I love verbal abuse and humiliation play. I enjoy calling my boy ‘faggot’, ‘cunt’, ‘bitch’ and so on. I enjoy demanding boot worship and I love piss play for its humiliation aspect. But there is an aspect to this sort of play that I think needs to be talked about much more than it is in the kink community. This is a key point that I think far too few people who post online porn understand. There is a LOT of online porn that describes subs as “worthless faggots” and the like. You particularly see this with so-called ‘alphas’ and findoms.
This sends a message that subs are in fact inferior people, that being a sub is bad, that being a bottom or a cocksucker is bad, that they were ‘born worthless’ and so on. Framing humiliation play this way is, in think, incredibly dangerous. It encourages doms to treat subs in irresponsible ways that can endanger their mental and physical well-being, and it encourages subs to hate themselves and allow themselves to be treated in ways that injure or exploi them. It discourages both from thinking clearly about the issue of consent–if a sub is worthless, who cares if he consents or not?
This kind of thinking also leads to the celebration of Nazism, which is rooted in the idea that some people are naturally so inferior to others that they can be killed without consequence. I am an ardent, passionate defender of the principles of liberal democracy and human rights, and I speak out online for ethical kink. So how can I indulge in verbal abuse and humiliation play?
Several years ago, I played with a novice boy I know, Boy Spunky. We’d played once before and had a bit of a rapport built up. I could tell he wanted verbal abuse, so as we played I called him a worthless fuck and a few other things like that, and he clearly enjoyed it.
During the aftercare, however, it became clear to me that he felt conflicted. He enjoyed the abuse but was troubled by it. He worried that this was unhealthy for him because it implied that he was a genuinely worthless person.
So I told him, “You are not worthless. You are a wonderful person and have a lot of value. But there is a part of you that needs to feel worthless. So when we played, I allowed you to bring that part of you out and validated it by insulting you. Your sexual desires are an important part of who you are, but they are only one part of you. You are not defined by your desire to feel worthless and humiliated.” Some time later, he told me that he really appreciated me telling him that. It gave him a way to understand his desire for humiliation that didn’t undermine his self-worth.
To me it in incredibly important to distinguish the desire to feel worthless from actually being worthless. I am a sadist. When I spank a boy or torture his tits, I want to make him feel pain, but I don’t want to actually injure him. I want to cause hurt, not harm. Humiliation play is emotional sadism–I want the boy to feel the emotional hurt of being humiliated and worthless, but I don’t want to cause actual emotional harm to him. I don’t want to reinforce whatever narrative he has in his head about being stupid or a fuck-up or whatever. So I want my boy to understand that I am taking him on an emotional vacation from his normal life, in which he has full human value, to a place where he has no value and feels worthless. By grounding the dynamic in the sub’s inherent human worth, he knows that he is safe and cared for, that I will not push him into a place I think it unhealthy for him, and that when we’re done, I’ll take him back home to a place of human worth. That allows him to enjoy the journey and feel confident that he’s a worthwhile person who is loved and valued. (This is an example of what I call the Outer and Inner Layers of BDSM. The harsh treatment is the Outer Layer, but the respect and validation of his desires I am expressing through the harsh treatment is the Inner Layer.)
Grounding it this way has been a wonderful tool for Boy Spunky and me. It has allowed both of us to grow together in our contrasting but interlocking needs. We both know that I care for him and respect him as a person. He feels safe, valued, and able to safe-word if he needs to. As a result, I feel no hesitation to express a deep well-spring of contempt for him, and he gets to receive my verbal abuse in a way that allows him to feel the full weight and pain of that contempt. When we are engaging this way, our cocks both get rock hard and start dripping. As we’ve continued down this road together, we’ve gotten to a point that when I call him on the phone and start insulting him, he will probably wind up orgasming completely hands-free. He gets to feel deliciously pathetic about that, and I get to feel the soaring power of having such ferocious cruelty that I can cause that. I feel like a god and he feels like a total fuckup.
I could never have gotten that this point with him if I were still wrestling with the moral questions of whether this was healthy for him and whether I was a horrible person for wanting to do this. Just as he is a valuable person who has a need to feel worthless, I am a good person who has a need to be monstrous.
In contrast, a lot of the online porn posted by ‘alphas’ and findoms shows no awareness of the fact that their subs are valuable human beings. They generally emphasize an ideology of literal superiority, a presumption that they are just better than the ‘fags’. That ideology has strong parallels to Nazi ideology. It also leads to remarkably dangerous things. Just today I saw a video posted by an ‘alpha’ who was holding his sub’s head in a toilet and literally kidney-punching the boy. I hope I don’t need to point out that doing that is literally life-threatening to the boy. That’s not BDSM at all; it’s flat out abuse and criminal assault (even if the sub consents to it).
Humiliation play and verbal abuse have a place in BDSM. But like many other forms of play, they require an appreciation of the safety and ethical issues involved.