To say that consent is key to a degradation scene is putting it too lightly. To ensure everyone involved is willing and deriving pleasure from degradation play, everyone must talk about limits and boundaries, as well as wants and desires before the scene.
It is very easy for a degradation scene to be taken too far with just one comment or act that can be spur of the moment or unintentional. Degradation scenes require considerable advance planning and clear, understandable safewords that will provide a warning or a full stop to the scene if discomfort happens.
The goal of sexual degradation is to bring an intense feeling of capitulation or surrender to the person being embarrassed and/or humiliated and an intense feeling of authority to the person controlling the submissive.
Some would suggest that those who desire degradation are frequently people in power in other aspects of life. Similarly, those who desire power in sex may not have power in other situations. In reality, dominants and submissives come from all walks of life and it is impossible to generalize.
Verbal degradation often takes the form of insults, including mockery of feelings, insults of body parts and belittlement. Physical examples of degradation including spitting, slapping, hair pulling, spanking, ejaculating on, or urinating on the submissive partner.
Degradation scenes are sometimes carried out in public settings to take the sensations up to another level. Having others witness a degradation scene adds to the power play of the dominant and the humiliation of the submissive.
If the scene is taking place in a public setting, the dominant party may require their sub to remove all of their clothes, demand to be served or even invite others to degrade their sub.
Another key part of sexual degradation happens after the scene. Aftercare is highly recommended for both the dom and sub. The acts in sexual degradation are meant to “hurt” and taking time after the scene, after the players have had a chance to cool down, to discuss what happened is key to ensuring no boundaries were crossed, pleasure was attained and that mutual respect is maintained.
This is particularly important if your scene involves consensual non-consent. A successful dominant/submissive relationship is based on mutual respect.
Some people also move their degradation play into consensual non-consent scenes. In these very specific situations, the submissive - through both defiance and retreat - resists the degradation techniques of the dominant, who then forces more physical acts on the submissive, ignoring objections and refusals.