It’s no secret that many women watch porn, but what, exactly, are they searching out?
With the increased availability of internet porn in the last decade, women are becoming just as active on porn sites as men. This isn’t just a guy thing, it’s a human issue. And these analytics are showing this fact more than ever. But we aren’t here to judge or shame people’s sexual choices or preferences, we’re here to educate on the potentially harmful effects of porn on individuals, relationships, and society.
In the popular porn site’s never-ending attempt to normalize violent porn, Pornhub often releases very precise looks into the activity of porn consumers on their site. The site released a “What Women Want” edition of these stats a few years in a row, showing that women are just as into watching porn as men. While many of these stats below are a few years old now from 2015, they’re no less relevant.
With insights showing that “lesbian” porn is the go-to search for women of all sexual orientations—click here to read our analysis of “lesbian” porn and how it is one of many issues in the porn industry that mischaracterizes LGBTQ+ relationships—and that they actually spend longer on the site than men, we are getting an in-depth look at what draws women into mainstream porn sites and keeps them there.
More “hardcore” than men
As shown in the first chart below, it turns out that women were recorded as being 113% more likely to search the term “hardcore” than men.
But the top category below is “for women,” and that was in 2015. The popularity of the category “‘Popular With Women” rose by 65% on Pornhub, according to their 2019 annual report.
According to numbers on the site’s review of 2017, one of the search terms that defined that year was “porn for women.” It had increased by 1,400% on Pornhub since 2016, and in the massive porn site’s breakdown, it was labeled as the number one search that defined 2017. Cited in their breakdown is “sex expert” Dr. Laurie Betito, who works for them, saying this is a sign that women “are finally being heard.”
But are they? Is this really a “win” for women?
Here’s why “porn for women” and “popular with women” is not exactly a win, all around, and how it’s clear that Pornhub doesn’t wholly make an effort to fight against abuse and assault. These two supposed categories do not erase the rest of the content that is available to view on the site. We explain how in this article. But let’s examine more of the categories above.
They were also reported to be over 105% more likely to seek out genres of porn like “gangbang” and “rough sex” in 2015. The outdated ideas that women just want to see romantic comedies and read steamy novels like Fifty Shades of Grey are pretty passé, now.
It’s clear women are more regularly seeking out more extreme depictions of sex.
Below is perhaps the most telling statistic of all.
The analytics show that the site’s total porn viewers are comprised of 23% women and 77% men, but that the women are spending much longer watching porn, staying on the site for an average of almost 11 and a half minutes, while men logged off after just 10 minutes. Since 2015, the gender breakdown rose in 2019 to be about 1 out of 3 site visitors is a woman.
Age groups and porn consumption
Fight the New Drug tries to reach a youthful audience with science and research that illustrate the harms of porn because the rising generation is being exposed to hardcore content like never before.
It is no surprise at all that the 18-24 age group has been the biggest consumer of online porn in today’s society, and this was in 2015. Imagine what that number is now, more than 5 years later. More than 1/3 of all women who visited these porn sites fell into this age group and this group was 5% bigger than male visitors.
Bottom line: the women of this generation, in particular, are watching more porn than the generations before them.
But if you don’t think porn is that big of a deal or don’t agree that it’s harmful, you might be confused why we’re saying that like it’s bad news. We get it, so allow us to clarify.
Today’s mainstream porn normalizes sexual violence—especially against women—at very concerning levels.
Let’s get into some of the research.
Normalizing abuse isn’t normal
The ideas women—and consumers in general, really—are gleaning from content on mainstream sites like Pornhub are toxic.
For example, one study found that 1 out of every 8 porn titles shown to first-time users on porn home pages described acts of sexual violence. And according to studies analyzing the content of porn videos themselves, it’s estimated that as few as 1 in 3 porn videos (33.9%) and as many as 9 in 10 videos (88.2%) show acts of physical aggression or violence, while 48.7%—about half—contain verbal aggression. These studies also found that despite the levels of violence and aggression, the targets were almost always portrayed as responding with pleasure or neutrality. What type of message does that send to young people who turn to porn to learn about sex?
But that’s not all. This study from 2011 found that women are more likely to watch porn—especially the more hardcore categories—when they have suffered sexual assaults and psychological violence at the hands of their families. Just read this personal account, and this personal account to see personal experiences that back this up. Also, not surprisingly, more research has shown time and time again that there is a direct connection between pornography and sexual assault.
Also, early exposure to pornography among women has been found by research to endorse rape-supportive attitudes. These findings also found exposed women’s acceptance of sexual aggression as a romantic event. This normalization of aggression in the bedroom would cause women to view situations differently, for instance, causing them to stay in harmful relationships where abuse happens. (Sound familiar? Like Ana in “Fifty Shades,” for example?)
This is especially important when we face more and more young men and women taking to pornography to learn about sex. What does hardcore pornography teach young men about how to treat a woman, and, in turn, how does it teach young women how they should be treated?
It cannot be denied that, now, the sexual curriculum porn offers includes implying that girls and women need to endure a serious amount of degrading violence to be a satisfying sexual partner.
Why This Matters
So, more and more women are seeking out hardcore pornography, and that pornography is blatantly violent toward women. In addition to that, more and more young women are viewing pornography for longer amounts of time, according to Pornhub’s data.
What might these depictions be teaching women about their sexual nature and responsibilities?
Normalizing abuse isn’t normal, and we can do better than allow violent fantasies to dictate societal expectations for sex, especially for women. Porn is trash, and you deserve better.