A certain evolution: A phenomenological study of 24/7 BDSM and negotiating consent


BDSM as a full-time lifestyle is stigmatised and underexamined as a phenomenon. Previous studies have investigated 24/7 sadomasochism (SM), 24/7 dominance and submission (D/s), or total power exchange (TPE), yet 24/7 BDSM remains under researched. Using a social constructionist and sexual diversity framework, we used insider knowledge to recruit four participants: a female slave/masochist, a male sadist, a female submissive, and a male dominant/protector. Interpretative phenomenological analysis revealed four superordinate and 10 subordinate themes: routes towards the fundamentals (sexually explicit resources, kink-related experiences), full-on lifestyle (self-in-role, flexible rules, shades of play, polyamory), dynamic consent (honesty, contextual communication), and practicalities (challenges, benefits). Our findings suggested that 24/7 BDSM is a socially constructed, consensual, full-time adherence to kink-related roles and behaviours untethered to time-limited scenes, woven into other life domains, and operating as an umbrella term to encompass other perpetual power dynamics. The themes contribute to the debate of kink as a sexual identity or serious leisure. We concluded that the centrality of self-in-role coupled with leisure features support 24/7 BDSM as an erotic lifestyle. Implications for sexual diversity, sex education, clinical guidelines, and social justice are discussed.

In Psychology & Sexuality
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Cory J. Cascalheira
Cory J. Cascalheira
Doctoral Candidate in Counseling Psychology

Research interests include (1) the examination of stress-based, multilevel determinants and mechanisms conferring risk for LGBTQ+ health disparities (e.g., substance misuse); (2) the use of artificial intelligence and big data to understand LGBTQ+ health behaviors and outcomes; and (3) the development of innovative digital health interventions. Clinical interests include ACT, CBT, COPE, PE, CPT, and MI for substance use disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder.