There are more gay men in the closet than we think. Many men are more attracted to overweight women than to slim women but are afraid to act on it. The number one question that married women have about their husbands is whether he is gay. All of these statements are facts, according to Google search result data.
“Google is a digital truth serum,” says Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, author of Everybody Lies, a new book that uses data on America’s Google search habits to discover trends and secrets that people are unlikely to admit in surveys.
The truth about the nation’s sexual desires is stranger than we previously thought. What else are we hiding from our friends, neighbors, and colleagues?
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Among other things, porn featuring violence against women is more popular among women than men. A lot of straight women watch lesbian porn. A married man’s number one concern is most likely to be “is my wife crazy?”
Explaining why Google search and porn data is more effective at discovering what people are really like, Stephens-Davidowitz says that the traditional way to learn about people’s sexual desires – asking them to be honest – doesn’t really work.
“People lie on sensitive topics such as sex.”
Crunching the hard data from millions of anonymous Google searches is a much more accurate way to gauge what people are really worried about. And what really turns them on.
“Fantasy life isn’t always politically correct,” Stephens-Davidowitz says.
“I think porn is a pretty good measure of people’s sexual fantasies, even if they never act on them. Watching a porn video is a lot more telling than answering a survey question.”
And the hard data suggests married men and women are barking up the wrong tree when it comes to suspicions about their spouses.
The vast majority of husbands are not gay, Stephens-Davidowitz says.
“I think women are too obsessed with their husbands’ sexuality. Women are eight times more likely to ask Google if their husband is gay than if he is an alcoholic and 10 times more likely to ask Google if their husband is gay than if he is depressed. It is far more likely that a woman is married to a man who is secretly an alcoholic or secretly depressed than secretly gay. About 98 percent of women’s husbands are really straight. Trust me.”
But what about the hordes of husbands secretly worried that their wives are “crazy”? What should these husbands actually worry about?
“Whether their wives are more physically attracted to women than men. About 20 percent of the porn women watch is lesbian porn. A lot of straight women watch lesbian porn.”
The type of porn watched by women came as a shock to Stephens-Dadowitz.
“Porn featuring violence against women is also extremely popular among women. It is far more popular among women than men. I hate saying that because misogynists seem to love this fact.
“The rate at which women watch violent porn is roughly the same in every part of the world. It isn’t correlated with how women are treated.”
But that wasn’t the only surprise.
“There are still sexual preferences that people hide today, even in socially liberal places. About one in 100 porn searches are for the elderly. Hundreds of thousands of young men are predominantly attracted to elderly women. But very few young men are in relationships with elderly women.”
The pressure to conform to society and the desire to impress people is ruining a lot of people’s lives.
“Porn featuring overweight women is surprisingly common among men. But the data from dating sites tells us that just about all men try to date skinny women. Many people don’t try to date the people they’re most attracted to. They try to date the people they think would impress their friends.
“It’s also inefficient. There are a lot of single men and single overweight women who would be sexually compatible. But they don’t date, while the man tries and fails to date a skinny woman even though he’s less attracted to her. And then there are women who practically starve themselves to remain skinny so their husbands won’t leave, even though their husbands would be more attracted to them if they weighed more. The desire to impress people causes all kinds of inefficiency.”
But it’s not just America. Google search data reveals that people all around the world are united by sexual repression.
“Japanese men have recently become obsessed with tickling porn. More than 10 percent of Pornhub searches by young Japanese men are for “tickling,” Stephens-Dadowitz says.
“The number one Google search in India that starts “my husband wants …” is “my husband wants me to breastfeed him.” Porn featuring adult breastfeeding is higher in India than anywhere else. In just about every country, just about every Google search looking for advice on breastfeeding is looking how to breastfeed a baby. In India, Google searches looking for breastfeeding advice are about equally split between how to breastfeed a baby and how to breastfeed a husband.
“After I published this finding, some journalists interviewed people in India. Everyone denied this. But I am sure, based on the data, that there are a reasonable number of adult Indian men desiring to be breastfed. It is really amazing that this desire can develop in one country without ever being openly talked about.”
“It is really amazing how much tastes can vary. There are women who just watch porn featuring short, fat men with small penises. There are men who just watch porn featuring women with enormous nipples.”
Stephens-Dadowitz believes that the world would be a better place if we were all more open about our sexual desires. And after spending years studying the world’s secret Google searches, he has an idea.
“Sometimes I think it would be a good thing if everyone’s porn habits were released at once. It would be embarrassing for 30 seconds. And then we’d all get over it and be more open about sex.”