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Demographic Differences In Porn, Dating, And Sex Toy Product Consumption

Jamie Stroud

Table of Contents

Introduction

I searched for the most popular sex-based sites (porn, dating, and sex toy distributors), gathered demographic data from them, then analyzed that data in order to find different trends among different demographic variables. In order to determine which sites are "popular", I primarily used Alexa. The sites discussed in this article are primarily those with an Alexa rank of 20 0000 or lower at the time of research. Settling on "20 0000 or lower" was somewhat arbitrary but not completely. Sites with an Alexa ranking below 10 0000 tend to stay relatively stable in their rank, whereas sites with an Alexa ranking above 10 0000 tend to vary much more in regards to their rank. (Alexa, n.d.) (The greater swing in rank with lower ranked sites is simply due to the greater number of sites with lower quantities of traffic, differences in traffic each day can have more dramatic effects on rank. In SEO (Search Engine Optimization) terms, this is known as "short tail" and "long tail". A "short tail" (Alexa ranks 10 0000 and under) will have less potential range in their sway than a "long tail" (Alexa ranks 10 0000 and over).) However, I consistently found sex-based sites with an Alexa ranking above 10 0000 but below 20 0000 that seemed popular in other regards (e.g. sales, word-of-mouth, Google Page Rank, etc.), and so I decided setting the limit to 20 0000 would be more useful than 10 0000. On a side note, I made an exception for many rare niche sites, which might have an Alexa ranking far over 20 0000, but precisely because they're a rare niche, I still thought it'd be useful to include them. I also made an exception for "affiliate" and "list" sites (see Appendixes for category definitions), since even though their Alexa rank might be over 20 0000, they often provide a complete or near complete list of links to the sites in a network, which is convenient for research.

In regards to demographic data, I tried to gather this data through a wide variety of sources. The more sources of data, the more confidence there could be in the findings. Some examples of the sources of data include: Alexa Analytics, Google Analytics (GA), payment processor (PP) purchase/subscription data, forum registrations/sign-ups, polls, social media data, and more.

In regards to Alexa Analytics, they increased their data pool in 2014 October (between 3735y43-47w (oct) (ICS)) (Alexa, 2014) and so I waited until after that time before collecting any Alexa demographics so that such data would be more accurate.

Alexa Rank is determined through an algorithm which counts total unique page views in a given day, considers average unique page views per day over a 3 month period, and then ranks sites daily based on those numbers. (Alexa, n.d.) However, only users which use an Alexa toolbar are tracked, and only about 0.02% of all internet users have Alexa toolbar installed. (Gardiner, 2010) It's also a wonder how representative Alexa toolbar users are of internet users in general, since they're likely to be more technology obsessed and/or site owners. With all that being noted, Alexa toolbar users submit demographic information (whether they realize it or not) when they install Alexa toolbar, and that's how Alexa is then able to gather demographic data for sites.

Unfortunately, Alexa has been demonstrated to be incredibly inaccurate at measuring almost all demographic data except for location. For example, some popular gay male dating sites will show on Alexa that they're primarily visited by females, which is extremely unlikely. (e.g. adam4adam.com and manhunt.net) Such inaccuracy occurs mostly because it's not always the computer's owner (the one who likely installed and provided demographics for Alexa) that browses the internet. For example, if a mom buys a computer, and thus provides her own demographics (e.g. female, age 35, etc.) it'll conflict in many ways when her son (e.g. male, age 15, etc.) or her kid's friends browse the internet on her computer. This inaccuracy will likely continually decrease in the future as more individuals get their own computer, rather than a shared computer. In the United States, in 2000, there were 1.56 computers per household, while in 2012 there were 3 computers per household. Furthermore, of 68 countries checked, in 2000 the range of computers per household was 0.02-2.04, whereas in 2012 the range of computers per household was 0.11-7.23. (Personal computers per, n.d.)

