Sociology, Department of



Meredith G. F. Worthen

Trenton M. Haltom

Date of this Version



Published in Deviant Behavior (2020)

doi 10.1080/01639625.2020.1762454


Copyright © 2020 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Used by permission.


The Fifty Shades books and films shed light on a sexual and leather-clad subculture predominantly kept in the dark: bondage, discipline, submission, and sadomasochism (BDSM). Such new interest in this community also generated widespread misconceptions about the sexual practices that take place in these circles, especially in regard to the treatment of women. In the current study, we investigate how a BDSM or “leather” identity is related to attitudes toward women. We use a nationally representative sample of U.S. adult men aged 18–64 stratified by U.S. Census categories of age, race/ethnicity, and census region (N = 1474) and a subsample of leathermen (n = 65; 58% hetero-leather identified and 42% nonhetero- leather identified). Specifically, we explore leather identity as it relates to the support of laws/policies helping women, non-feminist identity, patriarchal gender norms, and the stigmatization of lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LBTQ) women among both hetero and non-hetero leathermen. Overall, our findings indicate a robust relationship between these anti-woman perspectives and leatherman identity that is especially pronounced among hetero leathermen and demonstrate the importance of continuing to consider how leather identity shapes misogyny among leathermen.