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New Report: What’s Popular in Pornography?

pornhub statsReading the statistics on what kinds of pornography people are watching is a little like the proverbial can’t-look-away-from-the-car-crash. It is appalling yet fascinating at the same time. It’s not recommended reading for the recovering sex addict, but I’ll attempt to summarize some of the more interesting bits.

Pornhub.com, which is happy to say it is the number 1 porn site in the world, published this exhaustive review of worldwide porn use for 2014.

In it they boast that: “Pornhub saw a whopping 78.9 billion video views through 2014, which considerably surpasses last year’s 63.2 billion… However you look at it, that’s a lot of people getting busy on Pornhub!” In a nifty infographic they illustrate that this translates into 11 videos viewed for every person on earth and 5,800 visits per second. (And that’s just for the Pornhub.com visitors, there are a number of such hubs for pornography).

In the same breezy tone, they go on to break down the viewing habits of their Pornhub audience in every conceivable way possible given the viewer information they can access. Here are some examples.

Family connections

In a colorful bar graph, Pornhub presents the top search terms worldwide in 2014. The top 5 most popular search terms were “teen”, “lesbian”, “MLF” (mothers I’d like to *bleep*), “step mom” and “mom” in that order. The top percentage gainers among search terms over the previous year were those relating to lesbian sex and sex between women. The term “ebony” also rocketed up to 6th place. Also among the top 10 gainers were “step sister”, “step mom” and “threesome”. Pornhub’s comment on all this is: “The world witnessed some interesting get-togethers on Pornhub this year!” (Interesting get-togethers?) The report also refers to this trend as ” extended family fun”.

Size inflation

Bigger was better in 2014 with very large percentage increases. The search for large breasts increased by 410% and the searches for large butts increased by 486%. This is one of the many areas in which young people have been influenced by porn imagery. As an example, the American Psychological Association reported that in the year from 2002 to 2003 the number of girls 18 and younger who got breast implants nearly tripled.

Gender

Pornhub presents the gender statistics on their audience which are 23% female viewers and 77% male viewers worldwide, which they say represents a closing of the “gender gap”.  In the United States, the percent of Pornhub viewers who are female is still reportedly only 21% vs. 79% male. These are important numbers to remember when one looks at the content analysis of porn videos. Of this increasing segment of female viewers the preference seems to be for searches relating to lesbian and other search terms relating to sex between women. Pornhub wants to view the slowly increasing participation of women in recent years to be a sign of social progress. The high percent gain among women users in searches for lesbian sex and sex between women is attributed to the increase in the numbers of women viewers. Sexual orientation is not explicitly referred to.

Risk and intensity

In the psycho-sexual-cultural battle between sexual intensity and sexual intimacy it would appear that intensity is winning. There has been a lot of work published in recent years about the trends in the content themes of pornographic and online videos and the detrimental effects on porn actors, children, relationships, and people generally. Most of these studies show a prevalence of violence and physical or verbal aggression overwhelmingly depicted as being by men and against women. For example a content analysis of 50 best selling adult videos showed 88% of the scenes analyzed contained physical aggression. A 2014 study analyzing gay male internet pornography found that these videos contained a “substantial prevalence of unprotected anal intercourse as well as other high risk behaviors affecting HIV prevention efforts.

Interestingly, one study entitled “X views and counting, rape-oriented pornography as gendered microaggression” found a correlation between rape-oriented pornography and the query “BDSM” (bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism) as well as a correlation between the query “rape-oriented pornography” and the use of various pornographic hubs with the highest correlation being with Pornhub! The latter study suggested that:

“If pornographic hubs are influencing search queries, their willingness to ban or remove queries associated with rape-oriented pornography could play an important role in making this specific niche pornography more difficult to find.” And

“Although many hubs already ban tags for “rape,” hubs do contain tags that would provide a descriptive means of finding content. For example, research should explore tags such as “brutal,” “slave,” “screaming,” “tied up,” “torture,” “pain,” “whipping,” and other tags…”

Boundary violation and sexual intensity

So where does the Pornhub data on the extreme popularity of the searches for teen themed porn and step mom, step sister themes fit? Like the move toward extreme or violent imagery, or imagery depicting higher physical risk-taking it seems likely to me that the increasing preoccupation with scenes depicting what are intended to appear as underage girls and the themes relating to quasi incestuous sexual contacts as well as those crossing generational boundaries are all examples of the movement toward greater violation of social taboos.

This kind of violation is a form of riskier and therefore more intense sexual activity. The trend toward greater and greater use of internet porn by both boys and girls of high school age and younger may help to explain in part the great preference for teen themed porn. But this is not a very comforting conjecture. Bottom line, it seems that the trends in pornography mirror the progression of an addiction in which the viewer requires increasing intensity and more variety and greater risk in order to get a hit. It is hard to see this trend reversing, but you never know.

Virtual reality porn

A techcrunch.com article published last month describes the next step: the virtual reality porn experience in which sex toys and virtual reality equipment are all strapped on to complete the illusion of a real life sexual experience– only it’s not, it’s porn.

The article terms this innovation as “a leap forward in erotic intensity”. The founder of the company VirtualRealityPorn is quoted in the article as saying “We really believe that virtual reality will drive the relationships between humans in the next years.”

The author of the article is not quite as pessimistic. He says “Watching porn by yourself all the time, although physically stimulating, is spiritually the opposite of this.”

I tend to agree. It would be a shame if sex were no longer a basic and powerful experience through which real people connect; that would be bad enough. But in the words of professor Robert Jensen “…pornography encourages men to abandon empathy, and a world without empathy is a world without hope.”

Find Dr. Hatch on Facebook at Sex Addictions Counseling or Twitter @SAResource and at www.sexaddictionscounseling.com

New Report: What’s Popular in Pornography?


Linda Hatch, PhD

Linda Hatch is a psychologist and certified sex addiction therapist specializing in the treatment of sex addicts and the partners and families of sex addicts. Linda also blogs on her own website at Sexaddictionscounseling.com


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APA Reference
Hatch, L. (2015). New Report: What’s Popular in Pornography?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 19, 2019, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/sex-addiction/2015/08/new-report-whats-popular-in-pornography/

 

Last updated: 3 Aug 2015
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