A small percentage of site owners get "certified" Alexa, in which case they implement code on their site which then attaches a cookie to users, tracks what sites those users go to afterward, and then estimates demographics based on that (by aggregating the demographics of the other site/s and estimating via an algorithm based on the demographic aggregate). Since non-certified Alexa demographics are incredibly inaccurate for almost all demographics except for location, and certified Alexa demographics are dependent on non-certified Alexa demographics, the accuracy is still likely to be bad, though probably mildly to moderately more accurate than non-certified Alexa demographics.

comScore and Quantcast are some other analytics companies. They're less popular than Alexa, but function in a similar way.

In regards to GA, site owners implement code on their site. Any site that's partnered with Google Display Network (GDN) will attach a cookie to users (lots of sites use GDN, it's a popular network for advertising), then when those same users visit a site with GA code, the GA code can provide demographic information based on user-submitted information on sites partnered with GDN. This is thought to be the most accurate analytics thus far since Google and its subnetworks (e.g. Youtube, Gmail, etc.) are some of the most popular sites, people submit a lot of demographic information to them, and they're connected with GDN. Thus, demographics can be gathered of any logged in Google user that visits a site with GA after.

Social media demographics are gathered in a fairly straight forward manner. The profiles of followers of a particular company or person are looked at and then the demographic information provided on their profiles are collected.

In regards to PP purchase/subscription information, practically the only useful data collected is the names of customers. However, most names are gender-exclusive, and thus gender can be roughly estimated based on name. Shipping merchants can also provide location based on the shipping address provided for physical products.

I spoke with Doug from payze.com, a payment processing (PP) company, and he explained to me many technical aspects about what PPs do. When someone purchases online, the PP checks to verify all information is entered correctly (sometimes simple typos are let through, for example, mistyping 1 letter of one's name). When a purchase is made or attempted, the internet protocol (IP) address is mapped, and location can be estimated based on IP address. PPs learn through experience which sites are at high risk of fraud and under what variables. For example, some countries have a higher risk of fraud on certain sites and even one gender is at higher risk than the other (PPs tend to only document male or female genders) for fraud on certain sites. For a relevant example, female names are automatically flagged as high risk when it comes to purchasing on most porn sites. Merchants can't do anything about suspected fraud, they can only wait for chargebacks. However, the merchant can find out through their PP/s the demographic variables involved with the user who chargebacked. Finding out whether the user had high-risk variables (e.g. based on location, gender, etc.) or not can help determine whether the user is fraudulent or just had buyer's remorse (e.g. "I'm so ashamed/guilt-ridden for subscribing to a porn site!" or "Wow, I really shouldn't be spending so much money when I'm horny, I'll see if I can get my money back"). Sites lose money on chargebacks (since they still have to pay a fee to PPs) so they'll usually block cards that seem fraudulent. However, some sites won't necessarily block cards that seem due to buyer's remorse, particularly if it's a first offense, though they'll likely blacklist the card (so it's known to be high risk if there's another purchase from the merchant made with it in the future). How the cards of chargebacks are handled varies greatly from merchant to merchant and from case to case.

Some people might wonder why females are considered high risk when purchasing/subscribing to porn sites. It's because females, on average, account for between 60-80% of mainstream spending (Silverstein & Sayre, 2009, pp. 6, 31, 46-47, 104, 207, 221, 247, 257, 264; Barletta, n.d.) yet less than 5% of spending on porn sites (after adjusting for fraud), and females are especially more likely than males to make purchases at malls, which is a popular place for hackers and thieves to obtain card information from. Hackers and thieves generally obtain card information via hacking on public wi-fi, using card skimmer devices (which is outside the scope of this article), spying on people's use of their cards, setting up scam sites, creating and distributing malware, pickpocketing (offline, physical theft), or digital pickpocketing (online theft using Near Field Communications (NFC) enabled devices to scan and obtain information from radio frequency identification (RFID) enabled cards, which is a topic that's outside the scope of this article), and conning people into giving out their card information, among other methods. In which case, if hackers get a hold of card information, they're more likely to get female names than male names. When hackers get a hold of new credit cards, they often like to test out the card with small purchases at places they think are less inclined to catch them. With that in consideration, porn sites seem a good fit, and thus female names tend to stand out on porn sites as high risk of fraud. To summarize, once a card is suspected of fraud, PPs flag it, merchants decide whether to blacklist or block the card, and simultaneously banks also have algorithms for detecting potential fraud and they'll often temporarily or permanently block the card and/or contact the card owner.

