BDSM, Writing, and a Humiliation Kink

A guest post by Elyan Smith

Thank you for joining us on the O Come All Ye Kinky virtual book tour! Leave a comment on the post below by December 16 and you’ll be entered to win one heck of a stocking stuffer—a $100 gift card to The Stockroom, where kinky dreams come true!

I discovered kink when I was a kid. I remember the first fantasies I had after watching prison movies when I was about 10ish. I’d lie in bed afterwards and imagine being in prison and having things done to me. As I got older this progressed to using props from around the house like stacks of books to put myself on display for imaginary men. I discovered nifty archive in due time, read all of the authoritarian section (and there’s a lot of dirty stuff in there), and only through the years realized that I did, in fact, have a kink for humiliation and D/s, and what that meant compared to one for pain or S/M, and just how slim the line is from the best turn-on to the stronger turn-off when it comes to such emotionally-driven tightrope play.

Since then I’ve picked up and put down BDSM books because invariably they’ll be about slave fantasies (of which I enjoy certain parts), slavery universes, dungeons and paddles and whips and crops and handcuffs and torture, and meanwhile the things I like are always only the small, nearly accidental side effects of other play. Bondage leading to being exposed and having a bit of almost too cruel dirty talk makes it just right, cross-dressing with the make-up smudged just enough to play at being used and being used good, CBT with the dom pressing the guy’s legs down to the bed and telling him to keep them there as he taunts him about it, begging puppies, drinking piss, and plain standing in the corner naked. They all share the same underlying current of hot humiliation, but with the grand majority of them the moment of a cuddle afterwards, the end of a scene, or just the progression towards something more on the S/M side of the acronym happens all too quickly.

Humiliation in erotica appears fleeting and occasionally—probably not even intended most of the time. Finding well-written erotica that goes there and stays there and doesn’t retreat to the safety of taking it all back (there’s nothing worse than reading a humiliation scene, getting into it and then have it end in the dom apologizing) is really really hard.

I’m not sure if I just haven’t picked up the right books (recommendations always welcome), or if the aspect of BDSM I’m into just isn’t the most popular or most widely practised one. Or if, in fact, humiliation is still the dirty little secret on the heels of a bit of a paddling, sneaking into a hefty dose of dirty talk, and hiding under slivers of glittery make-up.

When I started writing “Open Return” for O Come All Ye Kinky I knew I’d write D/s and I knew I’d try to include at least a little humiliation and show it in the context of the acceptance and the love necessary to play happily and healthily in that kink sandbox. Without having to take it back.

I understand that if it’s not a kink you have it’s one of the bigger turn-offs in a sex scene. It can be harder to stomach than pain play, because that doesn’t challenge the emotional balance of the reader in quite the same way. But I hope that even readers who don’t share the kink won’t be put off by it in the context of the relationship portrayed in the story.

People talk quite openly about floggers or their slings and bondage gear. In the same way, I’m rather unapologetic about my kinks (even if they’re not quite as flashy—or expensive, it’s got to be said). Even if, at times, it’s a little hard to explain to people who see it as just another shade of abuse. Sex happens in your brain, and turn-ons happen in your brain, and humiliation is just one that’s probably far more in your brain and far less connected to physical sensations that some of the other play in the BDSM acronym. That’s all.

And I mean it, recommendations for things I should read very welcome.

Here’s the blurb for my story, “Open Return.”
Fifteen years ago, Zach left the small Midwestern town he grew up in, confused and scared and determined to figure out who he was. Now transformed, he’s drawn back by the memory and promise of the dominant couple he left behind. Laura and Scott are still together, and as the year draws to a close, they explore old feelings and new ones as they discover they’ve all been waiting for Zach to come home.

About Elyan Smith:
Elyan Smith lives in the southwest of England. Friends regularly accuse him of being an antisocial sod who spends too much of his free time looking at porn on the internet, when in truth he spends most of it writing—but the porn’s the easier excuse. He works as a researcher in psychology by day, and when he’s not writing, he’s probably in the theater, watching other people create magic. You can find Elyan at his website and on Twitter.

You can find out more about the anthology and all the stories here. 20% of all proceeds from O Come All Ye Kinky will be donated to the Domestic Violence Project of the National Leather Association–International. (If you buy the book, digital or print, from Riptide’s website, more money goes to the charity because we’re not paying third-party vendor fees.)

About Cara McKenna

Cara McKenna writes smart erotica—sexy stories with depth. Read more >
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42 Responses to BDSM, Writing, and a Humiliation Kink

  1. Cara McKenna says:

    Welcome, Elyan!

