BDSM protocol – a definition

Belasarius

This, my first attempt at a BDSM definition in a while, was prompted by these originally similar threads started by @WayneKing:

Here’s what I think BDSM protocol may be:

“BDSM protocol is  an enduring, habitual, non-verbal expectation of behaviour that people in a consenting BDSM dynamic do for each other whenever it is appropriate to do so, as defined by their rules.”

The “non verbal expectation” is, I think, fundamental and that is @WayneKing’s idea: many thanks.

CurtseyPlease use the poll below to vote on whether you think this definition is right and, if you don’t, please do comment. I will try to incorporate others’ ideas into future versions of the definitions.

Further definitions (and polls) are on this page, which links to articles on each definition.

BDSM safeword survey: Are safewords unhelpful for partners who know each other well?

This article looks at how strongly 499  acedc11cbeb3a2a0b4e3bca15378bec4safeword survey participants agreed or disagreed with the statement “safewords are unhelpful to partners who know each other well”

The first chart, shows the extent to which all respondents (split by gender) thought safewords unhelpful to partners who know each other well (the method I have used for calculating the charts is under the subheading “Data used in this article” below).


safewords unhelpful 1

Both men and women are much more likely to agree with this statement than to disagree and there really is no great difference of opinion between the sexes.

safewords unhel[ful 2

When the data was split by BDSM orientation (above) a clear difference did emerge. Whilst tops/dominants and bottoms/submissives strongly agree with the statement (T/ds were around twice as likely to disagree than to agree – b/s people nearly three times so) switches disagree.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, people from the Master (mistress) & slave BDSM component overwhelmingly agreed with the statement (below). People from the largest group in the survey (Dominants/submissives were split and Sadists/masochists were more likely to agree that safewords are unhelpful than not.

Safewords unhelpful 3

Data used in this article

The article uses data from a question where people were asked whether they consideredsafewords to be unhelpful to partners who knew each other well. 499 people answered the question. People were able to pick from the following responses:

  • Agree
  • Agree strongly
  • Neither agree nor disagree
  • Disagree
  • Disagree strongly

To produce the charts used above I manipulated the data as follows:

  • Agree (scored 1)
  • Agree strongly (scored 2)
  • Neither agree nor disagree (eliminated from responses)
  • Disagree (scored -1)
  • Disagree strongly (scored -2)

I totalled the  scores and then divided that by the total of all responses (including “Neither agree nor disagree”, in order that a high neutral response would influence the outcome by reducing both negative and positive scores). I expressed that in percentages for convenience.

The data used is in the tables below:

All
Safewords are unhelpful to partners who know each other well
Agree Agree strongly Disagree Disagree strongly Neither agree nor disagree All
Bottom/Submissive Dominant/Submissive 24 53 40 31 42 190
Master/Slave 6 36 4 2 6 54
Sadist/Masochist 6 8 11 3 3 31
Bottom/Submissive Total 36 97 55 36 51 275
Switch Dominant/Submissive 7 15 11 14 47
Master/Slave 1 3 2 6
Sadist/Masochist 8 11 9 3 6 37
Switch Total 15 12 27 14 22 90
Top/Dominant Dominant/Submissive 9 24 26 12 12 83
Master/Slave 2 21 1 2 1 27
Sadist/Masochist 3 4 5 7 5 24
Top/Dominant Total 14 49 32 21 18 134
Total 65 158 114 71 91 499
Males
Safewords are unhelpful to partners who know each other well
Agree Agree strongly Disagree Disagree strongly Neither agree nor disagree All
Bottom/Submissive Dominant/Submissive 6 13 5 3 14 41
Master/Slave 1 1 1 2 5
Sadist/Masochist 2 4 1 1 8
Bottom/Submissive Total 9 18 7 3 17 54
Switch Dominant/Submissive 5 6 7 11 29
Master/Slave 1 1 2
Sadist/Masochist 4 8 5 2 19
Switch Total 9 8 12 7 14 50
Top/Dominant Dominant/Submissive 6 17 19 9 8 59
Master/Slave 2 14 1 2 1 20
Sadist/Masochist 2 3 3 4 4 16
Top/Dominant Total 10 34 23 15 13 95
Total 28 60 42 25 44 199
Females
Safewords are unhelpful to partners who know each other well Safewords are unhelpful to partners who know each other well
Agree Agree strongly Disagree Disagree strongly Neither agree nor disagree All
Bottom/Submissive Dominant/Submissive 18 40 35 27 26 146
Master/Slave 5 35 3 2 4 49
Sadist/Masochist 4 4 10 3 2 23
Bottom/Submissive Total 27 79 48 32 32 218
Switch Dominant/Submissive 2 8 4 3 17
Master/Slave 1 2 3
Sadist/Masochist 4 3 4 3 4 18
Switch Total 6 4 14 7 7 38
Top/Dominant Dominant/Submissive 2 7 7 2 4 22
Master/Slave 6 6
Sadist/Masochist 1 1 2 3 1 8
Top/Dominant Total 3 14 9 5 5 36
Total 36 97 71 44 44 292

 

Safewords Survey – Are safewords essential in BDSM punishment

BelasariusThis article looks at how strongly 499  safeword survey participants felt about using safewords in BDSM punishment.

Readers may find it interesting to contrast these results with earlier, articles where I asked people  whether safewords were essential in all BDSM transactions and whether safewords were essential in BDSM play.

In the article on safewords in all BDSM transactions, only switches were more likely than not to agree with the statement “Safewords are essential in all BDSM transactions”. However, the  BDSM play article shows general, agreement that safewords are essential – with some groups being more emphatic in their agreement than others. Only masters (mistresses) and slaves were more likely to think that safewords are NOT essential in play. This article shows a more mixed picture than either of the above. I wonder if that may be because BDSM people have not yet come to a common understanding of what they consider punishment to be (for reference, my thoughts on this are here and my proposed definition (for voting and debate) is here).