I spoke with Cees from vxsbill.com and was told PPs are unable to know which cards are joint cards (cards which can be used with more than 1 person's name). They're also unable to know if someone used someone else's card (with or without the someone else's permission). This is perhaps another reason why female names are considered high risk for chargebacks on most porn sites. Moms are more likely than dads to be stay-at-home, or at least more-time-at-home-than-their-spouse/s. (Livingston, 2014) Because moms generally spend more time at home than dads, that generally means their cards are also more often at home than dads' cards. I was told by several different fraud analysts the same thing: it seems to be more common for sons than for daughters to sneak their mom's card to purchase from a porn site. This, unsurprisingly, often results in the mom calling the particular PP and cancelling due to her son's misuse. Some might argue that many/most of these moms are actually purchasing from the porn sites themselves, they just end up feeling ashamed for it afterward and want to chargeback (buyer's remorse), and so they blame their innocent son. Curious by this argument, I contacted Déjà Vu Adult Emporium in Las Vegas, NV, USA, to ask them about any gender differences in discomfort when buying porn or sex toys. I was told that males, in general, were more likely than females to seem uncomfortable when making purchases, regardless if the purchases are of sex toys or porn! I was also told that older people, in general, were more uncomfortable making purchases than younger people. On a side note, females were much more likely than males to make purchases with their partner or friends present rather than solo. However, even when purchasing solo, females generally seem more comfortable and "liberated" in purchasing sex toys and porn than males do. These findings provide evidence against the view that females feel more ashamed to subscribe to porn sites (and thus, by proxy, shouldn't be more likely than males to chargeback porn subscriptions due to buyer's remorse).

Findings

The common notion in American society is that males are much more likely than females to look at and purchase porn. However, there's been little research discussing the reason for this gender difference. It's been commonly stated that "females are less visual than males", and yet, mainstream data contradicts that. Instagram (IG) and Pinterest are primarily focused on visual content, and yet more females use IG and Pinterest than males, and more frequently too. Actually, females are more likely to use about nearly any social media platform than males, with the exception of LinkedIn, which is primarily text based (see Appendixes for detailed statistics on gender differences in social media usage). (Hillsberg, n.d.) Furthermore, while the most popular gay dating platforms (e.g. Grindr) are known for being more visual based than most straight dating platforms, the most popular lesbian dating platforms are the most visual focused of all (e.g. Her and Fem Dating). Perhaps straight dating platforms generally have more focus on text than gay and lesbian dating platforms primarily for clarity's sake (e.g. "I'm not looking for hook ups"), which there's generally less conflict and confusion about on gay and lesbian dating platforms. Thus, it seems the common notions and memes of society on this topic are particularly problematic, and I hope this article provides better insight.

Age of consumers in general:

Older adults, but before seniority, seem most likely to purchase from sex-based sites. At porn conventions, I heard many managers of porn sites complain about the lack of purchasing that young people do. One notion I heard many managers express is that young people are spoiled, they grew up with the free "tube" sites and so either became conditioned to expect porn for free, or otherwise just developed the view that porn doesn't deserve compensation. However, I found no evidence to support this notion. A compelling way to provide evidence for this is to have data which shows that payment from young customers has declined faster than from older customers over the years, but I've not found any such data. older adults, on average, earn more money than young adults and seniors, and, on average, they also spend more money than them too. (Foster, 2015) That reason alone could be why older adults are more likely than young adults and seniors to pay for porn. However, as I've also found out from porn conventions and personal discussions with numerous porn companies, paying for porn, has been decreasing as a whole, of all ages (not just of young adults), over the years. The free "tube" sites could very well play a role in that.

