MENUMENU

The porn you’re probably missing out on

C.P.Storm/Flickr (CC-BY)

It might be easy to find, but do you really know every type of porn that’s out there?

Thanks to online streaming, there has never been a better time to watch porn. Unless you live in under a particularly strict, authoritarian government, almost anyone can jump online to find porn, even if they have to jump through a few hoops first. But what is porn? Technically, porn is any material that is designed to stimulate erotic feelings in a person—but such broadness can make it hard to define.

Legally speaking, pornography has been held to the same legal standards that govern obscenity law, a concept that refers to any materials that society might deem immoral or disgusting. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously said in 1964 that the courts can’t define what counts as hard-core pornography, but “I know it when I see it.” In that case, the legal argument became the colloquial litmus test for defining “obscene” content. But Stewart was also making a good point about porn. Porn isn’t just one thing; it contains multitudes of ideas, identities, preferences, and kinks. Pornography is booming multi-billion dollar industry with famous stars, studios, and producers. It can be addictive, unethical, and hard to regulate. But like art, porn is subjective.

Everyone is watching porn—even Ted Cruz. Don’t feel ashamed. With so much variety, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Here’s a primer on the different kinds of porn you might encounter, and how to define each. Just remember to lock the door before you click around—private browsing isn’t as private as you think.

What is porn?

Amateur porn

When most people think of porn, their first image is of airbrushed models grinding under professional lighting. Perhaps someone just delivered a pizza, dropped by to fix a broken sink, or is mysteriously conducting a job interview. Regardless, it looks too manicured to be real. Not to be confused with gonzo porn, which merely refers to the viewers’ point-of-view in the scene, amateur porn is for folks who like a little more reality in their fantasies. Most amateur videos are produced by the performers themselves, usually in their own home and by their design. That doesn’t mean amateur porn doesn’t have a plot. There are plenty of amateur producers who explicitly cater to the fantasies of their viewers. If you appreciate a DIY spirit without harsh studio lighting, amateur porn is the most realistic. 

what is porn : erome streaming porn Screengrab via Erome

Rule 34 and cartoon porn

Rule 34 of the internet states “if it exists, there’s porn of it.” If you’ve ever thought one of your fantasies was too bizarre to possibly exist for anyone else, or you simply wanted to imagine a cartoon or anime character getting it on, Rule 34 is your comfort. From pop culture icons to anthropomorphic animal people, someone is making a porn version of it. Remember, your bedroom is a judgment-free zone, so as long as it’s legal to watch, it’s easy to tune in. 

anime porn Peter Pham/Flickr (CC-BY)

READ MORE:

Audio porn

Audio porn is a godsend for those who value the parts of sex that you can’t see with your eyes. This genre of spoken word pornography encompasses everything from erotic narrative stories to first person sexual recollections, typically read aloud in short recordings. Quality ranges from professional audiobook to lusty messages recorded on an iPhone, also referred to as “rambleFAPs” on popular audio porn sites like Reddit. Since it’s comparatively easy to produce, audio porn is a really popular category for amateur work. Plus it’s easy to listen to with headphones, a major benefit for people with roommates.

what is porn : Drenched for Daddy Photo via Aural Honey

Erotica

If the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise proved anything, it’s that it’s hard to put down a good book—especially when it’s about sex. Erotica is written porn, graphic stories of carnal discovery from a world where anything is possible. Just like normal literature, erotica tackles every subject and subtext imaginable. Stories abound of sensual honeymoons that save marriages, princesses who find love together, and terrifying vampires. Hell, there are even books about gay relationships with dinosaurs. Traditional porn can sometimes feel empty. Erotica asks that you look into the hearts of characters before you unzip your pants. 

Gay porn

Gay men are not monolithic, and neither is gay porn. Although the majority of mainstream gay porn sites tend to opt for the same jacked white dudes, the gay porn industry has flourished and expanded over the years. Today there are studios for every niche, fetish, and body type imaginable. In case you missed it, you definitely don’t have to be gay to watch it. Women are watching gay porn in record numbers, and even parts of the country that aren’t typically considered accepting of homosexuality consume it in massive amounts.

what does porn mean : gay porn Photo via Twitter/Sean Cody

Ethical porn

What’s the difference between “normal” and “ethical” porn? In short, it’s that ethical porn prioritizes promoting performers’ rights and well-being. Porn that is produced ethically tends to promote real-life couples or friends, with sex that emphasizes consent, mutual pleasure, and marginalized viewpoints. Most importantly, ethical porn studios ensure that performers, producers, and crew members are fairly compensated for their work. This might mean that you can’t access ethical porn for free, but if you’re at all concerned with the rights of workers in the adult industry (and if you watch porn frequently, you should be) supporting ethical studios is definitely worth your while.  