The first chart, below, shows how inclined, or not, all respondents (split by gender) were to consider safewords essential in BDSM punishment (the method I have used for calculating the charts is under the subheading “Data used in this article” below).

Punishment1

The people who took part seem pretty split on this one. Women were slightly more likely to disagree with the proposition than men, but not by very much at all.

However, when it comes to BDSM orientations there are some significant differences in perception (below).

Punishment2

There is a very clear difference of opinion between bottoms/submissives and everyone else. Submissives were three times more likely to disagree that safewords are essential in BDSM punishment than   either tops/dominants or switches. And they were the only group who were less likely to think that safewords were essential in punishment than to agree that they were essential. Switches were the most likely to think that safewords in punishment were essential. But, there is a clear difference of opinion between dominants and submissives here.

Punishmnt3

The chart above shows that there are also clear differences in the views of respondents from different BDSM components. Sadists/masochists are split on whether safewords are essential in punishment. Dominant’s submissives are more likely than not  to say that they are essential (though the extent to which they disagree is almost identical to S/m respondents) and masters (mistresses) and slaves are nearly five times more likely to disagree with the proposition than to agree.

Data used in this article

The article uses data from a question where people were asked whether they considered safewords to be essential in BDSM play. 500 people answered the question. People were able to pick from the following responses:

  • Agree
  • Agree strongly
  • Neither agree nor disagree
  • Disagree
  • Disagree strongly

To produce the charts used above I manipulated the data as follows:

  • Agree (scored 1)
  • Agree strongly (scored 2)
  • Neither agree nor disagree (eliminated from responses)
  • Disagree (scored -1)
  • Disagree strongly (scored -2)

I totalled the  scores and then divided that by the total of all responses (including “Neither agree nor disagree”, in order that a high neutral response would influence the outcome by reducing both negative and positive scores). I expressed that in percentages for convenience.

The data used is in the tables below:

What is your gender? (All) Safewords are essential in BDSM punishment
What is your BDSM orientation? How would you describe the most important component of your BDSM Dynamic? Agree Agree strongly Disagree Disagree strongly Neither agree nor disagree Grand Total
Bottom/Submissive Dominant/Submissive 37 34 26 66 27 190
Master/Slave 2 7 38 7 54
Sadist/Masochist 4 5 6 12 4 31
Bottom/Submissive Total 41 41 39 116 38 275
Switch Dominant/Submissive 10 19 6 2 10 47
Master/Slave 1 1 1 3 6
Sadist/Masochist 7 3 4 16 7 37
Switch Total 18 23 10 19 20 90
Top/Dominant Dominant/Submissive 14 22 10 27 10 83
Master/Slave 1 2 24 27
Sadist/Masochist 3 8 4 7 2 24
Top/Dominant Total 17 31 16 58 12 134
Grand Total 76 95 65 193 70 499
What is your gender? Male Safewords are essential in BDSM punishment
What is your BDSM orientation? How would you describe the most important component of your BDSM Dynamic? Agree Agree strongly Disagree Disagree strongly Neither agree nor disagree Grand Total
Bottom/Submissive Dominant/Submissive 5 7 5 18 6 41
Master/Slave 1 1 1 2 5
Sadist/Masochist 1 1 5 1 8
Bottom/Submissive Total 6 8 7 24 9 54
Switch Dominant/Submissive 8 9 4 8 29
Master/Slave 1 1 2
Sadist/Masochist 3 1 3 10 2 19
Switch Total 11 11 7 10 11 50
Top/Dominant Dominant/Submissive 9 16 7 20 7 59
Master/Slave 1 2 17 20
Sadist/Masochist 1 6 3 4 2 16
Top/Dominant Total 10 23 12 41 9 95
Grand Total 27 42 26 75 29 199
What is your gender? Female Safewords are essential in BDSM punishment
What is your BDSM orientation? How would you describe the most important component of your BDSM Dynamic? Agree Agree strongly Disagree Disagree strongly Neither agree nor disagree Grand Total
Bottom/Submissive Dominant/Submissive 31 27 21 47 20 146
Master/Slave 1 6 37 5 49
Sadist/Masochist 3 5 5 7 3 23
Bottom/Submissive Total 34 33 32 91 28 218
Switch Dominant/Submissive 2 9 2 2 2 17
Master/Slave 1 1 1 3
Sadist/Masochist 4 2 1 6 5 18
Switch Total 7 11 3 9 8 38
Top/Dominant Dominant/Submissive 4 5 3 7 3 22
Master/Slave 6 6
Sadist/Masochist 2 2 1 3 8
Top/Dominant Total 6 7 4 16 3 36
Grand Total 47 51 39 116 39 292

Safeword Survey – Are safewords essential in BDSM play.

BelasariusThis article looks at how strongly 500 safeword survey participants felt about using safewords in BDSM play.

The results of this question contrast strongly with an earlier, similar one where I asked people  whether safewords were essential in all BDSM transactions.

In that article, only switches were more likely to agree with the statement “Safewords are essential in all BDSM transactions” than not. However, when it comes to BDSM play there is, generally, agreement that safewords are essential – with some groups being more emphatic in their agreement than others. Only masters (mistresses) and slaves are more likely to think that safewords are NOT essential in play (see third chart below).

The first chart, below, shows how inclined, or not, all respondents (split by gender) were to consider safewords essential in play (the method I have used for calculating the charts is below).

1. Are safewords essential in BDSM play?

Men and women are both much more likely to say safewords are essential in play, Women agreed slightly more with the statement – but not by much.

