Why I Can't Watch Lesbian Porn (As a Lesbian Woman)

By Anonymous

Art by Sophie Williams

According to Pornhub’s annual reports, lesbian porn consistently tops the list of most popular porn genres every year, especially for women. But listen — here’s my dirty little secret. As a lesbian woman, I’ve never been able to watch it. Enjoy it, I mean. There’s no shortage of possible explanations: internalized misogyny, internalized homophobia, an inability to watch any porn that I could even remotely imagine myself in — you name it. But to give you a fuller picture, it feels important that I share a little bit about me. I’m a cisgender woman who identifies as lesbian and/or queer, and I don’t have a preference for feminine or masculine partners. I’ve never had sex with a man and I don’t really plan on it, ever. In fact I couldn’t think of anything worse. And yet, lesbian porn has never “worked” for me the way it should.

Perhaps looking at Pornhub’s viewership data will help us put things in perspective. Pornhub’s 2019 Year in Review[1]includes a handy little map depicting the most popular porn genres by country. From the map, we can see that lesbian porn is the most popular genre in most of the Americas, Australia, and Northern Europe. But as much as I love seeing the word “LESBIAN” sprawled over the entirety of North America, it’s also slightly terrifying that so many people are getting off to lesbian porn — very possibly more than the amount of queer people who even live in North America. Which means there’s no doubt that some — and probably most — of lesbian porn’s viewers are straight. To some extent, the reverse is true as well: In 2015, the indie magazine Autostraddle conducted a survey[2] of over 8,500 queer women, finding that 54% of bisexual women and 41% of lesbian women watch straight porn. And this isn’t because mainstream sites like Pornhub don’t offer enough lesbian content — clearly, people are demanding it. See above. Is it puzzling to you? Maybe it shouldn’t be. Though it sounds unintuitive at first, the fact that our porn fantasies often differ from our real life fantasies actually isn’t too big of a stretch. (No pun intended.)


After all, porn was never meant to accurately reflect our real life desires. Sex in porn is not meant to feel good; it’s meant to look good. But we are real human bodies, playing out desire in the real world — not the Valley, not Hollywood, not fiction. Contrary to lesbian porn’s depiction of queer sex, scissoring is fucking hard. And nails can hurt. And we don’t all look like Mila Kunis. Contrary to what straight porn would have you believe, only 20% of people with vaginas can orgasm from penetration alone. And oral isn’t just foreplay. And spending ten seconds on someone’s clit just won’t cut it.

So maybe it isn’t my fault that titles like “BUSTY Lesbian DOMINATES Hot Straight Friend With MASSIVE Strap On!!”[3] don’t make me feel all warm down under. “Lesbian” porn, particularly the kind produced by the largest porn companies, is not created with queer people in mind, and it certainly isn’t an accurate representation of what sex between two non-male people looks or feels like. Maybe that’s the reason why straight porn tends to work for me in the same way lesbian porn often doesn’t. Because straight porn never claimed me as its audience, and indulging in it feels a little scandalous, deliciously hypocritical. On the other hand, watching “lesbian” porn feels like indulging in a fantasy that should be mine but never was.


All this isn’t to say that lesbian porn is bad, or that no queer person should watch lesbian porn, or that my reasons are the same reasons for other queer folks who are also unable to watch lesbian porn. All this is only to say that the porn industry needs to do better. In some ways, it already is: as alternatives to traditional porn, we’re now offered more options for feminist and ethical porn that pays workers fairly and treats performers with respect. But regardless of our sexuality, we should all remain critical about what our viewership habits might be programming us to desire. Porn may not always reflect our real life fantasies, but overexposure to content that espouses gender-based violence, imperialist ideas of dominance, and racialized power dynamics could eventually seep into our own sex lives if we’re not vigilant.

So this is my declaration that I’m no longer accepting scenarios that are simply “good enough,” or only approximating what I really want. If that means watching no porn, then so be it. This is also a collective declaration that we all deserve the kind of pleasure we can say an ecstatic yes to. And none of us should settle for anything less.






[1] “2019 Year in Review,” Pornhub Insights, https://www.pornhub.com/insights/2019-year-in-review.

[2] “87% of Queer Women Are Into Porn or Erotica, But Not All Of It Is Lesbionic,” Autostraddle, June 18, 2015, https://www.autostraddle.com/87-of-queer-women-are-into-porn-smut-andor-erotica-285552/.

[3] Hayley Macmillen, “An Awful Lot of People Are Watching a Lot of Awful ‘Lesbian’ Porn,” Out, December 14, 2018, https://www.out.com/entertainment/2018/12/14/awful-lot-people-are-watching-lot-awful-lesbian-porn