English Fagartikler Seksualpolitikk

The number of sm/fetish people

More BDSM people than homosexuals

Oslo pride 2008. Photo: Svein Skeid








7,6% self-identified as BDSM practitioners and some degree of BDSM interest found in 70% of the population!

This is the conclusion from a Belgian survey published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2017.

Holvoet L, Huys W, Coppens V, et al. Fifty Shades of Belgian Gray: The Prevalence of BDSM-Related Fantasies and Activities in the General Population. J Sex Med 2017;14:1152–1159.

”The survey indicate that there is a high level of interest in BDSM in the general population, which strongly argues against stigmatization and pathologic characterization of these interests”, the researchers emphasize.

46.8% of the total sample (N=1027) had ever performed at least one BDSM-related activity and an additional 22% indicated having (had) fantasies about it. 12.5% of the total population indicated performing at least one BDSM-related activity on a regular basis. 26% saw themselves as being interested in BDSM, and 7.6% self-identified as BDSM practitioners.

The rate of correspondents who identified themselves as BDSM practitioners (ie, 7.6%), is in line with the findings of Bakker and Vanwesenbeeck (2006) reporting that 7% of the population in the Netherlands acted on their SM desires (Bakker F, Vanwesenbeeck I. Seksuele gezondheid in Nederland 2006. 1st ed. Deft, Netherlands: Eburon; 2006).

The cross-sectional survey was carried out from February 2017 to March 2017. A digital invitation for participation in the survey was e-mailed to 8,041 subjects by iVox (Leuven, Belgium), a market research and polling agency with access to a panel of 150,000 Belgian citizens representative of the general population. Of the 8,041 invitees, 2,764 participants opened the survey (34.4% responders) of which 1,027 (37.2%) completed it, leaving 1,737 non-completers and 5,277 non-responders.

Lien Holvoet, MD, Wim Huys, MSc, Violette Coppens, MSc, PhD, Jantien Seeuws, MSc, Kris Goethals, MD, PhD, Manuel Morrens, MD, PhD. in The Journal of Sexual Medicine p 1152, July 9, 2017.






The two researchers Christian C. Joyal, Ph.D. and Julie Carpentier, Ph.D. (picture) at Université du Quebec à Trois-Rivières, Departement de Psychologie, in 2016 published the study “The Prevalence of Paraphilic Interests and Behaviors in the General Population: A Provincial Survey” in The Journal of Sex Research.

Their findings contradict the DSM-5, as they demonstrate that a number of legal sexual interests and behaviors considered anomalous in psychiatry are actually common in the general population. Joyal and Carpentier found it erroneous to qualify interest in noncriminal sexual behaviors, such as fetishism and BDSM as paraphilia, as they are neither atypical nor unusual, let alone anomalous.

Here is some of the results concerning consensual ”paraphilias”:

Joyal and Carpentier found that 46.3% of the respondants (N=1040) acknowledged a desire for (wished to realize) some sort of fetishism and 22,8% had experienced fetishism “sometimes or often”.

23,8% of the respondants acknowledged a desire masochism and 13,7% had experienced masochism sometimes or often.

7,1% of the respondants acknowledged a desire for sexual sadism and 3,2% had experienced sadism sometimes or often.

The study also provides further support (e.g., Richters et al., 2008) for rejecting the popular view that paraphilic interests, especially sadomasochism, are associated with childhood sexual abuse or trauma.

The result also supports the clinical impressions of Khar (2008) and Brenot (2012) that individuals (especially women) with masochistic/submissive) sexual proclivities are the most satisfied, driven, and active sexually.

Joyal concluded in Eurekalert news that: “We have reasons to believe that this study’s results which are based on Quebec’s population can be applied to the population of North America and Europe as well”.

Respondents were selected and interviewed by three female professional interviewers from an independent private firm, the Bureau of Professional Interviewers (http://www., between August 9 and September 8, 2014. Data were obtained from 1,040 adults ages 18 to 64 years old who matched as closely as possible the corresponding population of the province of Quebec.

Christian C. Joyal & Julie Carpentier (2017):

The Prevalence of Paraphilic Interests and Behaviors in the General Population: A Provincial Survey. The Journal of Sex Research, Feb;54(2):161-171. DOI: DOI: 10.1080/00224499.2016.1139034. Epub 2016 Mar 3.

Richters, J., De Visser, R. O., Rissel, C. E., Grulich, A. E., & Smith, A. (2008). Demographic and psychosocial features of participants in bondage and discipline, “sadomasochism,” or dominance and submission (BDSM): Data from a national survey. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 5 (7), 1660–1668. doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2008.00795.x

Khar, B. (2008). Who’s been sleeping in your head? The secret world of sexual fantasies. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Kinsey, A. C., Pomeroy, W. B., & Martin, C. E. (1948). Sexual behavior in the human male. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

Brenot, P. (2012). Les femmes, le sexe et l’amour: 3000 femmes témoignent [Women, sex, and love: Report from 3,000 women]. Paris, France: Arènes.


The American Kinsey Institute estimate that 5-10 percent of the population practise some kind of sadomasochism.
“Researchers estimate that 5-10 percent of the U.S. population engages in sadomasochism for sexual pleasure on at least an occasional basis, with most incidents being either mild or stage activities involving no real pain or violence.”
The 1990 Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex (June M. Reinisch, Ph.D. with Ruth Beasley, M.L.S., New York: St. Martin’s Press, pp. 162-163).


A British NetDoctor 2001 survey of over 850 adults, showed that 18 per cent of women and 14 per cent of men described themselves as ‘into bondage’. 16 per cent of women and 13 per cent of men described themselves as being ‘into’ bedroom spanks. 5 per cent of women and 13 per cent of men had interest in fetishism. 8 per cent of both male and female respondents had tried cross-dressing. Only 2.1 per cent of women and 7 per cent of men described themselves as ‘gay or bisexual’. 5 per cent of women and 12 per cent of men reported that they had had lesbian/homosexual experiences inthe past.


According to the world’s largest ever survey of sexual attitudes and behaviour, undertaken by Durex in 2004, with more than 350,000 respondents from 41 countries, 19 per cent practise spanking, which probably is the most common SM activity. 22% indulge in blindfolding or handcuffing, which we presumably can call “bondage”. 15 per cent enjoy various kind of role play and 13 per cent appreciate “dressing up” or fetishism.

Retrieved October 19, 2004, from [dead link]


See also: How many people engage in SM activities? A handful studies done to determine the percentage of the population engaging in SM activities. By Charles Moser, Ph.D., M.D. and Susan Wright, spokesperson for NCSF, National Coalition for Sexual Freedom.