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Porn Usage in America & Changing Attitudes Toward Porn

October 13, 2021 by bespoke

Let’s Talk Porn…

The ongoing taboo associated with watching porn has lifted in recent years, as Americans continue to be more sexually adventurous. Gone are the days of hushed tones and shameful confessions that have (historically) been synonymous with porn viewership. People––across genders, generations, and sexual orientations––are more open and honest about their porn-viewing habits than ever before. Beyond that, they’re unapologetic about their behaviors: openly conversing about porn with friends, watching porn with partners, and mimicking sex acts they see on porn.

But why have attitudes gradually shifted when it comes to watching porn? Several reasons exist, but perhaps the most important: we have far more options for viewing porn now. 

Where once staged/scripted porn was the only avenue, now we have easy access to adult content that feels inclusive and empowering. Creator-controlled platforms like OnlyFans, female-centered porn sites like Bellesa, and ethical alternatives like Make Love Not Porn all help to set more realistic expectations for sex as well as normalize porn in the mainstream. 

So what are the general feelings about porn and how have they changed over time? We asked a diverse set of people, age 18+, from across the U.S. to weigh in. In September 2021, Bespoke surveyed 900+ Americans across demographics and all fifty states to uncover:

  • How many hours are they watching porn each week? 
  • What types of porn do they prefer to watch and what are their preferred sites?
  • How have their opinions about porn consumption changed?
  • How does porn impact their relationships and their sex lives, IRL?

All will be revealed. Read on as we “spill the tea” about porn usage in the U.S.

How Do We Feel About Porn & How Often Are We Watching It?

an infographic highlighting porn usage statistics in the U.S.

 

How much time do people dedicate to porn each week? According to survey responses, the average American consumes porn 1.61 hours per week, but the results shift a bit when we zoom in on specific demographics. Gay or lesbian respondents are watching the most porn by far, averaging 2.29 hours per week––42% more than the national average. Further, almost a quarter of gay or lesbian respondents say they view internet porn daily. Meanwhile, straight respondents and millennials are watching porn the least––8.7% and 13.1% less than the national average, respectively.

69% of Americans say they’ve experienced feelings of guilt or shame after watching porn; yet, 62% also say that watching porn is a huge stress relief. There’s quite a lot to unpack there. American culture feeds into the notion that porn is taboo or immoral, but in reality, it’s providing balance for many Americans in search of a brief reprieve from day-to-day life. Our culture also largely views porn as addictive; yet, over 78% of Americans say they’re not worried that their porn usage might constitute an addiction. 

Interestingly, the strong majority of Gen Zers and millennials prefer amateur porn over traditional porn that is staged or scripted. Despite scripted porn being the dominant medium for several decades, in 2021, younger generations are opting to view sex in its raw, authentic form (i.e., sex as it really is) as opposed to a theatrical display.

Are Attitudes Changing Toward Porn in 2021?

an infographic displaying changing attitudes toward porn sites in 2021

 

Are Americans moving beyond mainstream porn sites? Survey says yes. 93% of respondents believe mainstream sites set unrealistic expectations for sex, and 73% feel like traditional porn is exploitative of sex performers. What’s more, 3 in 4 Americans would consider consuming porn from ethical porn sites like Lust Cinema, PinkLabel, and Afterglow. 

Whether it’s exposure to fresh types of adult content or a newfound open-mindedness in the vaccine era, Americans were feeling sexually free during this past “hot vax summer.” 84% of respondents agree that American culture has become more sexually adventurous recently, and over half of gay or lesbian respondents (55%) even say they become more sexually adventurous the more pornography they consume.

“These findings show that the act of sex and topic of sexual wellness is moving away from taboo to talked about,” commented sexual health and wellness expert Dr. Evan Goldstein. “At Bespoke Surgical, we pride ourselves on contributing to the effort to de-stigmatize all pleasurable acts and practices so that people can have the best possible sex lives. As stigmas continue to fall away, we hope honest discussions about sexuality and sexual pleasure become part of the mainstream and that Americans continue to be more sexually adventurous and explore their desires in healthy, positive ways.”

How Does Porn Impact Our Relationships?

an infographic showing how watching porn impacts our relationships

 

While gay or lesbian Americans ultimately feel more comfortable than straight Americans talking about porn with friends and mimicking porn sex acts with their partner, the solid majority of all survey respondents feel comfortable being open about porn with their peers and significant others. Overall, 67% of Americans feel comfortable talking about porn with friends, 76% feel comfortable viewing porn with a partner, and a whopping 86% feel comfortable asking their partner to try out a sex act they witnessed while watching porn. 

In terms of infidelity, the majority of Americans do not view their partner’s porn consumption as cheating (or even close to it). When asking respondents, “would you consider viewing porn of any kind without a partner’s knowledge to be cheating on that partner?” the vast majority (94%) say “no.” Even when asking, “would you consider buying porn from an OnlyFans creator, without a partner’s knowledge, to be cheating on that partner?” 54% of Americans still say “no.”

Final Thoughts

Let’s circle back to the initial question: Are Americans more open to porn now? Based on our survey results the answer is yes. While we’re bombarded with the message that viewing porn is promiscuous, most of us are being more candid about our porn usage, consuming porn regularly on new platforms that align with our personal values. 

Check out the Bespoke Surgical blog for more news and discussions with Dr. Evan Goldstein on sexual wellness.

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About the Author

bespoke avatar

Consistent, proactive, and thoughtful healthcare is not only a priority, it is a demand by men who live well. Bespoke Surgical is built on this understanding. Today's modern, urban male has become adept at making the most of life, believing in living fully and completely in all aspects of work, fitness, relationships, and family. This makes excellent health more important than ever.

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