Safe word survey – dataset

aveburysarsenTNI’ve now done most of the articles I intend to write about the results of the safeword survey I did, details of which and links to articles are here.

I’ve decided to put up the dataset for anyone to download and to do any further analysis they wish. Here it is:

SAfe_1

Attribution

All I ask is that:

  • If you publish anything about this data then please credit me as the source and link aveburysarsento the homepage of this blog  – belasarius.com. If you want to publish it with this image – that’s fine too.
  • That you under no circumstances claim any scientific, academic or statistical credibility for the data. Please make it clear that the responses are a self-selecting sample of 557 respondents recruited through the websites Informed Consent, fetbookfetlife and through this blog, gathered between 19 January 2013 and 3 February 2013: The data is simply what more than 500 people active on BDSM websites said about their views on safewords.

Dataset

The dataset is completely anonymised but otherwise complete. There were peculiarities with some of the data, so in the dataset I used (not the dataset that is downloadable here) I removed 24 records, leaving me with 533 to analyse.

  • I eliminated those records where the respondent only answered the demographic questions.
  • I   took out multiple responses from the same TCP/IP address (It seemed fairer to take out ALL responses from the same address rather than leave the first one in).
  • I also did not use stranger responses, such as the person whose sexuality was “Cod”, the people who had 557,774,456, 100,000 and 9,800 play partners in the last 12 months and, among a few others, the retired 18-20 year old and the 18-20 year old who had left full-time education at 16 and had a doctorate.

Safeword Survey – does a safeword make play feel more artificial?

This article looks at how strongly 499  acedc11cbeb3a2a0b4e3bca15378bec4safeword survey participants agreed or disagreed with the statement “I feel a safeword makes my play more artificial”.

The first chart, shows the extent to which all respondents (split by gender) agreed or disagreed with the statement “I feel a safeword makes my play more artificial” (the method I have used for calculating the charts is under the subheading “Data used in this article” below).

SWArtificial1

Respondents of both genders were more likely to agree than disagree with this statement. Men were slightly less likely to agree than women, but both sexes agreed,  by a substantial margin, that safewords made play more artificial.

SWArtificial2

When the data was split by BDSM orientation (above) a clear difference did emerge. Switches were roughly three times more likely to disagree that safewords make play more artificial whilst both tops/dominants and bottoms/submissives supported the statement strongly. Tops/dominants were more than four times more likely to agree that safewords make play artificial. Bottoms/submissives also agreed – but not as strongly. They were only twice as likely to agree that safewords make play artificial than to disagree.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, people from the Master (mistress) & slave BDSM component overwhelmingly agreed (roughly 12 times more likely to agree with the statement than to disagree with the statement – below). People from the largest group in the survey (Dominants/submissives were split and Sadists/masochists were a little more likely to disagree that safewords make play feel artificial than not.

SWArtificial3

Data used in this article

The article uses data from a question where people were asked whether they felt that a safeword made their play more artificial. 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:

What is your gender? (All) I feel a safeword makes our play more artificial
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 36 44 48 38 23 189
Master/Slave 9 33 2 4 7 55
Sadist/Masochist 9 3 9 6 4 31
Bottom/Submissive Total 54 80 59 48 34 275
Switch Dominant/Submissive 2 2 13 17 13 47
Master/Slave 2 1 1 0 2 6
Sadist/Masochist 11 1 10 4 11 37
Switch Total 15 4 24 21 26 90
Top/Dominant Dominant/Submissive 12 23 18 20 10 83
Master/Slave 4 19 2 1 1 27
Sadist/Masochist 3 2 3 10 6 24
Top/Dominant Total 19 44 23 31 17 134
Grand Total 88 128 106 100 77 499
What is your gender? Male I feel a safeword makes our play more artificial
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 14 7 7 3 10 41
Master/Slave 1 1 0 1 2 5
Sadist/Masochist 4 0 2 0 2 8
Bottom/Submissive Total 19 8 9 4 14 54
Switch Dominant/Submissive 1 2 9 9 8 29
Master/Slave 0 0 0 0 2 2
Sadist/Masochist 3 1 6 0 9 19
Switch Total 4 3 15 9 19 50
Top/Dominant Dominant/Submissive 10 17 11 15 6 59
Master/Slave 3 13 2 1 1 20
Sadist/Masochist 3 1 2 5 5 16
Top/Dominant Total 16 31 15 21 12 95
Grand Total 39 42 39 34 45 199
What is your gender? Female I feel a safeword makes our play more artificial
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 22 37 39 34 13 145
Master/Slave
Sadist/Masochist 3 3 3 3 3 3
Bottom/Submissive Total 34 34 34 34 34 34
Switch Dominant/Submissive 2 2 2 2 2 2
Master/Slave 1 1 1 1 1 1
Sadist/Masochist 4 4 4 4 4 4
Switch Total 7 7 7 7 7 7
Top/Dominant Dominant/Submissive 4 4 4 4 4 4
Master/Slave
Sadist/Masochist 2 2 2 2 2 2
Top/Dominant Total 6 6 6 6 6 6
Grand Total 47 47 47 47 47 47

Consent Violations in BDSM

BelasariusI guess this is the flipside to some of  the attitudes revealed by my safeword survey – much of which shows a wide variety of attitudes to using safewords, from the more than 500 self-selecting people who responded.

