This is my opinion on the matter:
Humiliation is about a Top getting off on a bottom's feelings of awkwardness, embarrassment, and shame. It is about a bottom being made to feel disconcerted, often mortified, and forced to endure a humbling scene for the Top's enjoyment. It is about the bottom providing entertainment through discomfort.
Me? I get off on humiliation.
Objectification is about the Top turning the bottom into an object—table, chair, artistic statue, whatever strikes his/her fancy. It is about the bottom being reduced to nothing more than that object, at least for a time. It is about the bottom being of service as something less than human.
Me? I get off on objectification.
Degradation is about the Top belittling and demeaning the bottom. It is about the bottom being made to feel inferior and disgraceful.
I do not get off on degradation.
The reason why is as simple as it is complicated.
Like many, I had a fucked up childhood. I don't like to get into details, or even talk about it—ever, with anyone—for a whole slew of reasons anyone who has suffered through a fucked up childhood will probably understand. But I will say that for far, far too long, I found life less than livable.
When I got older, I took control of my life, and things got better. But I still lived very...shall we say...fatalistically. I existed day to day, not quite sure when my last day would be, not quite believing the next day would come. I lived with what I considered lofty goals, and took hellish risks, because I wanted my death to mean something.
I wanted my death to be grand...because I didn't think my life meant very much.
It was around the time I met husband that my life began to really mean something. Will I give him all the credit for my improvements, the growth and recovery I went through? No, I will not. I was actively trying to get myself help, and fix myself up, for a fair amount of time before I ever met him. I don't think he ever would've even been interested in me if he hadn't see that strength (and stubbornness) of mine showing through.
But did he help? Hell yes.
He helped me start thinking about what I wanted out of life, what my goals were—because it was okay to make goals, it was okay to bank on a future.
He helped me understand I shouldn't be worrying so much about my grand death, it was my grand life I was supposed to be thinking about.
He made me realize my life had meaning, it had value and worth...and that value had nothing to do with what he thought of me, and everything to do with how I saw myself.
To this day, he reminds me all the time how important I am.
I am his priceless treasure.
I am beautiful beyond words.
He is so thankful he has me in his life.
It's as if I was made just for him.
He's so lucky...the luckiest man in the world.
I think I'm the lucky one. I'm a survivor, and I'm stronger because of it. I have no idea what kind of person I'd be if I hadn't gone through all the things I did...there's no point in wondering about it, because I'll never know. But I do know that everything I've ever been through has led me up to this point—and at this point, I got to say, my life is pretty fucking fantastic.
So no, I am not his worthless slut, or his useless slave, or his stupid cunt, or any of the other derogatory adjectives I hear other people use.
I am his slut, slave, cunt, hole, whipping post...whatever noun he decides strikes up his fancy. I am what he chooses me to be, because I am worthy of this privilege.
And my worth is not cheap.
I am NOT saying people who get off on degradation are doing ANYTHING wrong. This is the sort of thing that is completely subjective, and if you're the kind of person who gets off on it? Go for it.
I AM saying that as much as some people enjoy degradation, other people recoil from it; that it does not have to be an integral part of any power exchange dynamic or scene. That you can be a submissive, but being a submissive doesn't have to make you feel inferior in any way.
Not unless you want it to.