Endorsed Research

RAC Endorsement R2015-05 (Meyer) Vanilla and Kink: Married Couples in Which One Partner Identifies a

The Community-Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities (CARAS) has completed a community and technical review of the protocol, Vanilla and Kink: Married Couples in Which One Partner Identifies as a Part of the BDSM Culture and the Other Partner Does Not.

The CARAS Research Advisory Committee (RAC) has voted to grant a formal endorsement for the protocol.  The RAC believes that this protocol has scientific/scholarly merit, follows standard ethical procedures and policies, and offers a prospect of benefit to the community being addressed. The benefit to the community is clear, and the documentation of how couples in relationships experience their marriage when there is a discrepancy in sexual identities can lay the basis for future clinical work and practice.

RAC members participating in this review were Richard A. Sprott, Ph.D. (Chair; developmental psychology); Yulia Brockdorf, CS (clinical sexology); Ryan Witherspoon, MA (clinical psychology); Thomas Peterson, Ph.D. (religious studies); Bessie Vaughan, MLIS (library sciences); Ryan Caldwell, PhD (sociology). 

From the study description:

The present phenomenological study will explore the marriages of 10 couples in which one of the partners identifies with the BDSM communities and the other partner does not. Data will be collected through semi-structured individual interviews. The participants will be individually interviewed regarding: (1) their perceptions about BDSM culture; (2) their sexual identity and the nature of their sexual relationship; (3) strengths, conflict, and patterns of resolution between the couple relating to such issues within their marriage; and (4) impact of the social discourse toward the one partner’s practice in BDSM and its effect on their marital relationship. Common themes in the participants’ experiences will be identified. In addition, this study will address an important gap in the research literature by examining how partners experience their marriage and discrepancy of sexual identity with relation to BDSM culture.  This information may help therapists not only become aware of the diversity of sexuality, but also in identifying the unique strengths and stressors occurring in marriages in which difference of sexual identity and interest may exist.

Project to be conducted by Catherine Meyer, doctoral student in the Marriage and Family Therapy program of Alliant International University in Southern California (Irvine).  For more information on the project, please contact Richard Sprott 

November 23, 2015