“Fifty Shades” Phenomenon: Women Search for More Violent Fantasies Than Ever, But Why?


Papa Kilo Lima

In case you didn’t know yet, porn isn’t just “a guy thing.”

With the increased availability of internet porn in the last decade, women are becoming just as active on hardcore porn sites as men, and in some cases, even more so. And with the widespread normalization of twisted BDSM erotica “Fifty Shades” books and movies, it’s clear that this is a growing issue.

This isn’t just a guy problem, it’s a human problem. And the research and data available are showing this fact more than ever.

A while back, we published an article that discussed the shocking data that a popular porn site released concerning the pornography search criteria of women on their website.

What made the data shocking? Not only did their data reveal that women spent more time on their site, it also revealed that they were searching more hardcore pornography than men—a lot more. It showed that, on average, women were over 100% more likely to search out terms like “hardcore,” “gangbang,” and “rough sex,” to name a few extreme categories, plus a few more we can’t write here.

Related: Porn Myth: “Women Don’t Say ‘No’ To Sex, And If They Do, They Don’t Mean It”

This is even more shocking when you consider the same group of data showed that the majority (36%) of females viewing pornography were between the ages of 18-24. But why is this happening? There aren’t very many concrete answers, yet, but we’ll venture a few educated guesses.

Allow us to explain.

It is no secret that hardcore porn is not usually kind to the women portrayed on the screens (just read these porn producers’ disturbing quotes). With descriptions like “gangbang,” “painal” (which is “painful anal”), and “rough sex,” it’s easy to gather that the women in these pornographic settings are often enduring abuse, all while being filmed and uploaded to porn sites for the world to watch for free.

Or in the case of Fifty Shades, all written out for the world to read in graphic detail.

Related: Is There A Connection Between Porn Culture And Rape Culture?

So, why are more female consumers than ever seeking out this brutal form of pornography and erotica?

A 2012 study of 355 young women found that, overall, 62% of the women reported having had at least one fantasy about a forced sexual act. The study then went further to investigate why women have rape fantasies at all. Two explanations they evaluated in this investigation were 1. sexual blame avoidance, and 2. a sexual desirability. Long story short, the women were found to either be sexually repressed, or expressed wanting to feel sexually desired. (As a sidenote, these feelings are, unfortunately, all too familiar to women who experience a lack of desire from their partners who consume porn.)

In other words, for the first explanation, women who generally are unable to feel like they can express themselves sexually have rape fantasies so they feel free from taking responsibility for their own sexual desire. And the second explanation relates back to women who feel sexually unfulfilled and express their fantasy through forced sexual acts, feeling wanted and desired by being controlled.

Related: I Watched Rape Porn To Cope With Being Sexually Abused

A different study in 2011 found that women are more likely to watch porn—especially the more hardcore categories—when they have suffered sexual assaults and psychological violence at the hands of their families. Just read this personal account, and this personal account to see personal experiences that back this up. Also, not surprisingly, more research has shown time and time again that there is a direct connection between pornography and sexual assault.

Clearly, this is a vicious cycle. And while we can’t exactly pinpoint the reasons why extreme porn is becoming more and more appealing to women, we think it has something to do with all the factors we mentioned above, plus the normalization of porn and the escalation of a porn habit.

This is an everyone problem.

So, more and more women are seeking out hardcore pornography, and that pornography is blatantly violent toward women. In addition to that, more and more young women are viewing pornography for longer amounts of time, according to data from a popular porn site.

What might these depictions be teaching women about their sexual nature and responsibilities? For young women especially, turning to pornography to learn about sex and human connection is already a bad idea—throw “hardcore” in the mix? Not healthy.

Related: What If We Told You That Something Widely Accepted In Society Actually Degrades Women?

This goes for men as well. Research shows how men’s behavior toward women change after consuming porn, and even shows that consuming porn fosters sexist attitudes toward women. This just means, so long as there is a constant demand for harder and harder material, there will be pornographers who are more than willing to deliver. Then, enter sexism. Enter broken relationships. Enter sexual dysfunction.

See how harmful this stuff is?

Hardcore pornography and normalizing violence is not a female problem. It’s not a male problem. It’s an everyone problem. So, what can be done?

Stop before it starts.

Early exposure to pornography among women has been found by research to endorse rape-supportive attitudes. These findings also found exposed women’s acceptance of sexual aggression as a romantic event. This normalization of aggression in the bedroom would cause women to view situations differently, for instance, causing them to stay in harmful relationships where abuse happens. (Sound familiar? Like Ana in “Fifty Shades,” for example?) And that’s not healthy for anyone.

Related: Sexist Attitudes: What Early Porn Exposure Is Doing To Our Society

This is especially important when we face more and more young men and women taking to pornography to learn about sex. What does hardcore pornography teach young men about how to treat a woman, and, in turn, how does it teach young women how they should be treated?

Normalizing Abuse Isnt Normal

Change the narrative.

The healthiest relationships happen between mutually loving partners who respect each other and see each other as equals. Moreso, partners should feel safe and comfortable in their relationship. When hardcore pornography is introduced into the mix, it can be easy for lines to become blurred, crossing boundaries that were previously established and losing sight of what is consensual and healthy, and expected of partners.

We fight because normalizing abuse isn’t normal, and we can do better than allow violent fantasies to dictate societal expectations for sex. Join us in fighting for real love!

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