    I guess I can’t be entered in the contest, since I’m your host, but I wanted to pop in and let you know I read Open Return this weekend and found it really fascinating. It’s the first transgender erotica I can remember reading—was there perhaps one in the Delta of Venus? I can’t recall—not to mention the first transgender, polyamorous, humiliation / obedience kink Christmas erotica I’ve read! Before this, my only exposure to the transgender community was a friend’s boyfriend I met only once, Isis from that one season of Top Model, plus a whole lot of audio eavesdropping via the Savage Lovecast. Spending a hour inside Zach’s head was a really unique experience for me, and seeing how he reconciled Hannah vs. Zach, and the known past vs. the uncertain future (and present.) Who we were and who we become, and can you ever “go home again” after such a major change? Really cool read, and a fresh perspective in erotic romance.

    Thanks for visiting with us, and happy holidays!

    • Elyan Smith says:

      Thanks very much, Cara. When you spell it out like that for Open Return it’s a bit of a mouthful, I suppose, and a bit of a poly trans bi d/s abbreviation soup, but at its hearts it’s a rather straightforward love story I feel. Pretty much all of my output to date has been stories featuring trans characters (Portside is gay erotica featuring a trans guy and a cis guy, so if you liked Open Return, that goes along in a similar if different vein). I’m not a fan of writing issue stories or coming out stories or stories about people being a certain thing but I like featuring them in stories, and I’m glad that it worked in Open Return.

      Thanks again for having me, it’s great.

      • Cara McKenna says:

        Yes, that’s a good point to make—I should say, this book doesn’t come off as “a story about a trans character’s journey.” As a reader, it was an aspect I found new and unique and therefore central to my own experience of the story, but being in Zach’s POV, it felt appropriately incidental. It definitely took a backseat to his anxieties about the homecoming and reunion in general.

  2. Andrea says:

    The more I read about the different stories in this anthology, the more I look forward to reading it. I think it’s going to be unlike anything I’ve read before.
    andreagrendahl at gmail dot com

  3. Ruthie Knox says:

    Welcome, Elyan!
    Very intrigued by this story. Like Cara, I’ve never read a transgender erotic story — and only one story with trans characters, come to think of it. Must remedy.
    Charlotte Stein’s CONTROL has some interesting humiliation dynamics, I thought. It’s m/f/m, and one of the two men is extremely shy and embarrassed by his sexual impulses. The heroine does things that humiliate him and push his buttons. As I recall, there’s no apologizing or backing off from that — but I might not be remembering right.

    • Elyan Smith says:

      Hi Ruth. I can’t say I’ve read too many trans stories myself, mostly because I’m not a big fan of stories that are solely about a character’s trans identity and struggle with it , and quite a number of stories seem to go down that route. That said I feel writers are increasingly attempting to represent trans people as characters and write stories inclusive of gender identity as a variable, and I expect we’ll see more diverse stories soon enough.

      Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll definitely check it out, sounds hot!

  4. Trix says:

    So far, Dakota Trace’s CONQUERING JUDE seems to shy away from the “see, we’re just playing” aspect of d/s a lot of books go for…it’s pretty full-on femdom thus far. I can’t really think of another that fully embraces the humiliation aspect right now (though there are some where both partners feel uneasy afterward, though I doubt that’s the same thing).

    • Elyan Smith says:

      Thanks for the rec, Trix! I’ll look into that. I do expect it’s a somewhat rarer kink to find in erotica for various reasons but glad to see there’s some out there!

      Appreciate the comment!

  5. Pingback: Blogposts for O Come All Ye Kinky | Elyan Smith

  6. FanGirlMom says:

    I’m glad Riptide snapped you up and I look forward to reading more of your work :)

  7. Jason says:

    This anthology is rocking. I can’t wait to read it. :)

  8. Issa says:

    Humiliation kink? I think I’ve read it from one author who did it well but I don’t seek it out so I haven’t read it again. I’m intrigued though.

    cojazzchick AT yahoo DOT com

    • Elyan Smith says:

      Having talked to a few people about this prior to the blogpost, I think you’re not alone with it. It appears to be an absolute no-go for a lot of people, in particular in romance, but glad to hear that it can work in some circumstances. Thanks for the comment.

  9. Kassandra says:

    Really enjoyed your previous work at Riptide and can not wait to get my hands on more ;)


  10. flchen1 says:

    Thanks for the great post, Elyan–I haven’t found humiliation to be my kink, but can appreciate a well-written story just the same! Thanks for the perspective!

    f dot chen at comcast dot net

  11. judi says:

    I have the ebook, but haven’t read it yet. Looking forward to it as I am a huge fan of Portside. Enjoyed your post.

