10 Facts About Porn to Stimulate Your Brain

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NOTICE: The content of this page is safe for work. We’re here to learn, after all. 

The cultural taboos against viewing and producing pornography are eroding so much so that celebrities are now openly dating adult video stars. Sure, some performers make a point of reforming, but society is more accepting of the business than would have seemed possible. Even Fox News published an article claiming that women had made the industry “fashionable.” So let’s get to know more of this industry that the mainstream is now widely considering just another business.

10. How Much of the Internet is Porn?

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There’s a popular song from the Broadway show Avenue Q where the character goes, “The internet is very, very good” before another singer interrupts, “for porn!” It fits perfectly with the popular notion that the internet is mostly just a bunch of pornography, fitting in with the old conceit that the internet’s for lonely people. A rather flawed early study estimated that 37% of all the content online was pornographic.

On a second analysis, it was estimated that actually, only 4% of web content was, and only 13-14% of web searches (though that may be a bit low due to just how esoteric some people’s fetishes can be) are porn-related. While that’s certainly a large amount, it’s nowhere near the highest amount of any given type of media. A reported 15% of all web content was cat-related as of 2013, and we’re really hoping there’s not too much overlap.

9. Watching it Does Not Inspire Violent Behavior

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There have been moral guardians for centuries that have tried to draw a link between consuming pornography and inflicting sexual violence. Also, on the more progressive side, some feminists in the 1980s began to argue that porn is inherently misogynistic and exploitative and so would inspire real life violence against women. Whatever truth there is in that (and it’d be foolish to think there’s no misogyny in an awful lot of porn), there is no evidence that it inspires behavior that is physically harmful.

In 2013, Salon published findings that no “responsible researcher” on the topic had found any link consuming it and then committing violent acts.  In 2011, Scientific American published findings that in fact repressing the desire to view pornography was found to have a negative effect on overcoming sexual problems.

8. The Effort to Prove it Causes Brain Problems

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It seems that when anti-porn crusaders couldn’t get an argument that porn is bad (in terms of safety) to stick, they seemingly went after health. A German study published in 2014 found that, after performing a series of brain scans on 64 test subjects, exposure to porn resulted in “wearing and down regulation of the underlying brain structure, as well as function.” What happened was that those with larger habits of the watching porn consistently had certain areas of the brain related to the reward function (i.e., taking pleasure from an activity).

The study admitted that watching porn did not cause brain damage, and that the people who were studied were all normally functioning people, so Wired magazine published an obvious conclusion that the porn watching didn’t cause this, so much as having a brain with that amount of gray matter increased the likelihood of watching porn. To date, one of the few confirmed effects that watching porn has on the brain is a worse working memory at the time you view it. So while it may not be negatively impacting your brain function, it should not be looked at when you need to concentrate and remember things.

7. The Industry Overall is on a Massive Decline

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Those who dislike the porn industry can take heart in the fact that since 2012, porn revenue is down an estimated 75% worldwide, at least. There’s just too much piracy for it to remain viable. However, it should be noted that even before file sharing and free sites devastated the industry, its revenue streams and size, relative to mainstream media, got massively exaggerated, and not just ludicrous claims like how Deep Throat was supposed to have made six hundred million dollars (of which much was actually mob money laundering).

Forbes magazine reported in 2001, back before internet porn was eclipsed by home video, that pornographers were exaggerating their grosses about eight times over to making the industry look more lucrative, and even the exaggerated figures were less than a tenth what mainstream home video was grossing. It’s not just porn movies in serious decline, either. Playboy is in such serious trouble that they’ve overhauled the magazine, removing nudity and basically becoming another version of Maxim in an effort to halt their downward spiral. Apparently the public just likes to think that all of us bought much more porn than we actually did.

6. The Richest Man in Hungary

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Because of the loss of revenues from being able to sell prints and videos, one of the new main sources of revenue is to do sexual webcam streaming directly to clients, either one-on-one or to groups. This particular method can still be highly lucrative, though not necessarily so much for the models who can expect to make maybe sixty cents a minute ($36 an hour) before tips. One of the biggest successes is the hosting site Livejasmin, which has more than twenty-five million unique visitors each month.