The next chart looks at whether people in different BDSM orientations (tops/dominants, switches and bottom’s/submissives) agree that safewords are essential in BDSM play

2. Are seafewords essential in BDSM play

All groups are much more likely to agree with the statement than not – it’s just a question of how emphatically they agree. Switches scored more than four times as highly in agreement with the statement that safewords were essential in play than  disagreed. Tops/dominants were also in very strong agreement (the score for agree was more than three times as high as the score for disagree). Bottoms/submissives were also more likely to agree than disagree – but by a much closer margin.

When it comes to BDSM components, Masters/slaves were the only group to disagree that safewords were essential in play – and by a noticeable margin. There were 88 M/s responses to the question.

3. Are safewords essential in BDSM play

D/s and S/m people showed a close degree of agreement with the statement that safewords are essential in play. However, S/m people were far less likely to disagree with the statement.

Data used in this article

The article uses data from a question where people were asked whether they considered safewords to be essential in BDSM play. 500 people answered the question. People were able to pick from the following responses:

  • Agree
  • Agree strongly
  • Neither agree nor disagree
  • Disagree
  • Disagree strongly

To produce the charts used above I manipulated the data as follows:

  • Agree (scored 1)
  • Agree strongly (scored 2)
  • Neither agree nor disagree (eliminated from responses)
  • Disagree (scored -1)
  • Disagree strongly (scored -2)

I totalled the  scores and then divided that by the total of all responses (including “Neither agree nor disagree”, in order that a high neutral response would influence the outcome by reducing both negative and positive scores). I expressed that in percentages for convenience.

The data used is in the tables below

What is your gender? (All)
Count of RespondentID Safewords are essential in BDSM play
What is your BDSM orientation? How would you describe the most important component of your BDSM Dynamic? Agree Agree strongly Disagree Disagree strongly Neither agree nor disagree Grand Total
Bottom/Submissive Dominant/Submissive 42 38 38 40 32 190
Master/Slave 5 4 9 27 10 55
Sadist/Masochist 16 3 7 1 4 31
Bottom/Submissive Total 63 45 54 68 46 276
Switch Dominant/Submissive 11 14 7 15 47
Master/Slave 1 2 1 2 6
Sadist/Masochist 15 7 5 1 9 37
Switch Total 27 23 13 1 26 90
Top/Dominant Dominant/Submissive 12 24 16 18 13 83
Master/Slave 1 1 4 16 5 27
Sadist/Masochist 9 7 1 2 5 24
Top/Dominant Total 22 32 21 36 23 134
Grand Total 112 100 88 105 95 500
What is your gender? Male
Count of RespondentID Safewords are essential in BDSM play
What is your BDSM orientation? How would you describe the most important component of your BDSM Dynamic? Agree Agree strongly Disagree Disagree strongly Neither agree nor disagree Grand Total
Bottom/Submissive Dominant/Submissive 11 5 8 11 6 41
Master/Slave 2 2 1 5
Sadist/Masochist 5 1 2 8
Bottom/Submissive Total 18 5 9 13 9 54
Switch Dominant/Submissive 7 7 3 12 29
Master/Slave 1 1 2
Sadist/Masochist 11 4 1 3 19
Switch Total 18 8 7 1 16 50
Top/Dominant Dominant/Submissive 10 15 11 16 7 59
Master/Slave 1 4 13 2 20
Sadist/Masochist 6 5 1 1 3 16
Top/Dominant Total 16 21 16 30 12 95
Grand Total 52 34 32 44 37 199
What is your gender? Female
Count of RespondentID Safewords are essential in BDSM play
What is your BDSM orientation? How would you describe the most important component of your BDSM Dynamic? Agree Agree strongly Disagree Disagree strongly Neither agree nor disagree Grand Total
Bottom/Submissive Dominant/Submissive 30 33 30 28 25 146
Master/Slave 3 4 9 25 9 50
Sadist/Masochist 11 3 6 1 2 23
Bottom/Submissive Total 44 40 45 54 36 219
Switch Dominant/Submissive 4 7 3 3 17
Master/Slave 1 1 1 3
Sadist/Masochist 4 7 1 6 18
Switch Total 9 15 5 9 38
Top/Dominant Dominant/Submissive 2 7 5 2 6 22
Master/Slave 1 2 3 6
Sadist/Masochist 3 2 1 2 8
Top/Dominant Total 6 9 5 5 11 36
Grand Total 59 64 55 59 56 293

How many people do you play with?

BelasariusThis article looks at data from 519 respondents to the safeword survey. It analyses the number of play partners that people of different BDSM orientations and BDSM components  said that they have had in the last year.

The survey respondents indicated that, in most cases, respondents had more than two play partners in a year (the average is between two and three).

Play partners are people with whom the respondents had BDSM interactions, in private or at parties or clubs, but with whom they do not have an enduring relationship outside BDSM play.

Numbers of play partners

No’s of play partners in last 12 months – All 0 or 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 >10
Female 36% 21% 15% 7% 5% 5% 1% 1% 1% 8%
Bottom/Submissive 40% 23% 14% 7% 4% 4% 2% 1% 0% 4%
Switch 31% 13% 15% 3% 10% 10% 0% 5% 3% 10%
Top/Dominant 15% 15% 26% 8% 8% 3% 0% 0% 3% 23%
Male 31% 19% 19% 9% 5% 7% 4% 2% 0% 5%
Bottom/Submissive 40% 14% 21% 10% 5% 3% 2% 2% 0% 3%
Switch 28% 19% 17% 9% 9% 6% 9% 4% 0% 0%
Top/Dominant 28% 22% 19% 8% 3% 9% 3% 1% 0% 8%
Total 34% 20% 17% 8% 5% 6% 3% 2% 1% 6%

 

The table above show’s the percentage of respondents by gender and BDSM orientation that said they have had multiple play partners in the last year, tabulated by the number of partners stated. Men, with the exception of tops/dominants seem slightly less likely to play with multiple partners than do women. Women, especially tops/dominants appear more likely to have more than ten play partners in a year – but this is affected by small sample size. I also understand from private responses to the survey that some responses in this category came from pro-dommes who counted their clients as play partners.

Percentage with two or more play partners

Across the entire sample around two thirds of respondents said they had two or more play partners in a year. In general, tops/dominants are more likely to have multiple play partners than bottoms/submissives and Sadists/masochists were more likely to have multiple play partners than either M/s or D/s respondents. Women, especially those into S/m play, seem slightly more likely to have multiple play partners.

Playpartner perccentages

The 100% result for male switches who characterise their BDSM component as master (mistress) and slave is based on six responses.

I looked at the average number of people each group said they had played with in the last 12 months. In the next chart, below, people who said they played with 10 or more people are excluded, because this massively elevates the means, even though people with 10 or more partners only represent six per cent of all respondents to the question. For completeness, a chart showing the averages for the entire sample is included immediately above the sub-heading “data used in this article.

Average play partners >10

It’s clear that, other than amongst those who characterise themselves as tops/dominants, that Sadists/masochists have more play partners than other BDSM components and that S/m switches,especially men, say they play with more people than any other group.

Average play partners inc >10

Inclusion of the six per cent of respondents who said they had more than ten play partners significantly changes the picture! Not sure how helpful it is though!

Data used in this article

This article uses data from a question in the BDSM safeword survey where people were asked how many play partners they had had in the last 12 months. The answer allowed people to input any number. A small number of very high responses (people who had had 557,774,456, 100,000 and 9,800 play partners in the last 12 months) were eliminated.

I think I need to phrase this question more helpfully in the future: It was apparent that many respondents who said they only played with their relationship partner indicated that they had one play partner. I had intended that people should record numbers of partners additional to relationship partners. I have therefore combined the scores for people who recorded either zero or one play partner.

519 people answered the question. 33 stated they had had more than 10 partners in the last year, broken down as follows:

  • 10-20 partners – 18 respondents
  • 20-50 partners – 15 respondents
  • More than 50 partners – 3 respondents

The data used for this article is in the table below:

No’s of play partners in last 12 months – All 0 or 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 >10 All
Female 109 64 47 20 16 15 4 4 3 23 305
Bottom/Submissive 91 53 31 16 9 10 4 2 1 10 227
Switch 12 5 6 1 4 4 2 1 4 39
Top/Dominant 6 6 10 3 3 1 1 9 39
Male 67 40 40 19 11 14 9 4   10 214
Bottom/Submissive 23 8 12 6 3 2 1 1 2 58
Switch 15 10 9 5 5 3 5 2 54
Top/Dominant 29 22 19 8 3 9 3 1 8 102
Total 176 104 87 39 27 29 13 8 3 33 519
 
No’s of play partners in last 12 months – S/m 0 or 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 >10 All
Female 12 8 8 4 5 3 1   2 6 49
Bottom/Submissive 6 6 3 3 1 1 1 2 23
Switch 4 2 2 4 3 1 2 18
Top/Dominant 2 3 1 2 8
Male 13 4 8 8 4 3 4 1   4 49
Bottom/Submissive 4 4 1 1 10
Switch 4 1 5 2 2 1 3 1 19
Top/Dominant 5 3 3 2 2 1 1 3 20
Total 25 12 16 12 9 6 5 1 2 10 98
No’s of play partners in last 12 months – M/s 0 or 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 >10 All
Female 25 12 4 4 1 5 1 1   7 60
Bottom/Submissive 23 9 2 3 1 5 1 1 6 51
Switch 1 1 1 3
Top/Dominant 1 2 1 1 1 6
Male 11 4 4 3   2       3 27
Bottom/Submissive 3 2 5
Switch 0 1 1 2
Top/Dominant 8 3 2 2 2 3 20
Grand Total 36 16 8 7 1 7 1 1 0 10 87
No’s of play partners in last 12 months – D/s 0 or 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 >10 All
Female 72 44 35 12 10 7 2 3 1 10 196
Bottom/Submissive 62 38 26 10 7 5 2 1 2 153
Switch 7 2 3 1 1 2 2 18
Top/Dominant 3 4 6 1 3 1 1 6 25
Male 43 32 28 8 7 9 5 3   3 138
Bottom/Submissive 16 8 10 2 3 1 1 1 1 43
Switch 11 8 4 2 3 2 2 1 33
Top/Dominant 16 16 14 4 1 6 2 1 2 62
Total 115 76 63 20 17 16 7 6 1 13 334

BDSM safeword survey – Are safewords essential in all BDSM transactions?

BelasariusThis article looks at how strongly 491 survey participants felt about using safewords in all their BDSM interactions. The method I have used for calculating the charts is detailed below.

In the analysis I have done here I found significant differences in attitude between different groups as to which were more likely to think a safeword essential in all their interactions than not (switches and S/m people were more likely to think safewords essential).

I asked further questions about the  use of safewords in play and, specifically, with relationship partners and these will be analysed in future articles.

The first chart, below, shows how inclined, or not, all respondents were to consider safewords essential.

Safewords essential all

As can be seen, only the group of respondents who identified as switches were more likely to agree with the statement “Safewords are essential in all BDSM transactions” than not. Tops/dominants and bottoms/submissives showed an almost equal inclination to disagree. Bottoms/submissives, however, were slightly less likely to agree with the statement too.

Women

This and the the next chart show the attitude of female respondents to whether safewords are essential. The first chart looks at attitudes according to the respondent’s position in the relationship.

Female switches are much more likely to agree that safewords are essential than to disagree, whilst both tops and bottoms are both more than twice as likely to disagree than to agree (there is little real difference between the groups).

Safewords essential women

The next chart shows women’s attitudes based on the respondent’s choice of BDSM component – ie whether they are in a Sadist/Masochist (S/m), Master (mistress) and slave,(M/s) or dominant/submissive dynamic.

