When it comes to figuring out the sexual habits and preferences of American adults, researcher Seth Stephens-Davidowitz has found, a deep dive into Google search data reveals some surprises -- showing that the type of porn Americans search out
online often bears little resemblance to how they behave, or anything they would admit to, in public, even in anonymous sex surveys.
Stephens-Davidowitz, author of the 2017 book Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are , discussed his discoveries about America's surprising sexual tastes in an interview with the online
news site Vox;
Porn which portrays violence against women is surprisingly popular -- among women.
Huge numbers of men are more attracted to overweight women than skinny women.
Married women are obsessed with finding out if their husbands are gay.
Married men should be asking whether their wives are gay.
The one common theme running through all of the author's research is that, judging by Google searches for porn, people's sexual tastes and fantasies are far more unusual than they ever admit -- except to the Google search engine.
It is really amazing how much tastes can vary. There are women who just watch porn featuring short, fat men with small penises. There are men who just watch porn featuring women with enormous nipples, Stephens-Davidowitz said. The data from porn
tells us that everybody is weird. Thus, nobody is weird.
Men will no longer require a prescription to obtain viagra in the UK and will instead be able to buy it over the counter at
The decision by the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency follows a public consultation. The MHRA hopes it will stop some men buying unregulated medicines from websites operating illegally.
Experts say making the medication more widely available will help men who might not feel able to visit their GP about impotence.
It will be up to pharmacists to judge whether men over the age of 18 can safely be sold the blue pills.
Viagra Connect will not be sold to those with heart problems or those taking other medicines that could cause a bad reaction when combined with Viagra.
It will now be up to manufacturer Pfizer to arrange supplies to pharmacies.
The recent attempt by Conservative MPs to label porn a
public health crisis in Canada
is part of a web of attacks against gender and sexual minorities -- and a diversion from necessary policy debates on ending sexual violence. Luckily, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health didn't go for it.
Just the title creates confusion. For example, separating out the social and sexual differences between children and adults would be a Herculean task. Then there is the fraught problem of defining "violent and degrading."
Remarkably, Canada decided not to follow in the footsteps of the United States and the United Kingdom in blaming porn for a wide range of medical and social ailments, from erectile dysfunction to divorce. Instead, the report acknowledged that
while pornography use may co-relate with some unhealthy and anti-social behaviour in some people, there is no credible evidence that pornography of any kind causes that behaviour.
The decision to emphasize evidence over moral panic is a hopeful sign that we are done with excusing abusive behaviour by men against women with false diagnoses like sex addiction or porn addiction.
Adult film performer, Chocolate Chip from the movie, Snapshot. (Courtesy of Pink Label TV)
As noted sex therapist David Ley, author of both
The Myth of Sex Addiction
Ethical Porn For Dicks
, has said: "It's possible to be an ethical, responsible person and treat oneself and others with dignity and integrity, AND to watch hot, no-holds-barred sex on screen."
Anti-porn advocates will remain unconvinced, as is clear by the dissenting opinion submitted by Conservative members of the committee. Why do some people cling to the notion that porn is a destructive force on the health of the nation?
Uncovering the answer reaches into the darkest corners of sex shaming, stigmatization, ignorance and fear that continue to characterize Canada's sexual culture.
Instead of personal stories of porn horror, we explored the difference between causation and correlation and the heteronormative bias in anti-porn research. We also looked at the slippery definitions often provided for "violent" or
"degrading" pornography -- especially when consent isn't considered a factor in the evaluation process.
Over one third of the briefs insisted porn use contributed to relationship breakdowns. Increased interest in sexual experimentation and casual sex were also frequently listed as a public health concern.
Not one of the briefs acknowledged lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer or Two Spirited (LGBTQ2+) sexual expression. Some of them even listed "anal sex" as a violent-and-degrading consequence of porn. The deep-set homophobia of such an
argument cannot be understated.
M-47 came on the heels of a spate of legislation, particularly in the United States and United Kingdom, to curtail access to pornography. The U.K. passed the
Extreme Pornography Act
, a draconian intervention on privacy rights that blocks pornography sites with national-based ISPs if they depict acts considered "extreme."
Meanwhile, in the United States, the Republican Party and eight states have already declared porn a public health crisis
. What might appear at first as absurd political grandstanding can have significant consequences on how sexual health is publicly supported, including sexual health curricula, access and privacy rights, research support and professional training.
What is so laudable about Canada's House of Commons report is it refutes the oppressive and harmful assumptions contained within the "public health crisis" argument. In recognizing the spectrum of gender and sexual diversity, and the
critical factor of consent in defining both "violent" and "degrading," the committee has set Canada on a long-overdue path to
developing a sexual health promotion strategy
"that would include, but not be limited to, sexual identity, gender equity, gender-based violence, consent and behaviour in the digital age."
Porn ground rules
To be sure, the House of Commons report recognizes there are "possible risks of exposure to online violent and degrading sexually explicit materials." This is fair and correct, as there are risks to individuals of any age who are
pre-disposed toward gender or sexual violence due to a host of social influences that breed intolerance for gender and sexual diversity and equity.
Thus, as we enter this new stage of the oft-battled-but-never-won porn wars, we would like to see more research on how the negative impacts of porn consumption could be mitigated by a more inclusive sexual ethic. Is there perhaps a way for
spiritual and sexual communities to work together for sex positivity?
"Grounded in respect for the body and for the vulnerability that intimacy brings, this ethic fosters physical, emotional and spiritual health. It accepts no double standards and applies to all persons, without regard to sex, gender,
colour, age, bodily condition, marital status or sexual orientation."
Their statement shares a lot in common with the growing international network of feminist and ethical porn producers to whom we owe a debt of gratitude for establishing the ground rules for consent-based sex.
If ecumenical societies and ethical porn networks can share the same sexual values, the opportunity to develop a dynamic sexual health strategy has never been better. Canada can become a global leader in fostering healthy sexualities through
consent-based education, sex worker support and gender and sexual inclusiveness.
The diversion into porn fear-mongering has resulted in not much more than a few cheeky, clickbait headlines. Now that we've had our laughs, it is imperative that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health return to the commitment made in