Quarantine has impeded the ability for people to engage physically with one another due to social distancing guidelines, and it begs the question: How are you expected to connect to someone on a physical level if you can’t touch them?
In a time when getting down and dirty is harder than ever, people have had to get creative in order to fulfill themselves sexually. This has been seen through the increase in porn site visits since self-quarantine measures were put into place. PornHub reported that just two weeks after self-quarantine began, they saw an 11.6% increase in traffic to the site. By all accounts, the cybersex industry is booming worldwide as people find ways to kill two birds with one stone: pass the time while fulfilling their carnal desires.
What is almost more interesting though is how adult entertainments sites have capitalized on the virus by introducing coronavirus-related porn to their websites. These videos feature characters in masks and gloves playing out different virus centered scenarios and people are loving it, especially in the two US states hit hardest: Washington and New York. According to the same data obtained by PornHub, Washington and New York have seen a 22% and 24% increase, respectively, in searches for corona-themed porn. With the number of cases of COVID-19, constantly rising, it seems like people are “getting off” on fear.
But there’s an exploitative side to this: the coronavirus-themed porn videos that have been popping up play largely into existing stereotypes, especially Asian women. They lean on xenophobic attitudes while continuing to promote to the fetishization of Asian women.
Porn sites are also engaging in something that many people probably wouldn’t suspect: philanthropy. PornHub recently donated 50,000 masks to New York City workers who are fighting on the front lines of the pandemic. And while many people wouldn’t associate porn with charity, this isn’t a new venture for the adult entertainment streaming giant. In fact, PornHub launched its philanthropic wing “PornHub Cares” in 2015 and has been involved in campaigns ranging from global warming awareness to bee population preservation. We can’t forget that PornHub is a business, which charges money for its content- something they’ve ceased doing since the outbreak of the coronavirus.
So we see there’s a paradox that has emerged. Is PornHub showing “good” or “bad” behavior in the face of coronavirus? Because, yes, they are providing people with a sexual outlet and taking positive action to help communities, but they are also exploiting the tragedy that is this virus and exacerbating racial stereotypes. Are we willing to overlook the negative? It seems like the answer to that question is yes.
There’s another phenomenon that is happening in response to sexual frustration: the flock to cybersex platforms. In Britain, a website called “Cybersex Dating” gained more than 4,000 new users just two days after its launch. This site allows users to swap messages and share sexual fantasies with complete strangers. The platform has created a space in which you can fulfill your sexual desires without putting yourself or others at risk and could represent a new wave of “safe sex.” If there was ever a time to test out this method of sexual interaction, it’s right now.
For people who have a partner that they can quarantine with, fulfilling their ‘lockdown lust’ can be pretty easy. But what about those people who live alone or don’t have a partner to engage with? Well aside from porn and cybersex, the answer is clear: sex toys. Many major sex toy companies have seen their sales skyrocket, with some exceeding their sales targets by as much as 40%.
With bars closed and Tinder dates off the table, it’s no surprise that people are turning to the world of cybersex and self pleasure to meet their needs. The traditional perception of sex is disintegrating right before our eyes. People still widely believe that sex can only be pleasurable if it involves two people, but what is happening now in the face of corona is challenging that very notion. It is not only possible, but completely acceptable to have a sexual experience all on your own.
So since it’s a weird time for everyone, might as well get a little freaky.