Interest in BDSM/Fetishism and romantic relationships: Preliminary Results

R. Quaresma, P.M. Pascoal, D. Cardoso

Escola de Psicologia e Ciências da Vida, Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias, Lisbon, PORTUGAL

Objective: The purpose of this study is to understand what challenges people interested in BDSM/fetish perceive they face within romantic relationships.

Design and Method: This cross-sectional qualitative study takes a participatory research approach. The questionnaire was developed in collaboration with members of the Portuguese BDSM/fetishist community - 5 - and was available through an online platform. After approval by the IRB and pilot testing, links to the questionnaire were distributed within the BDSM/Fetishists forums, newsletters, and closed groups within social networks, but also in generalist social networks and via snowballing. There were 103 responses. In this study we focus, via thematic analysis, on participants’ perceptions of unique challenges posed to people who are interested in BDSM within the context of their romantic relationships.

Results: The participants had in average 34.04 years old, 54 male (M=34.81) and 49 female (M=33.48), of the participants 44 males and 35 females had responded interest and/or practiced BDSM/fetishism. Thematic analyses were conducted on 57 informative responses and highlighted that self-disclosure and acceptance of BDSM/fetishism were a major concern, with challenges in maintaining a relationship with a person with no interest in BDSM/fetishism.

Conclusions: Mismatched expectations about how to interact sexually with partners are complex and nondichotomous (e.g.: when partners are kinky but their preferences are similar rather than compatible). There is a tendency to morally invest non-kinksters as being less ‘open’, and kinksters often disavow responsibility in terms of mismatched expectations sometimes with implicit moral superiority. This can be seen as a reaction to stigma around BDSM/fetishism, but it can also hamper interpersonal acceptance.

Politics and polyamory – Gendered online discourses about non-monogamies and (in)civility

Daniel Cardoso

Marisa Torres da Silva

Ana Rosa



This presentation focuses on an exploratory research on how debates around polyamory are dependent on the acknowledgment of (non-)monogamies as political topics or not. Taking into consideration the contested space of intimate citizenship, we are currently analyzing the Facebook online comments made with respect to a Portuguese TV newspiece from 2014 that framed polyamory as a political topic, by associating it with the anniversary of the revolution that overthrew the fascist Estado Novo regime in 1974. We analyzed the comments left on the media’s official pages by means of content analysis using NVivo 11, and performed Critical Discourse Analysis on part of those comments. Our results show that polyamory is often relegated to the apolitical by means of a liberal stance on “personal choices”, by both detractors and supporters, and that incivility is strongly gendered, especially from those who claim that polyamory is unacceptable or the sign of moral and social decay. There was also considerable overlap between comments supporting people’s right to be polyamorous and incivility, demonstrating how political discussion is layered and non-binary. These results call into question the functioning of social networks as public spheres of political discussion, and emphasize the importance of recognition of Othered identities for public debate.


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