By far the biggest beneficiary of this model has been György Gattyán, a billionaire and the richest man in his home country of Hungary at age 44 (though he is currently in stiff competition with Sándor Csányi, an investment banker). Gattyán is also a fairly prominent figure in mainstream Hungarian media, producing several movies and TV shows, as well as supporting charities for Hungarian folk art.

5. Gender Divides

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It’s traditionally assumed that men have stronger sex drives than women. Reasons for this include the idea that patriarchal societies are inherently going to be more open to men expressing their sexual desires, and since men had more money and more access to media outlets naturally more porn was going to be marketed to them. A 2013 Pew study seemed to support the idea, reporting that only 8% of women who used the internet would visit porn sites.

However, the actual data from the porn sites themselves tell a very different story. The pornographic video streaming site Pornhub reported a 33% female customer base in 2013. In 2015, Times of India also reported that thirty percent of Indian women who used the internet visited porn sites, and even 34% of churchgoing women were admitting to regularly viewing it, which goes toward showing just how taboo the notion of women watching the stuff was (and to a degree, still is).

4. Porn Did Not Decide Entertainment Formats

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A common misconception was that in the late 1970s, the reason that the dominant form of home video became VHS over Betamax was that companies like Sony refused to let porn be released on its format. Later, during the late aughts, it also got people to assume that HD DVD would become the dominant format over Blu-Ray because porn companies were supposed to go with the HD DVD format.

But not only was that wrong in the more recent case, it was wrong back in the 1970s as well. For starters, Sony did allow their format to be used for pornography, most prominently Playboy entertainment. The thing that really decided the issue was the relative costs of the formats, not some embargo against pornography on Sony’s part.

3. Flexible Sexual Interests

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Among the aforementioned growing number of heterosexual women that will admit they consume pornography, there’s a curious trend. You’d probably expect them to want to see heterosexual sex most often, or maybe watch homosexual male acts and imagine themselves being in the room with them. Instead, the most popular smut among straight women is lesbian porn, according to the prominent site Pornhub, with gay male erotica coming in second. Heterosexual porn that is meant to appeal to women isn’t even in the top three.

The reason seemingly boils down to heterosexual porn being designed for the heterosexual male fantasy (since men comprise two thirds of the customer base), so there tends not to be much foreplay, and body standards for male stars are much lower. Others have tried to go the other way with this and claim it’s evidence that far more women are bisexual than you might expect. In fact, the University of Essex claimed that 82% of the 235 women in a study were aroused by lesbian porn as well, although that data is fairly dubious since the criteria for whether women were aroused was whether or not their pupils dilated.

2. Technical Innovations

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Because there’s already so much porn out there, producers of the stuff are increasingly turning to novelty equipment to try to stay ahead of the curve. For example, in 2014 the GoPro camera usually used for filming sporting events from a supposed first person perspective was being used for porn, though the company refused to comment on this. There were issues with the equipment, like if the shooting angles are wrong the fish-eye lens on GoPro cameras will often exaggerate anatomy until it looks ridiculous.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, drones were used by Brooklyn director Brandon LaGanke to make some porn in 2014, as he filmed people having sex outdoors. Presumably with their permission, of course. LaGanke claimed he was making the porn not for arousal but to make a point about the military use of drones and the way technology like that is being used to invade privacy.

Speaking of ambitious porn…

1. Most Expensive Adult Movie

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Obviously, porn is associated with a lack of production value and acting skill. When you have a form of entertainment where someone talking into a webcam can be highly lucrative, spending time on lighting, sets, and getting a professional performance can only seem gratuitous, if not pretentious. We’re not exactly watching for the story, after all. Still, in 2005 that didn’t stop the production company Digital Playground from deciding to set a pretty impractical record by spending one million dollars on a parody of Pirates of the Caribbean that, for mainstream release, was just called Pirates.

Apparently spending more than six times what even a very high end porno would have cost at the time managed to pay off anyway and by 2008, the same company decided to make a sequel with the subtitle Stagnetti’s Revenge, which cost eight million dollars. To help put into context how expensive that was, it topped the budget of the 1996 film classic Fargo by a million dollars. Unless someone really splurges on one of their webcam shows, that seems like a record that will last forever.

Dustin Koski can be followed here, on his currently pornless Facebook page.

As we mentioned above, porn isn't the only thing on the internet.

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