Note: I watched My Little Pony porn for the sake of research. It is not my thing, and I have Pony Traumatic Stress Disorder now (and can’t even take credit for that phrase). You can honor my sacrifice by liking, sharing, tweeting, donating, or sending Tom Hiddleston to my house with a bottle of whiskey and a box of jelly doughnuts.

There is much to learn about Russian porn trends from Pornhub’s 2015 year in review stats. We are first going to first zero in on the elephant in the room. No getting around it. It is too massive.

We must talk about My Little Pony (MLP) porn.

MLP porn is surging in popularity in Russia:

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 14.43.44

MLP up 133 points! And as Pornhub told us in the summer of 2015, MLP porn is most popular in Belarus. Russia is a close second. Ukraine rounds out the top three (is this what conservative religious people mean when they say that Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine are “as inseparable as the Holy Trinity”? No?).

Bronies and Pegasisters, i.e. adults in the MLP fandom, are mostly based in the UK and the States. But considering the size of the fandom, it was natural that it would find a niche in Russia. Lurkmore, the sardonic Russian alternative to Wikipedia, has a good page on the subject for Russian-speakers. As Lurkmore notes, the positivity and cuteness of MLP was a driving factor in its popularity.

“The Dostoevsky-reading Russians are into positivity and cuteness?” some of you are asking.

Sure they are. They just don’t like to admit it. This is one of the factors that ensures that the MLP fandom flies under the radar in Russia – that and the state’s monopoly on popular culture (whatever can’t be co-opted is ignored).

As rule 34 reminds us, if it’s on the internet, someone is probably getting off on it. A huge fandom in particular will inspire pornographic content.

When I reached out to Russians active in the MLP fandom, they were loath to discuss porn. I also noticed that the explicit section of a popular MLP forum in Russia (I’m not talking about Russian imageboards, they tend to have less rules) is like a “gated community.” The content is there, but they don’t let just anyone wander by and gawp at it.

As Sophie Kleeman wrote at Mic, the greater MLP fandom finds cloppers (i.e. fans who are into MLP sex stuff) embarrassing.

As Kleeman also pointed out, the rise of MLP porn can be tied to millennial nostalgia. As we millennials mature, we gaze back fondly on the stuff that made childhood special. And by “gaze back fondly” I mean that we pornify it. Besides MLP, Disney porn and Simpsons porn are obviously a thing.

the simpsons laugh at you
See you in your nightmares.

Russian millennial nostalgia definitely exists. Most has to do with late Soviet era cartoons, with some occasional Western influence. But is there anything else going on?

Sergei (totally not his real name), who’s into MLP but not into MLP porn, told me the following (translated from Russian):

“I think [Russia’s] “gay propaganda” laws and all of this outward “conservative morality” or however you call it, the stuff that’s always in the press, is actually causing people to be more curious about the far-out stuff. It’s like the more people are pressured on the outside, the more unusual stuff they want to try when they’re alone.”

This, I’m sorry to say, brings me to Stalin.

Nope. Sorry. This is not going to be a foray into "Young Stalin" fanfic.
Nope. Sorry. This is not going to be a foray into “Young Stalin” fanfic.

An authoritarian regime aims to intrude upon people’s personal lives. Personal lives are suspect simply because they’re, well, personal – i.e. they diminish the authority of the state. Some of the mechanisms of intrusion, such as the willingness to use people’s personal lives against them, as perfected by the Stalin regime, are rusty but still in place today.

And as Afisha recently pointed out, notions of sexual freedom went with notions of other freedoms under Stalin. Russia, of course, did not properly deal with the legacy of Stalin, especially its lingering after-effects following the collapse of the USSR.

I believe that Russia’s recent swing to the right, with its gleeful mocking of Western-style personal freedoms, is an expression of anxieties and doubts that have not been put to rest alongside Stalin himself, and have continued to fester in the subconscious. Yet even as they beat their chests and scream about “traditional values,” Russians are not getting more socially conservative inwardly.

