Wednesday 29 January 2020

Cartoon porn is a real draw for under-35s

Ciara O'Connor was dismayed to discover the unusual, weird world of pornographic animation called Hentai

As sex therapist Dr Laurie Betito notes: “One thing is certain; the typical ‘in-out, in-out’ no longer satisfies the masses, who are clearly looking for something different.” (Stock picture)
As sex therapist Dr Laurie Betito notes: “One thing is certain; the typical ‘in-out, in-out’ no longer satisfies the masses, who are clearly looking for something different.” (Stock picture)

Ciara O'Connor

Another week, another survey from Pornhub.com to make us all wonder what sort of world we live in. The stats, released last week by the online porn behemoth, reveal a truth about us Irish that no one would have guessed: we're pretty into cartoons.

The site monitors usage across the world to figure out what flavour of porn is most popular in different countries, within certain age brackets, and even at what time of day.

This time, the numbers for Ireland were even crunched by county. Looking at the top relative categories by county, Hentai and cartoon came up trumps in eight: Waterford, Wexford, Clare, Laois, Kildare, Meath, Westmeath and Louth. Compared to the rest of Ireland, when it comes to polishing the family jewels, these guys are really into drawings.

Apparently, quite a few people out there watch Aladdin and think "what this movie is missing is a literal rendering of that magic carpet ride with Jasmine". Over, sideways and under indeed.

I like to think of myself as a young, modern, liberal-type woman - but I was dismayed to discover most millennials do their homework to Hentai, but I'd never come across it. So, in the interests of journalistic endeavour for the public interest, I watched some - so you don't have to.

For those of you scratching your heads (and that's not a euphemism), let me enlighten you: Hentai is a pornographic genre of Japanese-style anime. Sexy cartoons, if you will.

It's characterised by exceptionally young-looking women with breasts the size of Jupiter's moons and eyes to match. Their bodies would render a real-life woman unable to stand upright unaided. Generally, the men's bodies are equally fanciful with penises that could bridge the Liffey.

The scenarios often have an element of consensual non-consenting. Or straight-up non-consenting. And a disproportionate amount seems set in high schools. This porn likes its girls young - the "milfs" are indistinguishable from their school-age daughters.

But Hentai doesn't just represent the logical conclusion of rape culture or our obsession with "the perfect body" and youth.

The medium offers more opportunity for the fantastical than your run-of-the-mill porn shot in a bedsit with single tripod. You see men morphing into robots mid-coitus, or female orgasms being represented with stars and rainbows - and many tentacles.

It can more effectively illustrate fantasies such as sex on a crowded commuter train, or in the middle of a shopping street, as it faces none of the obvious hurdles that "real" porn would encounter. Hentai can look like impossibly high-production-value porn - it can get perfect morning light streaming into a room, sweeping shots of landscapes and the kind of angles that would be messy for a cameraman. Shots can offer the point of view from inside a vagina.

I expected to be aghast and depressed by Hentai - and, yes, there are things I wish I could unsee and cartoons have possibly been ruined for me for life. But, really, it's a testament to the weirdness and wonder of human sexuality and creativity. It's not my cup of tea, but a little bit of me was really glad that it was for other people (ahem, Wexford).

It's so obviously preposterous that it's somehow less disturbing than "real" porn.

I'm not sure what the surge in Hentai among 18 to 34-year-olds can be attributed to: possibly a growing awareness of the unethical practices involved in making other porn. Certainly, anecdotally at least, it's a concern for my friends in their 20s. It could be that in an increasingly pornified society, when we've seen everything that humans can do, it's inevitable that our collective thirst for weirder scenarios should lead us to animation - where everything is possible.

As sex therapist Dr Laurie Betito notes: "One thing is certain; the typical 'in-out, in-out' no longer satisfies the masses, who are clearly looking for something different."

Whatever the reason, it looks like this kind of fantasy might be breaking through to the mainstream. For 25-year- olds in Laois, anyway.

Meanwhile, the older generations retain a kind of innocence when it comes to their viewing habits, which are very much rooted in reality: "nude" is the most searched term for the over-55s, with "boobs" and "soft" coming in the top five.

Strangely endearing is the fact baby boomers are looking for more "hairy" and "mature" women in a new era of pre-pubescently smooth young bodies dominating our screens.

It seems everyone is into something. We're in the top six worldwide for porn consumption, but we're not total animals: there is a significant drop in traffic during The Late Late Toy Show.

Dublin accounts for 65pc of Ireland's traffic on Pornhub, proving all the culture in the world is no substitute for tooting your own horn of an evening. Or perhaps it proves that the rest of the country is lagging behind when it comes to superfast broadband.

This weekend, searches for "Irish" and "leprechaun" on its site will go through the roof for Paddy's weekend: the latter rocketed by 8,142pc last year.

It's good to know that we're being honoured in this way around the world - and not just in Scotland, where "Irish" is searched all-year round.

Pornhub also said typos go up on Paddy's day, presumably as people top off their celebrations with a drunken five-finger shuffle to "lebsian hnetaaii". What a world.

Sunday Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss

Editor's Choice