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What Kind of Porn Do Women Watch?

The percentage of women who consume porn is increasing. By the end of 2019, almost 3 out of every 10 Pornhub consumers were female. What are they watching, and how could it be hamrful?

By July 30, 2021August 10th, 2021No Comments
TRIGGER WARNING
The following post contains descriptions of porn categories.

What kind of porn do women watch? Let’s take a look at a few Pornhub stats from their insights reports.

But first, let’s talk about the harmful effects of porn.

Decades of studies from respected academic institutions have demonstrated significant impacts of porn consumption for individuals, relationships, and society. Fight the New Drug is not a recovery organization, we are an awareness-raising and educational movement that aims to openly discuss porn and its impacts on our world. Sometimes, discussing porn’s harms includes discussing what porn is specifically being consumed and the specific harms of that content.

Below, we’ll discuss some very explicit terms that are allegedly popular categories on one of the most popular porn sites.

Again, these terms will be very triggering, so reader discretion is heavily advised, especially if you have had a previous struggle with porn.

Millions of searches every year

Over the last few years, “lesbian” porn has reportedly been the most popular searched-for category among women on Pornhub, but that’s not all—women are also reportedly proportionately 86% more likely to search for “BDSM” content when compared to men, according to the site.

Since 2014 and until 2019, Pornhub (PH) has published its “Year in Review,” an analysis of all the data collected on searches, videos watched, duration on-site, and more. Now, there’s no way for us to cross-check these stats, so we’ll have to take them with a grain of salt.

In 2019—the most recent stats that are available—this porn giant received over 115 million site visits a day. That’s a lot of traffic. Consider that just in 2019, nearly 1,300 searches were done every second on PH. And we’re just talking about one porn website—there are hundreds of others out there.

Not only are there millions of searches yearly, but there’s also an increasing number of videos uploaded. In 2019, the amount on PH alone hit over 1,471,000 hours (if you do the math, that’s 168 years’ worth).

Related: Popular Porn Site Reveals Women Search For Hardcore Genres More Than You Might Expect

So, there’s a lot of porn out there. What else is new? Well, all this data is actually pretty useful for getting an idea of how men and women search and consume porn differently.

And why would that matter? Because talking about the harmful effects of porn means understanding what kind of content is freely available and watched regularly, and what that content might be teaching consumers.

Number of female consumers has increased

Over the last few years, the percentage of women who consume porn has increased.

In 2016 and 2017, the number was around 26% worldwide. By the end of 2019, this increased by 3%, meaning reportedly almost 3 out of every 10 consumers on Pornhub is female.

The largest percentage of female consumers per country is found in the Philippines, where 39% made up the overall PH site visitors in 2019. Interestingly, there have been some spikes in female consumers from other countries such as Argentina, where in 2019 there was a 7% increase of female site visitors, making women 36% of the country’s total consumers.

That’s a lot of porn being consumed by women. But how are their habits different than men’s, and how are they the same?

Stats from Pornhub’s 2019 Annual Report

What do men and women search for?

Again, the following terms we’re about to discuss are very explicit and triggering.

The Women | Across the board, women’s top searches are “lesbian,” or lesbian-related. This is especially true in recent years. In 2016, for example, there was an increase of 168% in searches for lesbian, and 218% in “female-friendly.” In 2018, it was the top-searched term for women. In 2019, women were 147% more likely to search for “lesbian” content. In 2020, Pornhub reported that compared to men, women were 163% more likely to search for “gay bdsm.”

The Men | Men, on the other hand, have consistently stuck to searching MILF, and “step” related categories such as “stepmom” and “step-daughter.” In 2019, there was a change and “Japanese” and “amateur” replaced MILF in the top three top searches for men. In 2017, “cheerleader” also increased in popularity among men, searches of the term increasing by almost 400%.

Both genders in recent years have searched for categories like hentai, “mature” and “big d—.” But what hardcore, violent content have women sought out at reportedly higher rates?

Stats from Pornhub’s 2020 BDSM Insights

Do women want more hardcore content?

In past years, there’s been an increase in the number of searches and consumption of more hardcore porn—largely by women.

