The topics of degradation and humiliation are often some of the most polarizing topics in D/s. People either love them or hate them. They live for them or hard limit them. I don’t have an opinion on any one view being right or wrong, I’m vastly more interested in why they tend to be seen from such opposing views.
I have no moral qualms with consensual humiliation and degradation. If one person wants it and the other person wants to do it, great. From my experiences over the years, I have found that the people who are most strongly opposed to them often cannot envision why a sub would consent to those acts.
I have already covered the dominant perspective in posts in the past, but here is a quick rehash of what I have found:
From a male dominant perspective, they do not want to engage in something that can weaken or (further) damage their sub. As a whole, male dominants tend to be the most nurturing of the genders/roles and there are a good number of female submissives that have problems with self-esteem, self-image, and self-worth. Degradation and humiliation can trigger negative changes in an area that they are trying to protect or rebuild.
From a female dominant perspective, they do not want to engage in something that makes their partner appear as weaker or lesser. A truly inferior partner is undesirable to them in nearly every way (including the prehistoric base brain instinctual level). Female supremacists tend to not be affected by this as much, but even they tend to seek out the “least inferior” subs.
There are of course people that make this decision for different reasons, these are just the most common ones that I have found. I should also note that it is mostly sadists (or emotional sadists) that are likely to enjoy inflicting humiliation and degradation.
The submissive perspective is the reason that I am writing this post. After having a couple of conversations with some friends and thinking about some recent posts I am starting to figure out the root of the divide.
I am ignoring the “middle ground” here. That is, the people who have no interest in degradation and humiliation but aren’t opposed to them either, I’m not really taking into account here. I am mostly focusing on the people that love them or hate them: the extremes.
What I find is that for people who love being humiliated and degraded is that they are often damaged. The damage is often deep. It’s often so deep that they feel it in their core. To give an example, if someone responds in a positive submissive way to being called pathetic, it is often because in the deepest reaches of their being they believe they actually are pathetic. When their dominant then calls them pathetic, it brings up a wave of feelings. These may include feelings like someone actually sees their true self, someone finally understands them, someone accepts their truly flawed self, and most importantly, they are not rejected for being pathetic. This works because they cannot be convinced that a different view is true. Many of these types are emotional masochists.
The people who tend to be so opposed to humiliation and degradation that they plant them firmly in their hard limits, the case is often different. I have found many of these people also have damage. The damage is deep, but not quite as deep. The damage brings about an internal conflict. Returning the pathetic example, they absolutely positively do not want to believe that they are pathetic… but they are afraid that they are. For them, being called pathetic brings fear and anxiety rushing to the surface and they recoil against it, closing themselves off in a bad way. In these cases, instead of having a sense of inner harmony and vulnerability, it is a mess of cognitive dissonance that tears them in opposing directions. Part of them doesn’t want to be pathetic. The other part believes it is pathetic and hates itself. In these cases then, humiliation and degradation have the opposite effect entirely. Instead of bringing about deeper submission and vulnerability, it results in an emotionally closed and walled off self.
If you differ from these scenarios and would like to share, I would be interesting in learning. These are the perspectives I have gained so far but I know that there are others out there that I do not see.