Two neuroscientists, Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam, completed a systematic investigation of exactly what kind of “adult” material people search for when they’re online. And in their new book, A Billion Wicked Thoughts, they compile their results.
One thing that may surprise a lot of people? The interests of gay men and straight men were a lot alike – at least from a certain point of view.
Ogas discussed these findings in an interview with Salon.com:
Which of your findings were most interesting?
Well, we all know that male and female sexuality are different, but just comparing male erotica and female erotica, you really see how vastly different they are. The other interesting thing was how similar gay men and straight men are. We only found two significant differences between gay male sexuality and straight male sexuality. One, of course, is that gay men like men. The other is that gay men are more likely to enjoy the sexually submissive role than straight men. But other than that, their sexual behaviors and interests online are virtually identical.
It turns out that straight men’s sexual interest parallels gay men’s sexual interest. For example, there are overweight women, which are called BBWs in straight porn; in gay porn there are “bears,” which are big, burly guys. Just like there are MILFs for straight men, there are DILFs or daddies for gay men. There are “grannies” for straight men and “grandpas” for gay guys. The biggest interest for straight guys is teens and the biggest interest among gay guys is “twinks,” which are basically teens. The body parts most preferred by both are chests, butts and feet. And both gay guys and straight guys love penises.
In terms of the frequency with which they access porn, gay men access it more frequently but that’s probably simply due to the fact that there’s no women involved. For straight men the limiting factor is probably having the wife or the girlfriend preventing them from watching porn or they have to do it in secret. Gay men are much more accepting of porn and they often watch porn together. That said, we certainly encountered many gay men that don’t like porn.
As far as men’s interest in pornography goes, what of your findings were actually surprising?
The big surprise was the parts of anatomy that men prefer. It turns out that heterosexual men very much like looking at penises.
There’s pretty overwhelming evidence for it: Men search for penises almost as often as they search for vaginas. There’s about a thousand heterosexual sites dedicated to large penises, and large penises are a category of erotica in all the major porn video sites. We think the reason for this is because it’s actually from our evolutionary heritage. If you look at all the other primates, the penis is a prominent and versatile social tool used for many different purposes — to indicate aggression, to mark territory, to indicated sexual interest. The penis may also function as a sperm competition cue. That is a very specific hard-wired cue for men to trigger arousal — basically if a man has a reason to think that a woman recently had sex with a man it makes him more aroused and the penis must play a role in that.