Are Male or Female Submissives More Common?

Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey (

Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey (

In a recent interview with “Elle UK,” actor Jamie Dornan discussed his role in the upcoming “Fifty Shades of Grey.” He will play businessman Christian Gray, who initiates Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) into his world of pleasure and pain.

Dornan described going to a sex dungeon for research and expressed surprise at how large and widespread the lifestyle is. He then claimed that “more men are submissives than women.”

Is this true?

Dornan was probably speaking from his own anecdotal experience of visiting the dungeon. We don’t know if he visited more than one (and where the dungeon or dungeons were located), and so cannot extrapolate any larger trends from his observation.

But a couple of recent studies illuminate how dominant and submissive roles in BDSM break down along gender lines. Naturally, one of the questions asked was how participants self-identify: as doms, as subs, as women, as men.

In 2013, a Dutch study found 33% of the men surveyed identified as submissive, while 48% identified as dominant. Among women, 76% of respondents identified as submissive, and 8% identified as dominant.

Closer to home, a study from Southern California came out, which examined mental health among BDSM practitioners.

Within the study, 26% self-identified as submissive (with 61% self-identifying as dominant). Amongst women, 69% identified as submissive, and 30% identified as dominant.

This might be a stat where the anecdotal evidence differs from the numerical data. The male respondents might not’ve wanted to self-identify as submissive, and so might’ve skewed the data. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

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