Safewords essential woment component

S/m women were more likely to agree that safewords were essential than not. D/s women are more likely to disagree, but not by much. But M/s women are around four and a half times more likely to disagree that safewords are essential than to agree.

Men

This next chart shows the responses of males concerning whether safewords are essential in all BDSM transactions. Within each orientation it differs little from the responses given by women. But, overall, male respondents were more likely to  disagree that safewords were essential than women. Males switches in particular were more balanced than females – where roughly twice as many thought safewords were essential than didn’t.

safewords essential men

Male S/m people differ quite markedly from their female equivalents (chart below). Female sadists/masochists were slightly more likely to say they agreed safewords were essential than not. Males were more than twice as likely to disagree.

safewords essential men component

People in master/slave dynamics showed a pronounced gender difference too. Males are only twice as likely to disagree that safewords are essential, whereas women were more than four times as likely to disagree. In contrast, whilst D/s women were only slightly more likely to disagree, Dominant/submissive men were much more likely to disagree.

Data used in this article

The article uses data from a question where people were asked whether they considered safewords to be essential in all BDSM transactions. 491 people answered the question. People were able to pick from the following responses:

  • Agree
  • Agree strongly
  • Neither agree nor disagree
  • Disagree
  • Disagree strongly

To produce the charts used above I manipulated the data as follows:

  • Agree (scored 1)
  • Agree strongly (scored 2)
  • Neither agree nor disagree (eliminated from responses)
  • Disagree (scored -1)
  • Disagree strongly (scored -2)

I totalled the  scores and then divided that by the total of all responses (including “Neither agree nor disagree”, in order that a high neutral response would influence the outcome by reducing both negative and positive scores). I multiplied the result by 10 for convenience.

The data used is in the tables below

Safewords are essential in all BDSM interactions – sample structure
Agree Agree strongly Disagree Disagree strongly Neither agree nor disagree All
Bottom/Submissive Dominant/Submissive 28 29 54 53 23 187
Master/Slave 2 4 9 34 6 55
Sadist/Masochist 3 2 12 5 9 31
Bottom/Submissive Total 33 35 75 92 38 273
Switch Dominant/Submissive 12 12 11 3 8 46
Master/Slave 1 1 1 1 1 5
Sadist/Masochist 8 2 9 7 10 36
Switch Total 21 15 21 11 19 87
Top/Dominant Dominant/Submissive 11 13 17 25 15 81
Master/Slave 1 1 23 1 26
Sadist/Masochist 5 8 5 5 1 24
Top/Dominant Total 16 22 23 53 17 131
Grand Total 70 72 119 156 74 491
Safewords are essential in all BDSM interactions – women
Agree Agree strongly Disagree Disagree strongly Neither agree nor disagree All
Bottom/Submissive Dominant/Submissive 20 26 43 39 18 146
Master/Slave 1 4 8 32 5 50
Sadist/Masochist 3 2 8 4 6 23
Bottom/Submissive Total 24 32 59 75 29 219
Switch Dominant/Submissive 3 7 3 2 2 17
Master/Slave 1 1 1 3
Sadist/Masochist 4 2 2 2 7 17
Switch Total 8 9 6 5 9 37
Top/Dominant Dominant/Submissive 2 2 6 6 6 22
Master/Slave 6 6
Sadist/Masochist 2 3 2 1 8
Top/Dominant Total 4 5 8 13 6 36
Grand Total 36 46 73 93 44 292
Safewords are essential in all BDSM interactions – men
Agree Agree strongly Disagree Disagree strongly Neither agree nor disagree All
Bottom/Submissive Dominant/Submissive 8 3 11 14 5 41
Master/Slave 1 1 2 1 5
Sadist/Masochist 4 1 3 8
Bottom/Submissive Total 9 3 16 17 9 54
Switch Dominant/Submissive 9 5 8 1 6 29
Master/Slave 1 1 2
Sadist/Masochist 4 7 5 3 19
Switch Total 13 6 15 6 10 50
Top/Dominant Dominant/Submissive 9 11 11 19 9 59
Master/Slave 1 1 17 1 20
Sadist/Masochist 3 5 3 4 1 16
Top/Dominant Total 12 17 15 40 11 95
Grand Total 34 26 46 63 30 199

Background

This is the fifth article about the safeword survey I recently conducted. More information about the terms and ideas I use in these surveys can be found here. Information about the demographics of this survey is here.

 

Differing dynamics: S/m, M/s and D/s

BelasariusThe data below comes from the BDSM Safewords survey but isn’t about safewords – instead it looks at the shape of dynamics of people in different types of BDSM relationships – Sadists/masochists (S/m), Masters( mistresses/slaves (M/s) and Dominants/submissives (D/s).

I asked people about their attitudes to various things BDSM people like to do. The chart below shows broad differences in approach to BDSM people in each of the above groups. What I did was take the score for “essential to me” (see Background, below) and subtract from it the score for “I don’t do this”.

Here is how the top nine areas of interest/interaction differed for each group;

Dominant/ submissive Master/ Slave Sadist/ Masochist
1 Control Control Pain
2 Sex Sex Bondage
3 Bondage Service Sex
4 Exhibitionism Ritual Control
5 Ritual Pain Fetish
6 Service Bondage Exhibitionism
7 Pain Fetish Humiliation
8 Fetish Humiliation Service
9 Humiliation Exhibitionism Ritual

I’ve colour coded the responses. Red represents what I consider the more “physical” aspects of BDSM and blue the more “mental” aspects: I recognise that, like almost everything we do, this is open to wide interpretation – it’s just to try to show some “at a glance” differences more easily. I coloured sex green because I think it’s a sort of relationship fundamental that doesn’t fit easily into either group.

What’s clear is probably not rocket science: The S/m people who responded are more into physical aspects of BDSM than other groups, whilst M/s people prefer “blue” choices and D/s people fall somewhere between.

