What Your Favorite Porn Genre Says About You

Three sexologists offer competing theories on why you keep searching for crossdressing, MILFs, or cartoons.

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May 26 2017, 2:45pm

Photo from 'Touching MILF' with Brazzers

This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.

For most of us, our first sexual experiences are with ourselves and our fantasies. Jerking off in front of a screen seems pretty mundane, but it can carry a deeper meaning than what it appears.

At this point in society, porn might not be taboo anymore, but scientifically speaking, we still don't know very much about it or about human fantasies. Of the thousands of different porn styles, plots, topics, and orientations, why do you search those specific terms? Or why might you gravitate to a certain genre? You certainly aren't consciously thinking about anything except for what's happening in front of the screen and what your hand is doing, yet somewhere in the depth of your brain, a lot is going on.

After asking a bunch of sex experts about why you love to watch the porn you love, I found the most common theory was about your life experiences.

If you wanted to dive into your past, you can go to someone like Dr. Carla Costa with these types of questions. As a Toronto-based sexologist and relationship psychotherapist, part of her job is to help you understand why you're attracted to the things you are.

"Pornography intensely focuses us. It focuses our mental attention, it focuses our physical attention, it focuses our emotional attention," she says. "Whether consciously or subconsciously, it uncovers some very specific emotions that we have eroticized throughout our lives."

Early eroticization is taking an experience—positive or negative—and your brain turning it into something hot without telling you. This is possibly how people can develop fetishized porn interests like with cartoons (a very popular search term), inanimate objects, and authority figures.

Eroticization could explain why a negative experience might become sexy later on. Maybe you were harshly shamed for masturbation as a teen, and now you find shaming a turn on. Maybe you were spanked as a child, and now you want that when you climax. Many believe that the reason you find something attractive can say a lot about hidden experiences you should explore.

"I have a client who's a cross dresser who'd been in a heterosexual relationship his entire life. But he's really turned on when he's watching crossdressing porn, and he's really disturbed by it because he doesn't get it, and he doesn't want this to be part of his life," she says. "I gave him the choice to decide do we want to eliminate it? Or is this something that we want to learn, accept, and face so that we can limit the impact of it in your life?"

As PhD sexologist Dr. Jessica O'Reilly, points out, not all your porn preferences stem from something in your past. Something that's exciting for many people is simply the idea of getting something you're not supposed to have, or something that is not available for you.

"Dopamine, this chemical we associate with reward and motivation, is actually higher when you anticipate pleasure than when you actually receive pleasure," she says. "So the wanting is more exciting than the getting."

This is another explanation for why MILF porn is so popular among heterosexuals. Instead of the theory that you're eroticizing your relationship to your mother, (yikes) what you might really be doing is getting excited by the sense of control and being with someone more experienced.

O'Reilly believes that we have core erotic feelings—emotions that we need to feel in order to simply get in the mood and to get to more intense feelings and climax.

"We need to acknowledge that porn is a sexual experience, but it also has to do with emotional fulfillment. It's the reason if you can think of it, there's a porn of it," she says. "It's not about the sex, you could watch sex all day long today if you want, but you want some sort of a feeling attached to it."

But if you go to a clinical psychologist, sex therapist, and author of Ethical Porn for Dicks, Dr. David Ley, he'll tell you something completely different. One research concept he introduced to the mix is how evolution plays a role in our sexual desires. He used it to explain why we might be drawn to cucking—when men watch their wives have sex with other men.

Ley says that the reason someone would be turned on by this is because of our history of mate guarding. The jealousy of competing with another man's sexuality that creates a type of sexual excitement.



Other research points toward something closer to home.

"The research shows that people like these fantasies more as a reflection of who they are. We need to acknowledge right now that an awful lot of those characteristics are driven by genetics," he says. "I have run into a great many couples and individuals who are engaging in a certain lifestyle, and then they find out that their parents were into it, too."

Ultimately, though, Ley says the dirty secret (author's note: his words, not mine) among researchers is that no one really has the answer to why we like the porn we do. We can answer simple questions with all sorts of theories but in the end, no one can tell you for sure why you orgasm as what you do.

"The best answer probably is that it means nothing and everything," he says.

For Costa, she says she tells her clients that as long as you're not hurting yourself or others and you are practicing consent, your porn consumption is all good.

"We don't know it and we can't control it, that is the interesting part about it, and that's why I don't judge it. And that's why nobody should."

Follow Sierra Bein on Twitter.

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