A billion Web searches reveal kinky is the new norm
A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World's Largest Experiment Reveals about Human Desire.
By Athima Chansanchai
A billion Web searches from all over the world reveal that what used to be considered perverse or kinky is really not so unusual after all, and that sexual deviance may be more about puritanical societal perceptions than reality.
A new book, "A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World’s Largest Experiment Reveals About Human Desire," unveils what lies behind the screen, and its surprising findings may set a lot of vanilla thinkers into more adventurous territory, or could at least help some be more open-minded. Or it may reinforce those who think the world is going to hell. Who knows.
No more foreplay. Let's cut to the chase and get to some highlights, shall we?
Straight men peruse way more than "Girls Gone Wild": granny porn (yes, that's right, Golden Girls still got it!) and transsexuals capture their interest more often than you'd think, as do another men's penises. (And no, it's not a gay thing. But nothing wrong with that, either.)
Gay men also don't strictly enjoy watching gay porn, enjoying heterosexual porn in significant numbers. Allmen seem to fantasize about group sex, much more so than women do. Straight men also prefer to watch amateur porn online and, like their gay counterparts, they tend to be chest, butt and feet men. Yeah, feet! Turns out the size of a woman's foot can be a source of attraction for straight men.
Maureen Callahan's New York Post story about the book and interview with one of the authors, Ogi Ogas (who earned a doctorate in computational neuroscience and is a former biodefense researcher at MIT and a Department of Homeland Security fellow) goes on to say: "Foot fetishes aren’t a deviance; men are evolutionarily wired to look for small feet, which are a sign of high estrogen production, which itself is a sign of fertility."
Speaking of my gender, straight women seemed to gravitate toward reading and watching gay men together, though more in the romantic, emotional way than the pure physical act. Straight women and gay men also explore the submissive part of the the dom/sub dynamic.
From the authors' blog post about their experiment (Sai Gaddam, an expert in data mining who also earned a Ph.D., is the co-author):
We now know, for example, that men seek out penises almost as often as they seek out vaginas. We know that women virtually never pay for online porn. We know that men search for overweight women three times as often as they search for underweight women. We know that women around the world enjoy romantic and erotic stories about two men. We know that virtually all of clinical psychology's ideas about the prevalence of various fetishes (paraphilias in the literature) are completely and embarrassingly wrong.
Not only did the authors analyze a billion Web searches, they also crunched information from "a million websites, a million erotic videos, a million erotic stories, millions of personal ads and tens of thousands of digitized romance novels."
Callahan added more insight:
According to the book, in 1991 — before the birth of the Internet as we know it — there were fewer than 90 porn magazines published in the US. Today, more than 2.5 million porn sites are blocked by CYBERsitter. In 2008, approximately 100 million men in North America logged on to porn. (Also: One-third of the subscribers to Today’s Christian Women seek out erotica online.)
Going back to those search terms that helped form the basis of Ogas and Gaddam's book, which was compiled through Dogpile and included data from Google, Yahoo! and Bing, Callahan listed the Top 10 sex-related searches, which are variations of these terms:
Youth (13.5 percent)
Gay (4.7 percent)
MILFs (4.3 percent)
Breasts (4 percent)
Cheating wives (3.4 percent)
Vaginas (2.8 percent)
Penises (2.4 percent)
"(Blocked out in the book — too dirty even for the authors?)"
Butts (.9 percent)
Cheerleaders (.1 percent)
Over at Jezebel, Anna North dips into the more provocative aspects of the research that focus on porn and reveals how the authors dug into sub-cultures as enthusiastically as they did with more mainstream sources. What Ogas and Gaddam do with such a range of resources is to open up perceptions about sex and sexuality and discuss them, not content to repress such a basic part of being human.
Here's one takeaway from Ogas and Gaddam's research: We're all kinkier than we think we are, and people you might have considered sexual freaks are probably sitting right next to you. Right now. And they're still the same people they were before you read this. Of course, when desire veers to the harmful and illegal (vs. what some consider immoral), then it's time for the proper authorities to step in. But that aside, maybe folks will start to admit that things that turn them on should be nothing to be ashamed about, or need to hide, as they come to realize they're not alone.
Much more of the fascinating research can be found on the authors' blog.
Blissfully retired after 35 years treating sexual abuse