Categories such as “gangbang,” “hardcore,” “rough sex,” and “bondage” are on the rise in women’s searches. In 2017, “DP” and “rough sex” were more popular among women than men. In 2018, they were two times more likely than men to watch “gangbang,” “DP” and, in contrast, “romantic.”

Related: Does The Porn Industry Really Care About Empowering Women?

In 2020, Pornhub reported women were more 155% likely to search out “dominant and submissive,” and many other BDSM-related categories on the site.

So what does this mean?

If these stats are accurate, the fact women consume more hardcore porn may seem surprising. After all, how is it that the top searched and consumed categories by women are also are some of the most aggressive toward women? Some even feature content that’s would be considered criminal if it were real. In reality, do these videos promote healthy, realistic views of how women should be treated?

But regardless, according to this 2018 study, an estimated 91.5% of men and 60.2% of women consume pornography. And research has shown that women are likely just as visually stimulated by porn as men.

Studies show that today’s porn is becoming increasingly aggressive and sells violence as a fantasy, especially toward women.

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

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Consider one 2020 study that entailed a large-scale content analysis and coding of a sample of 7,430 pornographic videos taken from the two most popular free porn sites, Pornhub and XVideos.

The study found physical aggression against women present in 44.3% of Pornhub and 33.9% of XVideos scenes. In fact, the study found that physical aggression was substantially more common in online pornographic videos than verbal aggression. Specifically, women were the target of nearly 97% of all physically aggressive acts in the samples from both sites. Violence in porn, especially against women, isn’t an exception. And this is content that is consumed by all genders.

Porn is primarily produced for entertainment purposes, not education, but the ideas porn sells are not conducive to a healthy understanding of sex, sexuality, or mutual pleasure. In fact, research confirms that women are the targets of aggression or violence in porn about 97% of the time,Fritz, N., Malic, V., Paul, B., & Zhou, Y. (2020). A Descriptive Analysis of the Types, Targets, and Relative Frequency of Aggression in Mainstream Pornography. Archives of sexual behavior, 49(8), 3041–3053. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-020-01773-0COPY  and that only 18.3% of women in popular porn videos (compared to 78% of men) were shown to reach climax.Séguin, L. J., Rodrigue, C., & Lavigne, J. (2018). Consuming Ecstasy: Representations of Male and Female Orgasm in Mainstream Pornography. Journal of sex research, 55(3), 348–356. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2017.1332152COPY  And of course, one of the most consistently popular porn themes is “teen,” which research shows is becoming increasingly popular, and includes the portrayal of underage characters.Walker, A., Makin, D. A., & Morczek, A. L. (2016). Finding Lolita: A comparative analysis of interest in youth-oriented pornography. Sexuality & Culture: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, 20(3), 657–683. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-016-9355-0COPY 

In addition to the abusive behaviors consistently shown in porn, porn often promotes a number of other problematic sexual narratives. Porn sites are full of videos that not only portray but normalize and fetishize incest, unequal power dynamics, and a variety of situations where marginalized or vulnerable people are abused or taken advantage of.

So why do more women than men consume this extreme content?

There are some explanations, or theories, that say women search out this hardcore content because it serves as a way to visualize sexual fantasies rooted in sexual blame avoidance or sexual desirability. Other studies have shown that women who have been victims of sexual or psychological violence have a greater likelihood of consuming these more hardcore categories—perhaps as a coping mechanism.

No matter the underlying reason, the fact that women are consuming more content in more hardcore versions is indicative of the overall normalization of porn, and its tendency to become an escalating behavior.

Though men and women’s porn consumption may overlap in a few categories, studies show their consumption and acceptance of porn varies. What is true, is no matter a consumer’s gender, porn can be harmful. While preferences for categories may change over the years, porn’s proven harms are consistent.

The research is clear—porn can warp consumers’ ideas about sex and relationships. But the good news is that we can limit those negative effects by raising awareness on this issue, especially to young people. So let’s refocus on healthy relationships and reject the toxic narratives porn perpetuates. Let’s consider the facts before consuming.

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