The chart below looks at this data again, this time ranking it from the most popular to the least popular choices made by D/s people (the biggest group).

D:s, M:s and S:m - how dynamics differ

This chart bases the rankings on the scores for people in each group who said each area was essential to them and then subtracts the scores for those who said they  didn’t do it. So we can see that, for example, not only do service and ritual come well down on sadists/masochists lists of priorities, but they actively dislike them. Control is important for both M/s and D/s people but is, by a long chalk the key characteristic (with service No. 2 – but a fair way back) for M/s people.

Background

The 532 people who responded included 98 S/m people , 89 M/s people and 345 D/s people.

The question asked them to look at each of these things:

  • Pain
  • Bondage
  • Humiliation
  • Exhibitionism
  • Fetish
  • Sex
  • Ritual
  • Service
  • Control

And then asked them to rank each of these as follows:

  • Essential to me
  • Important to me
  • Neither important or unimportant
  • I dislike this
  • I don’t do this

To make the data in this article as stark as possible I only used the “Essential to me” and “I don’t do this” scores.

Results from BDSM styles and relationships survey.

The following, from a post on Informed Consent relating to my BDSM styles and relationships survey, relates to the above. At the time,  331 people had taken part. This is some of what the  104 people who identified as either sadist/masochist or master/slave said about their BDSM styles and relationships.

There’s an interesting demographic difference ( bear in mind these are small samples): 49% of S/m types are in full time work compared with 60% of M/s types. 33% of S/m people are not in work or full time education, whilst this is true of 18% of M/s people.

When it comes to sexuality, 61% of S/mers identified as heterosexual. 73% of M/s people did.

38% of S/m people said they switch. 7% of M/sers do.

Now, Sex. 36% of S/mers said this was essential to them. 64% of M/sers agree.

Next, Pain: 55% of S/mers say it is essential. 23% of M/sers agree. 33% of M/sers say pain is neither important or unimportant.

54% of M/s types say their BDSM relationship is their only one. 33% of S/mers say this. 33% of S/mers are not in a relationship compared with 16% of M/s respondents.

BDSM Safeword Survey: what people said about safeword use.

BelasariusIn the safeword survey I recently completed I asked people to comment on their use of safewords with relationship and play partners. 532 people answered the question There were 118 comments.This article quotes all those additional comments, splitting them by whether they related to play or relationship partners and by gender and BDSM orientation.

This earlier article on the use of safewords with relationship partners add this, on the use of safewords with play partners, may be useful to read alongside this.

Use of safewords with relationship partners

59 people left additional comments on this question.

Women

Bottoms/submissives

Who:

“Always use a safeword”:

  • But have never had to use it.
  • I always have a safeword but do not often use my safeword, in fact, in 14 years, i have used it twice.
  • I always have a safeword there if needed, but rarely use it.
  • I have a safeword but have never used it
  • I have a safeword to use, I don’t necessarily invoke it
  • I have a safeword, but have never had to use it
  • i have one, only used it once in 5 years. It does not end the scene, just lets Sir know something is amiss.
  • We have a safe word but it has never been used.
  • We have agreed safewords, though they are rarely used
  • When it’s a principal partner, the safeword is just an unspoken thing once negotiated in first woo-ing stage. It might not get used for years, but if it ever was used, it would be  honoured.

(10 comments)

“mostly use a safeword:

  • Partner knows when to stop as knows my body very well
  • Sometimes if my partners prefers for ‘no’ to mean ‘no’ then I play that way instead.

(2 comments)

“Never use a safeword”:

  • He knows me well enough that we haven’t needed one
  • he knows me well, i gave it up on the day he collared me as my gift to him to show my utter trust in him
  • I am submissive so it’s not in my nature to safeword as I want to please; my master protects me
  • I dont use a safeword with my partner
  • i have a safeword i’m just stubborn
  • i have never had to use a safe word their use signify’s to me a lack of awareness between partners
  • I have never yet needed to use a safe word but I would if it came down to it.
  • I have one, but have never used it.
  • I would consider using one if it was important to a roleplay that I was able to ‘resist’
  • I’m not permitted one.
  • I’ve never needed to use a safeword.
  • not necessary, partner v responsible, can read me well and will stop before I need him to
  • when I was in a committed relationship the level of trust meant I didn’t need one

(12 comments)

“I mostly DON’T use a safeword”

  • Do you mean during play, or do I have one? I have a safeword, I just rarely <need to> use it
  • he knows me well enough for me not to need one    but it is still availiable should i want to use it
  • I don’t use a safeword with my principal play partner (hard to define whether this is a “relationship”
  • I have a safe word, I have never used it, nor do I expect to.
  • I have a safeword, but try not to use it.
  • I have one but have only used it once (when nipple clamp broke and embedded into me), don’t play with someon unless i know they can read me
  • I have one but have very rarely felt need to use it.
  • I use “no” and “stop” if safewords aren’t applicable
  • I usually default to the standard “red light” etc, but almost never need it.

(9 comments)

Switches

“Always use a safeword”:

(0 comments)

“mostly use a safeword:

  • I always HAVE a safeword but I have NEVER had to use it yet. Can’t select this from options

(1 comment)

“Never use a safeword”:

  • I don’t have one, but on the very rare occasion when something has been ‘wrong’ my partner has read my response and recognised the need to respond appropriately
  • we have a safeword but i have never had to use it

(2 comments)

“I mostly DON’T use a safeword”:

  • We have one established, but it’s never had a need to be used.

(1 comments)

Tops/dominants

“Always use a safeword”:

  • I require a sub to have a safeword but have never really had it invoked.
  • Our safeword is No, unless we discuss otherwise and use the traffic light system.

