fbpx Skip to main content
BlogWorld

Homepages of 3 Most Popular Porn Sites Heavily Feature Sexual Violence, Study Finds

The largest study of online porn to date was recently published, and it raises questions about the extent of sexually violent, nonconsensual, and even criminal material freely available on mainstream porn websites.

TRIGGER WARNING

The largest study of online pornography to date was recently published in The British Journal of Criminology, and it raises urgent questions about the extent of sexually violent, nonconsensual, and even criminal material easily and freely available on mainstream porn websites.

Fiona Vera-Gray, a legal research fellow and co-author of the study, told the BBC that sexually violent material “eroticized non-consent” and distorted “the boundary between sexual pleasure and sexual violence.”

The implications of these findings on both an individual and societal level are significant. Let’s take a deeper look.

How the study was conducted

Over a six-month period, researchers analyzed the homepages of the three most popular porn websites—Pornhub, XVideos, and XHamster. 131,738 videos were surveyed—the largest sample used in a study to date.

The study concluded that 1 in 8 video titles alone shown to first-time users on the homepages were labeled with text describing sexually violent acts.

Researchers looked at the descriptions and titles of the videos, analyzing them for keywords that matched what the World Health Organization defines as sexual violence.

Related: Five Studies That Show How Porn Often Normalizes Sexual Violence Against Women

Store - Trafficking

The sexual script theory was used in their method—a concept that examines how individuals’ sexuality is shaped by resources in their social environment. Research shows that what these resources stigmatize or criminalize verses instruct or encourage can shape the sexual templates of individuals and societies.

Given that porn is often used today as a key social institution for developing a sexual understanding for youth and adolescents, it’s especially concerning that so many people are repeatedly exposed to and molded by content that supports, normalizes, and rewards sexual violence.

Other researchers have found that when violence is present in porn, it’s almost always perpetrated by men against women. Furthermore, the focus in mainstream porn almost universally depicts men’s sexual desires, even when women were initiating the sexual activity.

The British Journal of Criminology study is particularly unique in that it doesn’t analyze what consumers seek out themselves, but what any first-time user is presented with simply by making the decision to visit a porn site. While researchers only analyzed what was described, not actually depicted, in the videos, the titles of online porn play a primary role in how viewers make sense of what they’re watching.

Related: 7 Cases Of Nonconsensual Porn And Rape Tapes Pornhub Doesn’t Want Consumers To Know About

Researchers provided uncensored examples of common video descriptions within four categories. Let’s break them down.

1. Incest

The most frequent form of sexual violence in the sample—8,421 titles—was related to sexual activity between family members. Common terms included step, aunt, brother, cousin, dad, daughter, family, father, gran, incest, and mom. Some examples of titles the researchers encountered were:

“Daddy I Don’t Want To Go To School!” 

“Daughter Getting F— By Her Dad”

“Aunty grabs the nerdy boy’s virginity”

“Brother F— Sister In The A— Outdoors”

“Dad and daughter f— – homemade”

“Brother f— her sister in her sleep”

“When Mom’s Mad, Dad Goes To His Daughter”

“Daddy keeps f— daughter till she likes it”

Representations of step relationships were actually less common than blood relationships, with the majority of titles describing sexual activity between members of the immediate family. Mothers were predominantly the family member depicted as engaging in sex with other family members—particularly with their sons.

BHW - General

2. Physical aggression and sexual assault

“Teen” was the most frequently occurring word in both the entire data sample and in the sexual assault category. Terms such as “pigtails,” “homework,” and “braces” were used to suggest younger teenagers. Also, keywords related to violent anal sex were found in 1,017 titles coded as aggressive.

The 5,389 titles reported don’t include terms containing only verbal aggression or material advertised to viewers as consensual BDSM (i.e. “Adorable Teen tied up and brutally f— hard bdsm” or terms like “slaves,” “subs,” “sissy’s” and “masters”).

Common terms included kick, punch, slap, brutal, pound, ambush, beat, choke, destroy, whip, victim, torture, rough, stab, hurt, kidnap, molest, pain, struggle, punish, violate, grope, annihilate, gag, drill, plow, ruin, tied, and force. Video titles included:

“Crying blonde b— takes rough c— drilling”

“Meth w— wife throat f— and pounded by dealer”

“Big huge white monster c— breaking open asian maid p—”

Related: Content On Pornhub Reportedly Normalizes And Promotes Racism And Racist Stereotypes

The word “black” occurred in the top twenty most frequent words for the physical aggression and sexual assault category, but not for others—suggesting a connection between scripts of sexual violence and racialized descriptions of black performers. This is consistent with another peer-reviewed study that found Black women are more often depicted as the target of aggression in porn, while Black men were portrayed more often as the perpetrators of aggression.

