What Pornhub's 2021 Search Trends recount About Us

What Pornhub’s 2021 Search Trends recount About Us

What Pornhub’s 2021 Search Trends Say About Us

Popular in 2021, according to Pornhub: hentai and romance.Before we fully throw 2021 into the “let us never speak of it again” file and slam the drawer shut, why not let’s take a look back at the year in online porn? After all, every year, porn video sharing network Pornhub releases a deep dive into that year’s traffic, providing a look at the world’s secret desires. What this says about us, as people, might be illuminating.

And it turns out last year, according to Pornhub’s 2021 Year in Review, we mostly wanted hentai.
All hail Hentai!
Hentai is, according to dictionary.com, “a genre of Japanese manga and anime characterized by overtly sexualized characters and sexually explicit images and plots.” It was the top “search that defined 2021,” according to Pornhub. The company says “hentai” was the “number one search on Pornhub, surpassing both ‘Japanese’ worldwide, and ‘Lesbian’ in the U.S.”
According to Dr. Laurie Betito, clinical psychologist, sex therapist and director of the Pornhub Sexual Wellness Center(?),”Cartoons are more fantastical than regular porn…Because it’s not real, it can go further, with less constraints that reality offers. Hentai porn also tends to have more of a storyline and people seem to be more and more drawn to context.”
Given the state of reality last year, it’s not surprising we wanted porn that’s far removed. Or some of us: Hentai was most popular among members of generation Y. It was 76 percent more popular among 18-24 year olds in 2021 compared to other age-ranges. (Boomers prefer handjobs, it seems. That terms was 59 percent more popular among the over 55 set than among other groups.)
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After the hentai, we want romance
Adorably, the #2 “search that defined 2021” on pornhub in 2021 was “romance.” Pornhub reports that the popularity of searches for “romance” and “romantic” more than doubled in 2021, and “Bromance” grew 288% among Pornhub’s gay male users.
“Many people have experienced loneliness and isolation and may be craving love, intimacy and romance. So the next best thing to a partner it seems, are the fantasies of romance,” suggests Pornhub’s Dr. Betito.
A big year for transgender porn
Searches for “trans” and “transgender” increased on Pornhub by 141% 2021, and views of the transgender category grew by 23%, making it the 10th most watch category by male visitors.
What does ‘trend’ mean in Pornhub’s report?
At the risk of nitpicking the statistics doled by a pornography provider, I question why “romance” is placed on the same list with “hentai.” Pornhub doesn’t go into great depth explaining what it means by “trends that defined 2021,” but it looks a little like, “what we want people to think was popular in 2021.” Hentai, the company says, was “a top ten search in almost every country in 2021,” and its list of top terms bears this out. But they say “romance” searches “more than doubled in 2021.” Since we don’t know what it doubled from, it’s hard to really gauge how popular it is compared to “hentai,” in spite of being on the same list. It’s basically apples and oranges.
2021: The year of the big ass
When it comes to pornhub’s categories (as opposed to searches) “Big Ass” showed phenomenal year-to-year growth, shooting up 314% from the previous year. Other winners include “bisexual male” with 288% growth and “transgender” which grew 23%. “Popular with women” grew by 41%, driven no doubt by pornhub’s female users. Speaking of…
Porn and women
According to pornhub, about 1/3 of its users from the Unites States are women, and women mostly like porn about women. Top terms women searched for include “lesbian,” and “popular with women,” while “scissoring” was searched by women 170% more than by men.
“Solo male,” “pussy licking,” and “fingering” were all more popular with women than men, prompting sex coach Kaitlin Klarer to suggest that “women are jonesing for some good ‘outercourse’ content. So guys remember that!” I will keep it in mind.
Interestingly, in the Philippines, women make up the majority of pornhub’s viewers (52 percent). Germany ranks lowest (28%) but is only a couple points lower than the U.K. and other European countries. South and Central American countries seem to have a greater percentage of female pornhub viewers.
How does Pornhub even know whether I’m a man or a woman?
If you’ve ever used Pornhub (and you know you have), you might be saying, “I never told Pornhub my gender or age. How could they know?” It’s a good question, and doesn’t have a definitive answer. But if I had to guess, I’d say they were tracking your usage on other sites and assuming your demographic information based on this. (It’s in their TOS. Check out Pornhub’s privacy page for more info.)
You could argue that all of pornhub’s data is suspect based on this, but gender and age predicting algorithms are scarily accurate, even if they don’t look at your cookies.
We are looking at porn for shorter periods of time
You might think another year of moderate-lockdown would result in pornhub viewers looking at porn for a longer period of time, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. The average visit duration in the US was 9 minutes 44 seconds, down by 23 seconds from 2020. Maybe pornhub’s search is getting better. Maybe we’re all getting a little sick of porn. Either way, people in Wyoming view porn for the longest average time-11 minutes 3 seconds-while people in Connecticut apparently have places to be. Their viewing sessions average a full minute shorter than Wyoming’s at 10 minutes 2 seconds.
A state-by-state analysis of pornography viewing habits
The highlight of pornhub’s 2021 analysis for me is the “United States Top Relative Searches” map, which breaks down which terms are more popular in which states compared to other states. It asks so many evocative questions, like:
Why are people in South Dakota most likely to search for “sex doll?”
Why do people in Colorado like “huge boobs” while neighboring Kansas likes “pantyhose?”
Why is “furry” so popular in Mississippi?
Is Florida’s dong-shape responsible for the popularity of the term “BBC?” Or are they actually looking for the British Broadcasting Company?
Do the longer days up north account for Alaska’s elevated search for “morning sex?”
Why is it so funny to me that people in Louisiana are most likely to search Pornhub for “naked women?”
What isn’t in Pornhub’s year in review?
In 2021, pornhub does not report the term “teen” anywhere in its year in review, although the category seem pretty popular on the site. Also missing: step- anything.
If we glance at pornhub’s “most viewed categories,” chart, “big dick,” BBW” and “cartoon” are all shown as popular categories. “Teen” didn’t make it into the top 20 categories at all. But this seems to be a list of categories that had the highest uptick in 2021, as opposed to actually being the most viewed. Or maybe it’s a combination of most popular and highest rising? It’s hard to tell. But either way, “teen” didn’t make it into any country’s “top category” list either.
Far be it from me to question the integrity of pornhub, but either the teen category is very unpopular, or there is an attempt by Pornhub to massage their data in order to make us all appear less creepy. (“Data Massage,” by the way, did not make any list either, but it’s the sexiest of all.)


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