Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Relationship Models

Relationships in the Leather Community are often interesting to those looking from outside. We often attempt to model our relationship in a particular way. There is no perfect formula, and no two relationships are alike, but people do tend to choose from a few standard options.

Cheating, jealousy, and equality are all issues in most relationships. In the Leather Community we've attempted to address these "problems' by establishing parameters to define appropriate conduct.

I asked if jealously was a problem instead of asking if there was jealousy because I wanted to explore how relationships addressed it. My husband an I are in an open relationship with rules and one of the ways we address jealousy is by allowing a "veto rule." Although both of us have been angry when the other invoked the rule, we've always talked about it after emotions have subsided and are often able to defuse the original cause of the jealousy. With D/s relationships I'm curious how each party defuses jealousy without creating tension.

As the same sex marriage became a political issue it was opposed as a focus by some in the Leather Community. It was often described as the "wrong issue." I herd this far more often by those in D/s relationships than by those in other relationship models. We can see this sentiment clearly below.

While I am not surprised by this question's answers, I can't help but wonder how those outside of the community would have answered it. Equality in relationships is a major issue, in the Leather Community it is addressed by rules in a way that non-protocol based relationships do not.
Roles are individual to most relationships. We all establish standard behavioral practices when at home and in public. I believe those in the Leather Community tend to talk about it more. Roles are often organic and change over time. How is this reality accommodated when protocol defines roles?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Happy _________!

Happy holidays from the Leather Identity Project! This time of year family and friends tend to mean the most to us. It's a time to come together in celebration and hope.

This month I'd like to explore who you are spending the holiday season with. Whether that be with your biological family or the family you've made, this is a time to pull together. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What are you into?

I started this survey as a fun way to explore the prevalence of kinks in the community and explore a number of talking points. Fetishes like "leather," "bondage," and "S&M" were nearly universal, but for many less common and less specific fetishes are what get them to come out in the first place. 

We are often talking about "inviting new people into the community" and how "the leather community embraces individuality," but we have a lot of rules too. Sometimes our "limits" turn off the newbies. 

Over 40% of those polled are into sports gear. It's one of the most popular kinks out there. Fewer than 3% consider it a limit. Given this disconnect why do I frequently hear about how "it's not appropriate." Similar stats are true for rubber and other gear fetishes. I'm not the first to suggest that Leather is gear, and although I agree that it’s HOT, it also has a high cost component. For many people sports gear, lycra, and neoprene are HOT for a lower cost. By limiting appropriate attire we are preventing those new to the scene from coming in at all. Sure, there are events like "Leather Cocktails" and other formal events where you wouldn't want someone in a wrestling singlet or football pads, but the success of events like CODE in DC show the power of inviting everyone out.

"Inviting young people into the community" is often a talking point in conversations. I was fortunate to have two sources of guidance when entering the community, my friend Ruff and the members of the DC boys of Leather. Both taught me that this community is about being yourself, playing safe, and having fun. By expecting a high standard for entry we are providing a disservice to those finding partners online and taking unnecessary risks. If you don't believe they are taking unnecessary risks I invite you to look at the "Safe Sex" data for HIV status in those 20-30.

Kinks are fun! For many this community is one of few places where you can explore them without judgment. I had the benefit of teachers who helped me explore my kinks safely, and I do my best to do the same for others.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November Update

This is certainly a busy time for leather folks. There is a title almost every  weekend, and the colder weather makes wearing full leather more fun. Our "What are you into?" data will be coming out soon and the results are fascinating. I'm still debating how best to break it out, but there are some surprises in there.

As you probably already are aware we've launched the "Labels and Identity 2" survey this month as well. I'd like to take some time explaining why we're exploring the labels included in the survey and why others were excluded. As with most things, why not use a venn diagram to shed some light on the situation! This diagram is simplifies gender in the community a bit, but it does explain my dilemma.

One of the things I enjoyed about the "What is a boy?" data was the distinctive difference between how boys saw themselves verses non-boys. I wanted to do the same for other labels as well. Unfortunately that meant that we would not have enough identifying with female labels to create an accurate self image of Mistresses, Madamns, girls, ect. I also did not want to clump Mistress/Master together because they are two distinct identities. My solution to this problem is to allow those identifying with under-represented labels a chance to expand on their identity with a paragraph section of the survey. I'll be exploring these labels in a different way in the near future based on the result. In the mean time the female and trans folks in our audience can help increase awareness of the project by mentioning this site on Facebook, Twitter, and on your website or blog.