I found this Dutch/Belgian study on consent violations in BDSM really interesting. Here is what the author said on Fetlife:

Last month KinkyMinds held a survey on consent violations in the Dutch (speaking). Not just about the prevalence of consent violations, but also about how consent violations were experienced, where they took place, if they were considered abuse, about doubts about scenes by other people, interventions in scenes, and about party safewords.

The results are, though more nuanced than the results by the NCSF , with some understatement, quite shocking. Almost 65% of all respondents have at least experienced one consent violation. And that’s just one stunning figure.

Below you can find the final conclusions in English and Dutch.

The full 30 page report and analysis is probably more interesting than just this brief summary and contains a lot more analysis and explores many relations between key concepts. The report available for download (PDF) in Dutch and English the KinkyMinds website.

I wish to thank all the respondents for their time to answer the survey questions, and Pluu, Marijke and Nichi for proof-reading the draft version. Special thanks also to Voleuse for doing the reliability analysis. Without you, the report would have read like a wet newspaper. Of course, all responsibiliity for the report is mine and mine alone.

The author, Guilty, further commented:

What is the frequency of consent violations in the Dutch (language) BDSM scene?

Often. The idea that consent is absolute in the BDSM-scene doesn’t hold. Consent is very important, but at the same time, it gets violated on a pretty large scale. Almost 65% of the respondents have experienced at least one type of consent violation. There are significant relations with gender, orientation and experience. Consent clearly is the norm, but not always actual practice.

How are these consent violations experienced by those involved?

Not always equally bad. “Just” 14,6% has experienced at least one bad consent violation and 20,6% has ever experienced a consent violation as abuse. But there are many cases that are not experienced as bad. Women experience more consent violations as abuse than men. Still, only a very small part of the respondents considered filing charges or actually did so.
In this sense too, consent is less absolute than often suggested. It is violated quite regularly, but that´s not always bad. Still, a substantial part of the respondents has experienced a bad consent violation.
Considering the frequency of consent violations and the fact that such violations aren’t always bad, it is a valid question if consent as ultimate division between BDSM and abuse holds up. Consent violations, to some extent, seem to be part of the game. Not necessarily intended, but neither something to be prevented at all costs (which might not even be possible)

How often do people doubt the consensuality of other peoples’ scenes?

Almost a third (28,9%) has doubted consent in scenes of other people, and that tends to make them feel bad. Their concerns are not entirely unjustified. Of the total population 13% has experienced an ignored limit, 5,9% an ignored safeword and 11,8% a scene gone too far at a party. The idea that parties are the ultimate safe place for a first scene is need of some reassessment too.

How often is intervening in other peoples’ scenes considered? And: How often do we actually intervene in other people’s scenes?

A large part of the people who have doubted consent in scenes of other people, has considered intervening. Only a part of them has actually done so. Notifying a DM or asking participants if they are still okay are the most prevalent interventions. Only a minority directly intervenes themselves. But even many of those that do not intervene, tend to discuss the situation first with other people or a DM before deciding not to intervene. There is no massive bystander effect regarding doubts of consensuality.

Can a party safeword contribute to preventing consent violations and doubts about consensuality

A majority of the respondents (60%) is of the opinion that a party safeword can contribute to preventing consent violations. And 7,1% of the respondents has felt the need for such a safeword for themselves. On the other hand, most consent violation do not happen at parties. The victims of ignored safewords at parties are of course the main beneficiaries of a party safeword, but even amongst them “only” 30% has felt the need for a party safeword themselves.
We may conclude that a party safeword can contribute, but certainly will not prevent all consent violations. The question remains if that would be necessary and desirable, as not all consent violation are bad. They seem to be part of the game, and perhaps other attendees should do well to keep that notion in mind as well. It might well be that they experience a possible consent violation as worse than the participants themselves. Nonetheless, there is a case for a more active and attentive DM-policy, beyond introducing a party safeword.

Recommendations

Parties who wish to retain a profile as being safe would do well to consider introducing a party safeword and to uphold an active, albeit not overdone, DM policy regarding consent. Some additional publicity to attendees about what to do when you doubt consent might also help, as a substantial part seems to do nothing.
But we should not forget that the private sphere is a much bigger source of consent violations. More attention for such violations in the private sphere would certainly be necessary.
Finally, we should ask ourselves if consent as absolute demarcation between abuse and BDSM is still valid. Sometimes, by accident or not, limits are violated and this is not always experienced as bad. Perhaps it would be better to relate BDSM to some form of meta-consent. In general, there should be consent, and if things really get out of hand it becomes abuse, but where people play, accidents do happen.

Please comment and vote on the BDSM definitions

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

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.