Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis


Women's & Gender Studies

First Advisor

Megan Yost




I researched gender roles within the BDSM community, with a focus on the community in Central Pennsylvania. Because gender dynamics differ depending on the formulation of BDSM community, I was interested in doing a community study to investigate my research questions in one particular subculture. My research project is meant to address the questions, "How do gender roles within the Central PA BDSM community perpetuate and/or defy normative gender roles, and how do gender roles interact with the power dynamics expressed in BDSM acts?”

I conducted ten face-to face interviews with individuals from the Central PA BDSM communities and thematically analyzed the transcripts. I found that there are many feminist values expressed in SM, such as emphasis on negotiation and choice and being encouraged to acknowledge and articulate one’s desires. However, not all participants express them and not all roles and genders are equally valued in the community.