People think about sex, people talk about sex, people like sex – it’s no big secret. However, even in the 21st century, pornography is perceived as a predominantly male interest.
Regardless of stereotypes, the fact is that women have the same type of healthy sexual interest like men do. Many modern surveys in their results revealed interesting statistics confirming this. One of the world's most visited porn websites, Pornhub, in collaboration with RedTube and The Daily Beast, carried out an analysis of the gender prevalence of their visitors. According to their findings, 24 percent of Pornhub's worldwide visitors are women. According to more concrete data from another study, 3.8 percent of women watch porn videos daily, 25 percent once every few days, and 71.2 percent say they don't use it that often. These numbers for men came in at 32.5 percent, 56.5 percent, and 11 percent, respectively.
If we compare these findings, it is clear that men indeed show more interest in visual and graphic sexual imagery. If we have clarified that women also possess sexual curiosity, the question then arises: What type of pornographic content is more appealing to women and why?
Erotic literature or literotica
The most recent case of literotica, particularly an erotic romance novel that gained wild worldwide popularity is Fifty Shades of Grey written by British author E. L. James. A story of a super successful billionaire and a shy college girl who attracts his attention and consequently dives into his addiction to violent sex, for some reason stirred up women’s minds. We won’t discuss literary qualities of this book, but rather focus on deciphering what women found appealing about these types of literotica stories.
Many psychological studies confirm that when it comes to sexual excitements, there are a different set of triggers that work for men and women. Even though these findings are based on personal experience of the study’s subjects, they unequivocally show that there is a set of common characteristics that can be applied to all men and all women. When it comes to men, the fundamental law that applies to men’s arousal patterns is comprised of only one item: sensitivity to visual cues. Their sexual excitement is instinctively triggered by registering the lust-inspiring image in their brain. Physiological response is immediate, and in the majority of cases uncontrollable. Erotic stimulus immediately activates the parts of their brain responsible for getting an erection. This psychological and physiological process explains to the great extent why pornographic sites register higher visit rates from men than from women. To further backup this result, the study shows the second common sexual arousal trigger for men is seeing genuine women having sexual enjoyment. This is why in almost every pornographic video, the camera keeps zooming in on female’s face and there is a big accent placed upon her vocal pleasure expression.
On the other hand, the female brain and genitals appear to have no direct link at the first sight. The majority of women find pornography repulsive, demeaning and shallow. Female sexual excitement revolves around different principles, and it is far more complex than in males. Women are far more often aroused by the concept of an ideal man than by the visual representation of an attractive male or his genitalia. This is why they lean towards literotica. From a biological standpoint, the answer to this puzzle of why the mind is more often responsible for female sexual excitement is a rather simple. Biologically, women are “designed” to adhere to species-survival programming, which obliges them to think ahead before acting. They have to be careful and consider how their choice of mate will affect their, and their offspring’s, welfare— the critical element in preserving the human species. Of course, all these mental processes occur in the majority of cases without premeditation, but rather instinctively.
Which brings us to answer the question, why women love literotica or erotic literature
If by any chance you thought that the depiction of sex was a reason, you are wrong. Women are actually more aroused by the fictional “awakening to love” than with the consequential sexual act. Sex scenes presented in romance novels lack a strong graphic genital focus compared to erotic stories written with males in mind. One of the major preoccupations is feeling dimension and experiencing mental connection, which is definitely not even remotely tackled in pornographic videos. Further, women seem to prefer a same type of man throughout erotic fiction. These are physically strong types to whom a considerable majority of women seem almost magnetically attracted. These alpha males don’t possess only physical attributes that make them dominant, but rather their male authority, confidence and almost animal magnetism appear to be features that women find sexually arousing.
Another reason for a natural sympathy for a dominant, alpha male is again of biological nature. Men possessing these physical and mental qualities are more likely to be able to protect her and her offspring if a dangerous situation arises. Here we can see a pragmatic side of female sexual patterns emerging again. Women pay great attention to feelings and details, which is precisely why in erotic female literature there is an excessive amount of descriptions devoted to hero’s and heroin’s sentiments. Women need a man to be not only physically appealing in order to get sexual aroused; they need to observe their authenticity, intelligence and general moral qualities.
This is how a female user on a certain forum has answered the question why women prefer literotica and erotic literature rather than pornography:
"I have always found porn to be violent and rather disgusting. There's nothing about all that shouting, blowjobs, handjobs, big breasts and unrealistically huge penises that turn me on. All that it induces is the urge to throw up. I guess the lesser it is, the better for me as I believe nudity kills passion. The erotic literature on the contrary tends to induce a strange personal connection while reading it, the writing being all mellifluous, vivid and imaginative kindles your senses and brings on a greater effect than the visuals. The words linger in your mind leaving a delicious aftertaste. It's intense, it's artistic, it's beautiful and out of the world. That's the way my mind embraces sexuality and I guess that's how it is for a lot of other women too."
Literotica mostly addresses the specific spheres of female sexual interest and does it well. Female characters are presented to a certain extent as being ordinary. No strong female characterization is noticeable, because the primary goal is enabling any female reader to identify and project herself into a character. The stereotypical portrayal of the alpha male is far from realistic, and one could even say even exaggerated, because this is an instinctive need that women feel. When women think rationally in the majority of cases, other factors will determine whether she will or she won’t choose a certain male type for a partner. But the thing is, women display an evident need for a fantasy space where all desires can be expressed but never transferred to a reality. This is precisely the reason why every year erotic literature generates more than two billion dollars in sales, constituting the single largest share of the fiction market.