Ever been turned on by the idea of someone calling you, for instance, a dirty little whore instead of a usual compliment, or by the idea of someone “forcing” you to do something risqué with a sex toy?
The truth is, sexual arousal is complex, and pleasure often involves taboo situations, suggestions or acts. When it comes to sexual play, there’s a fine line between pleasure and pain, embarrassment and titillation. Regardless of your sexual orientation, if you’ve ever enjoyed or think you might enjoy emotional or physical humiliation in a sexual context, then you might be into degradation kink!
What is a kink?
So, what are kinks, exactly? According to sex and wellness writer Morgan Mandriota, kink is “a broad term that may encompass various ‘non-traditional’ sexual acts.” This can include more well-known kinks like bondage, spanking, and role play, as well as consensual choking and handcuffing. But it can also be wanting to engage in sexual activity with someone who’s dressed up as a “furry.”
Basically, Mandriota says, “Kink is anything that falls outside the bounds of culturally defined expectations, which, because of often wildly puritanical societies, could basically be anything that’s not penile-vaginal intercourse.”
In other words, if for some weird reason you get wet from dressing up like Catwoman and “stalking” your lover through the house, you may be a secret (or not-so-secret) kinkster!
What is a degradation kink?
In case you’re not super familiar with the term “degradation,” to degrade someone means to “treat or regard (someone) with contempt or disrespect.” Thus humiliation kink, or degradation kink, has to do with getting aroused by being put down. It is basically on the other end of the spectrum of the praise kink.
Now, before getting into the nitty-gritty of erotic humiliation, it’s critical to note that what we’re talking about here is consensual, meaning that the person who’s being called names or doing certain acts is into it. We’re not talking about abuse, we’re talking about degrading kink.
OK, so to make it more concrete, there are a few different ways this can look during a sexual act. As Stephanie McCartney of the Sexual Health Alliance puts it, “Degrading can come in various different forms. The most commonly discussed or used one is verbal degradation—mockery, insults, and belittlement. Some people just really get off when called pathetic or disgusting.”
Yes, for some, having someone tell them they’re gross, or being called certain kinds of names, can be a turn-on. This can be a form of erotic humiliation, where you feel sexual gratification from having someone tell you you’re a disgusting pig, a nasty little bitch, or even a worthless piece of filth. The actual words or phrases depending on the person, and must be worked out between partners.
But wait! There’s more. McCartney goes on: “Degrading can also take physical forms such as spitting, slapping, spanking, being ejaculated on, or urinating on the submissive partner.” Again, though, she’s sure to stress that “boundaries and consent need to be established before any of these acts take place.”
Or in the words of Madame Noir, “A degradation kink is the opposite of a praise kink. In this one, someone is highly aroused and sexually satisfied by having a sexual partner say degrading, insulting and humiliating things to them. They might also like having degrading things done to them, like being spit on. Spit kink is under the umbrella of the degradation kink. Another example of a degradation kink would be having a dominant partner make you stay on all fours and act like their table while they enjoy a full meal on your back. It’s all about anything that puts the kinky person in a position where they feel inferior to their partner.”
You can also incorporate certain kinds of adult sex toys into the mix. Things like nipple clamps, butt plugs, vibrators, and more can all come into play here. If it’s edgy for you or gives you that taboo or out-of-control feeling you’re craving, it counts!
In other words, there are lots of ways to feel degraded. The list of humiliating moments to enjoy is endless. And here’s a fun twist: According to McCartney, “Some degradation scenes are carried out in a public setting, with the idea of others watching increasing feelings of humiliation and embarrassment. Whilst this may work well in the [kink] dynamic, considerations of public consent and laws of public indecency need to be taken into thought, if you are going into this kind of sexual relationship.”
How do you know if you have a degradation kink?
People have all kinds of different reasons for being turned on by a whole bunch of different kinds of stuff. When it comes to degradation play, one reason people are into it is the sense of reclaiming one’s own power around a body part or aspect of your personality or sexuality. This can be deeply affirming. For some, a body part they’ve felt shame about can actually become a source of pleasure if it’s put down by someone they love.
For example, while it may seem counterintuitive, some penis-owners are turned on by what’s known as small penis humiliation. Yes, for some, being told they have a tiny cock can actually be empowering. Why? Again, in part because of who’s doing the humiliating. If it’s a sexual partner with whom you’ve built deep trust, who you know deep down truly cares for you and loves you, it can actually bring deep comfort and a sense of dignity to have something you’ve held shame about named and brought forth in this way.
In other words, for many, degradation kink is actually about reclaiming power. And in BDSM dynamics, a number of submissives (submissive partners) report feeling sexual arousal when they experience sexual degradation. It can even bring you to orgasm!
Or as Sophie Saint Thomas puts it, “I like being called ‘slut’ during dirty talk (and so do a lot of other people). It makes me feel powerful, because, to be honest, I am kind of a ‘slut.’ I've had my fair share of sexual partners, and I enjoy taking back the word from misogynists for my own erotic enjoyment. And since it's still a taboo word to use, being called a slut by my partner (with consent, of course) gets me off every time. Once, I asked my partner to spit in my face and call me a slut, and he did — and I came so hard.”
Tips and fun ideas
First, our biggest tip is to for sure talk to your partner beforehand about sexual fantasies and degradation before trying it out! Your sexual health is paramount, and that includes your psychological and sexual safety.
Be sure you’re getting and giving consent before venturing into territory that could be triggering. And remember that consent can be taken away at any time. You are in control of your sexual pleasure and boundaries, and it’s OK to speak up at any time, even after the fact.
According to sexpert Dr. Carole Queen, consent is always crucial, but especially in kink/BDSM scenarios. “Before starting, negotiate,” she guides. “Talk about your fantasies and interests together.” And come up with a safe word so you can easily halt anything that’s going on.
Now let’s say you want to explore. Here are a few places to start:
Try out some name-calling (verbal humiliation)
Ever been sorta scintillated by the idea of being called something not-PC, like “needy whore” or “dirty little slut”? Maybe you’re always in control in your “real life” and it would feel like a relief to have someone else take all that away in bed.
Sometimes in a sexual context, this kind of name-calling can be really hot. So talk to each other about what kinds of words work for you, and which to avoid. For example, some people will love the idea of the word “cunt” being incorporated into sexual play. Others will have a negative association with that word and want it nowhere near them. Part of the cool thing about exploring this kind of sexual terrain is that you get to know your partner on an even deeper and more intimate level.
When it comes to dirty talk, another thing you might try out is possessives — in other words, if you’re playing the dominant partner, instead of saying, “you dirty little slut,” you might say, “you’re my dirty little slut, aren’t you?” There’s something about feeling a sense of belonging to a sexual partner that can be a big turn-on for some.
Wanting to try some light slapping or erotic spanking during your kinky play? There are lots of ways to learn about this kind of thing, including YouTube videos as well as actual classes taught by teachers both online as well as in your local kink community.
You can also get books on the subject, and run your own little sexy book club. ;)
Be open-minded and non-judgmental
Remember that it’s quite vulnerable to share about these topics, so only do so with partners you trust. And extend that same kind of care to those who are revealing themselves to you. “It's common for people with fetishes and kinks to have fantasized about them for a long time,” shares Dr. Queen. "If someone is new to sharing them with someone else, I'd recommend choosing that person with trust and compatibility in mind.”
Kink is an exciting world to explore. Whether you’re getting to know yourself better, deepening your bond with the one you love, or pushing your edge in safe and healthy ways, taking healthy risks is how we grow. So get out there and get kinky!