Ask Eva October Survey Findings on BDSM & Kink
For this month’s #AskEva, we decided to break out the masks, knives, and dungeons, but for kink purposes, instead of Halloween!
We wanted to learn more about the Le Wand community’s interest and experience with BDSM/kink, but also how their relationship with BDSM/kink may have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic (as so much of our sexuality has been)!
For this survey, we had a total of 141 participants. 63.2% women (86), 19.86% men (27), 14.71% non-binary (20), 1 non-binary woman, 1 non-binary man, and 1 individual indicated woman, man, and non-binary. The sample had 86.4% cisgender respondents and 13.6% transgender respondents.
The most common sexual orientation labels used were bisexual (48.22%), queer (34.80%), and straight (30.50%). As in other #AskEva surveys, most participants chose multiple labels for themselves.
Regarding relationship status, most participants were either in a relationship (39.00%), married (19.88%), or indicated they were married/engaged and polyamorous. 26.24% were single and 10.63% were casually dating.
What about the BDSM/kink?? Let’s get into it.
More than 80% of participants either had some (49.65%) or quite a bit of knowledge of BDSM sexuality/kink (32.62%).
In terms of participants' interest in BDSM/kink, 29.08% had some interest, 39.00% of participants had quite a bit of interest, and 26.24% had a great deal of interest. Only 5.68% had very little interest and none participants had no interest at all.
The relatively high levels of knowledge and interest are to be expected, given that participants chose to participate in a survey about BDSM sexuality/kink, and participants were recruited from sex-positive social media accounts and the Le Wand newsletter.
Participants were also asked about their interest in specific BDSM/kink activities. This included bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism, and masochism. For folks with some interest, here is a review of what each of these terms means. All of these definitions describe in terms of consensual BDSM activities.
Bondage refers to tying, binding, or restraining and discipline describes the practice of using rules, codes of behavior, and/or punishment. Dominance and submission describe either side of the power dynamics coin - dominants take pleasure in holding power, while submissives take pleasure in yielding power. Sadism and masochism both involve gaining pleasure from pain - sadists gain pleasure from inflicting pain, and masochists gain pleasure from receiving pain.
These are all the most basic descriptions of BDSM. For more information about the nuances and multitudes of BDSM experiences, many great resources will be listed below!
In terms of how the Le Wand community felt about these aspects of BDSM/kink, nearly 90% of participants were interested in bondage (87.94%) and submission (85.81%). Over half of the participants were interested in discipline (56.74%) and dominance (56.74%). 42.55% were interested in masochism and 24.82% were interested in sadism.
Participants were also asked about their engagement in BDSM activities. Approximately 20% fewer respondents had participated in bondage (65.71%) and submission (63.57%) compared to the proportion of those who were interested in these activities.
36.43% had participated in discipline and 45% had engaged in dominance. 40.71% had engaged in masochism and 21.43% had engaged in sadism. 12.86% (18 respondents) had not participated in any of these activities.
Unsurprisingly, there was more interest in BDSM/kink compared to the level of participation. Interest in BDSM/kink usually proceeds engagement, followed by reading and research to gain additional knowledge of best practices for safe(r) participation.
Given the high degree of interest in bondage, it is fitting that sex toys for restraints (ie ropes, cuffs, and gags) were the most popular category of BDSM/kink sex toys among participants, with 89.36% indicating interest in these toys. The next most popular category was sensation toys (ie ticklers, pinwheels, and blindfolds), with 82.98% of respondents indicating interest. This may be because sensation play is one way that many individuals begin their exploration of BDSM. For example, blindfolds are a common go-to recommendation from sex educators for individuals looking to explore new avenues of their sexuality.
Impact toys (ie paddles, floggers, and crops) were third most popular among respondents in terms of interest at 62.41%, followed by toys for medical kink (ie pumps, gloves) at 24.11%, and chastity (ie chastity belts, packages) at 11.35%.
Similarly to participants' overall interest and participation in BDSM/kink, fewer participants had used sex toys compared to those who were interested in them. 61.53% of respondents had used restraints, 44.68% used toys for sensation play, 37.59% had used impact toys, 6.38% had used medical toys, and 2.80% had used chastity sex toys. Nearly a third (30.49%) of participants had never used any kind of sex toy for BDSM/kink.