3. Image-based sexual abuse

2,966 titles included descriptions of nonconsensual sexual images—namely revenge porn, upskirting, and voyeurism.

Commonly found terms included voyeur, hidden, candid, caught, downblouse, expose, hack, hidden, leak, tricked nudes, peek, peep, phone, private, record, revenge, secret, spy, stolen, unaware, undershort, and upskirt. Titles included:

“Beach Spy Changing Room Two Girls” 

“Pharmacy Store Bathroom Hidden cam”

“Upskirted in the train” 

Particularly revealing was the sexual script of image-based sexual abuse on porn websites centered predominantly on the creation rather than the distribution of nonconsensual images.

4. Coercion and exploitation

Terms that implied an inability to consent like “very young,” “schoolgirl,” “drugged,” and “unconscious” dominated the sample—with 2,698 titles coded as coercive and exploitative.

Other terms like advantage, blackmail, bribe, captive, cash, chloroform, convince, cry, cruel, coerce, debt, desperate, dislike, distress, don’t, drunk, exploit, fear, harass, hate, helpless, hypno, made to, manipulate, merciless, money, reluctant, scared, sleep, surprise, taken, trick, unaware, unsuspecting, waking, against will, and used were present in this category, with titles like:

“Chubby Spanish Teen Needs The Cash” 

“Boyfriend forced gf for sex”

“She Woke Up Being F—” 

“Police Takes Advantage of a Young Girl to F— her A—”

“Surprise Anal, That was no accident!”

“unwanted painful anal”

Related: Does Mainstream Porn Fuel And Normalize Sexual Violence In Teen Relationships?

The analysis showed that youth descriptors were used most often in this type of material—supporting a different 2019 study that found that when compared with adult performers, “teens” were about five times more likely than adults to be in videos featuring forceful anal penetration plus more likely to be in videos where the male performer ejaculated in their mouth or on their face.

Concerning implications

This new study proves that violent and even criminal material isn’t consigned to niche “fetish” sites or the dark web.

Researchers urged, “It cannot be assumed that mainstream websites are ‘safe’ sites free from unlawful material.” They also concluded, “It is untrue that the most popular pornography websites provide acceptable pornographic content which should be freely and easily accessible to adults.” (Emphasis ours.)

Authors of the study also shared it’s possible that some of the material they analyzed is actual evidence of real sexual assault, voyeurism, and nonconsensual distribution of sexual images.

This should be no surprise given recent events with one of the sites surveyed, Pornhub.

Visa, Discover, and MasterCard suspended their services to Pornhub after accusations of child sexual abuse material came to light and a few lawsuits ensued in December of 2020. Since then, the platform only recently announced an updated user verification process and increased moderation efforts, and purged 10 million unverified videos.

And now, the world’s most-visited porn site, XVideos, is also under heavy scrutiny for the same reported prevalence of CSAM and nonconsensual content.

Related: Mindgeek, Pornhub’s Parent Company, Sued For Reportedly Hosting Videos Of Child Sex Trafficking

These recent events show that while there’s little oversight on mainstream porn sites, through simple keyword searches, the task of removing violent content could be easily automated if the sites wanted to proactively do so. However, there seems to be a significant gap between what porn companies say they prohibit in their terms of use and what they’re actually willing to make available to consumers.

In fact, The British Journal of Criminology study found it rare for descriptions of activity that meet criminal standards of sexual violence to be explicitly labeled as such. It was much more common for descriptions to be positioned as ordinary or even funny, and to minimize, or even mock or belittle the possibility of harm.

Here’s how this can impact consumers—many of which are visiting a porn site for the first time, some who are not yet of age.

Imagine this scenario: a consumer sees a “zero-tolerance” policy for nonconsensual or abusive content from the platform, then subsequently consumes content that describes the very acts they claim to restrict but without explicit terms in the title like “rape,” “incest,” or “revenge porn.” But since the platform says they don’t accept content depicting nonconsensual sex acts, it must be acceptable, right? That’s how a disconnect can happen with processing what they’re watching as being sexually violent or in some cases, criminal.

See the danger there?

Research is moving toward analysis of not just how many people consume porn, how often, and what type, but equally the context in which pornographic content is described and processed as acceptable to viewers.

Anti-exploitation advocates have sounded the alarm on this issue for years, and now research has corroborated that violent, abusive themes are freely visible and accessed by anyone who lands on the homepage of mainstream porn sites, regardless of what they search for.

The sexual scripts of society are left in the hands of an industry that promotes harmful attitudes and behaviors while claiming to do the opposite. How is this acceptable?

To report an incident involving the possession, distribution, receipt, or production of child sexual abuse material, file a report on the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)’s website at www.cybertipline.com, or call 1-800-843-5678. 

Send this to a friend