RIP Jack McGeorge, and the Instinct for Humiliation

Jack McGeorge

This is the last place anyone in the kink community will read it, but Jack McGeorge has died. While I did not agree with everything that he had to say, I always found him a powerful, provocative, and solid presence, and have a great deal of respect for him on many levels. I was proud to be a member of a community that included him. I was proud recently when he positively commented a Fetlife Post I made on Leather History. I admired him and felt he was a role model for living bravely and “out” in the world. I did not know him well, though we spoke several times. I will be the least of those miss his presence at the MsC.

So…I am back down to crossposting my Fetlife Posts again. I was determined to get some new material up before the fall kink events, but the next two weeks of my life are…hectic. I have two posts coming up, but neither is quite ready for prime time.

On the other hand, in answering a question from a newbie on Fetlife, I ended up fully developing a set of ideas I have had congealing in my mind for a while. Attractive word that “congeal.” The ideas could stand better polish, but having nothing else to offer, I decided to put them forth here, if nothing else so I don’t lose the thoughts.

If nothing else, since the original poster was a foreign language speaker, I tried to use good, simple, English, which is a challenge for me.

The Instinct for Humiliation

My thesis:

Many people think that the motivations behind desiring humiliation are unhealthy. I do not.

  • I think humiliation is hard for us because we live in an egalitarian culture, where we are taught that even submission is dirty and wrong, and that self-abasement in submission is doubly wrong. But our emotions did not read the Constitution, and know only that we have deep needs we seek to fill.
  • I think that humans desire submission because it brings them a feeling of control in life, safety and acceptance.
  • I think that humiliation is a more pro-active form of submission, and in some ways a perfection of it. I think humans crave humiliation when their need for safety and acceptance through submission is very deep.
  • I think it is often associated with trauma, because experiencing trauma and the losses associated with it usually provoke a very deep seated craving for control, safety and acceptance.
  • I think that the need for humiliation can and does become muddled with trauma if the trauma was sexual in nature. I think that can increase the shame and internal conflict that accompanies humiliation.
  • I think that humiliation, like surrender/submission, and most other forms of BDSM is part of a search for psychological wellbeing. Because it is poorly understood, it is often poorly answered.

To go into a bit more detail:

All humans crave control. But we also know that many humans have gotten by through adapting to bad situations. And our need for control is answered in fulfilling our needs for food and shelter, which we abstract as “safety.” Our emotional health is governed by how safe we feel. Throughout history populations were captured, enslaved and so forth. Men and Women.

Submission is an act which promotes safety and security under difficult circumstances,whether it is professing to a primitive King who we were born to, or a foreign invader who has taken our lands. Humans tend to band together and serve a leader. We are tribal

Submission is an expression of tribalism, and humiliation is an expression of the desire for tribe.

If you look through history, acts of humiliation are most often seen in four contexts:

  • Acts by the defeated and minorities to buy their survival
  • Acts of religious devotion
  • Acts of devotion to a leader, Lord, Master, King.
  • Acts of devotion to a lover
I think that the act of enduring/actively seeking humiliation is tied to the basic instinct of surrender, making it sharper and more powerful. And that the instinct of surrender is an expression of a basic desire for safety and security.

If you look at history, the most extreme acts of humiliation are often performed by those demonstrating their devotion. Religious ascetics. Knights. Those joining secret societies. In all cases the person being humiliated experiences a powerful emotion in response. A sense of rightness and place that is often confusing and often described differently, but always seems tied to some emotional comfort.

The rush that is described in the Chansons de Geste of a knight carrying out humiliating self-deprivation, or casting off his pride and abasing himself at the feet of a lady…the emotions strike me as exactly the same as the rush of excitement and self surrender that a man might describe at the feet of a Domme.

I think we like to believe that the act of a monk being scourged or wearing a hair shirt is different from a girl being spat on and forced to suck cock. We want to believe that the eros-tied rush that the girl experiences is different from the pure burning of shame in the monk. But is it?

Isn’t it strange that in old manuscripts even the vague feeling of pride associated with humiliation is the same. In a strange way the girl is actually proud of her actions, while feeling no less burning shame. The monk is at least supposed to feel shame and humiliation yet is proud of them, and time and time again we find the monk cautioned to feel the actual humiliation not the pride that goes with it. In each case I think that if it is not merely play acting, but a true deep experience, the same frantic burn and rush is present.

I think that the instincts are the same. The most powerful love stories often contain the strongest descriptions of humiliation. The…burn…the rush…that comes from letting go and sinking into that state. Is very powerful. Most often girls tell me that they don’t know exactly what they get from humiliation but it fulfills a need. If they can say anything they say it makes them “feel in their place.” I think that is because a sense of place that relates to comfort and safety is a bit more abstract than most of us can lay a finger on in this day and time.

Because we are capable of thinking in abstractions, a tendency to humiliation does not need to be directly answered by a Master for us to feel some emotional need to perform it and receive some abstract comfort from it. It is better and more perfect if there is an object/recipient, and better still if that object is tied to our safety and wellbeing.

I mete out and inflict humiliation to, and receive reactions from some of those who submit to me and I do not feel in any way conflicted about it. The more strongly humiliated…the more powerfully abased… a girl feels, the more they may become able to accept comfort and safety that is hard for them to experience in any other way.

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