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What Does A Text Analysis Of Amateur Erotic Fiction Tell Us?

A data adventure into the dark, scary world of human sexual fantasy.

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Over the past few years people have gone fully mental for erotic literature. Fifty Shades of Grey became an international phenomenon in 2012, earning £13.5 million in its first weekend after the box office opened.

The phenomena didn’t end there, handcuff “situations” were on the rise (no pun intended), older people were suddenly getting more STIs and sales of rope, yes rope, went through the roof. But, also, more people began writing their own, decidedly more amateur, erotic literature and putting it on the internet.

Mike Mozart, Flickr / Via Flickr: jeepersmedia

You can find no end of articles online in the aftermath of the Fifty Shades Phenomena claiming that erotic literature doesn’t have to be bad or crude and here’s a list of x number of erotic literature’s you should read.

But amateur erotic literature is as bad and as crude as you might imagine.

An analysis of the content of more than 1,000 short erotic novels uploaded to the site Literotica, which allows anyone to submit saucy stories, showed some deeply disturbing things about our psyche.

So what noises do you make during sex?

Are you an “Aahh” kind of girl, or a “aaaarrrgghhhhyyyeeeaahhh” kind of guy? Chances are, amateur erotic fiction caters for your noises, whatever they may be.

With 63 variations on the classic British expression of excitement that is “ah” it seems that characters in erotic novels enjoy themselves no small amount, and who can honestly blame them.

Happily, there are just 11 instances of “eww” and “eek” and variations on these themes, which shows a certain comfortability with the weird and wonderful bodies of strangers that I’m sure we all envy.

The happiest graph you're ever likely to see

Wikimedia, Sam Walsh / Via

A rose by any other name...

Is sex better if you don’t call it sex? Probably, appears to be the answer, and the cruder the terminology, the better time you’re likely to have. If amateur erotic literature is to be believed. Which of course it is.

The word “fuck” and its derivatives are used as verbs more than 5,000 times across the novels, including one instance of “unfuck”, which I suppose is when they realise that what they just did was morally unforgivable and they undo it all and pretend it never happened.

Fuck is by some distance the most popular term for coitus in the novels, “sex” appears just 1,645 times and “make love” only 103. “Porking” and “bonk” appear as verbs twice a piece, which is pretty good going for what can be definitively described as the least sexy terms for intercourse ever imagined.

Wikimedia, Sam Walsh / Via

"Yes, but what about the genitals?!" I hear you cry!

Alright, hold your horses! The most popular term for the male genitalia is, by far, “cock”. Possibly because all amateur erotic fiction is written by James May, I don’t know.

“Cock” appears 6,742 times in the erotic fiction analysed, making it the 32nd most used word of all words. That’s including essential words like “the” and “that”. “Cock” is used more regularly in erotic fiction than “face”, “smile” and “love”. So basically the world is doomed.

There are also three references to “girlcock", which is good.

“Dick” clocks in at a lowly 1,537 mentions, which I suppose is great news for all the Richards of the world who are probably dead sick of that joke. “Shaft” comes in with a solid effort of 649 mentions, whilst the biologically accurate “Penis” is only mentioned seven times. Still, it beats “Schlong”, which is mentioned just four times. All in the one story. You know who you are.

As for the ladies, “Pussy” is by far the most popular choice at 4,495 mentions. “Clit” and its variations are mentioned just 1,305 times, whilst “Vagina” is mentioned a mere 295 times. Still significantly more than “Penis” though.

The focus on who’s horny is definitely more centred on the male participant as well, with more than 5,000 references to things becoming harder, and 515 references to things becoming wet or moist.

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This could be linked to the gender of the authors. Of the novels analysed, 48% were written by people who identify on Literotica as male, whilst 25% were written by people who identify as female. Another 25% didn’t supply their gender on their profiles, and the remainder identified as transsexual or a couple.

This is particularly interesting, when just 1 of the 100 best selling erotica authors on Amazon is a man, at the time of writing.

Does size matter?

Well the long and short of it is (sorry, again), yes. “Long”, longer” and “longest” are mentioned significantly more than “short”, “shorter” and “shortest”, at a ratio of more than 2:1. It’s probably unsurprising that our fantasies should focus on…er…things being a bit bigger and better than real life.

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"But I just love being called names!"

Well you’re in luck! A whole host of words that are used to degrade and demean women who dare take part in sexual acts are used liberally throughout amateur erotic fiction. “Slut” is most common, with more than 750 uses. There are nearly 600 uses of “Bitch” and 250 of “Whore”.

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As you might imagine, there’s no real male equivalent for these words. But couple this with the focus on the male genitals, and you start to form a darker picture of these novels. Whilst they’re a good bit of fun and easy to poke fun at, is the way women are portrayed and described somewhat problematic? Maybe even misogynistic?

Kate Newton, a journalist and “sexpert”, doesn’t think so. She said:

“I think derogatory words are used in erotic fiction because some women are aroused by them. Don’t forget, some women struggle with feelings of guilt about wanting sex; many fantasies therefore use ideas like rape and forced submission to sidestep the guilt.

"In a similar way, hearing words like “whore” can be a turn-on when it echoes these guilty feelings.”

Either way, derogatory terms for women are far more prevalent than kind ones, “Princess” is used just 125 times and Angel is used 157. Both are used less frequently than the word “Spurt”. So there you are.

Wikimedia, Sam Walsh / Via

As an aside, if anyone's concerned about the accuracy of my aubergines, I assure you, I've been quite particular.

Wikimedia, Sam Walsh / Via

Why is amateur erotic fiction so explicit?

You’ve probably noticed by now that none of the texts I’ve analysed have been particularly subtle. There’s no obvious reason for this, Literotica doesn’t actively encourage people to be explicit, and you’d think people could probably come up with a better way of referring to an intimate act than “fucking”.

Maureen Williams, a sex psychologist said that she encourages couples to read erotic extracts from books to each other. When asked about the explicit nature of the novels she said:

"If such literature has changed I would think that internet pornography could be a contributing factors. Unfortunately it is now where many young people get their sex education from creating very high and unrealistic expectations, especially for the boys."

Indeed, another text analysis of over 5,000 titles of porn videos found that derogatory terms like “slut”, “whore” and “bitch” were prevailing among the words used to describe women. As a percentage of words used, they were nearly ten times as likely to be found in porn video titles than erotic fiction.

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However, this is likely to be because titles and actual content are very different beasts, and because you require so many other words to make up a story, certainly significantly fewer than to make a title.

What can be said, is that a great amount of research has shown that consumption of pornography can make a man’s attitudes to women more sexist, and is actively changing the way our children grow up.

Yeah but how much of it is actually written about me?

You’re in luck if your name’s Sarah! Sarah is the most popular female name in erotic fiction. And who will Sarah be undertaking some rumpy-pumpy with this evening? Why, her good friends Jack and Mark of course. And if they’re lucky, John, Jessica and Mari will come along too. How lovely.

And where will they be? Of the UK cities mentioned in the stories, naturally London comes out on top, featuring 57 times. “Stoke” comes in a strong second, but from the context it appears it’s mostly just because the author has misspelt “stroke”.

With that in mind, it appears Liverpool is the second most popular destination for erotic novel characters. And, I mean, who’s surprised, right?

What have we learned?

The world of human sexual fantasy is a dark, scary place. Wild cocks roam willy nilly (sorry, again) through the slutty landscape, yet people seem to be having a reasonably good time, possibly due to the infrequency of porking.

So there you are.

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