"After people are clothed and fed, then they think about sex."
K'ung Fu-Tzu (Confucius) 551-479 BC

"When you don't have any money, the problem is food. When you have money, it's sex."
Anon

Due to the decline in paying for porn, more and more sites are turning to also having their models available for live web cam shows. While more and more people are unwilling to pay for porn, some are willing to pay extreme amounts for "sexual products". While having a subscription site might limit sales to $30 per month, for example, from a given individual, web cams allow near limitless sales from a given individual. People who will spend a lot of money on "sexual products" are known as "whales" in the porn industry. "Whale" might sound like a negative term in most other contexts, but managers of porn sites generally view them and use the term very positively. The total profit decline of subscription porn sites can sometimes be more than made up for by whales through live web cam shows.

Of dating sites:

Males and females are about equally likely to use dating sites. (Give Your Hand, n.d.-b) Their use and experience of them is quite different though. Attractive straight/bi females receive about 20 openers (initiated massages) a day, whereas attractive straight males only receive about 0.1-1 openers a day. (Stroud, 2015a; Give Your Hand, n.d.-a) Also, gay/bi males and straight/bi females can generally obtain quick and easy casual sex through dating sites/apps, but that's generally not the case for lesbian females and straight males, though lesbian females generally don't desire casual sex as much as straight males. (Stroud, 2014; Stroud, 2015a) Online dating is similar to offline (in person) dating in most ways, personalities don't change just because the platform does. However, people are generally less inhibited in their behavior online compared to offline.

Due to the extreme gender difference in casual sexual needs between males and females, many straight dating sites specialize in promoting casual sex (e.g. adultfriendfinder.com), and they essentially scam naive, delusional, and/or desperate males in this way. You see, the males extremely outnumber the females on these types of sites, and these types of sites tend to have a higher number of bots and fake profiles too.

Of physical product sites:

Males and females seem about equally likely to purchase from physical product sites. If it's thought that females have a lower sex drive than males, then why might they be just as likely to purchase sex toys? One possibility is that females, on average, are more likely than males to have extreme difficulty or an inability to orgasm. (Stroud, 2015b) In which case, sex toys might be particularly useful for females to help them orgasm compared to males. During my conversation with Déjà Vu Adult Emporium in Las Vegas, NV, USA, they noted that, of dildo purchasers, males were much more likely than females to purchase realistic looking ones (meaning ones that more accurately resemble the look of an actual penis). Why might females be less concerned with the realism of the dildo? Perhaps because they're more concerned with the functionality than the looks (meaning they most prefer dildos that will make orgasming easier, and those dildos generally aren't the most realistic looking ones).

Of straight gynocentric porn sites:

Specific niche and/or fetish type sites are almost exclusively subscribed to by males (e.g. Millenium, TGA, which is a male-to-female (MTF) transsexual company, Laughing Out Loud Pictures, which is a tickling fetish company, and Pleasant Hill Media, Ltd. (We Are Hairy), which is a hair fetish company). This seems logical based on evidence that males, on average, have their sexual orientation more specifically imprinted than females. (Kendrick et al., 1998; Chivers, Seo, & Blanchard, 2007)

Of gay porn sites:

It's been noted by some researchers, and speculated by many individuals, that females are more likely to subscribe to gay porn sites than straight porn sites. (Ogas & Gaddam, 2012) The reasons for this view are compelling:

Unfortunately, the evidence that females are more attracted to gay porn than straight porn is complex. Some of these sites don't seem like they get any more females viewers/subscribers to their gay content than most sites do to straight content (e.g. Bad Puppy, Dogpile, and IDNR), whereas some of these sites seem like they might (Cocky Boys, Pornhub, and randyblue.com). However, there's further complication to the data. There are far less homosexual males than heterosexual females in the population. One study estimates that 1-11% of the population is homosexual or bisexual. (Gates, 2011) To make the numbers easy for this point, that'd probably leave 90+% of the female population that's heterosexual or bisexual. Based on sexual orientation alone, there are probably more than 10x as many females as males that have any significant likelihood of finding gay porn sites sexually attractive. Compare that to straight porn sites which, based on sexual orientation alone, there are probably near 100% of both genders that have any significant likelihood of finding them sexually attractive (since straight porn generally involves both males and females in the scenes). In which case, it'd seem as if gay porn sites should have a much higher female subscriber ratio than straight porn sites, simply based on the male / female ratio of people likely to find such sites sexually attractive based on their sexual orientation. Although, there's yet another important consideration: there are far fewer gay porn sites than there are straight porn sites. In which case, perhaps the large majority of gay males turn to gay porn sites for their outlet rather than straight porn sites. What about females though? If females aren't more likely to turn to gay porn sites rather than straight porn sites for their sexual outlet, are there any other particular porn niches or variables that females are more likely to consume?

