The X-rated film has, over the years, become part of the normal sexual life of French couples, a study conducted here has revealed.

Watching pornographic films is no longer the solitary and somewhat shameful preserve of a masculine minority, but a pastime indulged in by French couples wishing to spice up their sex lives.

The study was undertaken by the polling institute IFOP for Marc Dorcel, a major producer of pornographic films. “This study is indeed most revealing. It shows how far our sexual mores have evolved over the past two decades. Women no longer wish to be wilting lilies, shy and inhibited, who require ardent courting from men. The modern French woman fully assumes her sexuality and is often the more aggressive partner,” said sociologist Isabelle Nathan.

Francois Krause, who conducted the study — the first of its kind in France — said the advent of cable and internet had vastly “democratised” the availability of pornographic material and contributed to making it banal.

‘Complexes shed’

“The main conclusion that we can draw from this study is that the French have shed their sexual complexes,” Mr. Krause said. “People no longer watch explicit pornographic films alone and surreptitiously. Couples watch them together to break their mundane routine and this is true whatever the age group or social category.”

Fifty-seven per cent of the 1016 persons questioned online said they had watched X-rated films with their partners. Women said they felt easier watching them with their boyfriends or spouses rather than on their own.

“Almost 70 per cent of the women questioned said they would agree if asked by their partner to watch a porn film, but 30 per cent of them said they would do so only to please the man,” Mr. Krause said.

While 89 per cent of those questioned said they had already watched an X-rated film, 69 per cent admitted they found the material “exciting.”

Nevertheless, a majority of 59 per cent said the films were “ridiculous” and “degrading,” with only 21 per cent finding them “healthy” viewing.