Document Title

Putting the "Sex" into "Sexuality": Understanding Online Pornography using an Evolutionary Framework




One encounters an obvious problem when using an evolutionary framework to understand online pornography. On the one hand, theories of sex specificity in mating strategies and evolved human nature lead to the prediction that there are commonalities and universals in the content people would seek in online pornography. That is, due to the fact that men have faced a distinct set of issues over the duration of human evolution, research suggests general tendencies in mate preferences, and presumably in the types of pornography that men therefore consume. Likewise, women have dealt with sex-specific challenges during human evolutionary history, resulting in patterns of mate preferences that are reflected in the types of online pornography they consume. Consequently, although the sexes likely differ in the content they prefer, there also should be a rather limited range of material that addresses male and female evolved heritages. Looking online, however, we can immediately ascertain that this limited focus is not the case, and hence, the dilemma. There is a wide range of pornographic material available online, to the extent that we are left with no option but to agree with Rule 34: "If it exists, there is porn of it." This problem demands a solution; how can there be evolved tendencies and yet such diversity in the content of online pornography? We review who the consumers of online pornography are, how frequently they consume it, and the type of content that is most commonly consumed. Our goal is to address the issue of common sexual interests and the diversity of online pornography. We discuss not just sex-specific content but also the variety of interests that are seen within online pornography and erotic literature.

Document Type


Publication Title

EvoS Journal: The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium

Publication Date








Document Version

Publisher's version