Are Women the Next Big Porn Market?

womenwatchpornThis month in Oprah Magazine, there’s an article about porn for women that’s been causing a stir in the media. Like most of these types of articles, it starts by citing dubious statistics about the numbers of women who visit porn sites:

In the first three months of 2007, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, approximately one in three visitors to adult entertainment Web sites was female; during the same period, nearly 13 million American women were checking out porn online at least once each month.

I’ve been working in this industry for almost 7 years. Every year or so, “porn for women” comes up. In the beginning, I bought into the idea that most women like features and most men like gonzo, but over the years I’ve come to realize that women’s tastes are just as diverse as men’s – and that the market for “women’s porn” is not nearly the size that Candida Royalle would have you think.

No matter what Nielsen says, I simply don’t think there’s any way that one third of visitors to porn sites are female. But I could be wrong. Which is why I’m posting these two polls (one for men and one for women). It’ll be interesting to see if a hidden female viewership will emerge.

I am a man and when I watch porn I…

View Results

Loading ... Loading …

I am a woman and when I watch porn I…

View Results

Loading ... Loading …
Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • bodytext
  • Reddit
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • TwitThis

Tags:


17 Responses to “Are Women the Next Big Porn Market?”

  1. ropeadope Says:

    Hi Alison,

    Intriguing poll, looking forward to viewing the results. Does VideoBox compile gender statistics of its membership? If so, could you please inform us what percentage of the VideoBox membership is male and what percentage is female? In other words, is the membership 67% male – 33% female (mirroring the Nielsen/NetRatings quoted above)? Is it 80% male – 20% female? 90% male – 10% female? 99% male – 1% female? What is your best guess? Or do you know for sure?

    I’m always skeptical of remarks left in the movie review comments claiming female gender. I’ve been thinking for some time of posting a poll in the blog with two simple choices.

    1) I am a VideoBox member and I am male

    2) I am a VideoBox member and I am female

    Hopefully, your poll will shed light on the matter (as the male / female selection is a pre-condition for answering the additional query).

    Oh, I watch porn the same way George Thorogood drinks (The Content Dude will understand the reference).

  2. the content dude Says:

    alone

  3. ropeadope Says:

    @ The Content Dude – Lol, nailed it my friend. Now I know not to even try to stump you with rock trivia.

  4. Mister Handy Says:

    Here’s one thing I’ve noticed about porn – most guys like porn, but most guys are either casual or furtive or occasional about it. Only a relatively smaller of us are serious porn fans/collectors and willing to admit it.

    Of the gals I know well enough to have any idea of their porn preference, well, most say they don’t. But of those who DO like porn, very few do so in the “casual or occasional” way most guys do… they REALLY like it. Like us serious fans/collectors.

    And I’d have to imagine that the casual guys are not the ones subscribing here to VB, at least month after month. So it would not surprise me if women appear overrepresented in some porn sites – I’d be curious if that 1/3 number is of total visits, or total individuals. ’cause my guess is that 20% of the porn fans are like 80% of the hits, and there are proportionally more women in that 20% than in 80%, because there are fewer casual browsers among ‘em who look at it but don’t look at a lot of it.

    Or I could be completely wrong. I’m working on a tiny sample size here.

  5. garbman Says:

    Those numbers don’t hold up here by comparing the total vote counts.

  6. Strangepork Says:

    I’d like to know how Nielsen/NetRatings came up with those stats. Last time I checked, browsers and operating systems don’t have any way of knowing the gender of the person using them, much less reporting it back. I’d be interested to know their methods and how accurate they claim to be.

    That said, I don’t think women are the “next” big porn market. There were always women who like porn, and there always will be, and the numbers may rise, but I don’t see it being a huge growth. If women want to watch porn, they can easily obtain it. It’s not like early days when you’d have to go to a sleazy theater, or later when you’d have to show your face in a video store. With the internet and mail order, the only reason not to have porn is lack of interest.

    Or maybe its a matter of marketing? So much porn is made for and marketed toward men that it might be a bit intimidating for a curious woman to know what to watch. I mean, Dirt Pipe Milkshakes isn’t for everyone… So maybe if Oprah comes out and says she loves porn, and starts a porn club where she recommends titles, MAYBE we’ll see a shift. But I’m not sure her audience is ready for that.

    Now, please excuse me. I have to go clear my browser history. I don’t want anyone to know that I went to oprah.com

  7. oppyman Says:

    Why does the poll have “watch porn with women” for men but “watch porn with a significant other” for women? There are obvious skewings that would come from this formulation, which is flawed. First of all, it would exclude an answer from gay men who watch together, which I guess is OK since there is a gay videobox. But the significant other formulation would allow gay women to answer so your responses would come from both hetero and gay women (or bi women). Your answers could conceivably tell us if a lot of women watch porn, but it would tell us what a lot of guys wonder – “Do heterosexual women watch porn?”

  8. Papayaman1 Says:

    In a way the results speak for themselves in that at time of writing this mail there are 232 responses, all of them from men – and the majority watch alone. Unless the response pattern radically alters all of a sudden, this would tend to bear out Rope’s suspicions about the claims of female gender by certain correspondents. Lets face it, current social mores run against porn. The religious right wont accept it because they think their infinitely loving God will subject them to awful tortures in the afterlife if they watch a porn movie instead of doing something virtuous like blowing up an abortion clinic. And the politically correct left have bought wholesale into the propaganda of certain extreme feminists who argue that any woman who has sex with anyone but them is being exploited, or selling out to patriarchy. Given this climate an interest in porn is a guilty secret for most men and even more so for women. My guess is that relatively few women are sufficiently self-confident and open-minded to explore any of the pleasures that porn might have to offer them. Which is a pity because if they did porn might become more varied and interesting.

