06:11pm Friday 15 December 2017

Expert: 50 Shades of Grey spikes online porn consumption among women

A woman behind a laptop

The research from the University of Waterloo is exploring the porn habits of women who now make up the fastest growing demographic of online porn consumers.

“Essentially, the 50 Shades of Grey series brought porn into the mainstream for women,” said Diana Parry, a professor in Waterloo’s Faculty of Applied Health Sciences and lead investigator on the project.  “For lots of women, 50 Shades is their first exposure to porn written by women, for women. It opened the door for many women who realize that they like this kind of material and who have begun to search out similar content online.”

Parry’s research team found that women used written erotica when they wanted to be inspired, let their imaginations run wild or to extend their experience of arousal but used online video porn most frequently when they wanted immediate sexual gratification or wanted to involve a partner.  

“The assumption that women prefer reading porn over watching it is no longer accurate,” said Parry. “The message we heard from many women was that they get online to get off.”

Parry conducted in-depth interviews with 28 women ranging in age 21-54 about their pornography consumption patterns, sexual desires, and impacts on sexual practices. Consistent with other recent reports, Parry found that women are watching more online porn than ever before.

“Online porn allows women to take their sexuality into their own hands – it’s affordable, accessible and anonymous,” said Parry, who has published and presented on the link between technology and women’s consumption of erotica. “Porn can be a fantastic way for women to explore their sexual desires without shame and learn new sexual practices, which can positively impact upon women’s health.”

The research also found that women enjoy watching and proactively search for same-sex pornography. Recently, the American porn giant PornHub reported that women search for more girl-on-girl porn than men (SFW).

According to the researchers, some women were clear that regardless of their sexual identity, they enjoyed consuming sexually explicit material that only featured women.

“In part, their choice reflected a more diverse appreciation for female bodies than men’s bodies. Some women were much less interested in stereotypical porn star bodies – and body parts – and much more aroused by porn featuring a range of body types,” said Parry.

“Porn has a history of being produced solely for the benefit and consumption of heterosexual men often through the objectification, marginalization, and oppression of women. However, women are now producing, consuming and discussing sexually explicit materials with their own sexual desires in mind. In many ways this has contributed to a healthy sexuality for women that is important to acknowledge,” said Parry.

In April Parry will facilitate a workshop with producers and stars at the Feminist Porn Awards hosted by Good For Her in Toronto to further probe the links between feminism and sexually explicit material.  Parry expects her research team to begin publishing findings from the study in the coming months.

About the University of Waterloo

In just half a century, the University of Waterloo, located at the heart of Canada’s technology hub, has become one of Canada’s leading comprehensive universities with 35,000 full- and part-time students in undergraduate and graduate programs. A globally focused institution, celebrated as Canada’s most innovative university for 23 consecutive years, Waterloo is home to the world’s largest post-secondary co-operative education program and encourages enterprising partnerships in learning, research and discovery. In the next decade, the university is committed to building a better future for Canada and the world by championing innovation and collaboration to create solutions relevant to the needs of today and tomorrow. For more information about Waterloo, please visit uwaterloo.ca.

 

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Media Contact

Nick Manning
University of Waterloo
519-888-4451
226-929-7627


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