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Dazed issue 29, 1997Photography Bettina Komenda, styling Sabina Schreder

More of us are into weird sex stuff than you think

Apparently half of the general population enjoy some sort of sexual fetish: including masochism, voyeurism and frotteurism

New research has found that sexual fetishes, like masochism, voyeurism and frotteurism, are surprisingly common amongst the general population. According to a study published in The Journal of Sex Research, nearly half of us have an interest in sexual behaviour that is considered “anomalous” – with 33 per cent of us indulging in it at least once. 

The results were taken from a representative survey of 1040 Quebec residents, who were asked various questions about their sexual experiences. Of the eight types of behaviour found “abnormal” (psychiatrically speaking), only four were considered rare or unusual by participants. The remaining half were surprisingly common: with 35 per cent of people claiming they were interested in voyeurism, 26 per cent in fetishism, and 19 per cent in masochism. Frotteurism (where you rub your genitals on stuff) also scored high, with 26 per cent of participants keen on giving it a go at some point.

“Overall, nearly half (45.6%) of the sample subjects were interested in at least one type of sexual behaviour that is considered anomalous, whereas one third (33%) had experienced the behaviour at least once,” revealed Professor Christian Joyal, one of the study's authors. “These facts suggest that we need to know what normal sexual practices are before we label a legal sexual interest as anomalous. Some paraphilic interests are more common than people might think, not only in terms of fantasies but also in terms of desire and behaviour.”

The study found that masochists, or those interested in submissiveness, were generally much more satisfied with their sex life than any other group – which explains the success of sex positive start-ups like KinkBNB. It also found that, while men were more likely to indulge in anomalous behaviour than women, both genders were equally interested in fetishism and masochism. “In general, it is true that men are more interested in paraphilic behaviors than women,” added Joyal. “However, this doesn't mean that women don't have these interests at all. In fact, women who report an interest in sexual submission have more varied sexual interests and report greater satisfaction with their sex lives.”