In addition to gaging the Le Wand community’s general interest and experience in BDSM/kink, we were also interested in exploring how COVID-19 and physical distancing has had an impact on our interest and experience. For approximately two-thirds of participants, the COVID-19 pandemic has not influenced their interest in or experience of BDSM/kink. 66.43% of respondents indicated that the pandemic has not at all influence their interest in kink, and 63.31% indicated that it has not impacted their experience at all.
Nonetheless, concerning interest, 27.14% of participants did say that the COVID-19 pandemic had somewhat impacted their interest in BDSM/kink and another 6.43% found it considerably impacted their interest.
In terms of how the pandemic had impacted their interest - respondents shared both reasons lowered and heightened interest. Reasons for lowered interest included moving back home with parents because of the pandemic, experiencing a lowered libido/sex drive, not having a partner, and not being able to attend in-person sex parties.
Reasons for greater interest included having more time to reflect, read, and research BDSM/kink, watching more kinky porn, working to combat sexual boredom and spice things up, and more conversations about (kinky) sexual interests with partners.
For example, one respondent shared “[I] felt more comfortable talking or thinking about what I'd like to try because we've been talking about everything we want more and more". Another stated, “Having some time to reflect on my experiences and my desire really made me realize that I'm probably kinkier than I thought and that's made me want to explore that part of me more!". Lastly, one participant shared that ”I attended a virtual play event, I don’t think I ever would have otherwise”.
Slightly greater numbers reported that BDSM/kink had influenced their experience, with 17.27% reporting that the COVID-19 pandemic had considerably impacted their experience and nearly ⅕ (19.42%) reported that it had considerably impacted their experience.
Similarly, respondents shared a variety of reasons for having less and more BDSM/kink experiences during the pandemic.
For those having fewer experiences, they mentioned not being able to find new partners or attend events, classes, or clubs due to social distancing. For example, one person stated, "Can’t be tied up by a partner if I can’t leave my home ♀️". To everyone who mentioned staying at home and practicing social distancing - THANK YOU.
More experiences were driven by more communication, having more time, having an interested partner, and getting creative with a primary partner. On the topic of experiences of BDSM/kink being impacted by shifting to virtual spaces, one participant shared, "Doing it mostly virtually now - which has been tough! Aftercare takes on a whole new meaning when interactions are from a distance."
Another participant shared some very thoughtful insights into how BDSM/kink has been beneficial in helping themselves navigate the uncertainty of the pandemic: “I have tried out new things with my partner, both in-person and especially exploring kink and power exchange in a long-distance/digital context. I think that BDSM/kink have been a positive way to feel grounded in physical sensations during the pandemic. Also, power exchange scenes have been strangely comforting in an environment (the pandemic) that is so chaotic and unknowable.”
These findings support recent research on how individuals' sexuality has been impacted COVID-19. Specifically, a study by Lehmiller, Garcia, Gesselman, and Mark (2020) found that while individual share having partnered sex less frequently, many have added new additions to their sex life, including sharing sexual fantasies, sending sexts, and engaging in BDSM activities.
Overall, it appears that most of the Le Wand community has some degree of interest in BDSM sexuality/kink! While the most common interests were bondage and submission, a diverse range of interests and experiences were noted in this month’s #AskEva survey. Additionally, approximately a third of the respondents’ relationship with BDSM/kink had been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether that was greater communication about kinky interests with partners, moving BDSM play online, or having more time to research and learn more!
Thank you again to everyone who participated in this month’s #AskEva and everyone who participated in the #AskEva surveys this year! This will sadly be the last survey of 2020, but we hope to return in 2021 to bring you even more sex research nerdery.
An academic study on sex and the COVID-19 pandemic: Justin J. Lehmiller, Justin R. Garcia, Amanda N. Gesselman & Kristen P. Mark (2020): Less Sex, but More Sexual Diversity: Changes in Sexual Behavior during the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic, Leisure Sciences, DOI: 10.1080/01490400.2020.1774016
Kink education resource list from Eva: https://www.instagram.com/p/B89lqMdJgRx/