Sex & Relationships

Why Does Lesbian Porn Dominate MILF, and Much More, in 10 Years Of Pornhub Data

"Lesbian" was the most popular search term.

Reaching new heights of ecstasy
Photo Credit: gpointstudio

Not long ago, Pornhub celebrated its 10th anniversary by releasing 10 years of data, a riveting look at the habits and desires of porn viewers. Seventy-five million people visit the site each day, and it’s the 40th most trafficked website in the world. If you watched every video on Pornhub’s site, back-to-back, nonstop, it would take 173 years

The most surprising takeaway from all of the reams of data (aside from the video game Overwatch finagling its way into the porn canon, jumping 452 spots in 2016!) is how lesbian porn has dominated the site for three years running, and is the most popular category of all time. Following behind girl-girl action are MILF, amateur and teen. From 2007 to 2010, amateur was the most popular category. It was replaced briefly by teen in 2011, then MILF from 2012-2014. But from 2015 on, the lesbians have been unstoppable.

In another data dump, Pornhub’s 2016 Year in Review, worldwide, “lesbian” was the most-searched term, and “lesbian scissoring” jumped 28 spots to make the top 20 overall.

 

In Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, “lesbian” was also number one, and in the U.K., “lesbian scissoring” and “lesbian seduces straight” leaped to the top 10 in searches.

What accounts for this domination (pardon the pun) of lesbian porn? Well, partly this is due to the rise of female porn viewers in general, of all sexual orientations. The number often thrown around these days is that one out of three women are looking at porn, which means a lot of straight-identified ladies are jerkin’ to the Birken(stocks). Some queer women are also watching, surely, but the numbers are too high to assume that they make up the minority of viewers.

pornhub-insights-10-years-categories.jpg

Though Pornhub does not screen for sexual orientation (its algorithm may be good, but so far it can’t peer into our identities, yet), the term “lesbian” reigned supreme in women’s searches across the board. Other similar terms women searched for included “lesbian scissoring,” “lesbian seduces straight” and “lesbian threesome”—basically anything girl-on-girl would do.

Men also searched for lesbian porn, but compared to men, women were far more likely to polish the pearl to, well, someone named Pearl. Interestingly, women were also more interested in “ebony lesbians eating pussy” (906 percent higher than men); “lesbian squirt” (321 percent higher); and “lesbian strap-on” (272 percent).

Women are also 369 percent more likely to search “pussy licking” than men are. And perhaps unsurprisingly, women are 218 percent more likely to search “female friendly.”

If you’re curious, “MILF” is the number one searched term for men, followed very closely by everything stepfamily related—including “step mom” (number 1), “stepsister,” “mom,” and “stepmom and son.” We could perhaps blame "Game of Thrones" for this, but that is another article. (Very quickly though, Pornhub also analyzed the impact "Game of Thrones" had on its page views and found that the season 7 premiere correlated with a 4.5 percent drop in traffic. “That’s a considerable change in visitors,” Pornhub Insights notes, “as Sunday night is one of the most popular times for people to visit.”)

Also contributing to the sapphic searching is the popularity of the porn stars themselves. Lisa Ann, who shows up in over 1,000 lesbian videos on Pornhub alone, was the most viewed performer of the last 10 years, with more than 1 billion views on her scenes. Following Ann is Riley Reid, who also shows up in more than 1,000 lesbian clips (and has 771 million views). Madison Ivy was number 3, who turns up in 1,200 lesbian videos (and whose videos have 650 million hits). Fans who feel connected to certain porn performers will specifically seek them out and watch whatever they may be performing in that day. The ubiquity of social media helps to foster this connection. Porn performers often have massive social media followings, and as one former performer, Raylin Joy (aka Skin Diamond), said, of how to make it in porn today:

“If you are going to be big in the porn industry you have to be really connected with your fans. That is the one thing that your fans cannot pirate, that one-on-one experience via social media and having a website and doing cam shows. Instead of just doing scenes now, you have to do everything.”

Here in the United States, we make up a whopping 40 percent of Pornhub’s traffic, but other countries are catching up to us. Helping to keep lesbian porn on top around the globe in particular are women in Brazil. Brazilian ladies topped Pornhub’s charts with the most female viewers (35 percent) visiting the site, tying with the Philippines, the reigning champ. In Brazil, “lesbian” was the second most-searched term, with “Brazilian lesbian” also making the top 10. And “lesbian licking” was the number 1 top gaining search (+459 percent) in the country.

“Women appear to be more in control of their sexuality and what excites them. It’s interesting to note that the majority of the countries where female viewership is the highest are democratic countries” Pornhub’s Dr. Laurie said in the report. “This trend will hopefully continue, to the point where women have as much control of their sexuality as men.”

