Updated: MAY 8, 2023
Reviewed by Kinkly Staff
on May 8, 2023

Degradation, or degradation kink, refers to the consensual sexual demeaning and humiliation of one partner by another. It is a form of sadism/masochism that can take place between a dominant and a submissive in BDSM relationships. A degradation kink sits on the opposite end of the spectrum from a praise kink.

The dominant partner can use verbal, psychological or physically degrading acts, such as insults and rough sex, to embarrass the submissive. The submissive should be someone who is turned on and derives pleasure from receiving these acts from someone else.

Anyone of any gender or sexual orientation can be into degradation or identify as having a degradation kink. There is limited research around why people enjoy this particular kind of play, but submissives themselves give various reasons, including the enjoyment of ceding control, the taboo nature of the activity, and the contrast between the rough or unkind treatment and the tender aftercare that may follow.

More About Degradation

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.

In what ways can a degradation scene play out?

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, such as a BDSM play party, 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.” 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.

Negotiating consent is particularly important if the scene involves consensual non-consent. In these very specific types of scenes, 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.

“Degradation is the opposite of praise. It’s insulting someone, tearing them down, degrading them in a way that makes them feel small," says Mistress Mona, a Dominatrix based in Philadelphia. “I think a lot of domming has to do with degradation, objectification and humiliation."

How can I enjoy degradation scenes safely?

Consent is a key element of a degradation scene and relationship. Because the words and actions taken by the top can be offensive in a non-sexual context, agreement and trust are essential to ensure all parties achieve pleasure. All degradation acts are extremely subjective and should be discussed in advance. 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.


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