The Good, The Bad And The Bumping Uglies: A Short Breakdown Of Sex In Meme Culture
Of all the words that could be used to describe internet culture, "horny" is near the top of the list. Never before have so many people been exposed to the disturbing breadth of human sexuality, as well as expressed it with such freedom.
It’s no surprise that sexual topics have made a massive impact on memes. Between confessional social media and Rule 34 , there’s plenty of material to choose from. Still, not all of it is created equal. There are numerous categories of sex memes, and each contributes a different angle to how the internet approaches sex &emdash; and not all of it is (completely) NSFW.
By virtue of the subject matter, many sex-related memes are graphic. This is especially when they explore any kind of specific niche. It has long been established that the intersection of pornography and memes tests the limits of our open minds, which is in part thanks to the legacy of shock viral content.
In the early popular meme culture of the 2000s, much of the most impactful sexual content was a mainstream reaction to niche and hardcore pornography. Things like Goatse, Tubgirl, Blue Waffle, and "1 Guy 1 Jar" served a purpose as troll fuel and markers of a certain level of internet knowledge. It seeped into subcultures, too, as proved by the running joke of recommending Boku no Pico to anime newbies on 4chan.
Perhaps the most impactful of all these were a combination of "2 Girls 1 Cup" and Mr. Hands. From 2007 onwards, they finessed the shock video notoriety genre. Utilizing even more gross and/or illegal subject matter than the likes of more stylized contemporaries such as Meatspin, they showed an expansion from a bait-and-switch approach to actively treating the content as a test of endurance, and a strong stomach.
Shock sex content is more prevalent memes of a certain vintage, although it still inspires content such as the continued semi-ironic popularity of the don’t Google troll comment. It has also enjoyed a resurgence at the beginning of this year thanks to the "Girl With Trout" video, a lower-stakes revisiting of the traumatizing bestiality horror of Mr. Hands and a cousin to "2 Guys 1 Fish".
Many contemporary sex memes have shocking elements. On the other hand, they enjoy the benefit of an established framework. Their details may not be expected, but the response that they provoke is. Shocking sex memes rely on the idea of a taboo, which has become less sensationalized with the further development of meme culture.
Publicizing feelings and preferences that might otherwise be considered private is key to many sex memes. This only prompts the desire to bring them out in the open for the sake of humor. To be horny is to be vulnerable, opening up ample opportunities for embarrassment when it is declared in a public arena. "Horny Jail"https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/go-to-horny-jail wouldn't exist if we didn't have a truly pressing need for it.
This reaction is often taken to extremes with more ironic content, such as the Emojipasta/Cummies trend. Painting a dramatic picture of words and images, many examples are engineered to overstimulate through pure repulsion.
Cringeworthy sex memes are also the most likely to dabble in the absurd. Riffing on the idea of supposedly relatable sexual scenarios and their popularity as a topic of discussion, they bring a sense of the unexpected to conversations where almost anything has been discussed.
Premises that tease relatability go in wild and ridiculous directions. Examples include "We fuckin' on the X bed tonight" and "Crocs stay on during sex", which act as advertisements for overly specific duvet sets and idiosyncratic drip, respectively.
While absurdity might rule in many instances of sex cringe memery, more down-to-earth content can be just as powerful in this arena. It encourages its frequently shame-filled embrace, leaning into the importance of restriction and longing. This is most obviously seen in a meme such as days without sex, which displays everything from light-hearted desperation to full-body cringe when it comes to describing the agony of sexual inactivity.
Indeed, this genre of meme places emphasis on sex as so essential to well-being that we will prostrate ourselves online in search of it. "Pussy from a girl who X" originates in memes that spoof Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the psychological theory of things necessary for ideal human function. Likening everyone from shoplifters to shitposters as the ideal sexual partners, it announces attraction in places some might consider unlikely.
