Search For a Provider Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube ES View the Patient Toolkit

Sex Health Blog

Do People Mimic “Rough” Behaviors They See in Porn?

Do People Mimic “Rough” Behaviors They See in Porn?When it comes to sex, it’s not uncommon for people to wonder what others are doing. What happens behind closed doors? How often do people have sex? What activities have they tried?

A similar case could be made for pornography. Just how much porn do men and women consume? What types of porn interests them? Do they view aggressive sexual acts? How does porn shape their sex lives?

This last question was investigated by a research team and reported in the Journal of Sexual Medicine’s February 2020 edition. The authors researched in the context of sexual scripts, which they explained in this way:

Sexual scripts are socially constructed ideas or guidelines for sexual behavior; they address how sex unfolds and with what consequences.

The study included 2,227 adults (1,075 men and 1,152 women) between the ages of 18 and 60 (average age 42) who lived in the United States and had had oral, vaginal, or anal sex at some point during their lives. Over 90% identified as heterosexual, and most were married or in a relationship.

The participants completed an anonymous online survey, answering questions about their porn use and sex lives.

Here are some of the study’s highlights:

  • First exposure to porn as teens. On average, participants had their first encounter with pornography while still in their teens. The average age for men was 13.8; for women, the average age was 17.8.
  • Porn use was quite common. During their lifetimes, 94% of the men and 87% of the women had used pornography at some point.
  • Participants saw a range of “rough” pornographic types. Amateur porn, featuring non-professional actors, was the most common type of porn consumed. Other popular porn topics were facials (in which a man ejaculates on his partner’s face), gang bangs (in which several people have sex with one person in succession), and penetration by two objects simultaneously.

The researchers also considered dominant and target sexual behaviors. A person who engages in dominant behavior might spank or choke their partner or call their partner names. Men in this category might penetrate their partner’s anus without consent, ejaculate on their partner’s face, or force their penis into their partner’s mouth.

In contrast, those who engage in target behaviors are “targets” of the dominant partner’s activities. They might be spanked, called names, or forced to perform oral sex, among other activities.

  • Dominant behaviors were more common among men. Women were more likely to be in target roles. For example, 77% of the men said they had spanked their partner, while 46% said they had been spanked. Almost 20% of the men said they had choked someone during sex; about 12% of the women reported doing so. On the other hand, 11% of the men said they had been choked, and 21% of the women had been choked.
  • Both dominant and target behaviors were more likely in people who had used pornography more frequently during the previous year and throughout their lives.

 The authors were particularly concerned about two behaviors:

  • Choking. “We were struck that one-fifth of women with oral, vaginal, or anal sex experience reported having been choked as part of sex,” the authors wrote. Temporary choking or strangulation might be more common now than it used to be, and it is also dangerous.
  • Anal sex without consent. Over one-quarter of the women and almost a third of the men who had sex with men said that a male partner had tried to have anal sex with them without their consent. “This has implications for sexual assault and coercion as well as risk of sexually transmitted infections,” the authors explained.

Is porn’s influence all bad? Not necessarily, the authors suggested. They called on healthcare providers to acknowledge that people have sex in many different ways and to provide information and guidance so that sex is safe and consensual. They also recommended that parents and sex education teachers talk with teens about sex in the media, the importance of consent, and reducing health risks related to sex.

Resources

The Journal of Sexual Medicine

Herbenick, Debby, PhD, MPH, et al.

“Diverse Sexual Behaviors and Pornography Use: Findings From a Nationally Representative Probability Survey of Americans Aged 18 to 60 Years”

(Full-text. Published online: February 18, 2020)

https://www.jsm.jsexmed.org/article/S1743-6095(20)30047-3/fulltext