Who Are Kinky People?

Are my Neighbors Kinky?

Kink related activities are not uncommon among the general populous. Thaddeus Birchard, a foremost clinician and researcher in Great Britain, is an advocate for the normalization of Kink related behaviors. In his text, CBT for Compulsive Sexual Behaviors (2015), he compiled a review of BDSM research that identifies the prevalence of BDSM behavior. Kinsey, Alfred C., Pomeroy, Wardell B., Martin, Clyde E., and Gebhard, Paul H.,  (1953) reported that 25% of both sexes responded positively to being bitten during sexual foreplay. Kinsey also found that 12% of women and 22% of men responded positively to S/M narratives. Crépault and Couture (1980) interviewed 94 “normal” heterosexual men that showed they responded positively to masochistic imagery in various forms ranging from 5.3-45%. Critelli and Bivona (2008) estimate that between 1-5% of American and Australian populations are involved in BDSM. Australian figures published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine suggest that 2.3% of men and 1.3% of women have been involved in BDSM activity for over a year (Richters, De Visser, Rissel, Grulich, & Smith, 2008). With this research, Birchard (2015) demonstrates that not only are BDSM activities common, they are also cross-cultural (p. 117). This is significant in demonstrating that BDSM activities may be part of a human experience vs. a cultural one.

Where do you Find Kinky People?

Kinky people are everywhere! In my professional practice, my Kinky clients are professionals and tend to be highly educated and of a higher intelligence, thus requiring more stimulation for excitement. However, this is a small sample size, and may be a product of my marketing demographic as opposed to being representative of the actual community. Some clinical research has examined the numbers and demographics of those who participate in alternative sexual and relationship expression but there have been few that include the Queer community. This is significant because the Leather community holds its roots in the Queer community, thus there is a large population of the Kink community that is not being included in those numbers.

kinky people

In the text, Sadomasochism: Powerful Pleasures (2011), Kleinplatz and Moser also compile a thorough chapter on the current research of Sadomasochism in the Social Sciences including examinations of ethnographies, questionnaires, surveys and a number of other clinical studies. In their analysis, they do not identify any pathology associated with Kinky behaviors and they validate that BDSM activities are cross-cultural and common. This is significant because one of the common complaints made by my clients is that previous providers fixated on their lifestyle being the root of their issues vs. addressing the reported complaints of the client.

Studies that differentiate between Kink and open marriages are also challenging to find. Although, in our manual, we are grouping all sexual, romantic, and relationship outsiders in one community, it is essential that each of the micro communities within this subculture be examined in order to understand their unique needs. A national survey performed by Richters, De Visser, Rissel, Grulich, and Smith (2008) on the demographics of those who participated in BDSM activities reported that of the 19,307 respondents age 16-59 who participated in the study, 1.8% of sexually active people (2.2 % of men and 1.3% of women) had been involved in BDSM activities within the last year. Furthermore, as a note to dispel one of the BDSM myths, there was no significant correlative data that people who participated in these activities have greater history of emotional distress (Richters J., et al. (2008).

Don’t Get Sucked into Myths About Kinky People

This is important to acknowledge as there are myths surrounding the practice of kink and its link to trauma. One of the main goals of the KTCI program and this manual is to reiterate that the practice of kink related activities and ideals are not a result of a disorder and merely an aspect of normal sexual and relationship exploration. Entertainment News Weekly, a popular periodical, reported that 88% of men believe that what a couple consensually does in the privacy of their own home is totally appropriate, and 79% say it’s okay to have and enjoy sexual fetishes, according to a study commissioned by Kink.com. Although, this study clearly has its limitations due to its funding source, it is significant to note their data, as there is such a lack of other sources of research. According to this same study, 37% of men would be interested in having sex in public while 30% of men would possibly be interested in tying someone up or being tied up assuming safety and a willing partner (as cited by the NCSF, 2016). Sheff & Hammers (2011) reviewed the demographics of 36 studies on Kink in order to examine the educational, racial, and economic status of those who participate in these lifestyles. They reported that the Kink community appears to be a homogenous community of primarily highly educated, white, middle and upper middle class professionals. So this validates my experience previously noted in this manual.

Due to the limited number of Kink related studies that feature people of color or focus on other minorities, I am unable to provide any statistics on those portions of the population. In short, if these numbers are coming from people who feel comfortable not only participating in research but also exposing their sex lives, then imagine how many more Kinky people there must be who did not participate in these studies. These figures again reiterate the importance for a medical change this provider to not only to be knowledgeable of these styles but also comfortable discussing them with patients. Who are Kinky people? They are your friends, doctors, colleagues, patients, and family.


References

Birchard, T. (2015). CBT for compulsive sexual behavior: A guide for professionals. Hove, East Sussex: Routledge.

Critelli, J. & Bivona, J. (2008). Women’s erotic rape fantasies: An evaluation of theory and research. Journal of Sex Research, 45(1), 57-71.

Kinsey, A (1948). Sexual behavior in the human male. Bloomington, IN: Indiana Press University.

Kinsey, A., Wardell, P., Martin, C., & Gebhard, P. (1953). Sexual behavior in the human female. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Kleinplatz, P. J. (2012). Advancing sex therapy or is that the best you can do. In (2nd ed., pp. xix-xxxvi). New York, NY: Rutledge.

National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. (2015). How many people engage in SM?. Retrieved from https://ncsfreedom.org/key-programs/education-outreach/what-is-sm/item/364-what-is-sm-how-many-people-engage-in-sm?.html

National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. (2015). NCSF mission statement. Retrieved from https://ncsfreedom.org/who-we-are/about-ncsf/ncsf-mission-statement.html

National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. (2016). BDSM the state of the law. Retrieved from http://www.criminology.su.se/polopoly_fs/1.177159.1399989295!/menu/standard/file/2013c_Fredriksson_Tea.pdf

Richters, J., De Visser, R., Rissel, C., Grulich, A., & Smith, A. (2008). Demographic and psychosocial features of participants od bondage and discipline, “sadomasochism” or dominance and submission (BDSM): Data from a national survey. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 5, 1660-1668.

Sheff, E. & Hammers, C. (2011). The privilege of perversities: race, class, and education among polyamorists and Kinksters. Psychology & Sexuality 2(3), 198-223.


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