  12. Hi Elyan!

    So nice to see someone else who writes humiliation kink!

    For me, BDSM has never been about the physical play. I mean, I understand that some people like the physical sensations, but for me personally, it’s all about the psychological stuff. When I sub for a pain play scene, it’s not because I’m a masochist (I’m not) but because the pain is a test of submission. After all, how much deeper can submission be than to submit to something you don’t actually enjoy because your Dom demands it? It’s that level of submission I enjoy, not the pain for its own sake (though I will say, nothing feels better than a nice, heavy, thuddy flogger. It’s a deep tissue massage with happy ending. :D )

    So it’s no surprise that extends to my reading and writing preferences. Even when the play manifests physically, I want to know what is happening with the character psychologically. In the book I just released, Acceleration one character introduces some verbal humiliation to another character. It made my editor, whom I suspect is pretty vanilla, go O.O because she didn’t get it. She thought the Dom was being mean and that it was very sad. I had to explain it to her.

    With the submissive character in question, his last hold-out to truly yielding control and letting go is his pride, his “sense of self” if you will. I really get under his skin and give him that sense of freedom and peace that should come with deep submission, the dominant character to break that down a bit. It’s possible some readers may be turned off by that, because humiliation play can be really squicky for some people. But it works for the characters in question.

    Great article and OCAYK is on my list of must-reads after I get this next manuscript turned over to my editor!

    • Elyan Smith says:

      That sounds really interesting! And yeah, it’s the experience I’ve made that people frequently associate humiliation as a kink with abusive and demeaning relationships because looking at the pure actions, I suppose, there’s a strong overlap but it’s obviously two completely different situations. Interesting to read your thoughts, appreciate them, and I’ll look into your book :D Thank you.

  13. Penumbra says:

    I like reading humiliation kink and to pair it with transgender should be an interesting story :)

  14. Urbanista says:

    Elian, thank you for your candor! Humiliation kink–the idea makes my stale old brain dizzy. I CAN’t probably, but I won’t know until I try!

    brendurbanist at gmail dot com

  15. Urbanista says:

    It’s Elyan I know but the iPad doesn’t.

  16. Natalie L. says:

    I just read As She’s Told by Anneke Jacob and there’s a LOT of humiliation and objectification in it–there is also TPE which I know can be troubling for some people. It’s an extreme and not particularly romantic book but I found it to be well-written and a very compelling read (enough so that I’ll probably pick up some of Jacobs’s other books).

  17. Michelle (MiMi) says:

    Haven’t read any books with much humiliation kink in it yet…don’t know if I like it or not …:) Count me in for the contest please. Thank you, chellebee66(at)gmail(dot)com

  18. Jessi Gage says:

    Nice to meet you, Elyan! I’ve got Open Return on my TBR list and am excited to expand my horizons to include a transgender character. Like you said, it’s all about the journey of love. Looking forward to it!

  19. Sounds interesting! I’ve shelved it on Goodreads and look forward to reading it.


  20. Catherine says:

    NOPE…I just don’t get it. BUT, I am entirely supportive of you following your own kink.

  21. willaful says:

    “if it’s not a kink you have it’s one of the bigger turn-offs in a sex scene.” This. Though the mention of Charlotte Stein in the comments made me think of her recent novella Restraint, which made at least one reader I know very uncomfortable, but didn’t bother me at all. Most of what I’ve run into is name calling, and that’s a big turn-off, but in Restraint, the deliberate pushing of buttons/boundaries worked for me. Of course, it’s also a woman pushing a man’s buttons, so maybe that makes a difference.

  22. willaful says:

    Note to self: html screws up comments!

  23. E says:

    Interesting post. It’s a really personal and individual thing, humiliation play — even those of us who are into it never seem to agree on what it is. I’ve been party to lengthy conversations about the exact differences between “embarrassment”, “humiliation”, and “degradation” — no two people ever seem to have the same opinion of what those things are, where the boundaries lie between them, what specific experiences fall into which category, or which ones are hot and which are squicky.

    My personal definition is that humiliation is the feeling I have when I’ve lost the ability to influence whether other people respect or like me. The genuine feeling of humiliation is depressing and non-erotic to me. But safely experiencing it in fantasy, or playing with it by dancing close to its edges without actually falling in — I kink really hard for that. But humiliation erotica is really dicey; the phenomenon of “hot hot hot HOT HOT oh yuck now I just feel sorry for the person” is all too familiar because the how-far-is-too-far line is always in a different place for the author than for me.

  24. I am so getting this book right now!! Psyched!