fantasy world where can explore different realities. “If our life is in constant balance, or if we’re constantly seeking harmony in our day-to-day life, it’s absolutely possible that in our fantasy life, our sexual play life that we would seek out the opposite,” says Moushumi Ghose, MFT, a licensed sex therapist.
The same area of the brain processes both pleasure and pain, which might be why some people interpret humiliation as sexually pleasurable. “This can sometimes mean that painful things can be misinterpreted as pleasurable things, as they trigger a release of feel-good hormones mixed with cortisol,” Cooper explains. (The same thing can happen during pain-based BDSM activities, such as spanking.)
There are possible therapeutic benefits to playing with humiliation.
While humiliation play isn’t a replacement for going to therapy, it can be therapeutic. According to Ghose, it can be a way to seek balance in our hectic lives. “It’s common for people who have highly intense, powerful jobs—[people] that are constantly being the boss—to want to be in a vulnerable place where they are being humiliated,” she says.
Humiliation can also be a catalyst for self-exploration, which can be healing, Marie says. “Engaging in this type of play in a safe and consensual way can help people explore and understand their desires, release stress, and create a liberating adventure,” she says.
Keep in mind that not everyone with a humiliation kink will find it therapeutic. Some people just enjoy it because it’s hot!
What to consider before exploring a humiliation kink:
So you want to be called a pathetic loser while being slapped around? To make the most of the experience, first consider how you can explore your desires in a way that feels authentic and safe for you. Humiliation will look different for every person, so get clear about your specific fantasy. Is there role-play involved? Certain names you want to be called, or actions you want to perform? If you need ideas, kink educator Emerson Karsh recommends exploring ethical porn and ethical erotica.
You should also consider what you don’t want to happen. Are there any forms of humiliation, such as words or actions, that you aren’t into? “Think carefully about phrases too, because if the words don’t work for you or the tone they are presented in [doesn’t work for you], they may have the opposite effect,” Cooper says.
Being sexually aroused by humiliation can be confusing for some people, which can induce feelings of shame, Ghose says. If this is you, Ghose suggests seeing a sex-positive therapist to work through it. Sexual shame is common, but it doesn’t have to rule your life. You deserve to have all the freaky sex you want and feel great about it.
Marie also suggests “seeking discussions, education, or engaging with others who share similar interests [to] help normalize and validate these desires.” Go find your people and get weird with it!
How to talk to your partner about your humiliation kink:
Talking about any kink can be intimidating, but you might be especially nervous to ask your partner to slap you across the face and call you a degrading name. Karsh suggests bringing up the topic in a neutral place, rather than in the heat of sex. This is a topic that warrants a clear mind from everyone involved.
Marie says that you should allow your partner some time and space to process the information. “This is because you have had more time to prepare and think about what you want and need from the experience, [and] they’ve only just been introduced to the idea.”
It’s important to highlight the benefits that this kink can bring to your relationship, and how your partner being a part of it could be fun for them, too. “Focus on asking them to think about positives they may gain from experiencing this form of kink play with you,” Marie says.
“It is also helpful to bring in educational materials (such as this article) to help let your partner learn in their own time,” Karsh adds. The more you can do to normalize the kink, the better.
Keep in mind that your partner may ultimately decide this isn’t something they want to engage with, and that’s their right. It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you enjoying humiliation play, but this need might not be met with this particular partner.
Tips for safely exploring a humiliation kink:
So you’ve decided you want to get your humiliation on, baby! Before you go off into the great, wide, horny world, here are three expert tips for safely jumping in.
Have in-depth discussions around boundaries.
Remember how we talked about figuring out what turns you on—and what doesn’t? It’s important that all parties communicate their desires and discomforts before sex, so that everyone feels safe. “The biggest way to practice humiliation safely is through setting boundaries [and] negotiating the scene beforehand,” Karsh says. For tips on negotiating a kink scene, check this out.
Have a safe word.
A safe word is a non-sexual word (like “platypus” or “sailboat”) used to signal that a boundary has been reached, and you want the play to stop. If something isn’t working for you physically or emotionally, you can always call the safe word and end the scene, Marie says.
Aftercare is your post-play set of activities that help you come down from the intense “high” of being aroused. This can look like showering together, cuddling, talking through the scene, or even having a bit of time on your own. Humiliation kink can bring a lot of post-plays ~feels~, most often in the form of shame. So, you want to be sure you and your partner are making each other feel safe and cared for.
Gigi Engle is a writer, certified sexologist, sex coach, and sex educator. Her work regularly appears in many publications including Brides, Marie Claire, Elle Magazine, Teen Vogue, Glamour and Women’s Health.