Do BDSM Subs Have Low Self-Esteem?

Woman sitting on the floor with her head bent over as if she is sad.

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There’s a common perception among non-BDSM practitioners that submissives suffer from low self-esteem. Otherwise, how could they possibly allow themselves to be debased (so the thinking goes)? This belief is bolstered by people in the BDSM community who admit to feeling worthless and believe themselves to be inferior to just about everyone. But exactly how true is the assumption that BDSM subs have low self-esteem?


Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About CNC But Were Afraid to Ask


Originally posted on September 25, 2018; updated on August 28, 2022

Man pinning woman's wrists to wall

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When I first started getting in touch with my kinky side and learning about BDSM, I became obsessed with consensual nonconsent (CNC). I thought CNC—also known as rape or ravishment fantasies—would be the ultimate way to lose control. By obsessed I mean I thought about it daily, researched it constantly, and knew it was something I needed to do. I started reading Casual Encounters on Craigslist regularly (back when that section still existed) to see what my options might be. Ultimately I was too scared to go that route, though, and it wasn’t until I met Vagabond that I was able to make my dream come true.  (more…)

Why Is Monogamy Rare in the BDSM Scene?

Close-up of two hands wrapped together in chains

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When Vagabond and I met, neither of us realized just how lucky we were to stumble across each other—two monogamous BDSM practitioners in a sea of nonmonogamous kinksters. At the time, I was still fairly new to BDSM, and though Vagabond was not, he didn’t realize how overwhelmingly nonmonogamous the BDSM scene is. It wasn’t until we started attending BDSM events together that we noticed what a rarity we are as a monogamous couple. But why? 


Research Recap: Do Kinky College Students Value Consent?

Woman holding sign that says "Let's talk about sex consent baby..." with "sex" crossed out indicating an emphasis on consent-seeking behavior

It’s an understatement to say that consent is a big deal among people in the BDSM community. Whether online, at a big event, or in a class at the local BDSM dungeon, teachers and event leaders never go near the sexy stuff until they’ve covered consent and risk awareness. There have been lots of studies demonstrating that BDSM community members have good consent practices relative to the general population, but what about all the kinksters who haven’t yet entered the scene? How common is kink in the general public, and do they behave like BDSM community members with respect to consent-seeking behavior and safety? Caroline C. Boyd-Rogers and her fellow researchers conducted a study called “BDSM Proclivity Among College Students” to find out. The results were published in Springer Nature in 2022.


Why BDSM Education Is Essential 

Man at a teacher's desk holding a book and microscope while woman in plaid skirt stands above him on desk holding a pointer.

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What’s one of the main things that separates good BDSM players from bad ones? Education! Learning as much as you possibly can about how to do various kinky activities is crucial not only for safety but for maximizing pleasure. We might all have different kinks, but we doubt you’ll find a partner who wants to see you fumble around in the bedroom or make a careless yet dangerous mistake. And even if you already have great chemistry with the only play partner you’ll ever want to fuck, we’ll explain why education is not only necessary and fun, but can take your BDSM life to the next level.


The Ultimate Guide to Breath Play and Choking

Woman in lingerie on a bed wearing a collar and leash while another woman straddles her and pulls on the leash while holding her neck with her hand

As many as 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men have been choked during sex. Why, then, if choking is so common, is it so difficult to find information about how to do it? Because it’s dangerous. So dangerous, in fact, that many seasoned BDSM players avoid it at all costs. Despite this (or maybe because of it?), a lot of kinksters—like us—enjoy breath play and approach it in a risk-aware way, which is what this guide is about. We’ll cover the inherent risks of choking and breath play and the best techniques to mitigate them. Note that we didn’t say eliminate them, because breath play is never going to be truly safe. That said, some types of breath play are more dangerous than others.  

On that note, what this guide is not: A how-to on choking someone until they lose consciousness or autoerotic asphyxiation. We don’t engage in breath play to that degree because the risks are too high.


How Common Is BDSM?


Fairly common, as it turns out, which isn’t super surprising. A survey of more than 9,000 people in Finland revealed that about 35 percent of men and 38 percent of women were interested in BDSM sex. Interest was much higher among non-heterosexual respondents vs. heterosexual ones and among younger respondents (18–28 years old) vs. older ones.

When it came to having participated in BDSM, more non-heterosexual people had tried BDSM than straight people. Thirty-seven percent of women had been submissive once or more as compared to 23 percent of men, and 32 percent of men had been dominant once or more as compared to 25 percent of women. These findings were in line with previous studies showing that men skew more toward dominant, and women skew more toward submissive. It’s worth noting, however, that these numbers dropped to single digits (except for bisexual people) when the frequency increased to monthly or more. This suggests that while BDSM may be common for people to try, it’s far less common for BDSM to be a regular part of sex.

The study also assessed associations between personality traits and interest in BDSM. For both men and women there was a negative association between BDSM interest and honesty-humility and conscientiousness, but there was a positive association between interest in BDSM and openness to experience. The study authors noted that for personality associations, “the effect sizes were negligible at best, thus offering no real practical implications.”

One of the biggest limitations of the study was that all the respondents were twins or siblings, so they may have been raised differently than only children. The study authors didn’t mention it, but it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility that there might be some sort of genetic predispositions to certain sexual activities as well.

Interested in other studies about BDSM? Check out all of our posts about BDSM research.

The Scandalous Origins of “Story of O” 

Story of O cover

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Most people who are into BDSM are familiar with Story of O, a novel about a woman who undergoes intensive training at a French chateau to become a sex slave. But the details of how this infamous book came about—and the woman who wrote it—are perhaps less widely known but just as intriguing.


Movie Reviews: They/Them/Us & Love and Leashes

Image of a seated, smiling Korean man in business clothes wrapped in bondage tape with a Korean woman in business clothes stands beside him holding part of the tape.
Promotional image for Love and Leashes

Note: This post contains spoilers.

It’s rare for even one mainstream movie about BDSM to be released in a given year, let alone two. But just within the past month, two such movies have come out: the American They/Them/Us and the Korean Love and Leashes. Both movies portray mentally stable people who happen to be into BDSM, male s-types, and one lead character who introduces the other to the lifestyle. That’s where the similarities end, however. And one film tackles the topic much more successfully than the other.