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The Invisible Half

I've been meaning to write this entry for a looooooong time. Instead, I was writing conference papers and essays for my classes, which left me with no creative energy to invest into this site.

But I'm back now. The deed is done.

And here is what I've been dying to talk about my personal 2009 revelation: 48 percent of all American porn viewers are female. Forty-eight percent. Statistically, that's one half. I need to take a pause, so everybody can enjoy this fact for a moment.

Yeah, I know. It's a fun fact, a little too fun to really be believed. Because here come the questions: Where does this figure come from? What's the source? How reliable is it? Also, why _ American _ porn fans? Are Germans less equal in their preferences? Who can count such a thing? Haven't we all talked to our female friends about it and discovered that they never even saw the classics, _ Deep Throat_, _ Behind the Green Door_, or _ Debbie Does Dallas:_ There can be no doubt about it: 48 percent must be a typo. 18 percent, yes, that's more likely. Maybe 28, or even 38. But never half of all viewers! I'm sure, everyone who just read this number somehow questioned it. It's a stubborn myth that men watch more porn. Men invented porn.

But what probably bothered me the most was my own reaction to my finding: Why in the world was I so surprised? Why was the most illuminating and empowering figure the fact that women do not just act in porno movies to please men but that they consume adult videos for their own pleasure why was this so startling? Of all people, shouldn't I be the least surprised?

I mean, we kinda all knew that they do. Women come across YouPorn and other sexually explicit sites all the time. On the internet, you almost can't avoid it. I certainly can't. In fact, I am discovering new things every day. But I always have an excuse; I call it research.

Well, to tell you the truth, it's not always research. It's also often curiosity, arousal and pleasure. Every porn scholar who denies that watching porn is fun is either a big liar or asexual. I'm not saying, it's always sexy. After all, how many sex scenes can you handle in one screening? It's not like watching _ Madmen _ or _ Will and Grace _ [Oh, let's see just one more episode!] But I also wouldn't spend three years researching porn if I didn't enjoy it. And I can't be the only woman who does.

So, I did some interrogation something very pseudo-scientific, or at least something that usually only social scientists do. I asked my friends, my classmates, and a lot of random people about their porn viewing habits. [This is why I love this blog; I would never be able to talk about these things in my actual dissertation.] I was fascinated by their answers. A lot of guys weren't really into it; in fact, they were kind of appalled by the real hardcore stuff. Women, on the other hand, knew Paris Hilton's private videos and had a lot to say about deep-throating, anal sex and double penetration. But what they also talked about was the fact that they still felt kind of guilty when they liked something violent or less women-friendly. They said they sure did enjoy it but it felt like they shouldn't.

In the end, what shocked me most was how little women talk about their porn interests, and how invisible they are as viewers. It seemed like the women's rights movement all over again. One half of the population secretly wants what the other half does out in the open.

I guess, it's a silent movement. One that is mostly enabled by the internet. My second fun fact might then no longer come as surprise: As a film historian recently said, the fasted growing group of online porn watchers consists of - conservative Christian women.

Happy Holidays.

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