More Women Watch (and Enjoy) Porn Than You Ever Realized: A Marie Claire Study

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Marie Claire contributing editor Amanda de Cadenet, who helped create our survey about the modern relationship between women and porn, explains what we found—and why it was so important to ask.

I've been fascinated by the impact of porn, and porn culture—my term for the oversaturation of porn in our daily lives—for years. My girlfriends frequently found themselves in a conundrum after discovering husbands and lovers watching it on the sly. Then I began to hear from younger women that their first sexual experiences were often when boys asked them to copy sex acts from images stored on their iPhones. Porn is here to stay, and we have to learn to negotiate it, as sexual beings ourselves, who may or may not be viewers, and as partners.

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Since women's relationship to porn has been hugely underreported, I decided to embark on a documentary project about the topic. For the past two years, I've interviewed women and solicited stories about how porn has affected their lives. To learn even more, Marie Claire and I collaborated on a comprehensive Typeform survey about women's relationship to porn.

Here's what jumped out at us in our findings: Your relationship to porn is mostly about you—your sexuality, unencumbered by a partner. Most of you said you watch it regularly, and you watch it alone. (Only 12 percent of you said you only watch with your partner, and only 17 percent said you like porn because it helps you understand what your partner likes.) Using porn to cultivate one's own sexual agency is very different from what we often hear: that women feel threatened by it or watch it reluctantly in order to please their partner, and that Millennials' sex lives will be ruined by childhoods bombarded by online sexual images. Most of our respondents, at least, are using porn to find what they want, and to figure out how to please themselves. —Amanda de Cadenet

1. How often do you watch porn? 

31% Every week or so 

30% A few times a month

21% A few times a year 

10% Daily

2. Do you watch with your partner or partners?

66% Never

31% Yes, occasionally 

3% Yes, regularly

3. If you watch with a partner, do you also watch alone?

54% Yes, often

33% Yes, sometimes 

12% Only with a partner

4. What forms of porn do you use? 

90% Internet porn 

40% Erotic stories 

33% Tumblrs/image searches

11% DVDs/videos 

6% Audible porn 

5% Not listed here 

3% Magazines

5. What kind of porn do you gravitate toward? 

63% Heterosexual 

44% Lesbian

31% It's a mixed bag 

28% Hard-core

26% Soft-core/"arty"

13% Gay male

13% Not listed here

6. How do you find online porn?

75% Free sites

56% Searching by specific keywords/ interests

19% Searching for specific actors/stars 

2% I/we belong to subscriber sites

7. What devices do you use to watch porn?

62% Smartphone 

53% Laptop

26% iPad/notebook 

12% Desktop computer

8. If you watch porn and enjoy it—why?

73% It's a quick road to an orgasm

39% It gives me/us ideas for my own/our sex life 

36% It allows me to feel in control of my sexuality

32% It's part of a healthy sex life

24% NBD. It's just part of our culture

23% It turns my partner(s) and me on equally

17% It helps me understand my partner's likes/dislikes

9. If you watch porn but feel conflicted about it—why? 

56% It turns me on, but I'm concerned about how the industry treats women and/or I feel it perpetuates negative stereotypes

41% It's something secretive I don't want anyone to know about 35% I like it, but men seem to conflate porn with real-life sex

20% I'm embarrassed and feel ashamed afterward

19% I don't feel like I should "need" it

2% I just watch to please my partner(s)

10. If you feel negatively about porn—why?

59% I'm very concerned about how the industry treats women and/or I feel it perpetuates stereotypes

46% I'm really bothered that men seem to conflate porn with real-life sex

44% The options are too male-centric 26% Its falsity is off-putting

15% I/we don't "need" it 4% Seeing people have sex grosses me out

11. How has porn positively influenced your sex life, dating, and relationships, if at all?

51% I've learned more about different types of sex and sexuality 

39% It hasn't

29% I feel sexier when watching it

11% I've gotten closer to my partner(s)

12. How has porn negatively influenced your sex life, dating, and relationships, if at all?

76% It hasn't

16% My partner(s) seem to expect me to look a certain way that I can attribute to porn

15% My partner(s) seem to expect certain acts that I'm not into but can attribute to porn

6% My partner(s) seem to spend more time with porn than with me

This survey is on part of our series on women and porn, and appears in the November issue of Marie Claire, on newsstands now.

From: Esquire