Porn has always been a fairly useful thing - when used as most intend for it to be used. It has provided pleasure, employment, and, yes, controversy for generations. Yet, who would have guessed from the humble beginning of celluloid copulation that the world's greatest one-handed pastime would also prove to be a treasure trove of valuable research and data to help us understand our sexuality?

One such area of research that has been exploding is the study of our porn viewing habits. As men are the primary consumers of pornography, much work is done to determine what their purchasing and viewing habits could say about us in general. A particularly fascinating line of research focused on men's innate sexual needs and our personal preferences and desires ... and whether biological needs can trump our wants.

Does Watching Porn Reflect a Need?

It seems like a simple enough idea that our x-rated interests would be the same as our needs. In the case of heterosexual men, images of fertile women would, likely, be the impetus they would be need to be turned on. A woman having sex with a man indicates she is available as a mating partner. Following that line of reason, what would be even better than watching a man have sex with a woman? Watching a man having sex with two women, of course.

That is what men claim they watch. Men report that they want to watch scenes that feature two women. However, recent work indicates the opposite may be more accurate. To examine this, researchers Michael N. Pham, William F. McKibbin and Todd K. Shackelford conducted a study of porn DVD covers, those featuring threesomes in both the FFM and MMF configurations, to determine which type of films men buy and how biological predisposition could trump personal preference. Their findings were published in the journal Behavioral Ecology.

So, Why Are Men Watching Porn?

It is a bit shocking to learn, given the intensely heteronormative world that we inhabit, that men actually buy more DVDs that feature a couple of cocks on the farm. While a threesome with two women is often cited as a top fantasy for men, it turns out that deep down, on a primal level, they actually want to get their sperm into one woman - and get it there "better" than any other man.

This innate sexual reaction is the result of sperm competition. If it just so happens that sperm from two different men find themselves bumping into each other on the way to fertilize an egg, the most fit sperm will get there first. The findings of the earlier cited porn research suggests that adaptations to enhance the likelihood of a man’s sperm getting to home base first can be extended to porn viewing habits. When a man sees or is with a woman who he knows was with another man in the recent past, his libido increases. Sperm production and ejactualtion also increase. Unfortunately, he is also more likely to attempt to coerce the woman to have sex with him.

So, even if guys aren’t actually having sex, just looking at sex involving other men and a woman increases their sense of sperm competition to the point of influencing their porn DVD purchasing habits.

But Along Came the Internet…

Over the past few years, Pornhub released data of the top user search terms of each year. These are fascinating glimpses into what the average porn consumer is looking to watch. It also confuses the idea of sperm competition being a dominating factor in porn choices.

Take the most recent year’s findings as an example. The top five results are a mixed bag that can both support and question sperm competition porn choice. Those top choices are: teen, lesbian, MILF, stepmom, and mom. Obviously, the terms MILF, stepmom, and mom can all support sperm competition theories because the women featured in the flicks are "known" to be fertile. If you can, even in fantasy, get sperm in her, there’s a chance for pregnancy and biological success. However, both teen and lesbian, the top two porn searches, cast a different light on previous research.

The penultimate preference, lesbian porn, definitely supports the idea of what men want in porn much more than it does the idea of sperm competition. There is no competition here and no hope of impregnation given the sexuality of those involved in the sexual acts depicted. It could be argued that a man would be turned on by the hope of depositing sperm in both...but watching lesbian sex seems to be more about watching two women having sex.

While lesbian sex seems a clear-cut denial of sperm competition, the ultimate porn fantasy of teens seems much more controversial. In today’s culture, teenage sexuality is shunned, denied and anything relating to teen pregnancy is considering shocking and highly inappropriate. Current, Western sexual laws deem those under the age of 18 (or just looking like that) to be off-limits. However, it was not that long ago (and still happens in some parts of the world) that teenaged - fertile - women were partnered with boys and men. At the same time, media presents youth as the paragon of good looks to which we should all aspire - and lust after.

There are just two examples of women who are, by social mores or sexual preference, unavailable to men and their battle-ready sperm. If you look further down the list, there are also women who aren’t even human. Cartoon and hentai crack the top 10 searched items.

So, it would seem that sexually unavailable women are just sought after as those who present as vessels of procreation. Because there is some doubt as to the intentions of men watching two women or teen-looking women having sex, this certainly doesn’t render this particular sperm competition finding theory flaccid. It does show that further viewing and research of porn’s influence and effects is needed.