Of straight bicentric and androcentric porn sites:

Playgirl magazine at least partly started in the 1970s due to feminist ideology. There were many pornographic magazines and movies marketed towards straight males, but none for straight females. Playgirl attempted to change that by providing a magazine which contained articles primarily on sexual topics, and pictures of semi-nude or nude males. The magazine was similar to Playboy in style, yet hoping to appeal to females. It seemed to be popular, but how well it succeeded in appealing to females is easily debatable. After all, between 30-70% of Playgirl's consumers are male (Rowe, 2003; Umstead, 2003). That's a better ratio of females than most other porn sites, but not particularly impressive considering that it was marketed specifically to females. Playgirl's Alexa rank has also dropped over the years. In the 1970s, Playgirl seemed to have the monopoly on the market of porn "for women", but now there's more competition.

It'd difficult to analyze the data from AEBN, Hammy Media, and porn.com since they gather their content from such a wide variety of other companies. However, at least Bright Desire and Sssh demonstrate that it is indeed possible to create straight porn that appeals primarily to females, and successfully make a profit from it too, which begs the question, what is it in particular about these sites that appeal to females more than other straight porn sites?

Erotic movie sites Bright Desire, Lust Productions, and Sssh are all directed by females, so it'd be no surprise if that helps them in knowing how to cater to women. All companies also feature articles on sexuality topics, and brightdesire.com features erotic writings while sssh.com features erotic audios (which is generally of someone reading an erotic writing). With that noted, females are much more likely than males to purchase erotic writings, over 90% of erotic writings are purchased by females. (Ogas & Gaddam, 2012, pp. 87-88) In which case, having such content might've very well helped these companies reach female subscribers. That statistic seems precisely inverse to the purchasers of visual porn (which my research suggests is over 90% males). Just now I've been discussing the purchase of visual porn by females. In contrast and in fairness, I could very well also discuss the purchase of erotic writings by males. In both cases, they're the minority consumer. The temptation in this seems to be, both from a biopsychosocial perspective in general, and a marketing perspective in specific, that it's generally more interesting to find out why a particular group doesn't like something as much as another group, rather than why one group likes something more than another group. However, this has already been researched, and is perhaps far less complex compared to the issue of female interest in visual porn. When it comes to erotic writing, in the gay niche, sex generally occurs about a quarter of the way into the story, whereas in most other niches sex doesn't occur until about halfway into the story. (Ogas & Gaddam, 2012, pp. 138) This finding is contingent with the common view that males generally want sex sooner than females do. As I found in another research study, that view seems to be mostly true, with the exception of many males at times when they're looking for a more encompassing, long-term sexual relationship. (Stroud, 2015a)