The other side of the coin comes from one of the cringiest feelings of all, that of post-coital regret. "He literally just nutted in me" centers the disbelief in the abrupt journey from sex to its disappointing aftermath. An alternate side to the freedom of post-nut clarity intimacy can’t triumph other forms of entertainment.
Meanwhile, a meme like "How dudes have sex" presumes that certain heterosexual men have sex in a submissive or effeminate manner due to nonsexual interests perceived as pathetic. It might be intended to ridicule, but it lays the groundwork for "Submissive and breedable". This complimentary catchphrase jokingly reclaims any repulsion towards these kinds of behaviors with a drastic reimagining of wholesome masculinity, although it’s not always gender specific.
The cringeworthy umbrella for sex memes is wide and could arguably encompass everything that relates to the topic. Still, it takes an extra level of pointedness to curate this feeling to an unbearable point. Even when cringe sex content gets pretty weird, it touches a nerve with the conveyed awkwardness that many have experienced in their sexual reality.
With the emphasis much of the internet places on everything about sex, it’s inevitable that there are some memes that try to act as a counterbalance. There are numerous trends out there born out of a desire to subvert the obscenity that might otherwise be front and center.
One of the more playful forms of this comes from recontexualized porn memes, which crop explicit images and screenshots and use them to describe pedestrian, nonsexual scenarios. The feigned innocence encourages us all away from the lowest common denominator for once, while continuing to keep it in our minds. This can also be used in the case of shock images, which get memed after achieving a certain level of notoriety, e.g. Nikocado Avocado's coin slot.
Another type of deliberate context misreading comes in the form of individuals who use their Pornhub presence for wholesome, safe for work endeavors. Ryan Creamer gained viral fame with his friendly videos that joked about rejecting the many stereotypes of porn videos and sites. Not long after, E-girl ground zero Belle Delphine carried on the trend by posting numerous provocatively titled videos displaying innocent actions.
On top of this, the flipside of the availability and normalization of porn has famously engendered some pushback from some of its most dedicated audiences. No Nut November has become a movement of continued internet legend, trying to convince men to abstain from ejaculating for thirty days or longer. It has almost as many devotees as it does memes about the challenge’s struggles, and its yearly occurrence acts to some as a strict vibe shift from the norm unless people choose to take up its opponent, Nonstop Nut November.
This type of repressed content isn’t always created out of choice, either. The notoriously fickle censorship policies of TikTok have prompted some creative and occasionally controversial trends designed to evade detection at first glance.
Users have attempted a kind of sex positivity via code, as shown in the Mascara Wand Trend that recently became popular to talk about sex toys and vibrators. Some also used it to speak about sex in general, which was confusing enough to punish TikTok darling Julia Fox for not understanding that another user was talking about their sexual assault in one video .
Things become even more NSFW when users dive into acronym territory, with things like DYWMTCOAEYPTYCOMF and LMSYCUYCDMT encouraging meme consumers to decipher the promise of oral sex through their cryptic inclusion in thirst traps and contextualized videos.
Other coded language acts as a humorous stylistic choice as well as a necessity, as with the use the word of the word Corn and accompanying emoji to replace porn. Even if the topics approached are obscene, the rule-bending neutralizes them into something either palatable or infantilized, depending on perspective.
Finally, sex memes that benefit from a less is more approach can also be presented in a way where the gag departs all explanation, such as the unexplainable mystery that is Sex 2. Based on the idea that something supposedly good should have a sequel, whatever happens lies in the trusted hands of Don Cheadle.
There are many ways in which meme creators have worked around the margins of sex as a subject, making us question our lowbrow expectations. Still, the fact that these things exist at all is because of our own perceived dirty-mindedness. This combination ultimately drives its continuation and any resistance to it.
While some movements make a point of subverting explicit impulses, there are even more that wholeheartedly lean into it. There is no getting away from the fact that the most abundant type of sex memes are the ones that are straightforwardly horny, as the evergreen applicability of "Horny Jail"https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/go-to-horny-jail/photos proves.