I would compare the growing popularity of MLP porn with the enduring popularity of state-approved Russian pop stars. On one hand, you have firebrand MPs screaming “BAN GAY PROPAGANDA,” and on the other hand, grown men in lipgloss and enough sequins to make Liberace weep dance across the television screen every day.

As this parody article on Russian singer Philip Kirkorov points out – the stuff these not-at-all camp performers produce can be summed up as “Wind Beneath My Peacock Feathers.”

Kirkorov reminds you that all of this excitement can mess up your guyliner.
Kirkorov reminds you that all of this excitement can mess up your guyliner.

Is consumption of MLP porn even all that weird when compared to this cultural dissonance? And does it not fit perfectly into a greater narrative about a relatively new country swinging back and forth between various extremes like a confused teenage boy?

Meanwhile, did the love scene in “Avatar” kind of turn you on? If it did, and if you’re also into explicit stuff, MLP porn could also be FOR YOU.

Most of it caters to people who like hentai. Some to people who like to see regular porn stars with colorful hair/accessories going at it while occasionally saying lines of franchise-relevant dialogue. Some of it can perhaps be enjoyed by hardcore furries (I’m not a furry, much less a hardcore one, so I don’t want to make any categorical pronouncements). Some of it is probably being watched for laughs. Etc.

MLP porn is a novelty. Novelties have a habit of losing popularity. But considering that Russia’s, um, pseudo-conservative bend is ongoing, it will be interesting to see if 2016 brings us any new unexpected trends.

***

Now that ponies are out of the way: Some people have assumed that Russians searching for Russian-themed porn is an expression of growing nationalism/pornographic import substitution. Yet Brazilians frequently search for “Brazil”, the French will search for “French”, and so on. It’s important to remember that porn is often about relating to the people you’re watching. And what can be more relatable than people who scream “HARDER” in the same language as you do?

***

I was also recently asked to address the popularity of “mom” porn or “MILF” porn in Russia, which is also not at all unique.

Playboy’s Dr. Justin Lehmiller wrote in 2014 about how all of this has little to do with guys being hung up on their moms. A lot of this may have to do with women’s changing status, but as Lehmiller also points out, plenty of guys are just interested in an experienced woman who knows what she wants, i.e. they’re interested in a woman who won’t be shy about showing them how to please her.

stiflers mom
Speaking of nostalgia: Stifler’s mom has got it going on.

Most men really like getting women off. It makes men feel confident and awesome. Cultural and political quirks aside, Russian men (and ladies, for that matter) aren’t that different from anyone else when it comes to sex. They like to give and receive pleasure.

I’m sure if Stalin had stuck around for long enough he would’ve found a way to fuck up this basic biological instinct too, and Russians would be getting their groove on with barrels of battery acid as opposed to with each other, but he didn’t, so let’s drink to that.

Did you know? I write for tips:
No guilt-trip, just good times

15 thoughts on “Pornhub’s 2015 insights on Russia: My Little Pony smut on the rise, “porn nationalism” is not a thing, MILFs are popular for a reason

  1. Pornhub releases new statistics and right on cue Ms. Natalia Antonova rushes to “analyze” them while forcing us to pretend that the exploitation and marginalization of women’s bodies is something to cheer for. I guess now it’s especially “OK” since we’re apparently talking about “pony porn”. Yes, let’s conveniently ignore all the way that the so called “pony porn” stokes and feeds a culture of objectification of real subjects. And let’s talk about MILFs while we’re at it because we should naturally throw our horny, salivating, overwhelmingly male readers a bone.

    A woman and a mother should be above writing such trash, but Ms. Antonova is too desperate to fit in/please her male readers to see the obviois.

  2. “Ms. Antonova is too desperate to fit in/please her male readers …”

    Ophelia Reborn, is your post performance art? If not, it comes across as an unexamined, knee-jerk reaction by someone who has not followed Natalia Antonova’s writing for very long. Since at least 2007, Natalia Antonova has always shown an interest in the social implications of a culture’s porn habits. Natalia here is simply continuing to share her insights into porn. I’ve read Natalia’s online work since 2007, and so far she has NEVER been desperate to please any of her audience. She has enough confidence in the first place that she doesn’t have to please men online. Natalia’s post here is a good read even for readers who aren’t particularly interested in pornography (how did My Little Pony become a pornographic object?!!).