Though males generally like erotic writings to get explicitly sexual faster than females, interestingly, and contrary to popular belief, these "for women" porn scenes don't seem significantly more likely to have long or longer story lines compared to many other popular straight porn sites which have far less female consumers. However, they're more likely to listen to subscriber input. Female subscribers will email their fantasies, the owners learn from them, and the owners then try to make their fantasies a reality on video. Finally, Bright Desire and Sssh use mostly real life couples for their scenes, rather than just models put together somewhat randomly, or only give the female model choice in who she does a scene with, which is what most other straight porn sites do. As for Lust Productions, they use models, but they generally give both the males and females choice in who they'd like to work with. (Diu, 2015) This suggests that most females, most of the time, desire more than just sexually arousing content from porn scenes, they also desire genuine displays of affection, attachment, and emotion as well. To supplement this, males are generally most sexually attracted to actors that have real orgasms, and in gay porn, they generally want to believe that the straight actors (which I've found comprise between 25-75% of gay porn actors) are actually bisexual or gay. (Ogas & Gaddam, 2012, pp. 101, 130-133, 186-191) Perhaps sexual authenticity is less of a concern for females since most males do have real orgasms in porn, and because there's less sexual orientation incompatibility for female porn viewers (a gay male in gay porn can be appealing for the sexual authenticity, a straight male in gay porn can be appealing for his availability, and females are generally thought to have a less solidly imprinted sexual orientation when it comes to straight and lesbian porn). Thus, sexual authenticity in porn seems to be similarly important for both male and female viewers, but females are generally more concerned with affectional and emotional authenticity in porn than males. This is contingent with my findings in another article, arguing that female sexuality isn't a difference of type, just of extremes, compared to male sexuality. They generally require a greater combination of satisfying variables (sexual and nonsexual) than males to be inclined for any particular sexual outlet. (Stroud, 2015c, Sexuality: A Difference Of Type Or Of Extremes? section)

The owners of Bright Desire and the owners of Sssh all told me the same thing (on separate occasions, without knowing I had talked to the other company's owners): through emails, they've found out a lot of their members essentially subscribe and view the site as couples. Even though their porn sites are generally labeled as "for women", they could nearly just as much be labeled as "couples porn", a label which has thus far received far less discussion than "for women". That is to say, "for women" porn seems to also be a popular porn niche for straight couples to watch together (assuming gay couples are more likely to just watch gay porn together, and lesbian couples are more likely to just watch lesbian porn together).

Outside of porn sites, there are other sexual "products" that have succeeded with females. Many male-for-female stripping companies quickly come and go, they simply don't get enough business to continue, but Chippendales strip clubs and Hollywood Men dancers have done well. Speaking of Hollywood Men, the movies Magic Mike and Magic Mike XXL were loosely based on them, and those movies also did really well with females. During their opening weekend, Magic Mike had a 73% female audience and Magic Mike XXL had a 96% female audience. (Agar, 2015) However, most media that features male strippers or models are treated comically rather than as sexually arousing (e.g. The Full Monty, Zoolander, etc.), that's not the case when it comes to female strippers. Furthermore, I've found that there are far more male dancers that work at gay venues than at straight venues, and a significant amount of male-for-female strippers also dance for males, often stating they tend to make more money doing it for males than for females. Why does male sex appeal seem to work for females in some rare circumstances but not in others? Looking at still more "products" might provide more clues.

I asked several male escorts (escort is practically synonymous with prostitution, but using this term helps avoid legal issues and it also somewhat helps disassociate with the negative feelings association with prostitution as well), who were open to working with both males and females, how often they get hired by females. I generally received an estimate around 1-2%, and of that 1-2%, about 50-75% of the time it was in the context of a 3-or-more-some involving at least 1 other male, while the other approximately 25% involved exclusively a single or multiple females with no other males involved. I also received that same 1-2% female consumer statistic when asking male web cam performers about the gender of their online clients. There are some exceptions though. Hikaru Aizawa from Japan is a gigolo (a primarily or exclusively male-for-female escort) that has made millions of dollars from such work. Roberto Dulce (aka Sweet Roy) from Italy is another gigolo that's had great success from such work. There are also the gigolo companies Aphrodisiac Male Escorts in Australia and Cowboys 4 Angels in United States that have done quite well.

What all the male-for-female stripping companies, "for women" mainstream movies, gigolo companies, and gigolos that succeeded all have in common is their reputation. Sometimes it started by mere word of mouth, then it spread to big media outlets. Compare that to female-for-male strippers or escorts, in which it's common knowledge that no-name no-reputation companies and females can still get business from males. A good reputation can surely gather even bigger profits with female-for-male companies or individuals, however, it's generally not a "make it or break it" situation like it is with many male-for-female companies and individuals. To be clear, it's more than just being well-known or recognized. You see, practically any site can advertise on already popular free "tube" sites, thus gaining recognition (lots of views) very quickly. However, if their content isn't very appealing, they'll likely not profit much or at all, and thus they'll probably quickly shut down. "Here today, gone tomorrow" porn sites are fairly common. Having compelling characteristics is what develops the reputation beyond the recognition. Reputation can sometimes be particularly tricky for sex-based companies or individuals to develop due to censorship (e.g. Facebook blocks posts with links to certain porn sites), but many have still managed to succeed.

