Pornhub Launches $25k Sex Research Grant for College Students

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Pornhub, the world’s most-visited and savvily-marketed porn site, has announced a $25,000 grant for “a human sexuality research project.” That’s not a euphemism—the tube site wants to award the funds to university faculty members to oversee student research.


The announcement accompanies a redesign of Pornhub’s year-old Sexual Wellness Center, a well-hidden subset of the site that offers advice and guidance on everything from STIs to consent. It also features weekly Q&As with Laurie Betito, the site’s director and a clinical psychologist specializing in sexuality. Now, Pornhub is venturing into research.

“With this grant, Pornhub hopes to help advance important work in the field, be it technological, medical, or sociologically rooted–so long as its end goal is to bring new information into the world that can help people lead happier and healthier sex lives,” said a press release.

That sounds good. The question, though, is whether universities will be willing to ally themselves with a porn site—and a piracy-riddled tube site at that.

Debby Herbenick, a prominent sex researcher and professor at Indiana University, told Jezebel it all depends on the school and researcher. “The amount offered could indeed fund student research projects,” she said in an email. It’s not uncommon for corporations to fund research—so, it’s essentially all good, as long as the grant recipients follow best practices. That would mean that Pornhub exerts little to no influence over research questions and doesn’t pressure researchers to get certain results.

This announcement fits perfectly within Pornhub’s overall marketing strategy. A recent visit to the site’s homepage served up videos with titles including “Big Squirt Compilation” and “Getting Blown on the Shitter”—and yet Pornhub manages to get routine press coverage everywhere from The Washington Post to BuzzFeed. A fundamental part of the Pornhub PR push has been to partner with media outlets to provide data on porn-viewing habits, whether it’s identifying an emerging niche, like giantess porn, or a news-pegged traffic surge, like the recent rise in Stormy Daniels searches.

When Pornhub isn’t crunching numbers and providing news outlets with slick infographics, it’s staging friendly do-gooder stunts—offering to clear people’s driveways with a Pornhub-branded snow plow or giving free Pornhub Premium access to women during their periods. The site has also created a $25,000 scholarship for women in tech and donated money to breast cancer, prostate cancer, and domestic violence charities. (Although, in 2012, Susan G. Komen declined funds from Pornhub’s “Save The Boobies” campaign.)


Amid all this, it’s easy to forget that Pornhub has attracted widespread criticism for how it allows content to be distributed. Some porn performers say it’s piracy and that it has driven them out of the business, while others lament that Pornhub’s parent company, Manwin, has a monopoly over the adult industry. As Chauntelle Tibbals, a sociologist who has studied the adult industry, told The Outline, Pornhub is “one of the most egregious piracy-based tube sites.” She said of the site’s good deeds, “It’s all stunt PR. It’s all a trick to distract us.”

Enterprising college sex researchers have until May 1 to apply for the grant and try to pocket Pornhub’s marketing dollars.

Senior Staff Writer, Jezebel


Mike Pipper Super GIF Enthusiast

or a news-pegged traffic surge, like the recent rise in Stormy Daniels searches.

*infantile giggling*