Feminist porn

Mainstream pornography is overwhelmingly male-dominated. Even as more women direct and produce adult films, the male gaze remains the most powerful driver of the mainstream porn industry. The feminist porn movement aims to provide an alternative viewpoint that also emphasizes ethical treatment of performers and equal pay. Feminist porn videos put female pleasure and diversity at the forefront of their productions. Feminist porn creates a space for women who feel ignored, demeaned by mainstream porn. As renowned feminist porn producer Erika Lust told the Daily Dot, “Women sometimes, when they are in a very male-dominated group, they are afraid to speak up and say really what they feel and what they think, and I’m avoiding that.”

what is porn feminist porn Photo via Lust Films/Vimeo

Queer Porn and porn for women

Lesbian porn has had a dramatic renaissance in the last decade, shifting from a world ruled by a fetishizing male gaze to production companies run by and for queer women. Sure, there are still mainstream titles that will have you questioning whether or not the producers in charge have ever met an actual lesbian. But for viewers who long for accurate representations of queer and nonbinary people, femmes, and women making love without the involvement of straight, cisgender men, the internet offers a wide world of options.  

Mobile porn

Maybe you don’t have a private bedroom, or you’ve got a work laptop. Maybe you don’t have a specific fetish beyond “whenever I have time.” Once upon a time, you’d be hard-pressed to find porn that suits your limitations, but the advent of mobile porn has brought freedom to many. There is a myriad of sites available, both free and paid, that will lead you through porn that has been formulated for small screens. Just be sure to download a second browser, just to be safe.

what is porn mobile porn Screengrab via PornHub

Porn GIFs

Has your attention span been melted by the internet? Don’t worry fellow online traveler, ours too. Porn GIFs are short, high-quality clips of porn videos, often grouped to let you quickly browse a large number of images quickly. Largely found on Tumblr, porn GIFs have also been the foundation of communities on other sites like Reddit and Imgur.

Cam Girls

If pre-recorded porn has left you feeling empty, maybe cam girls are the secret you’ve been searching for. Cam girls let you into the world of porn with live sex shows that you stream over the internet. While the catch-all “cam girl” is used to describe the genre, there are cam models of every gender, sexual orientation, and size online. Some sites even allow you to watch live couples having sex in exchange for tips. Again, if you value being able to directly support adult performers, many models operate independently, and cam sites often allow models more autonomy than big-time porn studios. 

what is porn : cam girls Screengrab via Miah Calix/YouTube

 

4K Porn and HD porn

If you’re sick of low-quality streams on the free sites, it might be time to pony up and pay for high-quality. Now that nearly everyone has a high definition screen (and with the continuing expansion of 4K monitors), it’s more likely that you’ll find yourself annoyed by a grainy picture. Luckily, the porn world has been hard at work fixing this problem, remastering old titles and shooting new scenes in ultra-HD 4K. When the time comes for you to prioritize quality, look into the world of HD porn.

BDSM porn

BDSM (which stands for bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism) porn exists for people whose fantasies take a rougher edge. One of the most popular kink categories, BSDM porn allows people to explore fetishes and kinks safely without needing to experience them first hand. Along with video and audio porn that incorporates basic domination and submission, BDSM stories and erotica have become more and more popular online. If you are interested in learning more about incorporating kink and BDSM into your real sex life, porn sites and thriving BDSM Tumblr communities might be a good place to start.

what is porn : bdsm porn School of Life/YouTube


READ MORE:

VR porn

With the advent of cheap and easy home VR, the virtual reality porn industry has exploded. Most notably, VR goggles put the viewer in the scene from a first-person perspective, breaking down the barrier separating what is porn on a screen and what is porn when users are experiencing it first hand. Whether you’re a total VR beginner and want to opt for a free cardboard headset or an expensive professional rig, VR porn is definitely a one-of-a-kind, futuristic experience. It’s also more accessible than ever before with VR porn apps available for both iOS and Android phones. 

Soft Porn and Hollywood Porn

Major movie studios might pride themselves on producing art rather than bowing to X-rated sex scenes or pornographic content for the sake of it, but the libraries of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon tell a different story. What is porn in Hollywood? From unsimulated real-life sex acts to hot staged scenes, mainstream cinema has contributed its fair share of lust over the years. At the moment, Netflix has the most uncensored material, but with so much content in the vaults of every studio, the flow of streaming erotic content from Hollywood is sure to last for decades to come.

what is soft porn Photo via Movies Plus Madness

Porn for Couples

Not everyone wants to masturbate by themselves. Plenty of couples use pornography to stimulate their sex life and explore their boundaries. Porn for couples comes in many flavors, just like human sexuality. In the case of our couples porn recommendations these suggestions start in the middle ground of porn, so there isn’t anything too extreme. However, show this list to your partner if you’re looking for more. They might surprise you with what kinks they want to explore.

what is porn Pixabay

Curated Porn Communities  

Looking for variety in your fapping material, but don’t want to pour your heart into discovery? There are communities for people just like you on Tumblr and NSFW Reddit. Of the two Reddit by far has the largest, most searchable, communities made up of every fetish or fantasy imaginable. Tumblr, on the other hand, is less focused on specific kinks, instead of putting the spotlight on the favorite content of particular users. Regardless of which you use, curated porn communities let you mine the erotic hive mind of the net, unlike any other resource. Just remember, these communities are sometimes like the Wild West, so if you’re squeamish or easily offended prepare for a wild ride.

Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.

John-Michael Bond

John-Michael Bond

John-Michael Bond is a tech reporter and culture writer for Daily Dot. A longtime cord-cutter and early adapter, he's an expert on streaming services (Hulu with Live TV), devices (Roku, Amazon Fire), and anime. A former staff writer for TUAW, he's knowledgeable on all things Apple and Android. You can also also find him regularly performing standup comedy in Los Angeles.