(2 comments)

“mostly use a safeword:

(0 comment)

“Never use a safeword”:

(0 comments)

“I mostly DON’T use a safeword”:

(0 comments)

Men

Bottoms/submissives

“Always use a safeword”:

  • Haven’t actually used it but it is always available

(1 comments)

“Mostly use a safeword:

  • the need for one rarely arrises, but agree one just in case

(1 comment)

“Never use a safeword”:

  • No partner

(1 comments)

“I mostly DON’T use a safeword”:

  • Not needed with established relationships

(1 comments)

Switches

“Always use a safeword”:

  • It’s there but I’ve never needed it. Please feel free to recode this if you feel that isn’t using a safeword.
  • When I say I always uss a safeword, I mean that my partner and I have a safeword agreed, and so it’s always there. Doesn’t mean we actually feel that we need one for every scene.

(2 comments)

“mostly use a safeword:

(0 comment)

“Never use a safeword”:

  • I always have a safeword I hate hearing it. I try to develop a very intimate connection and know rather than hear when things are getting too much for them.
  • I don’t have a partner
  • I have never needed to, as I have (apart from one exceptional case) been in a position where “no” or “stop” didn’t mean what they say.
  • n/a no in a relationship
  • Never get to safeword level
  • never play with the gf

(6 comments)

“I mostly DON’T use a safeword”:

  • I prefer to discuss things beforehand to reduce the need of a safeword.

(1 comment)

Tops Dominants

“Always use a safeword”:

  • ..But only one, which stops all play, possibly indefinitely.  I don’t use stop/go/traffic light safewords.
  • actually, she does
  • some partners dont

(3 comments)

“mostly use a safeword:

  • my current sub does not safeword though I give her the option

(1 comment)

“Never use a safeword”:

  • I have suggested it might be a good idea but all the subs I have played with disliked the idea

(1 comment)

“I mostly DON’T use a safeword”:

(0 comments)

Use of safewords with play partners

59 people left additional comments on this question.

Women

Bottoms/submissives

Who:

“Always use a safeword”:

  • but only play with my Sir.
  • I always have a safeword to.use doesn’t  mean I use it.
  • I have a safeword but rarely use it
  • I have a safeword to use, I don’t necessarily invoke it
  • I have never had to use it
  • I’m interpreting this q as: I always negotiate the possibility of a safeword with people I do BDSM play with, even though I’ve never yet felt the need to employ it.
  • If I did play outside of my principle relationship – safeowrd would be mandatory
  • Master puts me with others  and  safeword  is always in place

(8 comments)

“mostly use a safeword:

  • I have a safe word, I have rarely used it. I do not expect to have to use it.
  • I sometimes forget to use the safeword it the situation overwhelmes me to the point of tears.

(2 comments)

“Never use a safeword”:

  • Again, never needed to use one but would if necessary.
  • Being used by others is part of what he wants for me. He controls it.
  • don’t have play partners
  • I never ‘play’ I only have relationships.
  • I only play with my sir
  • I only play with my partner
  • My master always supervises things when he gets other people to play with me.
  • My master decides when to stop play
  • My master supervises any play I take part in
  • My partner decides when things stop
  • My partner supervises my use. He decides when things should stop
  • When I am required to play with others I trust my partner to ensure I am not harmed more than he wants.

(12 comments)

“I mostly DON’T use a safeword”:

  • Depends if I know them well enough not to use a safe word, most of my friends know me well enough to not need a safe word. I rarely play with others.
  • He is always there to supervise
  • I don’t use safewords because the people i play with i know very well and they know me, i trust them entirely.
  • I have given a safeword to a play partner but found it ineffective – he would never have used it.  I stopped play when I felt he was marking badly.
  • I only use a safe word when in a new relationship, but expect partners to know and respect my limits.
  • I safeworded once but from pleasure not pain
  • I use “no” and “stop” if safewords aren’t applicable
  • It’s very rare.
  • My partner decides whether I should use a safeword when being played with by someone he chooses
  • same question: I always HAVE a safeword, however, the one time we played with others I found it hard to use…and I should have

(10 comments)

Switches

“Always use a safeword”:

  • I have a safeword, but I’ve not yet needed to use it

(1 comment)

“mostly use a safeword:

  • Only use a safeword if I am bottom/submissive, don’t bother if I top/domme as I don’t do any extreme play as a top.
  • I always HAVE a safeword but I have NEVER had to use it yet. Can’t select this from options
  • When topping, I always insist my bottom has a safeword.  When bottoming, I always have one with new partners.  When I have an ongoing play dynamic with someone, I’m more relaxed about it as I know I keep the ability to communicate well

(3 comments)

“Never use a safeword”:

  • (0 comments)

“I mostly DON’T use a safeword”:

  • almost never
  • With my current play partner. I have done before and may again with (an)other(s)

(2 comments)

Tops/dominants

“Always use a safeword”:

  • I play that no doesn’t mean no. Instead, I employ the traffic light system – green ok, amber check in, red stop.

(1 comment)

“mostly use a safeword:

  • I only play with those in a relationship

(1 comment)

“Never use a safeword”:

  • I know I’m not a nutter, so don’t feel the need.

(1 comment)

“I mostly DON’T use a safeword”:

(0 comments)

Men

Bottoms/submissives

“Always use a safeword”:

(0 comments)

“mostly use a safeword:

  • Usually Green, Amber, Red when playing in public with new friends.

(1 comment)

“Never use a safeword”:

  • Usually Green, Amber, Red when playing in public with new friends.

(1 comment)

“I mostly DON’T use a safeword”:

(0 comments)

Switches

“Always use a safeword”:

(0 comments)

“mostly use a safeword:

  • always a safe word with someone new

(1 comment)

“Never use a safeword”:

  • I have (apart from one exceptional case) been in a position where “no” or “stop” didn’t mean what they say.