Aphrodisiac Male Escorts received much media publicity, and Cowboys 4 Angels had their own tv show called Gigolos, developing not only a reputation for their company, but for their escorts as well. Hikaru Aizawa and Roberto Dulce (aka Sweet Roy) also both developed a reputation for themselves via mainstream media. Chippendales and Hollywood Men developed their reputation by providing more than just sexually arousing content, they also provide artistic and emotional content (through their stage show). Finally, Magic Mike had a celebrity cast of characters, which is prone to elicit feelings of affection, attachment, and greater emotional responsiveness in fans. For porn producers to better appeal to females, they might try imagining if their porn scenes would still be captivating even if people had no sex drive (not to say females have no sex drive, but just as a thought experiment). They might try thinking how to create content that appeals to more than just sexual arousal, that's entertaining beyond just the explicitly sexual content.

Of celebrity porn:

This celebrity porn finding seems stereotypical and somewhat inline with the meme that males primarily go for physical appearance in mates whereas females primarily go for socioeconomic status in mates. Not totally inline though, since it's often said that males want sex whereas females want resources (e.g. money), but the fact that females would be paying for the sexual "product" goes against this resource/economy meme. Though it could still be said they're going for high social status, regardless of economic status (though social status and economic status moderately yet complicatedly correlate (Hollingshead, 1975)). Being in a sexual relationship with someone of high status can be exciting in and of itself. As I argued in another article, females aren't specifically wired to be sexually attracted to social status or resources any more so than males are, they just have a lower sex drive, on average, which inclines them to desire additional motivational factors in general in order for sex or sexual relationships to be wanted. (Stroud, 2015c, Sexuality: A Difference Of Type Or Of Extremes? section)

Being high status, in and of itself, is likely to expose one to a wider quantity of potential mates. Females generally aren't sexually attracted to just any celebrity, they're most sexually attracted to celebrities with traits they like (and not just physically). Furthermore, for any celebrity that consistently puts out new content, that content is likely to provide consistent reinforcement and development of feelings in any females fond of such a celebrity. Thus, increased affection and attraction, among other variables, can be developed in female fans at a distance. High status individuals primarily appeal to females because they've essentially already developed a connection and relationship with females without even having to meet them in person. It's not that high status individuals aren't sexually attractive to males too, it's just that their affect generally isn't as important.

Of lesbian and solo gynocentric sites:

If homosexuals/bisexuals only consist of 1-11% of the population (Gates, 2011), and even considering that females are more likely than males to be bisexual (Diamond, 2008), it's still a wonder why lesbian porn is so popular among females. There are several possible reasons for this. ftvgirls.com and suicidegirls.com are primarily solo sites, often focusing more on modeling rather than masturbation or overt sexual behavior. The primarily reason females subscribe to these sites could actually be admiration rather than sexual arousal. For your consideration, muscle magazines are primarily bought by males. For example, Flex magazine's consumers are about 94% males and Men's Fitness magazine's consumers are about 87% males. (FLEX, 2015; Men's Fitness, 2015) Anecdotes suggest these are mostly straight males that are consuming too. Furthermore, most of these straight males will readily admit they like looking at muscular male physiques, though not in a sexual way. Many straight males will also frequent bodybuilding sites for similar reasons. However, I couldn't find evidence of many straight males (not including "bicurious" males) subscribing to androcentric (e.g. gay or solo male) porn sites though. This could be simply because there are more strictly defined boundaries in regards to what straight males can admire in other male bodies without scorn, compared to what straight females can admire in other female bodies without scorn. Even in societies that are widely accepting of homosexuality, there often still exists stricter taboos for how straight males can interact with other males (whether visually or whatever else) compared to how straight females can interact with other females. It could be that if the male sex drive is generally experienced more strongly than the female sex drive, then a straight male crossing a sexual boundary would have greater social implications than for females to do the same, thus stricter boundary settings for males. This could be the reason why males are more limited in their admiration of male bodies (e.g. non-nude, masculine poses only) while females could go to further extremes in admiration of female bodies (e.g. nudes and solo-sexual activities).

