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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pornography or porn is the portrayal of explicit sexual subject matter for the purposes of sexual excitement and erotic satisfaction.

Pornography may use any of a variety of media, ranging from books, magazines, postcards, photos, sculpture, drawing, painting, animation, sound recording, film, video, or video game. However, when sexual acts are performed for a live audience, by definition, it is not pornography, as the term applies to the depiction of the act, rather than the act itself. Thus, portrayals such as sex shows and striptease are not classified as pornography.

Pornography has often been subject to censorship and legal restraints on publication on grounds of obscenity. Such grounds and the very definition of what is or is not pornography have differed in different historical, cultural and national contexts.[1]

Over the past few decades, an immense industry for the production and consumption of pornography has grown,[citation needed] with the increasing use of the VCR, the DVD, and the Internet, as well as the emergence of social attitudes more tolerant of sexual portrayals. Performers in pornography are referred to as pornographic actors (or actresses), or the more commonly known title "porn star" and are generally seen as qualitatively different from their mainstream counterparts.[citation needed] Amateur pornography has become widely popular and generally distributed via the Internet for free.

Contents

Etymology

The word derives from the Greek πορνογραφία (pornographia), which derives from the Greek words πόρνη (pornē, "prostitute" and pornea, "prostitution"), and γράφω (graphō, "I write or record," derived meaning "illustration," cf. "graph"), and the suffix -ία (-ia, meaning "state of," "property of," or "place of"), thus meaning "a written description or illustration of prostitutes or prostitution."

History

The Venus of Willendorf, a figurine with exaggerated sexual characteristics
Oil lamp artifact depicting coitus more ferarum.

Depictions of a sexual nature are as old as civilization (and possibly older, in the form of venus figurines and rock art)[2], but the concept of pornography as understood today did not exist until the Victorian era. Nineteenth century legislation outlawed the publication, retail and trafficking of certain writings and images, regarded as pornographic, and would order the destruction of shop and warehouse stock, meant for sale. However, the private possession of and viewing of (some forms of) pornography was not made an offence until recent times.[3]

When large scale excavations of Pompeii were undertaken in the 1860s, much of the erotic art of the Romans came to light, shocking the Victorians who saw themselves as the intellectual heirs of the Roman Empire. They did not know what to do with the frank depictions of sexuality, and endeavored to hide them away from everyone but upper class scholars. The moveable objects were locked away in the Secret Museum in Naples and what could not be removed was covered and cordoned off as to not corrupt the sensibilities of women, children and the working class. Soon after, the world's first law criminalizing pornography was enacted by the Parliament of the United Kingdom in 1857 in the Obscene Publications Act.

The Victorian attitude that pornography was for a select few can be seen in the wording of the Hicklin test stemming from a court case in 1868 where it asks, "whether the tendency of the matter charged as obscenity is to deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences." Despite the fact of their suppression, depictions of erotic imagery were common throughout history.[4]

Sub-genres

In general, softcore refers to pornography that does not depict penetration (usually genitals are not shown right on camera), and hardcore refers to pornography that depicts penetration explicitly.

Pornography takes different forms depending on physical characteristics of the participants, fetish, sexual orientation, etc. Reality and voyeur pornography, animated videos, and legally prohibited acts also influence the classification of pornography. Some popular genres of pornography include:

Economics

Revenues of the adult industry in the United States have been difficult to determine. In 1970, a Federal study estimated that the total retail value of all the hard-core porn in the United States was no more than $10 million.[5]

In 1998, Forrester Research published a report on the online "adult content" industry estimating $750 million to $1 billion in annual revenue. As an unsourced aside, the Forrester study speculated on an industry-wide aggregate figure of $8–10 billion, which was repeated out of context in many news stories,[6] after being published in Eric Schlosser's book on the American underground economy.[7] Studies in 2001 put the total (including video, pay-per-view, Internet and magazines) between $2.6 billion and $3.9 billion.[8]

A significant amount of pornographic video is shot in the San Fernando Valley, which has been a pioneering region for producing adult films since the 1970s, and has since become home for various models, actors/actresses, production companies, and other assorted businesses involved in the production and distribution of pornography.

The porn industry has been considered influential in deciding format wars in media, including being a factor in the VHS vs. Betamax format war (the videotape format war)[9][10] and in the Blu-ray vs. HD DVD format war (the high-def format war).[9][10][11]

Non-commercial pornography

As well as the porn industry, there is a large amount of non-commercial pornography. This should be distinguished from commercial pornography falsely marketed as featuring "amateurs." The Alt Sex Stories Text Repository focuses on prose stories collected from Usenet. Various Usenet groups are focused on non-commercial pornographic photographs.

Technology

Mass-distributed pornography is as old as the printing press. Almost as soon as photography was invented, it was being used to produce pornographic images. Some claim that pornography has been a driving force in the development of technologies from the printing press, through photography (still and motion), to video, satellite TV, DVD, and the Internet. With the invention of tiny cameras and wireless equipments voyeur pornography is gaining ground. Mobile cameras are used to capture pornographic photos or videos, and forwarded as MMS.

Computer-generated images and manipulations

Digital manipulation requires the use of source photographs, but some pornography is produced without human actors at all. The idea of completely computer-generated pornography was conceived very early as one of the most obvious areas of application for computer graphics and 3D rendering.

Until the late 1990s, digitally manipulated pornography could not be produced cost-effectively. In the early 2000s, it became a growing segment, as the modelling and animation software matured and the rendering capabilities of computers improved. As of 2004, computer-generated pornography depicting situations involving children and sex with fictional characters, such as Lara Croft, is already produced on a limited scale. The October 2004 issue of Playboy featured topless pictures of the title character from the BloodRayne video game.[12]

Production and distribution by region

The production and distribution of pornography are economic activities of some importance. The exact size of the economy of pornography and the influence that it has in political circles are matters of controversy.

