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Who said porn was a man's thing? A study released challenges the myth, showing that four fifths of French women have watched a porn movie before—one in two of them without their partners.
The 82% of women questioned said they had watched an X-rated film at least once before, compared to 99% of men, according to the study of 579 women carried out by the IFOP polling institute in September.
Their number has jumped from 73% in 2006, and from as little as 23% in 1992 according to a major INSERM study on French sexuality carried out at the time, IFOP's Francois Kraus told AFP.
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"In the space of a few years it has become an accepted thing for women to watch pornography, partly thanks to the Internet, and video-on-demand services that made porn more accessible and took away the shame factor," he said.
62% of women said they watched porn to spice up their sex life with a partner, but one in two had also done so on their own.
"Women are now consuming porn by themselves," Kraus said. "That goes hand in hand with a widening of sexual behaviour, and changing attitudes towards sex toys or fellatio for instance."
"And of course it raises the issue of masturbation, one of the great taboos of female sexuality. There is a real generational break, with women in their forties and younger much more willing to admit the practice."
So what do women make of the films on offer? Women attached most importance to a natural-looking cast, a priority for 40%, while "realistic" sex scenes were essential for 35%, and for 48% of under 35-year-olds.
Most women felt strongly that the industry caters only to male fantasies, a view shared by 71% of women against 61% of men.
Likewise 72% felt the films on offer were "highly degrading" to women, against 50% of men, and 57% said they were too violent, compared to 41% of men.
Overall, women were still far less assiduous watchers than men, with only five percent of porn consumers watching frequently—once a month or more—against 34% of men.
Another 13% watched a few times a year, compared to 29% of men.
Frequent women viewers were younger, making up 17% of under-25s against less than five percent of the over-35s. And women with no sex experience were the most eager, making up a third of all regular viewers.
Based on a representative sample of 1,101 people aged 18 and over, the study was commissioned by Marc Dorcel, a provider of pornographic content, to mark the launch of a new porn site targeting the women's market, Dorcelle.com.
According to a French study, one in two women had watched porn on their own.