  9. ropeadope Says:

    @ Papayaman1 – I am showing female responders to the poll. I believe that once you voted (in the male category), the total male vote will automatically display each time you return to the page. But since you haven’t voted in the female category, that total remains hidden by default. If you click on “view results” just below the female vote box, you should see the number. As I write these words, I’m showing 239 male and 16 female responses. That is a ratio of 15:1, or about 94% male and 6% female. Of course, the data may change as more votes come in.

  10. passingthrough Says:

    Only slightly off the topic, I don’t know many women who talk about watching porn, but of the ones that do, quite a few seem like to gay male porn. Guys love lesbian porn so I shouldn’t be surprised, I guess but I am.

    @ropeadope I’m guessing you mean you watch alone (with nobody else), but then again you might mean you watch with one bourbon, one scotch, and one beer.

  11. Papayaman1 Says:

    Hi Rope, and thanks for correcting my rampant IT illiteracy. It’s good to know there are some women respondents although I think the 15/1 ratio still bears out the basic points I made.

  12. ropeadope Says:

    @ passingthrough – You assume correctly. Good point however, Thorogood fans will recognize the bourbon, scotch, and beer interpretation as a definite possibility. But I would require four hands (um, 1 + 1 + 1 + 1, yup 4) under that scenario.

    @ Papayaman1 – Hello Papayaman. Completely agree that the 15:1 ratio validates the points presented in your initial comments, and in fact, those are very strong arguments regardless of where the final poll ratio settles. I believe 15:1 is also the ratio of silver to gold in the Earth’s crust. Coincidence? I think not.

  13. Papayaman1 Says:

    Damn Rope, that silver to gold ratio has got me thinking. The conspiracy goes even further than I thought! That bourbon, scotch and beer diet clearly gives you superior insight!

  14. alison Says:

    ropeadope – Unfortunately, no, VB doesn’t keep those statistics. While interesting, I’m not sure they’d even be representative. Only 39% of women watch alone (according to the poll numbers as of right now), so it’s possible that the accounts the rest use are in their significant other’s name. That said, my best guess is that women account for 5-10% of the primary account holders at VB. Thanks for directing some women to the poll…as of right now, they’re accounting for about 8% of all respondents. Just out of curiosity, do these ladies subscribe to VB?

    Mister Handy – That’s an interesting observation about the level of interest of female porn users. To be totally honest, I don’t personally know many other women who particularly like porn, so assuming that you’re right, it’d be a pretty significant factor to consider in this discussion.

    Strangepork – I believe Nielsen/NetRatings offers cash and other incentives to individuals to install a toolbar or other monitoring software on their browsers to get their data. My guess is that women are far more likely to participate in that kind of thing and they were severely overcounted for that reason. You make a very good point about marketing though. The vast majority of gonzo is marketed in a way that is designed specifically to appeal to men and likely turns a lot of women off. I wonder if it would behoove the studios to tone it down a bit and appeal to a broader audience since so many of them seem to be having financial problems.

    Doppyman – I thought a lot about the wording and decided to go with significant other for the female poll because I was more interested in the respondent in that poll than the partner. Whereas the partner in the male poll was the one I was trying to find out more about. It specifically excludes gay men because I’m trying to get an idea of what women’s viewing habits are. The question of whether the female respondents are hetero or homosexual is a valid one though.

    Papayaman1 – Whenever someone posts a comment on a movie and claims to be female, I immediately call bullshit. The chances that they are a woman vs. a man who for whatever reason gets off on pretending to be a woman are slim for all the reasons you outlined. It really is a pity.

    passingthrough – I’ve had conversations with a couple of women who enjoyed gay porn and it seemed like there were two factors involved in the preference. First was the sheer aesthetics of two men. The other was the feeling that women didn’t seem to enjoy a lot of the sex in straight porn (or it looked unpleasant to them), and they didn’t feel like that was really the case with gay porn.

  15. Andearl Says:

    I voted as watching porn on occasion with a woman (my wife). I love watching porn with her because even if she is not in the mood she usually is after about 20 minutes of viewing. At times though it does become quite funny as she says things like “I like her shoes or I might have my hair done like that.”

  16. ropeadope Says:

    Alison, you are in a unique position to act as an intermediary in a great sociological experiment. Why not invite the women who have selected “watch alone” or “watched with SO in past but now watch alone” to be paired up with one of the males who voted “watch alone” for a session of mutual side-by-side porn viewing? Each individual could suggest a few titles, which their designated partner would have the right to accept or reject. That would not only protect the women from enduring unwanted on-screen sexual depictions, but also protect the men in case dolly40DDD_the_insane_horny_milf (am I recalling her username correctly? – someone please help me) is one of the chosen. I believe this would be very educational for all parties involved. Women may be from Venus, and men may be from Mars, but maybe there’s a happy middle ground to further our knowledge and understanding of one another here on Earth.

  17. El Natural Says:

    Imagine you are at a dinner party with several other couples. It comes out that one of the women there has a vibrator. There are some giggles and you-go-girl comments and everyone gets a good laugh. Now imagine the same dinner party but it comes out that one of the men has a fake pussy to masturbate with. I suspect the reaction would be quite different and less comfortable.
    In this same way I suspect that a woman porn fan would be more open about her tastes than a man would be.