Current Surveys
Labels and Identity 2.0 Labels and Identity 2 (Closes 12/31/11): This survey will take inventory of labels and percentage of people using them. The "What is a boy?" survey provided a dynamic image of boys beyond their often submissive role.  The "Labels and Identity 2" survey aims to do the same for other labels.
Relationship Models Relationship Models (Closes 11/30/11): The second and final month  of the "Relationship Models" survey is here. This survey explores several common relationship models out there as well as their dynamic in terms of jealously and roles away from home. What kind of relationship works for you? The results of this survey will help us explore each model in more detail later.

Project Data
Switch Up!Safe SexWhat is a boy?Labels and Identity
I would love to hear from you! My continuing goal is to keep this project interesting, unbiased and interactive. I am a one man show here, so I take your feedback to heart. Overall charts and graphs aren't as exciting as sex sites, but they do help us understand each other better when we're not getting it on.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Labels and Identity 2

A lot has changed since I launched the first "Labels and Identity" survey almost three years ago. I've also learned a lot from the "What is a boy?" survey. I toyed with exploring "puppies" this month, and "slaves" a few months after that, but it seemed to make a lot more sense to look at as many labels as possible all at once. 

Like my original survey I'll be taking inventory of the labels and percentage of people using them. I'll also take a much narrower focus than my original by exploring things much as I did for "What is a boy?" For many, labels are an important part individual identity. They allow us to destinguish ourselves from others while simultaneously connecting with something bigger than ourselvs. They tell others who we are without requiring explanations. The negative side to labels is that they also invite generalizations. The "What is a boy?" survey provided a dynamic image of boys beyond their often submissive role.  The "Labels and Identity 2" survey aims to do the same for other labels.

You may participate in this survey by clicking here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Switch Up!

Role reversal and switching can often be a contentious issue in discussion groups. Interestingly enough, the community is fairly unified on this topic. Role reversal is most debated in circles which emphasize fixed roles, often those in D/s relationships. Our "Relationship Models" survey explores the prevalence of different relationship models including D/s ones where protocol plays a visible role.

This survey deliberately applies its questions to individuals. Its data shows that the community is fairly unified in their approval of role reversal.
Why the uneven breakdown of age groups? Each age group has greater than 25 participants.
Any number fewer than 25 is too few to be considered random. 

To view the unedited raw data for this survey click here

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

October Update

Onto month five in our rebooted experiment. We've put out two data sets and will be releasing the "Switch Up!" data this month. We're also finally attracting more women and trans folks to the project. All I can say is "welcome and please be patient." Right now we are male heavy and breaking the data apart by gender wouldn't present a fair sample of women and trans folks, but that day is coming. Things are getting interesting and soon enough we'll be able to combine data across surveys to see a bigger picture.

Current Surveys
Switch Up! Switch up! (Closes 9/30/11): This survey explores roll reversal and switching within the community. Do you think it's ok for a Dom to be a sub on a occasion? How about a sub as a Dom? Should exploration result in a fixed role? We'll stop collecting data in a couple days and releasing the report this month.
What are you into? What are you into? (Closes 10/31/11): "What are you into?" is a basic question we've all heard before. How prevalent are different kinks? How about different limits? Perhaps that secret fetish of yours isn't so unusual. Go ahead, it's anonymous,  you don't need to be shy.
Relationship Models

Relationship Models (Closes 11/30/11): Describing relationships in the kinkster lifestyle can be complicated. This survey explores the complexities of different relationship models. 
Project Data
Labels and IdentityWhat is a boy?Safe Sex

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Safe Sex

One of the leather community's greatest strengths is its acceptance of HIV positive individuals. While stigma is still prevalent, members of the community tend to be more educated about the risks and how to "play safer" than their non-leather counterparts. How does increased acceptance effect how the community views bareback sex and bareback porn? Could it be possible that our emphasis on acceptance increases our tolerance of what others consider high risk behavior? These questions inspired this survey. Its data is outlined below.

This chart separates the data by HIV status and raises some interesting questions. HIV positive individuals are split on their views of the banning of bareback porn despite their higher likelihood to engage in bareback sex, approve of the selling and showing of bareback porn. Inversely, HIV negative individuals generally do not seek out bareback sex, disapprove of showing bareback porn at bars, but oppose its being banned.

