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Men’s and Women’s Use and Creation of Online Sexually Explicit Materials Including Fandom-Related Works


The Internet and mobile computing have been highly influential in shaping the modern technological era and subsequently the production of and access to online sexually explicit materials (SEM). Fandom—the realm of fans sharing a common interest—has also adapted to the Internet, which has changed how fans access and distribute fanworks (i.e., material created by fans such as stories and art), many of which contain SEM. The current study examined gender differences in the use and creation of online SEM by surveying 468 men and 347 women (ages 18 or older; mean age = 33.8 years) residing in North America. Participants completed anonymous measures assessing demographic information, experiences using and creating online SEM, and measures of related sexual attitudes. Use of online SEM was widely reported by participants, with men (87.8 %) indicating more use than with women (67.4 %). As expected, few participants reported creating online SEM (3.6 % of men, 4.9 % of women). Men and women reported similar levels of preferred sexual explicitness in the online SEM that they used. There were no significant gender differences in the use of fanworks reported by men (14.3 %) and women (14.7 %) or in the creation of fanworks (1.5 % of men, 3.2 % of women). Fandom-related online SEM use was predicted only by more permissive sexual attitudes (one of eight predictors). Although there were many similarities between men’s and women’s use of online SEM, some gender differences were found in their motives for online SEM use. Findings are discussed in terms of the context in which men and women experience online SEM.

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We extend our thanks to Ashley Thompson and Mary Byers for their contributions to this study.


This research was supported by funds from a Canada Research Chair held by Dr. O’Sullivan.

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Correspondence to Lucia F. O’Sullivan.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the University of New Brunswick and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Anisimowicz, Y., O’Sullivan, L.F. Men’s and Women’s Use and Creation of Online Sexually Explicit Materials Including Fandom-Related Works. Arch Sex Behav 46, 823–833 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-016-0865-5

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  • Sexually explicit material
  • Gender differences
  • Internet
  • Fandom
  • Fanworks