Much as there are recommended ways to bring impact play or choking into your intimate time, did you know there are right and wrong ways to degrade someone during a BDSM scene? From the words you use to the tone you use them in, proper degradation is a learned skill.
Degradation is the art of sexually demeaning and/or humiliating your partner (consensually, of course) during a BDSM scene.
How degradation ~typically~ works
Before a scene (always before – never try these things on the fly), all parties involved discuss their hard and soft limits. Hard limits are things that should, under no circumstances, be used or said. Soft limits are things that are a bit more on the table – but need to be discussed more or only said during a scene if a submissive gives a sign that it’s okay. Based on these conversations, the Dominant partner in a scene will then use verbal, psychological and/or physically degrading acts on the submissive.
The goal of degradation is to allow your submissive partner to feel entirely dominated (so leading to surrender and, ultimately, a break from having to be ‘in control’) and to bring on feelings of embarrassment and/or humiliation (which then, for most people interested in degradation, leads to feelings of arousal).
Why is degradation such a turn on?
One of your first questions if you’re new to the world of sexy insults is, well, why? Why would someone find offensive or crude language so hot? To understand this, we need to dive deeper into what exactly happens in your mind when you’re participating in a BDSM scene.
According to Psychology Today, both Dominant and submissive partners reported increases in relationship closeness and decreases in psychological stress after their BDSM scene as compared to before. However, the levels of cortisol (a stress hormone in the body) of the submissive partners showed they were in a slightly heightened physiological stress state, even when claiming to be completely free of psychological stress.
Anyone who is familiar with being submissive will understand this, but to further explain, Psychology Today ran another study that randomly assigned people who identified as a switch (someone who is comfortable taking on both a Dominant and/or submissive role, depending on the scenario) to be either the Dominant or submissive in a scene.
The results revealed that both Dominants and submissives entered altered states of consciousness during BDSM scenes, but that they were entirely different altered states.
Submissives entered an altered state called transient hypofrontality, which can be associated with reductions in pain (of course), but can also produce feelings of “peacefulness and/or floating” as well as slight time distortions (losing track of time, lack of awareness of time, and so forth). As a submissive myself, I can very much testify to the fact that this is a very real phenomenon – and experiencing degradation while in this place can be incredibly exciting.
Throw degradation into the mix and for those interested in it, it allows them a safe outlet to explore taboos, permission to enjoy the very things that many of us may harbor shame about and an opportunity to relinquish control – often near impossible to do in day-to-day life – to a trusted play partner.
How to properly degrade your submissive partner
● Verbal degradation can include name-calling, mocking, insulting body parts, belittling, playing with shame, etc. while physical forms of degradation can include spitting, slapping, hair-pulling, spanking, ejaculating on or urinating on your submissive partner. Never enter into any type of kink play without an awareness of any associated risks – this is one of the basic tenets of safer BDSM.
● During a degradation scene, the Dominant partner should only ever use words, phrases and acts that have been consented to by everyone beforehand.
● Degradation isn’t just for the bedroom (or dungeon) – it can also be carried out in a more day-to-day setting, such as having your partner perform degrading acts in front of others. This, of course, also needs to be consented to and all people involved (even witnesses) should be privy to the scene taking place.
● Use check-ins throughout your play to ensure that your submissive isn’t getting too far into their altered state and is still consenting to participate in degradation scenes. Having a safe word during this type of play is essential to immediately halt the scene if necessary, but you can also use the traffic light system – ‘green’ for ‘yes, I’m enjoying this’, ‘amber’ for ‘I’m reaching my tolerance limit, proceed with caution’, and ‘red’ to stop the scene entirely.
● Be mindful of your partner’s body language too – during these altered states, it can be difficult to express verbally how you feel. If your submissive is shivering, shaking their head, or not making eye contact with you, this could mean they need a break from the scene to check-in.
● BDSM scenes of any kind require aftercare, which is a time post-sex where you can check-in emotionally with your partner, cuddle, communicate your feelings about the scene, and discuss what worked (and what didn’t). This is a time for praise and reassurance from the Dominant partner, particularly after a degrading scene. Additionally, something that most people may not consider is that aftercare can be as beneficial for the Dominant partner as it can be for the submissive partner. Degradation is something that many Dominant partners struggle with in terms of feeling guilty after the scene, even if everything was consensual. Having these check-ins after every BDSM scene is highly recommended to keep a healthy D/s relationship.
Degradation is for anyone and everyone who is interested in it. Anyone, of any sexual orientation or gender, can be interested in degradation. Consent, obviously, is the most important thing in any degradation scene.