Memes that approach this emotion with sincerity have never been difficult to find, and work through all kinds of formats. From the days when sexual predicaments were hashed out in rage comics to the hilariously appropriate gif/text pairing that looks good on iFunny, this genre has always been everywhere. The creative leap is made to find sex in the unexpected, too, as featured prominently in a meme like "Everything reminds me of her/him". It's even been used for more niche purposes
as with the I've Seen Enough Hentai To Know Where This Is Going meme that finds indications of tentacle porn in completely innocuous media.
It goes without saying that almost every pop cultural figure, character, or celebrity has been the subject of unapologetic hornyposting over time. Depending on their defining features or impacts on certain subcultures, some have been more prominent than others. Lady Dimitrescu from Resident Evil Village and edited Busty Aunt Cass from Big Hero 6 offer impactful examples from the past couple of years, and not even real people are safe, as proven with what happened with some decades-old rumors that kickstarted Nancy Reagan throat goat meme.
Even topics that may be non-sexual at face value have been consumed by these appetites, most prominently in the unavoidable 2010s phenomenon of food porn. Representing gifs, images and videos of appealing edible items, it’s a term that has taken on a more literal undertone with the advent of engagement bait cooking tutorials, which are often purported to be fetish content.
It’s little surprise that there are a substantial number of famous reaction images and comments that are unabashedly horny. Dan Nicky Your Bobbie s, a botched comment on a risqué Nicki Minaj Instagram post, became a short-lived catchphrase for cleavage-based bamboozlement that reached nonsensical proportions on Tumblr in particular. A spiritual cousin to this comes in the form of Booba, a variation of 4chan origins that with the emphasis of Pepe is similarly taken aback by breasts.
They are chaste in the grand scheme of many sex memes, but they also represent the more casual attitude to this self-expression. This is made more acceptable by the following of the memetic script. It also helps individuals avoid becoming the meme material that they’re using to communicate.
This can venture into more NSFW territory as well, a prominent example being how Hentai Quotes and Hentai Tags speak for users in a way they might not find as easy to do themselves
There is also the odd example that can be put to more general use, such as God I Wish That Were Me . A comment that originated under a piece of adult baby fetish art on DeviantArt, it expanded to become a response to all kinds of scenarios perceived as desirable on the likes of Twitter.
Unsurprisingly, Pornhub has also served as an inspiration for this subcategory with the craze of transposing real comments from the site onto stock photography and fake valentines. It made what something many would consider to be a minor part of the operation into a stare across the pre, during, and post-nut abyss.
Sexual comments and reaction trends are not always perceived as so harmless, though. The recent "I know it’s pink" trend speculates on the appearance of the genitals of people who post images and videos of themselves. It generated controversy after being called out as harassment, including cases of TikTok comments where the subjects were occasionally underage.
Most recently, the intense discussion surrounding AI Porn has inspired a new wave of horny meme-making. After years of the internet revealing the deepest, grossest secrets of all sexuality, they have moved on to their relationship with the uncanny.
Having plumbed the depths of both what is real and what we can make from our imagination, new ways to combine the two are the next frontier. The debate it provokes only aids the cause of memes, as demonstrated with the "It’s SO over" format parodying the bikini-clad women who made realist artificial pornography viral.
In the eye of the meme consumer, the most engaging types of sex memes are the ones which also carry the most truth to them. However, relatability and attraction are entirely subjective factors. Content that runs with our most pleasurable instincts undoubtedly boosts the dopamine hit. The results may not always be positive, but they are certainly impactful.
The candid attitude that the internet takes to sexuality is a blessing for memes and a headache for anyone who spends a lot of time looking at them. For all that sex-related content saturates meme culture, its popularity and diversity is derived from a combination of societal, subcultural expectations and the platform-based censorship it navigates.
That said, this only strengthens the appeal of it as a topic. Pushing and reformulating the boundaries of something so primal is a temptation that is too much to resist, and any pushback only fuels this. The appearance of the culture wars may change, but the entertainment value of horniness is forever.
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