Cover photo by Illia Cherednychenko. 5 minute read.

Through science and research, we are seeing that porn is having negative effects on individuals, relationships, and society. The normalization of this industry is distorting a healthy understanding of sex, especially in younger consumers in our generation, and damaging our society in a big way. When you really think about it, it’s not difficult to see why.

The most popular online porn searches today are situations and scenarios so extreme and violent, they aren’t even close to acceptable in real life. But after consistent exposure to these themes that are sold as “sexy,” consumers start to find themselves getting aroused by things that used to disgust them or make them uncomfortable. Once they start regularly watching these hardcore and unconventional sex acts, these porn viewers are being taught that those behaviors are acceptable and even desirable.

We need to ask ourselves why this disconnect exists: Why are things that are so disgusting and even illegal in real life considered to be sexy and arousing in porn? And what kind of effects is this having on viewers’ minds and our society? To better explain what we mean, here are five of the most popular porn searches online that are considered sexy but are extremely disturbing in reality.

1. Sexual Assault/Rape

Disturbing as it is, rape-themed videos on porn sites are among the most popular. Some of the suggested searches on the world’s most popular porn sites are terms like domestic discipline, crying in pain, extreme brutal gangbang, drunk f—ing, and sleep assault, just to name a few.

According to this National Survey, almost half of porn users think pain and abuse in pornography is completely fine. Yet as human beings, we generally avoid pain at all costs and in turn make efforts to ensure those we care about do not suffer pain. It doesn’t add up, does it?

This is what the porn industry does. They package sexual assault and rape, two of the most traumatizing and invasive situations that could happen to someone in the real world, and sell it as sexy and arousing in the porn world. The mix of violence and non-consent is fantasized as a sexy struggle where (often) the female fights and says no, but eventually ends up enjoying herself—as if rape can somehow be enjoyable. This is an unsettling depiction that teaches extremely harmful attitudes about consent.

2. Cheating

Or, “cuckolding,” as the porn world describes it.

Wives cheating on husbands, husbands cheating on wives, husbands watching while their wives have sex with someone else, the list goes on and on, and it gets even more disturbing the further it goes. Sexualizing infidelity is an immensely popular category in porn today. In the same way that we mentioned above with rape, the porn industry takes something that is considered the ultimate betrayal in a relationship in real life, something that would cause immense pain and heartbreak, and sells it as sexy and exciting. As consumers indulge in this material and become aroused by these scenarios, research shows they become less interested in a committed relationship, which in turn can normalize the idea of actually physically cheating on their own partners.

It’s important to note that watching porn within itself can be considered cheating, in many relationships. Actor Terry Crews has spoken about how watching porn led him to have an affair behind his wife’s back, only for him to realize too late that he had been cheating on her the whole time with porn. We’ve received countless personal stories from people all over the world who have felt betrayed in the same way.

3. Incest

Incest is something that would make anyone cringe in pretty much any regular context, but is somehow sought out by millions every day online. For the past three years running, in Pornhub’s 2015 and 2016 annual reports that show the mega porn site’s most popular searches, videos, and performers, “stepmom” was in the top most searched porn terms in the world. “Stepsister”  and “mom” were also ranked in the top 10 most popular searches. With these stats, it’s inarguable that this disturbing fantasy is officially mainstream.

Related: “Fauxcest”: Understanding The Rise In Popularity Of Incest-Themed Porn

Porn is cultivating a generation of people who find the concept of having sex with family members to be arousing.

If millions of people across the globe are constantly searching and consuming porn involving these incestuous scenarios, what do you think it is doing internally to their sexual tastes and expectations?

4. Hentai/Cartoon Porn

The world of animated porn has become one of the most popular forms of sexually explicit material. Many consumers are convinced that it’s not as harmful because it’s “just drawings,” but we are learning that can be just as addictive and crippling to a consumer’s sexuality. It’s true that there’s less danger of humans being sexually exploited in the process of creating animated porn, but that doesn’t make it less toxic.

Hentai porn has existed for quite some time, but has grown in popularity over the last decade. The word hentai is of Japanese origin, short for hentai seiyoku–a “perverse sexual desire.” In Japanese, the term describes any type of bizarre sexual desire or act. Internationally, hentai is a term commonly used to broadly categorize the genre of anime and manga pornography.

Related: 3 Reasons Why Animated Porn Is Gaining Global Popularity

According to cartoon porn consumers, animated sex is preferable to realistic because real people are “gross,” animation offers more fantastical scenarios, and they can avoid feeling guilty for seeking out even more twisted and violent depictions of sex. Hentai and cartoon porn show men and women with extremely exaggerated body parts and often depict rape, incest, bestiality, under-aged children, and violence. Porn will continue to change shapes, sizes, and forms, but it will continue to be harmful.

5. Teen

In 2014, “teen” was the year’s most popular genre of porn on the world’s largest porn site. Year after year, the term holds its place among the top five most searched terms in porn. The allure of “barely legal” girls and even the fantasy of adult actresses dressed as underage minors is one of the biggest draws of the porn industry. This massive porn category is dedicated entirely to girls who look (and may very well be, seeing as the porn industry is no longer legally forced to keep record of performer ages) younger than 18 years old, which is below the age of consent for sex.

What’s really horrifying by this massive demand for the teen genre is how it could potentially influence the porn consumer into thinking that sex with teens is acceptable, and that the younger the girl looks, the easier it is to convince or manipulate her to have sex. Consider how many parents are getting turned on by porn of teens that are the same age or even younger than their daughters or sons.

RelatedThe Latest Trend In Porn: Featuring Male Performers Who Look Like Pre-Teens

Furthermore, this dangerous, ever-revolving door of new young bodies is making it hard for consumers to appreciate and remain attracted to their significant others as their bodies adapt to the natural changes of real life. Add this to the long list of ways porn hijacks sexual preferences and twists views of love.

Why This Matters

It’s hard not to be unsettled by the fact that each of these five categories we’ve just listed are among the top 20 most searched porn terms on the world’s largest porn sites each year. It’s obvious that there’s nothing normal or acceptable about these acts in real life, so how did this become so normalized online?

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If you’re not cool with the most popular categories in porn also being the most disturbing, speak out! SHARE this article to take a stand against porn and raise awareness on its harmful effects.

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