7 Things We Learned About Porn In 2016

Ashley Batz for Bustle
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There's always more to learn about porn — probably because, despite being around for so long, it's only become less of a taboo subject recently. And as we start to open up discussions and actually think critically about something that affects so many of us, it's amazing what we can learn. The good, the bad, the ugly (and the hilarious), everyone is still discovering so much about its role in our relationships and lives.

And talking about porn can be great for your relationship, especially if you find talking about sex difficult. “It could be helpful to ask the person to watch sex films with you to talk about what in the films is interesting, enticing, or a turn off,” clinical and research psychologist, Nicole Prause from UCLA tells Bustle. “Watching sex films before being sexual together can help dispel myths together and start honest communication.”

But even if you're not interested in introducing it into your relationship, it's still a fascinating topic. Because it has such a wide influence, and with so many people watching it on a monthly, weekly, or daily basis, it's silly to pretend that it isn't part of people's lives. Instead, why not learn about it — and from it?

So here's what surveys and studies revealed about porn in 216, because the election was a big theme for this year.

1It Might Be On Sex Ed Curriculums Soon

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While porn has been a taboo subject for so, so long, this year brought around calls to include it on sex ed curriculums, especially in the UK. And in the U.S., we know that sex ed is failing children, who are finding out about sex and porn on their own without any guidance. The future of sex ed could include dealing with issues around porn, sex, and relationships.

2It Doesn't Make You Hate Women

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While feminist porn works to include more realistic portrayals of sex and diversity, mainstream porn is often criticized for being unrealistic and sexist. But what does it say if porn turns you on despite this?

A study in The Journal Of Sexual Research looked at data from over 28,000 respondents to the General Social Survey, a survey of American attitudes from 1975 to 2011— and they found that people who watched porn were more likely to treat men and women as equals and have forward-thinking attitudes about gender dynamics.

3Hologram Porn May Be The Future

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Just when you got used to the idea of virtual reality porn, CamSoda's 'Holo-cam' launched this year to bring hologram porn right to your living room. It's still in its infancy, but it could be a game-changer.

4That Holiday-Inspired Porn Is Way Very Much Of A Thing

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Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, probably even Arbor Day (though I didn't look at the stats) — we have a weird obsession with porn based around the time of year. The lovely folks at Pornhub gave us the data of porn viewing around the holidays and, damn, do our searches get weird and specific. Santa's horny helpers, anyone?

5... And America Loves Election Porn

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The election was big this year ... in porn. Not only did porn searches skyrocket at the RNC and DNC, people went nuts searching for Trump, Clinton as Election Day got closer. Oh and there was a Trump porn parody, because of course there was.

6That Way Too Many Boys Think Porn Is Realistic

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Research from Middlesex University, commissioned by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), surveyed over 1,000 11-16 year olds and found that most of the boys — and 40 percent of girls— thought porn was realistic.

Even though I love porn and think it has its place, those statistics are frightening. It's not what we want pre-teens thinking that's what sex should be like. The idea of having porn covered in sex ed makes more and more sense when we see how much it influences children.

7That It Affects How Safe We Are

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Life may intimate porn more than we like to believe. Research in the PLOS One Journal by Dr. Eric Schrimshaw from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and Dr Martin J. Downing, Jr. from the Public Health Solution found that nearly half of men who watched porn without condoms said it contributed to their own risky behavior. And the research suggested that watching porn with condoms may encourage us to wear them. So it's time to start thinking about how we're absorbing what we see in porn and using it in our own lives.

If you don't like porn than that's a totally valid viewpoint — it's really not for everyone. But as a lot of the statistics here show, it has a big effect on how people relate to sex and each other. So the more we can learn about it, the better — and we learned a whole lot in 2016.