    Historically, pornography has existed in almost every culture since Neolithic times. People might find it disturbing or distasteful, but it’s been a steady part of social culture. Get used to it.

  3. Russia is waging at least two wars and may or may not order a nuclear strike on the North American continent. But we’re supposed to care about what kind of porn these people are watching? Get real. The author is either incredibly shallow or is engaging in propaganda to distract from the real issues. Hmmmm, which one is it?

  4. K. Razine:

    Not to over-comment, but the study of pornography is a completely normal part of social and historical studies. Porn habits are part of a culture’s consumption pattern (as Natalia noted), and as such, porn habits sometimes mirror broader patterns in a culture. That’s exactly what Natalia, with her characteristic humor, is examining here. She’s not a propagandist, and what seems to be shallow really is just part of her calculated performance. Keep in mind that posts that are humorous are not necessarily shallow, even if they don’t seem completely serious on first reading. Try reading the post thoughtfully more than once; it improves with each reading.

  5. Is Ophelia Reborn actually Beth Ranch in disguise? Yup, I got a long memory. Anyway, whoever you are, honey, you don’t get it. Just because you personally disapprove of pornography doesn’t mean that pornography will cease to exist in the blistering heat of your disapproval. And for as long as it exists, people are gonna analyze it. Trying to make this out to be some sort of “come on” to her “male readers” is dumb and reeks of sexism.

    The “propaganda” charge is even more ridiculous. So if you write anything about Russia that doesn’t talk about war, you’re a propagandist. It never fails to amaze me, how fucking dumb some of the commenters here can get.

  6. Interesting…but you forget to mention that just as mlp porn is definitely on the rise in russia..so too is child porn in america…as a direct result of the u.s. government intrusions of the american people’s privacy rights via the patriot act

  7. Um, it is startlingly obvious to me (and to many others who read this blog), that Ms. Antonova writes about porn because it gets her attention and hits. I don’t know if this is “propaganda” per se, it’s just clickbaiting.

    Ms. Antonova is not a strong enough writer to keep her readers’ attentions (particularly male readers), so she regularly covers controversial/explicit topics here. I wouldn’t have a problem with it if she also didn’t claim to be a feminist.

    But because she does claim to be a feminist, she has a choice to make. Own up to the fact that serious porn “analysis” cannot be performed without admitting that the industry she covers is inherently bad for women or stop pretending she cares about women’s rights.

  8. Ophelia, you are right. I only read here because I know that in spite of Natalia’s serious tone, she writes all of these porn posts in full make-up, school-marmish glasses perched precariously on the tip of her nose, legs in seamed stockings crossed a little too primly for it to not be an ironic pose (the serious researcher doth protest too much), lips with a fresh coat of gloss, blouse… K, I’d love to describe her blouse, but I fear losing control.

    Or maybe, just maybe, an attractive woman who occasionally writes about porn is just that – an attractive woman who occasionally writes about porn. You wouldn’t have a problem if she were a 60-year-old academic with nose hairs and a gut (would you accuse him of trying to get attention from his female readers?). And the idea that a feminist can’t write about porn in a nuanced or, for that matter, detached way, is ridiculous. There is no judgement offered in this material. It’s a look at interesting statistics and what they may mean, imbued with gifs and humor that is characteristic of this blog. I enjoyed it! And I can’t even say I like porn.

    P.S. Natalia, please tell us that you really do write these things while wearing lip gloss and seamed stockings. *heart you*

  9. Of course, there is no way that writing about pornography in any way will escape the accusation of clickbaiting. (Especially since it may indeed be true that people searching for ‘Russian’ + ‘porn’ on google might end up here…)

    What makes me feel dismayed, though, is how quick the knee-jerk critics are at claiming that there couldn’t possibly be anything else involved — because who would write anything serious about porn, especially if it is positive?…

    (Maybe it would be interesting to write a little on the topic of ‘objectification’, this huge sin that all porn is apparently guilty of and which will eventually send porn and its fans to hell. I wonder what Ms Antonova’s views on the topic are?)

