Isn't it romantic? Why online porn viewing tends to dip on Valentine's Day

Paula Stephanie Andropoulous has a few theories

09 February 2020 - 00:00 By Paula Stephanie Andropoulos
Pornhub attracts 75 million visitors a day.
Pornhub attracts 75 million visitors a day.
Image: YUI MOK/GETTY IMAGES

Porn, porn. In all likelihood, you know far more about it than you'd care to admit, and far less than you can possibly fathom. It's erotic junk food. It's a holistic sexual supplement. It's disgusting. It's empowering. It's sexist (it is.) It's subversive (is it?) It is, whatever else it is, an indomitable outpost of human self-expression.

Contemporary pornography is techne gone awry, its patron saint not Valentine but a whip-wielding muse who implants the idea of Doctor, Doctor: Part III, Varsity Edition into the fecund mind of some would-be Scorsese the very instant he starts toying with the idea of cutting his losses and going back to grad school.

But is it also romantic? After all, most porn is not unlike stock romantic comedies, insofar as the quintessential scenario favours star-crossed fornicators - "but Johnny, I'm your stepmother!" - and elaborate class dynamics (plumber/pool-cleaner/pizza-deliveryman).

It's also tenable that the formula of mainstream pornography provides a foil to the mores of normative, prescriptive sexuality; and it's undeniable that the underdog usually wins the day: bionically gorgeous women are felled like trees by the most torpidly mediocre male performers money can buy.

Pornhub, the undisputed granddaddy of carnal videography, rewards its Valentine's Day visitors with a 24-hour window of free access to the site's premium content, presumably to combat the combat the plummeting traffic that reportedly coincides with V-day. 

It's not that porn is necessarily antithetical to love - sex is lovely, sex can be loving, and God knows we do love sex. No, I would imagine that the www.hiatus that Valentine's Day occasions is probably attributable to a peculiar, potent combination of solipsistic self-loathing and frantic opportunism, an emotional morass not conducive to the mindless, complacent automatism that a trip to the 'hub necessitates.

Consider for a second the position of a man alone and quietly lonely, who in the ordinary course of things enjoys a small-scale, solo bacchanal in the privacy of his lair, in moderation and without scruples. You can surely understand why, inundated all day as he will have been with imagery that glorifies a state of heteronormative, monogamous codependency as the only brand of success and satiety that counts, one day of conscientious abstention from Pornhub is infinitely preferable to being forcibly reminded of the deficit of a viable corporeal (collaborative) alternative.

Couples enjoy watching porn together, of course, but given the nature of the predominant pornographic tropes du jour, it is no surprise that newlyweds aren't curling up in front of the computer to commemorate the saint of courtly love.

As most of us know (but would not care to admit), the quasi-incest market is thriving - see Giving Step Sister My Cock for Valentine's Day - while, according to Pornhub's Year in Review, the most frequently searched terms in 2019 included Alien, Anal, and Double Penetration.

Taking all the data into account, if it's romance you're after on the 14th - if your love goes unrequited, if all your overtures are for naught, if your partner is progressive, if the movie is sold out - I would strongly recommend heading straight to the "Amateur" category and staying there (See: Cum inside if you love me!)