Physical Humiliation

Physical humiliation is a type of humiliation play that involves abuse of the submissive's body.

Humiliations of this type may include restrictions on bodily movement, participation in degrading activities, or manipulation of the body, but note that all of these humiliations are essentially participatory, requiring not only the consent of the submissive but also collaboration with the dominant in becoming ridiculous. On the other side, the dominant is granted unusually free access to (and thus responsibility for) the submissive's body.

Restrictions may include the submissive's height, sightlines (see Eye contact restriction), movement (see Bondage), clothing, sexual expression (see Chastity), and speech (see Verbal humiliation). Further restrictions, such as sensory deprivation, objectification, and breath play, may be experienced as humiliations, but would severely limit the submissive's ability to participate in the scene.

One effect of such restrictions is simply to highlight power exchange. The dominant is free to do everything that the submissive cannot do. Taken further, bodily restrictions are dehumanizing. The humiliated submissive loses the distinctive human traits of walking upright, of having a face, of free expression and self-control.

Examples of humiliating activities include the performance of silly songs and dances (or the poor performance of songs and dances that are masterpieces), forced or simulated masturbation, forced or simulated sex with inanimate objects (such as dolls, shoes, the floor, or a trash can) or with human partners the submissive would not choose, and consumption of bodily and other wastes (see Human Ashtray, Spitting, Golden Shower, Full Toilet). The dominant may also order the submissive to perform tasks that are difficult, impossible, or vaguely defined — eating a basin of gruel without a spoon and without hands (the solution would be to use your mouth, like an animal), or looking for a lost object with eyes covered and hands restrained (you would have to do it by feel, but really there is no good solution).

The dominant may also act on the submissive's body in order to humiliate it. Some forms of impact play, such as slapping, can be painful, but are also traditional gestures of disrespect. Similarly, spanking may be considered humiliating because it is a traditional punishment for naughty children. The dominant may dress the submissive in clothing that may be humiliating for various reasons: because it is ugly, or inappropriate for the submissive's age, gender, or basic human dignity, or it was designed for a much smaller body. Or the dominant may decorate the submissive's body, removing the hair, coloring it, inscribing it with cruel names and messages. (The latter should perhaps be classified as verbal humiliation because it uses words.)

Note that no activity is universally humiliating; in each case, the erotic charge is nourished by individual responses. All bondage, insofar as it impedes movement, could be classified as physical humiliation, but many bondage enthusiasts do not experience it that way. Particularly butch submissives may experience deep humiliation when forced to wear frills and bows, but some submissives may view any garment whatsoever as a kind of shield; for them, only nudity might produce the feeling of bodily vulnerability that activates their shame response. A submissive who eroticizes humiliation may find the degredation of licking a dominant's shoe exciting, but the opportunity to adore the dominant could just as easily displace any feelings of humiliation; a nonsubmissive shoe fetishist may think of licking shoes as a treat, and not humiliating at all.

In rare instances, physical humiliations may be subject to surprising reversals. An assignment intended to ridicule the submissive may instead reveal a hidden talent; for example, a submissive ordered to sing "It's Not Easy Being Green" may turn out to have an exquisite singing voice. Any humiliating task, if done particularly well, can become a demonstration of mastery rather than failure. Even more rarely, a few submissives may succeed in maintaining an attitude of noble suffering, like a religious martyr, in humiliating conditions, thus appearing both beautiful and utterly ridiculous at once. This may be an effect worth striving for.

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