WARNING: Contains nudity

As you are no doubt aware, PornHub recently released their statistics for 2016. Being very graphic people, they produced a nicely-coloured map of the world showing the top porn category search word for each country.

It comes (see what I did there?) as no surprise that the western world continued its overarching fascination with lesbian porn. Meanwhile, Russia and its satellites — and, curiously, France — retained their obsession with anal sex. Much of south America joined the Russian federation in 2016. Brazil abandoned its interest in big dick porn. Chile and other nations on the continent’s west coast moved on from Hentai (whatever that is). India and China remained wedded (no, that’s not the right term) to 18+ teens and Hentai (again) respectively.

Much of the Middle East and Africa were also static in their preferences. These demonstrate the self-centred natures of these regions. Ebony was the top porn search term for Sub-Saharan Africa. For north Africa and the Arabian peninsula it was Arab porn. This suggests that in these sexually repressive areas, men long for nothing more than the sight of their own women — naked.

New technology, old taboos

Interestingly, in 2016 Morocco and Algeria broke ranks with north Africa and joined large swathes of the world in avidly consuming anal porn. Whether this is just a temporary blip in porn tastes or represents a deeper shift is uncertain. PornHub will no doubt keep us informed. It also raises the question of whether there is some kind of sequence involved here. Do porn tastes start with simply looking at naked images of women of one’s own culture? Then comes a shift to edgier sexual practices, such as heterosexual anal sex. After that an even more dangerous shift into homosexual territory, starting with lesbian porn. Notably, there is not a single country in the world where gay porn is the #1 search term. Is that the next stop for sex-saturated western porn viewers?

Categories such as interracial sex, anal sex and group sex all represent violations of traditional sexual taboos

Regardless of the answer, there are significant parallels between the various porn categories and society’s traditional definitions of what constitutes illicit sex. Categories such as interracial sex, anal sex and group sex all represent violations of traditional sexual taboos. They suggest a repressed desire by the viewer to indulge in these activities.

It is highly likely that people who are obsessed with a certain category of porn have rarely or ever engaged in the practice those images depict. This is because of their unconscious shame. In spite of their obsessive desire, moral prohibitions prevent them from enjoying that act in real life and instead keeps them hooked on images of it.

Witch-hunting and BDSM

Tastes in pornography convey further information about the psychosexual damage endemic in society. As the images below reveal, a striking similarity exists between medieval images of the persecution of witches — when women were deliberately stripped and sexually tortured — and today’s so-called BDSM (bondage, domination and sadomasochism) images.

Porn categories reflect historical taboos
The Inquisition and…
Porn categories reflect historical taboos
…modern pornography.
Porn categories reflect historical taboos
The Inquisition and…
Porn categories reflect historical taboos
…modern BDSM practices.

The same energies that impelled the witch-hunting mania of the late medieval period impel today’s practitioners of BDSM and those who are attracted to images of such practices. They have either a repressed desire to punish or be punished for sexual desires that contravene socially accepted norms, or an unresolved fear, perhaps ancestral, of sexual persecution.

Shame keeps these distorted energies trapped in the unconscious where they are not properly understood. No one ever watches porn randomly. Its viewers are always attracted to images that resonate with something in their unconscious. PornHub’s annual snapshot of the world’s porn tastes shows how these damaged beliefs are gradually coming to the surface.