• Fri, Jul 12 - 1:41 pm ET

Ever Wonder Just How Alone You Are In Your BDSM Orientation?

bettie pageDespite Fifty Shades of Boring clawing its way into the mainstream, BDSM still remains a subject that, for many, is taboo. A lot of those indulging in that side of their sexual desires tend to keep it to themselves, or fault themselves for even having the interest in being, let’s say, tied up, gagged and severely punished (with consent, of course!) in their sex lives. Hey, whatever gets you off, go with it!

Although the BDSM community is definitely alive and well, even if some within that community would rather not admit to their intimate practices, it’s hard to gauge exactly how many people are partaking in this behavior. Does anyone really care exactly who’s doing what behind closed doors? Maybe; on a whole, we do tend to be a bit curious when it comes to this sort of thing. However, one thing’s for damn sure, those who want to understand the reasons for BDSM absolutely want to know the who and what of it all, and since they did some research, why not share that with you?

Not surprisingly, the studies and surveys that have been given to people regarding BDSM are few and far between, as Slate notes, when it comes to who’s actually doing it.

There’s only one good random-sample survey on this question. It was taken in Australia a decade ago. Nearly 20,000 people between the ages of 16 and 59 were interviewed by phone. In the whole sample, 1.8 percent of men and 1.2 percent of women answered yes to the question, “In the last 12 months, have you been involved in B&D or S&M?” (The question went on to explain, “That’s bondage and discipline, sadomasochism, or dominance and submission.”) Among respondents who were sexually active, the BDSM minority barely increased, to 2 percent of men and 1.4 percent of women. Among those who had a sexual partner in the previous year, the figure was 2.2 percent of men and 1.3 percent of women.

Not many, huh?

This, of course, then begs to differ what is BDSM to each person. While some may think their partner holding their hands locked over their head during intercourse as BDSM, others truly steeped in the BDSM community, are likely to laugh at such a thing. That was also 10 years ago, before Fifty Shades of Meh.

On a far smaller scale, but more recently, Dutch psychologists tried to take on the same task with only 448 people participating in the study. Of those questioned, another small percentage, this time 3%, “indicated having had previous BDSM experience.”

It also found that men were predominately tops in these experiences “(48 percent classified themselves as dominant, 33 percent as submissive) while women were primarily bottoms (76 percent submissive, 8 percent dominant),” which then leads to the question of who’s exploiting who in the bedroom, if anyone at all. Right there, you have a whole other ball of wax, and the intricate pulling apart of if this is the result of a patriarchal society where men maintain their dominance outside of the bedroom also. Well, female subs, is it?

The findings from the Dutch and Australian study, as well as another fairly old one done in Finland are fascinating (ex. 17% of those in the Finnish study are into skin branding, and 13% are all for the use of knives and razor blades), but still, trying to wrangle up an exact amount of who’s doing what and why, can’t be definitely ascertained.

Point? Why over-think it? Do we, the kinksters of the world, really need to know just how many others out there are enjoying the same things we do? Do we, or should we, even care?

For psychologists there will always be an urge to come up with a definitive answer as to why some people like to be dominated, while others might prefer submission and utter humiliation. They may try to pinpoint this desire, and sometimes absolute need, on past abuses, a fragmented brain or something else because they require a reason for it all. But that’s their problem, and not our issue about which to worry. We should, all of us, kinky and vanilla, just live it up, enjoy sex our way, and the rest of ‘em can go fly a kite… à la Mary Poppins style.

Statistic are fun, but when you’re trying to discern the meaning of it all from 448 people, it doesn’t mean much. Now go enjoy a proper spankin’.

Photo: HBO Films

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