I see erotic humiliation as a form of edgeplay. While it may not be physically dangerous, there can be emotional dangers involved. Some people have certain triggers (which they may or may not know about) that could be problematic during humiliation. A certain level of trust and knowledge of each other is paramount. Without this, the dom can stomp around randomly in the sub’s head; when you do that, you’re bound to squish something. For that reason, humiliation usually isn’t a good idea between people who’ve just met. But with someone you know well, it can be intense, rewarding, and incredibly sexy. Humiliation can also have some delicious d/s undertones.
Humiliation is much more personal and individually tailored than many other things we do in bdsm. It has to be a very individual thing in order to be effective and to avoid hitting any emotional landmines. It’s not uncommon for one person to hear about a certain form of humiliation and think, “wow, that’s hot!” while another thinks, “um, yeah, what’s the appeal here?”, even if both are into humiliation in general. There are plenty of flavors of humiliation out there, and everyone has their own tastes.
The question of private vs. public humiliation comes up often. Humiliation in private can be intimate and intense. I cherish my memories of private humiliation. This can add tons of spice (and cheek redness) to any scene. With private humiliation, there’s no need to worry about certain things being offensive to those watching the scene, as you would at a public play party or dungeon.
But with public humiliation, other factors come into play. Who’s witnessing the humiliation? Obviously, it shouldn’t be done anywhere there are kids or people who are likely to be disturbed by watching it. Conversely, areas where there are younger adults, like an adult business district with bars and strip clubs, are more fertile public humiliation grounds. Even though those watching may be buzzed from drinking, it’s still important not to go overboard. Things like face-spitting, foot-kissing, or ass-kissing won’t offend many. But loud verbal humiliation, repeated slaps, or an overly dramatic display of humiliation might provoke a well-meaning bystander to intervene.
With my friends (other bdsmers) I don’t consider being made to kneel and kiss Gypsi’s feet to be humiliating. But in a more public environment, it would most definitely be. And it’s still mild enough that people could ignore it or easily see that it’s not abuse. It’s simply one person having the power to make another person’s face red.
People often see mild forms of public humiliation as just fooling around or harmless prodding. For example, a while back, Gypsi took me shopping. We went to some lingerie stores. Inside, she’d hold up certain items to my body, in plain view of certain customers and employees. Occasionally she’d mention how something would look cute on me in a normal voice, which was loud enough for those in the immediate area to hear. There were quite a few looks of amusement, and others were happy to ignore us. For all they know, she was just joking. Even though those witnessing this humiliation didn’t think much of it, I was nearly mortified. I reeeeeally wanted to leave. My brain was screaming, “NOOOOOO GET ME OUT OF HERE! STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT!”, and yet I had an achingly hard cock most of the time. (She mentioned wanting to go on another shopping trip sometime when the stores are more crowded. That makes me incredibly nervous.)
Private vs. public doesn’t have to be a black-or-white choice either. Private scenes can have as many or as few witnesses as you like, so this straddles the line between private and public. There are people watching, so technically it’s public humiliation, but it’s a more controlled environment than a completely public scene.
What makes erotic humiliation erotic varies greatly from one person to the next. It’s really no different than musical tastes or personal taste in food. In differentiating erotic humiliation from non-erotic humiliation, what it comes down to is simply this: Is it sexy? Is it being done because it’s “amusing” or because it turns you on? Is it entertainment, or do you get off on it?