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Dominance and submission

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BDSM Collar and Chain.jpg
Woman wearing a collar with attached chain
B&D, B/D, or BD Bondage and discipline
D&s, D/s, or Ds Dominance and submission
S&M, S/M, or SM Sadism and masochism
Top/​Dominant partner who performs or controls the activity
Bottom/​Sub­missive partner who receives or is controlled
Switch switches between roles
Main PageSexualityBDSM → Dominance and submission
In reality most women in the BDSM community that I have observed take the submissive role. Of the Women that take dominant roles many of them are switches meaning that they switch roles and play on both sides of the slash. I would like to make clear however, that this says nothing about women intrinsically, this is just a demographic observation I have made out of one kink community in southern California, so this may vary.

However, a recent article in Psychology Today[wp] studied the statistics on a larger scale.[1] The article published this convenient pie diagram illustrating role preferences by biological sex.

Female BDSM roles - Male BDSM roles.svg

Believe it or not I have actually heard this argument before and I'd like to comment on it:

  1. Many studies have suggested that people prefer the submissive sexual role regardless of their biological sex. This suggests that although most women in BDSM take the submissive role that this decision may be more complicated than initially projected.[2]
  2. The BDSM community focuses on maximizing safety, sanity, and consensuality throughout all activities BDSM. This means that for one to take a defined role in a scene or a relationship, they much consent to it first and design their role according to their needs.
  3. Force is an illusion in BDSM. It looks like power is taken by force but in reality it is consensually given to a trusted partner. Thus no one is forced into doing anything, and if they were it would no longer be BDSM, it would be abuse.
    - Quora[3]
Firstly you need to figure out whether you are more suited to the role of the dominant or the submissive in the situation. According to a study by Wismeijer & van Assen (2013)[ext], cited in Psychology Today, the spread across the gender in dominance and submission roles would look similar to the following:
Female BDSM roles - Male BDSM roles.svg
If you're a straight male with submissive tendencies then you've either got to find a woman in that 24% of doms to switches (someone who is comfortable playing either role) to help you play them out, or get comfortable with the idea of a man wielding that power over you. BDSM doesn't actually have to involve sexual contact after all.
- Condomia[4]
The study by Hébert and Weaver recruited a sample of 270 DSM practitioners through the website Reddit and particularly focused on comparing those who identified primarily as either dominant or submissive. Those who liked to switch between roles were not considered to simplify the comparisons. Much like the Dutch study, there were striking gender differences in preferred role orientations, although these were more marked in this case. As can be seen in the graph I have created below, the vast majority of females in the study preferred the submissive role, suggesting that female dominants may be rather uncommon (and presumably in high demand). The majority of males on the other hand preferred the dominant role, although quite a substantial proportion were submissive.
Female Preferred BDSM roles - Male Preferred BDSM roles.svg
- Psychology Today[5]


  1. Scott A. McGreal MSc.: BDSM, Personality and Mental Health, Psychology Today on July 25, 2013 (BDSM practitioners prefer roles that fit their personalities)
  2. Patricia H. Hawley & William A. Hensley IV: Social Dominance and Forceful Submission Fantasies: Feminine Pathology or Power?, The Journal of Sex Research on April 7, 2009
  3. Austin Dial: Why does male submissiveness seem more common? Are submissive males becoming more common? Has the internet raised their visibility?, Quora on February 10, 2016
  4. Why everyone should try BDSM at least once, Condomia on April 27, 2015
  5. Scott A. McGreal MSc.: Personality Traits of BDSM Practitioners: Another Look, Psychology Today on February 14, 2015 (A recent study provides another glimpse into the world of BDSM.)

See also

External links