Government porn report: Chief Censor 'shocked' by popularity of incest porn in New Zealand

Warning: This article discusses pornography.

New research shows pornography associated with stepparents and stepsiblings is popular among New Zealanders while videos showing aggression is not so much. 

The Breaking Down Porn report, presented by Chief Censor David Shanks on Thursday, analysed 196 of the most popular videos New Zealanders watch on Pornhub.com, and found that 46 percent were about "step/family fantasy".  

It also showed about 35 percent of the videos contained some non-consensual behaviour, with 10 percent showing physical aggression while 26 percent showed some affection.

Chief Censor David Shanks presenting the findings in Wellington.
Chief Censor David Shanks presenting the findings in Wellington. Photo credit: Newshub / Zane Small

Shanks said the dominance of 'step fantasy' was "a bit shocking" because the videos often showed a performer trying to convince another to engage in sexual activity - blurring the lines of consent. 

"Often the videos with this content would start with a reluctant partner, usually the female, who starts out by saying 'no' to sex but whose initial resistance is overcome through insistence and subtle pressure by the male."

The acts typically seen in pornography in the study included vaginal intercourse, 92 percent; masturbation, 75 percent; fellatio, 74 percent. 

The researchers also found videos included spanking, 35 percent; 'deep-throat' fellatio, 33 percent; facial ejaculation, 21 percent; throat holding, 13 percent; hair pulling, 8 percent; anal intercourse, 4 percent; slapping, 4 percent; and choking, 0.5 percent. 

Shanks said he was surprised that BDSM did not feature highly in New Zealand searches, despite films like 50 Shades of Grey popularising it in mainstream media. 

The most common categories of popular videos in NZ:

  • 'High-definition (HD) porn': 98 percent
  • 'Popular with Women': 83 percent
  • 'Pornstar': 72 percent
  • 'Teen': 56 percent
  • 'Babe': 48 percent
  • Hardcore: 45 percent
  • 'Step fantasy': 43 percent
  • 'POV (point of view)': 42 percent

The research found that per capita, New Zealand is 13th in the world for frequency of visits to Pornhub.com, thought to be the biggest online porn website. 

The website recorded more than 33 billion unique visits in 2018, and that's just one commercial website of out of hundreds of thousands that haven't been analysed yet. 

Similar to YouTube, content uploaded to Pornhub.com includes commercial or 'professional' content, as well as user-generated or 'homemade' content. 

The research found that professional videos - those made in a studio with paid performers - were more popular, representing 72 percent of searches, while 28 percent were for 'homemade' video content. 

The majority of videos - 85 percent - involve just two people having sex. The research also found that 10 percent of videos involve three people, and five percent depict 'group sex' with four or more people. 

Almost all videos - 97 percent - involved heterosexual sex, while 9 percent of videos featured two women and another 9 percent showed bisexual activity. 

The findings that concerned researchers is that only 3 percent of videos analysed showed condom use during penetrative sex, and that youth were accessing content they weren't supposed to be. 

Shanks said the new research was conducted because New Zealand lacked recent data that could be helpful for educating people about sexuality. 

The findings are consistent with the 2018 Youth and Porn survey of 14-17 year olds that found young people are accessing porn that is meant for consumption by people over 18 years old. 

"While porn is supposed to be restricted to adults, our research shows a significant number of young people watch it too, and this analysis of videos on Pornhub helps us understand what they are seeing," Shanks said. 

The Chief Censor said porn provides a "poor model" of what healthy sexual relationships look like. He said there needs to be better education for young people about sexuality and what's appropriate. 

He said he'd be reluctant to have specific education around pornography schools, but rather see a wider programme implemented within education strategies, including tools and information across the whole public. 

"I don't believe regulation could be a silver bullet in this space."

Shanks said clamping down on porn could increase anxiety for youth, and emphasised that it should be about education. But he said accessibility of porn is far too easy for them. 

Shanks also said it's important not to confuse pornography with purely illegal content such as material showing children being abused. 

"This is an issue across the world... it's not uniquely specific to New Zealand."

Another concern of the Chief Censor is that commercial online porn websites use social media-style 'big-data' analytics to track what people are watching to curate and generate their content

An announcement of new regulations is expected in the first quarter of 2020.

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