If your art is controversial people will look at it. For example paint a female nude in a suggestive pose. Actually in this case it can be utterly blatant. Men will look at it. If it’s good women will also look at it. Just remember that your market may be limited.
Also remember that where you post it may invite criticism or censorship. My daughter was trying to post an image that included a female nude. She was surprised when it was rejected since as nudes go it was rather innocuous. Apparently nipples are a problem on this particular site. Shock value can certainly sell art. I’m not opposed to shock value, I just don’t see it as necessary. However if it puts food on the table then go ahead (I’m a fan of food).
Nothing I do with my work is particularly controversial. I don’t seek out controversy to put in my paintings. Controversy can make people stop and think so in that way it’s good. Does it add to the painting? In most cases I don’t think so. Painting a haunting picture of a starving child may elicit a great deal of response but it likely won’t change the child’s circumstances. If you are enamoured with the beautiful image of the child and are compelled to paint it then great. However if you paint the child because you want to bring attention to the circumstances or want to change them then don’t bother. Give some money to a children’s charity where it might do some good. If you are compelled to do both then I might agree.