    In the end, they are just another version of the old prudish brigate. Ever since I heard of Catharine MacKinnon allying herself with churches and conservative right-wingers so as to get more support for anti-porn laws, I understood that there is a certain glamour to the attempt of ‘destroying’ porn: from time immemorial it has been villified, why should we stop today?…

    I wonder if the same critics would also be against destroying female-oriented erotica, like ‘romance’ novels, or sex toys like vibrators. Sure, if someone wrote a blog post about these things, there couldn’t possibly be anything feminist about it, or anything going even beyond mere gender analysis and more deeply into social and cultural studies — noooo, it would have to be clickbait too, right?

    And so the prudishness brigade goes on, proving that ‘slut-shaming’ and ‘scarlet letters’ are not a thing of the past, nor are they the exclusive property of ‘patriarchal’ structures. Nooo, they can be just as easily wielded by the new social warriors who would rather not look than look, understand and perhaps learn.

  10. Hi. I subscribed to this blog because I was interested in a different perspective on motherhood.

    What I certainly did not sign up for are long, pointless essays about people with perverted tastes! “Porn statistics insights”? Are we supposed to take this seriously. The person who said that this is unbecoming of a parent is absolutely right.

    Get over yourself, author. Grow up. Take a long, hard look in the mirror. The problem is right there, it’s in you. Listen to your critics. Get more worthwhile hobbies. Learn some basic self-respect. And maybe then you can join the adult world (and I don’t mean the “adult film critic world”) and get back on my subscription list.

  11. I have been reading all of these comments, and I have to say, some of you are absolutely out of line. I have been writing about the sex industry, and adult films, and erotica, and what it all means for years. These topics have never been taboo here, they are not going to become taboo here just because a few of you can’t handle the idea of a wife and mother writing about them. In fact, I would urge you to take a step back and examine WHY you are trying to police the content of this blog and using motherhood as an excuse. Would you treat a man the same way? I seriously doubt it.

    I know there’s been a number of new subscribers after WordPress promoted my post on art and motherhood. I am really, genuinely happy that you guys have subscribed. But if you’re going to lecture me on what I can and cannot write about, you are no better than the person who inspired that original post – i.e. the person who basically told me that I can’t combine poetry and plays with being a mom.

    Honestly, there is a big internet out there. Nobody is forcing you to stick around if you are so! desperately! offended! by some analysis of popular adult videos (I’ll remind you that there is no adult content on this site itself – but I guess some of you have active imaginations, huh).

    P.S. If anything, the tone of this discussion has once again proven to me that adult videos ARE an important socio-political barometer. Even the people who hate them are eager to discuss them.

  12. LoL – just LoL about the blog and esp. about the primitive (but pretending to be intellectual) audience here (typical in english segment of the web..even in top level journals nowadays).

    Such a grotesque.

    Hey, folks, do you know the difference between performance and installation accroding to Amsterdam School of Modern Art?
    ————–
    To s**t on the doorstep and then knock at the door – is installation.
    To knock at the door and then s**t on the doorstep – is performance.
    ————–

    Hope one is able to get this sarcastic metaphor.

    Thx God i’m russian and i usually don’t give a damn to performance, installation, feminism, conservatism, communism, liberalism, sexism, autism, racism, transparentism, democrapism etc and so on …..and thx God i have perfect tech. education , very broad mind, perfect logics and analytical skills…. and thx God we ,russians, have one thing what whole english civilization lacks – HealthySense (in english it’s. ridiculous common one).

    You ,folks, are becoming more and more primitive and limited everyday – whole continents of prole cultures and biorobotic societies.

    The author is a sorry semi-feministic(in russian circumstances represents IQ below avarage) pretty limited TP.
    Huh )

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