What was most compelling was the differences between the 41-50 age group and the <21-30 age group. These groups have the highest rate of self reported HIV infection. They have very different views on banning of bareback porn, despite their common views about showing and selling it. Can this difference at least partially explained by their different views about whether or not bareback enthusiasm is a lifestyle?

In previous surveys I've realized that I should have asked more, or different questions. The same is true here. This data would have been more clear if I had asked "Do you enjoy bareback prorn?" or "Have you purchased bareback porn?" Perhaps we can explore this issue differently in the future.

Click the link here if you would like to see the unedited raw data of this survey.
Click here to receive future reports and surveys by email

Monday, August 29, 2011

SURVEY: Switch Up!

In August & September we're taking on the topic of role reversal and switching. An awful lot of people explore role reversal at some point or another, and yet it’s not always an accepted practice. In our ‘Labels and Identity’ survey we learned that 68% of the community has switched roles at some point or another. We also learned that 50% of folks see themselves becoming more dominant or submissive into the future.

This survey is closed, you may click here to review data.

September Update

Our transition to blog format is nearly complete. Moving over to blogspot will give you greater control of how you consume our content and eliminate the need for us to rework and repost our surveys and data for multiple formats.

We currently have three surveys up and running. 
  • "Safe Sex" (Closes 8/31) which explores the how people feel about bareback porn. 
  • "Switch Up" (Closes 9/30) which exploring role reversal.
  • "What are you into?" (Closes 10/31) exploring the prevalence of kinks and limits in the community.
We also have posted our data for "What is a boy?" The most interesting tidbit is the following graph.

Can't wait to get the "Safe Sex" data up in the next couple weeks. This is a heated topic indeed!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

SURVEY: What are you into?

In September and October we'll be exploring kinks. This survey will be reposted periodically so we can track fetishes as they change over time.

There is generally "accepted" kinks and "off limit" kinks. In society at large most kinks are rejected as perversion, Why do those in the kink community judge what people are into at all? This is a chance to explore kinks without judgement or shame. Who knows, your "secret fetish" might be more common than you thought.

What is a boy?

We use ‘boy’ as both an identity and as a label. This issue is approached  at  many events by holding panel discussions on the topic; the most useful include other labels/identities so the differences are made distinct. The one major obstacle this approach encounters is that ‘boy’ means something different to everyone.

While there are obvious differences in opinions, the data can be used so that boys/non-boys can better serve each other. Hopefully this information will better define what ‘boys’ want, what is expected of them, and how they’re perceived by those with less experience.


Explaining the Data
This survey resulted in 145 submittals and 67 unique words. Many words were well represented and stand on their own. Similar under-represented words were combined.

service oriented (serve, service, accommodating)
dedicated (devoted, Loyal)
playful (playful, energetic,
mischievous, adventurous, young-at-heart)
sexuality & what they wear (sensual, sexy, hot, delicious, horny, clothing, full leather wearing,  gear. leather)
slave like (slave, owned)
Proud (proud, strong, tough)
Attentive (attentive, pleasing)

The remaining words were unique and consequently were difficult to combine. For this reason they were categorized as "other." Many were excellent descriptive words, but represented less than 1% of submitted terms. Words in the “other” category are explored in the two charts below.

boys/non-boys and those who are not sure if they are boys

with/without experience with boys

Data Analysis
As a boy, I’ve noticed that there is often a difference between how boys see themselves and how non-boys see them. Often this problem is simply semantics, but other times it’s a fundamental problem.

The chart to the above shows this problem. We combined non-boys and those not sure (TNS) in red, and boys in blue.

The emphasis on sexuality and what boys wear as a common factor for many boys was particularly interesting. In this survey as many boys thought sexuality, and gear (defined as all fetish wear from leather to sports gear) were as those who thought submission was important. Those not sure saw masculinity and confidence as uniquely defining qualities in boys.

The full details separating boys, non-boys and TNS are detailed in the above chart. You can also examine the un-edited data by downloading the full PDF of this report.

Those with no experience of boys were the only ones to choose confidence as a defining quality of boys. They also see dedication in place of being “service oriented.”

It’s interesting that those who know boys do not see confidence. Perhaps it’s because so many boys seek out mentors to help give their lives direction. In either case it’s a topic worth discussion. 

We also see that those with no personal experience of boys are more likely to see a boy as “slave like.” This means that boys and non-boys alike still have work to do to draw the distinctions between a boy and a slave.

A full breakdown of the differences between those with and without experience with boys is listed below.