Since locking myself just shy of two weeks ago (and subsequently having a Dom replace the lock in a scene last Thursday), I've been talking about kink a LOT. Go figure, right? I've had a few old friends/acquaintances who came out of the woodwork randomly, and got to see how we'd set off down different paths of kink development. Throughout the course of these discussions, as well as reflecting on past conversations, it occurred to me that humiliation could be grouped into two categories: iconic and intrinsic. There may be more appropriate terms for the classification, but I'm particularly fond of these two.
Iconic humiliation is the more prevalent form of dominance, which makes sense given its foundation. Essentially, the emphasis is placed on concepts derived from cultural sources. Whether this is the prevailing culture in their home country or some smaller subculture, it is rooted in the subject's experience; leather, cigars, certain verbal humiliation, feminization, etc. A shining example of this would be ass toys: if you pick up a Men's Health magazine in some Latin countries, you might find an advert for or article on butt plugs. Having known female Doms, I can say some LOVE humiliating a guy with ass play. While this might work in American culture since there's a rather large stigma surrounding ass play - which makes a man feel like his masculinity and power is being challenged - doing the same thing to someone whose culture doesn't share that stigma is unlikely to be humiliating. The same could also be said of verbal degradation and calling a boy a faggot or a cocksucker; someone without a history of ostracization due to their homosexuality is less likely to have an emotional response to such acts.
Intrinsic humiliation, of course, would be the opposite; things that transcend cultural differences. Most of these are things that tie into the fact that we, as a species, aren't very comfortable with the reality that we are still animals. As such, this often ties into our animal side. Although some of these things are physical, there's a palpable psychological component; things like physical positioning (Dom always being elevated), eye contact restriction, restricted speech, forced nudity, etc. There is still a very real animal component to our brains - a part that doesn't recognize logic - and if you want to learn how to control ANY man watch how animals exude control in their social settings. If you're able to break a boy down to where he's less likely to have racing thoughts, these are the things that are sure-fire to keep him there. Even if he doesn't think it's particularly hot or enjoyable, or even especially degrading, it's still a reminder on some level that his psyche can't be immune to.
Being into "legitimate" control, I generally favor the concept of intrinsic humiliation because it can't be combated with thought since its effects hit the part of our self that doesn't think. It's by no means superior, but it's more necessary for a well-rounded Dom; if you find someone immune to the iconic images you're capable of exuding, what's left? You suddenly find yourself with a boy you can't humiliate simply because his background is substantially different from yours. Most of the time scene discussion can flush these issues out before they even happen, but if you don't have an understanding of what is innately indicative of power or superiority there isn't much room left once the icons fail - regardless of how hot they may be when they DO work.