If You Can Dream It, There is Online Erotica About It: The Internet and Fandom-Related Material

BY: Ashley Thompson, Ph.D.

The internet offers a unique opportunity for people to create and distribute their own works of art, whether it be short stories, visual art, or songs. Much of this art shares a common theme in which the subject of the piece is a famous character or pop culture icon. This incredibly popular form of art is referred to as “fanwork.” Fanwork is so popular, that several nonprofit websites designed to host a variety of fanworks (e.g., fanart, fanvids, podfic) can be accessed via the internet.

Image result for fanfiction

Despite its popularity, no research had investigated the creation and content of fanworks, that is, until Yvonne Anisimowicz and Dr. Lucia O’Sullivan came along. In their study of over 800 North American men and women, they were able to obtain some interesting statistics on this understudied area:

  • 15% of adults reported using fanworks containing sexual content
  • For sexual fanworks, fanfiction (71%) and fanart (55%) were the most popular
  • Despite the lack of gender differences in overall use of fanworks, women were more likely to consume fanfiction (86% vs. 60%) whereas men were more likely to consume fanart (67% vs. 39%)
  • Only 2% of men and 3% of women confessed to creating fanworks, in which the primary motives for creating were to impress others, for arousal purposes, and to facilitate masturbation.

For more fun facts, check out their article here.

Anisimowicz, Y., & O’Sullivan, L. F. (2017). Men’s and women’s use and creation of online sexually explicit materials including fandom-related works. Archives of sexual Behavior46, 823-833.