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Who Watches Porn and Why

By sex materials we mean magazines and books, regarded as pornographic by the respondent, wall calendars featuring nudes, sex magazines, sex movies in the cinema and video versions of these, and other sex films or programs on TV. In 1971 only books and magazines regarded as pornographic by the respondent were studied. The above were designated sex materials, because any classification into e.g. pornography and erotica is subjective, telling more about the personal attitude of the respondent towards their acceptability than about their contents.

The only possibility to measure changes in the use of sexual products is offered by the question on the use of magazines and books, classified as pornographic by the respondent him/herself. This comparison does, however, run into some problems. Firstly, the very idea of pornography has changed during the last 20 years. Many magazines regarded as pornographic 20 years ago are no longer generally regarded as such.

Another, and perhaps more serious problem is that the porn market has changed radically during that same period. The circulation figures of sex magazines have declined since the 1970s, these magazines being replaced by sex videos. A case in point is the magazine Jallu, the circulation of which was very large in 1971, 111,694 copies, but only 13,645 in 1991. However, the total circulation of all sex magazines was 150,000 in 1991. Estimated readership of each copy is five. To measure changes in the use of pornography, all magazines, books and sex videos in the 1992 material must be counted as one batch.

The proportion of those having read or browsed a magazine or book that they regarded as pornographic during the last year was considerably less in 1992 than it was in 1971. Among men, the proportion of users dropped from 82% to 64%, among women from 59% to 30%. When the watching of sex videos during the last year is added, the use of sexual products still decreased, but not as dramatically as the above comparison shows. In 1992, 75% of men under 55 had used a pornographic magazine or book or a sex video or both during the last year. The corresponding figure for women was 41%.


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The total use of pornographic products has decreased during the last 20 years also on the basis of this comparison. This might follow from the fact that 20 years ago these products were novelties for the majority of the population, and it was fashionable to test them. Along with their wider availability the market has become saturated, and interest in them has declined slightly.

Young people are significantly heavier consumers of sexual products than older people are. People seem to get fed up with pornographic products when growing older. The percentage of aging people using these products is only one third of that of younger groups. Part continue their consumption through life. From 1971 to 1992 the use of pornography declined in all age groups.

When comparing the use of magazines and books by men and women with the use of sex videos by men and women, both product groups have an approximately equal number of users. Almost as many men and women watch sex videos as read pornographic magazines or books. The number of men using these products is the larger by far in all age groups. According to the 1992 study, 53% of men and 22% of women had watched sex videos, approximately half of these at least a few times.

According to the MC analysis, male gender, young age and the use of alcohol explain reading and browsing of pornographic magazines and books. Marital status, education and religiosity were not related, when allowing for the impact of the first-mentioned. When none of the other variables is controlled, it can be seen that religious people use less pornography than do people that are estranged from religion.

What kind of people, from a sexual standpoint, are the users of pornography? As pornography splits the opinions of especially women, it is interesting to find out what kind of women do use pornography. Pornography is regarded as arousing and not arousing by approximately equal amounts of people.

The first observation is, that women who have read pornographic material during the year support women's right to make sexual initiatives more often than do other women; 70% of these women do so unconditionally. They have taken the initiative to sexual intercourse with their partner more frequently than other women. Of the women who have watched pornographic videos during the last year, 61% regard them as arousing, while this view is shared by only 27% of other women (corresponding figures for men: 80% and 55%). Women watching sex videos had orgasms more frequently than others, they had intercourse with significantly greater regularity, they had had more sex partners during their life, they satisfied their partner manually twice as often as other women and they were versatile users of coital positions.

Of the women that had watched several sex videos during the last year, 89% had an orgasm during their most recent intercourse. Women that watched sex videos found their sex life satisfactory also for this reason. These women regard themselves as more skilful in sexual matters, more active and sexually more attractive than other women. All in all, sex life is important for women who consume pornography, and they have enjoyed it in many ways. Women's attitudes towards pornography may be formed on the basis of their general attitude towards sex in their own life.


Of other sexual products the following were studied in 1992: sex films of cinemas, sex films and other sex programs shown on TV, sex magazines and wall calendars featuring nudes. Of these, sex films and other sex programs shown on TV were the most popular. They had been seen at least once or twice by 82% of men and 59% of women, at least a few times by 51% of men and 26% of women. This was the only product group consumed by women to any greater extent. In the youngest age groups the percentage of women (75%) was even quite close to the corresponding percentage of men. However, men followed sex programs on TV more regularly than did women.

Sex magazines had been looked at by 61% of men and 16% of women during the last year. Half of them had looked at them at least a few times. Approximately as many, i.e. 66% of men and 20% of women had looked at wall calendars featuring nudes. Two thirds of these men had watched them at least a few times, one third of women. Men had looked at wall calendars more regularly than women.

It is significantly more usual among younger age groups to look at sex magazines and at wall calendars featuring nudes than among older ones. Some 70-75% of men under 30 and 20-25% of women had looked at sex magazines during the last year. For wall calendars the corresponding figures were 75% of men and 30% of women. Slightly less than 10% of women and 60% of men of 50 and over had looked at them. The male interest in nudes does seem to remain at a high level in spite of an advancing age.

Only 13% of men and 4% of women had seen sex movies at cinemas. TV and video have thus largely replaced cinemas as venues for watching sex films. The remaining spectators are fairly evenly distributed among the various age groups. Six per cent of men and 1% of women had watched these sex films at least a few times.

In 1992 questions were also asked on other sexual products and accessories: sexy undergarments, vibrators or dildos, lubricating cream, artificial vaginas, sex dolls, pills or other preparations increasing potency, erection rings and pump-actuated penis builders. Respondents were asked whether they at any time had used these implements alone or with their partner for masturbation or for intercourse.


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The most widely used item on the list was sexy undergarments. Approximately one fifth of both men and women had used such garments. Most frequently they were used by people under 35, one third of these were users. Just a few per cent of older age groups had used them. Young people do not look for inspiration only in versatile positions and techniques, but also from sexy attire.

Number two in popularity was lubricating cream, used by 17% of men and 15% of women. Use of this product increases with age; lubrication cream is usually applied when a dry vagina is a problem. A vibrator or a dildo had been used by 7% of men and 6% of women during intercourse. It is most frequently used by people around 30 years of age, approximately 10%. Only 2% of older age groups have ever used a vibrator. The use of vibrators might become very popular in the future, based on the present interest of the younger age groups.

Very few respondents had ever tried the other products studied, artificial vaginas, sex dolls, pills or other preparations increasing potency, erection rings and pump-actuated penis builders. Potency- building substances had been used by 1.5% of men and 1% of women. Slightly less than 1% had used rings maintaining an erection. A mere 0.2-0.3% of women and men had used pump-actuated penis builders and sex dolls, while 0.7% of men and 0.2% of women had tried artificial vaginas.

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APA Reference
Writer, H. (2009, January 6). Who Watches Porn and Why, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 25 from https://www.healthyplace.com/sex/sexual-addiction/who-watches-porn-and-why

Last Updated: August 27, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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