(1 comments)

“I mostly DON’T use a safeword”:

  • Most of my “play” wth other people has been at Peer Rope events; that play doesn’t require a safeword as such.

(1 comment)

Tops Dominants

“Always use a safeword”:

  • A safeword is essential for clear FAST communication.
  • again, she does
  • I listen to their comments.

(3 comments)

“mostly use a safeword:

(0 comment)

“Never use a safeword”:

  • Dont play with others outside of my relationship
  • I only have one partner
  • no play partners outside principal relationship

(3 comments)

“I mostly DON’T use a safeword”:

  • have it dont need it
  • I’m the top!  I have not had a girl use a safeword during play, and only twice to terminate play forever – once before the first meet!

(2 comments)

Background

This is the third article about the safeword survey I recently conducted. More information about the terms and ideas I use in these surveys can be found here. Information about the demographics of this survey is here.

 

The Gender Gap

BelasariusIn my safe word survey I asked people about their attitudes to various things BDSM people like to do. This article isn’t about safe words, it’s about the different dynamics men, women, tops/dominants, switches and bottoms/submissives have. or, at least, it is about the results reported by the people who responded to the survey.

The first chart, “the gender gap“, shows broad differences in approach to BDSM by men and women. What I did was take the score for “essential to me” (see Background, below) and subtract from it the score for “I don’t do this”.

The 524 men and women who responded to this were, clearly, different. For example, women (surprisingly – at least to me) were much more likely to characterise sex as “essential” than were men.

The_Gender_GapMen are slightly more into the physical elements of BDSM (Pain, Bondage), whilst women revel in control, service and ritual to a far greater extent than men. In fact the men who responded actively dislike ritual – something a few women find essential to their dynamic.

Women had negative scores for both humiliation and exhibitionism – some men find humiliation essential.

I found it interesting that more men than women said they found fetish essential. I associate fetish with dressing up and thought that more a female thing. I may enquire more.

How orientations shape dynamics.

The next two charts are specific to gender and show differences in approach to BDSM according to whether the respondents were tops/dominants, switches or bottoms/submissives.

Component_Fem

It can be seen that, in many respects, males and females in the same orientation group have a similar outlook on BDSM. There are differences of course. Male tops/dominants have more interest in physical BDSM than do women – and female submissives and switches are much more interested in sex than dommes. Male tops/dominants are more interested in sex than their female  counterparts.

Component_Male

Control is interesting too: Switches of both sexes and male bottoms/submissives have a moderate interest in control, whilst For female bottoms/submissives, and tops/dominants of both genders it is the characteristic seen as most essential out of them all.

Background

In this case the charts are based on data from 524 people.

The question asked them to look at each of these things:

  • Pain
  • Bondage
  • Humiliation
  • Exhibitionism
  • Fetish
  • Sex
  • Ritual
  • Service
  • Control

And then asked them to rank each of these as follows:

  • Essential to me
  • Important to me
  • Neither important or unimportant
  • I dislike this
  • I don’t do this

To make the data in this article as stark as possible I only used the “Essential to me” and “I don’t do this” scores.

BDSM safeword survey – does age alter behaviour?

This article looks at how people who answered the safeword survey said they used safewords and whether this differed for older or younger respondents.

It does. There are large variations according to age and also dependant on whether the BDSM interaction is with a relationship partner or a play partner.

The survey, of course, isn’t representative of anything except the views of people who took part. It’s important to note that some of the age groups are quite small. There were only eight people aged 18-20 (all were women) and four over 70 (all men). The other groups ranged in size from 77 to 148 so are more likely to reflect a spread of opinion (496 of the 533 people in the sample answered the question).

safeword use by age

Only 18-20 year olds were more likely to use safewords with both relationship partners and with pay partners.

Over all the age groups, when it came to relationship partners, every group except the 18-20s said they were more likely not to use safewords (other than people of 70 or older where the decision was split 50-50).

When it comes to BDSM interactions with play partners, five of the seven age groups said they were more likely to use safe words than not. The two age-groups that said they were less likely to use safewords (21-29 and 30-39 year olds) only did so by a margin of two or three per cent.

Data for this article

The data for this article was compiled from that contained in the table below.

Thinking of BDSM interactions with your principal relationship partner(s) and safewords…
Which category below includes your age? I always use a safeword I mostly use a safeword I mostly DON’T use a safeword I never use a safeword Grand Total
Female 18-20 6 1 1 8
21-29 10 7 6 27 50
30-39 22 5 20 46 93
40-49 21 10 19 46 96
50-59 9 4 7 19 39
60-69 2 1 2 2 7
Female Total 70 28 54 141 293
Male 21-29 8 2 2 10 22
30-39 12 8 12 15 47
40-49 12 9 4 30 55
50-59 13 6 11 23 53
60-69 8 3 3 4 18
70 or older 1 1 1 1 4
Male Total 54 29 33 83 199
Grand Total 124 57 87 224 492
Thinking of BDSM interactions with play partners and safewords…
Which category below includes your age? I always use a safeword I mostly use a safeword I mostly DON’T use a safeword I never use a safeword Grand Total
Female 18-20 6 2 8
21-29 15 5 14 16 50
30-39 28 14 25 26 93
40-49 36 13 19 28 96
50-59 13 6 9 11 39
60-69 2 2 1 2 7
Female Total 100 40 70 83 293
Male 21-29 9 7 3 3 22
30-39 14 13 13 7 47
40-49 15 12 11 17 55
50-59 18 7 14 14 53
60-69 10 3 3 2 18
70 or older 2 1 1 4
Male Total 68 43 45 43 199
Grand Total 168 83 115 126 492

Background

This is the third article about the safeword survey I recently conducted. More information about the terms and ideas I use in these surveys can be found here. Information about the demographics of this survey is here.

This article can be compared with an earlier one, looking at how people use safewords with their principal relationship partners.

Related articles