It's not just softcore solo female sites that are popular among females though. Some explicitly sexual lesbian search terms are popular among female users on Pornhub. (PornHub, 2014c) If females, on average, don't have as high of a sex drive as males, they might have an even more difficult time understanding their sexual orientation. Perhaps females are especially likely to look at lesbian porn out of curiosity, to find out if they can even get sexually aroused by it or not.

Research has shown bisexual females have a much higher sex drive, on average, than heterosexual and homosexual females (keeping in mind that what sexual attractions a person feels and what sexual orientation a person actually self-identifies as can vary greatly). (Stroud & Stroud, 2015) In which case, perhaps it's primarily bisexual females that are looking at lesbian porn. Why might bisexual females prefer watching lesbian/gynocentric porn over androcentric porn? Because females are much more difficult to have sex with than males (Stroud, 2014), and so bisexual females can probably already get sexual outlets with males in real life, but it's much easier for them to satisfy their sexual desires for females through porn than in real life.

It could simply be that most females really are bisexual, if "bisexuality" is defined in terms of what you're sexually attracted to, and it's just that most females don't label their sexual orientation based on what they find sexually attractive, but rather on who/what they pursue in regards to sexual relationships. After all, the Pornhub findings are quite inline with vaginal photoplethysmography research (in which vaginal sexual arousal is measured), in which even self-identified straight females are measured, and even self-report, to finding lesbian porn more sexually arousing than straight porn and gay porn. (Chivers, Seto, & Blanchard, 2007)

In closing:

It's not just gay, lesbian, celebrity, and the occasional androcentric straight porn that seem to be popular niches among females. As I noted about gynocentric porn, in general, the more fetishistic or highly niche the category, the even greater the ratio of male to female consumers. Well, interestingly, this doesn't seem to be the case for erotic writings. Though more stringent research is warranted in the future, browsing through the gender of authors of fetish or highly niche categories of erotic writing, and looking at the gender of commenters of those erotic writings, seems to indicate that females are still the vast majority of consumers!

There are often different names for a fundamentally similar fetish/niche in erotic writing compared to visual porn, though there are also relatively unique niche categories too. "Yaoi" and "yuri" in erotic writing might be called "pedo", "child", "kiddie", "hebe", "jailbait", "teen", or "teenie bopper" (gay and lesbian, respectively) in visual porn. Some popular fetishes/niches in erotic writings that are less common or nonexistent in visual porn include: "Mpreg" (which involves male/s becoming pregnant), "transformation" (which involves transforming from one gender to another), "billionaire", "mind control", "werewolf", and "vampire". Mpreg and transformation erotica have the potential to mix the stereotypical traits of masculinity with femininity (or vice versa). Werewolf erotica has the potential to mix the impulse control and moral restraint of a human with the impulsivity and lack of moral restraint of an animal. Vampire erotica has the potential to mix the signs of high status due to having lived long (since vampires can potentially live forever) with the good looks of youth (since vampires never age). As for "billionaire" and "mind control", they simply imply a wide degree of possibilities.

It's interesting to notice, when comparing the niches of visual porn and erotic writing, that even though males and females, in general, might have just as wide of a degree of fetishistic/niche range in their sexuality, the primarily male fetishes/niches suggest inflexibility whereas the primarily female fetishes/niches suggest flexibility. Males, on average, seem more inclined to have a specific sexual need, whereas females, on average, seem more inclined to have a general sexual need.

"While many women are freed by their erotic flexibility, men can find themselves trapped by the rigidity of their sexual response." (Ryan & Jethá, 2011, p. 280)

Notes

Appendixes

Definitions

List Of Sites By Category

Table of Contents

Primary Data

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References


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