Why do women like to watch other women get it on? A straight-forward (but not straight) reason is that women enjoy watching porn that focuses on female pleasure. Unlike the vast majority of boy-girl porn, which is fixated on male pleasure, male desire, and male points of view, girl-girl porn gets off on women getting off. Pornhub’s data backs the female-pleasure angle up. For instance, massage porn, another genre that explicitly takes its cues from female pleasure, has been steadily rising since 2010 and is now one of Pornhub’s top 10 search terms in the U.S. Plus, Pornhub’s “Massage Rooms” channel is consistently among the most popular on the site. For the uninitiated, massage porn basically entails a woman getting a massage with a happy ending. Sometimes you don’t even see the masseuse—he or she is just a pair of disembodied (but helpful!) hands.

Lesbian porn also appeals to women because it focuses on sex acts that women often get off to in real life, like oral and manual stimulation, which again, tend to not be seen in the average boy-girl wham-bam-spank-you-ma’am-money-shot skin flick. In addition, lesbian porn clips include the oft-forgotten act known as foreplay, including kissing and fondling, which women enjoy, whereas straight porn often skips all that in favor of making a beeline to the beej.

The porn industry has taken notice of the popularity of lesbian porn, and works with skin sites to give users what they want. Seven percent of Pornhub’s videos fall into the “lesbian” category, making it the most popular category overall, hence, porn studios are submitting more lesbian content to Pornhub, to keep pace with the user-generated (amateur and other) lesbian content. As Corey Price, Pornhub’s vice president told the Huffington Post, “We have noticed our content partners have been uploading more lesbian content than ever before.”

Because I am a woman, and Pornhub knows its analytics, the site often tries to entice me into watching lesbian porn, putting lesbian clips in the top of my feed, in the sidebars, and so on. Even though I very rarely watch any girl-girl porn, this doesn’t stop Pornhub from showing me that it’s extremely available. In this way, Pornhub may be stacking the deck in favor of its most popular categories. A friend recently told me that he notices Pornhub shows him a lot of incest videos (which makes sense, because that was the most popular category for men in 2016). He’s not into it, the way I’m not into girl-girl porn, but we started to wonder: How much of our porn-viewing habits are created because Pornhub puts a desire in front of us over and over again?

“We license content from studios based on our users’ viewing habits,” Price said, “We regularly send reports to our content partners featuring top searches in various regions so they can better cater to users.”

Let’s say a woman watches one “lesbian scissoring” video. The next time she visits the site, Pornhub will show her more lesbian scissoring videos, which she will probably watch because they are right there and she enjoyed it last time, which triggers still more lesbian scissoring videos to show up in her feed, and that leads to porn studios making more scissoring porn to fill the demand that is now rising.

Also worth mentioning in the realm of lesbian porn popularity is that the fantasy of two girls getting it on is a highly sought after prize in our culture. The female-female-male threesome is considered the Holy Grail of sex acts, after all. And though women are not the target audience for these fantasies, they also aren’t immune to the messages they see and hear over and over again. It’s another feedback loop similar to Pornhub’s algorithms. Do you want what you want intrinsically or are you taught to want it?

Another reason that may add to the titillation of tits is that, for straight women, lesbian sex is still highly taboo, and hence forbidden and desirable, in the same way that incest porn is sought after. The taboo factor makes more sense when you consider that lesbian porn is proportionately more popular with women in the Bible belt, with the highest concentration of viewers in Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, and Alabama. Searches for lesbian porn decrease as we head toward the more liberal west in the United States, where lesbianism is less taboo.

Increased overall media representation of queer women also probably adds to the popularity of girl-girl porn. The more queer women we see in the media, the more it becomes less stigmatized. According to GLAAD’s 2016 “Where We Are on TV” report, of the recurring characters on broadcast scripted primetime programming, 4.8 percent were LGBTQ. “This is the highest percentage of LGBTQ series regulars GLAAD has ever found,” the report notes.

Bisexual representations, in particular, rose 30 percent, up ten percentage points from 2015. Bisexual representations also rose on streaming series, like Netflix and Amazon, from 20 percent to 26 percent. And bisexual women far outnumber bisexual men on every platform. (It should also be said that LOTS of queer characters die on TV shows—more and more each year, in fact. In my more absurd moments, I wonder if certain people are turning to lesbian porn because they know that the leads won’t be killed off—only jilled off.)

Women don’t only love to jerk it to ladies, of course. We’re also big fans of guy-guy porn. In fact, women make up 37 percent of Pornhub’s gay-male porn viewers. That’s almost half! One can conclude that, regardless of sexual orientation, women like to watch same-sex people get it on. Similarly to girl-girl porn, in gay porn, the performers also seem to be actually enjoying themselves, which is not always the case in boy-girl porn. It’s hot to watch videos in which both/all people are enjoying themselves, even if what they’re doing isn’t necessarily the kind of sex the viewer wants to be having in real life.

At the rate that lesbian smut is going, it seems unlikely that it will be swept under the rug anytime soon. We’re far too busy enjoying other rug-based activities. Long may they reign.

Anna Pulley writes about sex and queerness. Find more at annapulley.com

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