Legal status

Sex and the law
Social Issues
Rights · Ethics
Pornography · Censorship
Miscegenation (interracial relations)
Same-sex marriage · Homophobia
Red-light district
Age of consent · Essentialism
Objectification · Antisexualism
Violence · Slavery
Public morality · Norms
Specific Offences
May vary according to Jurisdiction
Adultery · Incest
Sexting · Seduction
Deviant sexual intercourse
Sodomy · Buggery · Zoophilia
Criminal transmission of HIV
Circumcision · Female Genital Cutting
Sexual harassment · Public indecency
Extreme pornography · Child pornography
Sexual assault · Rape · Statutory rape
Sexual abuse (Child)
Child grooming · Prostitution of children
Prostitution and Pimping
Portals: Sexuality · Law · Criminal justice
See List of pornography laws by region for detailed list

The legal status of pornography varies widely from country to country. Most countries allow at least some form of pornography. In some countries, softcore pornography is considered tame enough to be sold in general stores or to be shown on TV. Hardcore pornography, on the other hand, is usually regulated. The production and sale, and to a slightly lesser degree the possession, of child pornography is illegal in almost all countries, and most countries have restrictions on pornography involving violence or animals.

Pornographic entertainment on display in a sex shop window. There is usually a minimum age to go into pornographic stores.

Most countries attempt to restrict minors' access to hardcore materials, limiting availability to adult bookstores, mail-order, and television channels that parents can restrict, among other means. There is usually an age minimum for entrance to pornographic stores, or the materials are displayed partly covered or not displayed at all. More generally, disseminating pornography to a minor is often illegal. Many of these efforts have been rendered practically irrelevant by widely available Internet pornography.

In the United States, a person receiving unwanted commercial mail he or she deems pornographic (or otherwise offensive) may obtain a Prohibitory Order, either against all mail from a particular sender, or against all sexually explicit mail, by applying to the United States Postal Service.

There are recurring urban legends of snuff movies, in which murders are filmed for pornographic purposes. Despite extensive work to ascertain the truth of these rumors, law enforcement officials have been unable to find any such works.

The Internet has also caused problems with the enforcement of age limits regarding performers and subjects. In most countries, males and females under the age of 18 are not allowed to appear in porn films, but in several European countries the age limit is 16, and in Denmark it is legal for women as young as 16 to appear topless in mainstream newspapers and magazines.[citation needed] This material often ends up on the Internet and can be viewed by people in countries where it constitutes child pornography, creating challenges for lawmakers wishing to restrict access to such material.

Some people, including pornography producer Larry Flynt and the writer Salman Rushdie,[13] have argued that pornography is vital to freedom and that a free and civilized society should be judged by its willingness to accept pornography.

The UK Government has criminalised possession of what it terms "extreme pornography" following the highly publicised murder of Jane Longhurst.

Effect on sexual crime

Research concerning the effects of pornography is inconclusive. Some studies support the contention that the viewing of pornographic material may increase rates of sexual crimes, while others have shown no effects, or a decrease in the rates of such crimes. Moreover, all these studies focus on various correlations, but correlation does not imply causation.

Anti-pornography movement

A French caricature on "the great epidemic of pornography."

Opposition to pornography comes generally, though not exclusively, from several sources: law, religion and feminism.

Feminist objections

Feminist critics of pornography, such as Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon, generally consider it demeaning to women. They believe that most pornography eroticizes the domination, humiliation, and coercion of women, reinforces sexual and cultural attitudes that are complicit in rape and sexual harassment, and contributes to the androcentric objectification of women.

Legal objections

Religious objections

Some religious groups discourage members from viewing pornography, and support legislation restricting its publication. These positions derive from broader religious beliefs about human sexuality. They believe that God created human beings and created sexual intercourse for them in the context of marriage. Thus, sex-oriented entertainment, as well as lack of modesty, are considered to cheapen human sexuality and be a misuse of it.[14]

See also

Further reading

Advocacy

  • Susie Bright. "Susie Sexpert's Lesbian Sex World and Susie Bright's Sexual Reality: A Virtual Sex World Reader", San Francisco, CA: Cleis Press, 1990 and 1992. Challenges any easy equation between feminism and anti-pornography positions.
  • Betty Dodson. "Feminism and Free speech: Pornography." Feminists for Free Expression 1993. May 8, 2002[15]
  • Kate Ellis. Caught Looking: Feminism, Pornography, and Censorship. New York: Caught Looking Incorporated, 1986.
  • Susan Griffin. Pornography and Silence: Culture's Revenge Against Nature. New York: Harper, 1981.
  • Matthew Gever. "Pornography Helps Women, Society"[16], UCLA Bruin, 1998-12-03.
  • Jason Russell. "The Canadian Past-Time" "Stand Like A Rock"
  • Michele Gregory. "Pro-Sex Feminism: Redefining Pornography (or, a study in alliteration: the pro pornography position paper)[17]
  • Andrea Juno and V. Vale. Angry Women, Re/Search # 12. San Francisco, CA: Re/Search Publications, 1991. Performance artists and literary theorists who challenge Dworkin and MacKinnon's claim to speak on behalf of all women.
  • Michael Kimmel. "Men Confront Pornography". New York: Meridian—Random House, 1990. A variety of essays that try to assess ways that pornography may take advantage of men.
  • Wendy McElroy defends the availability of pornography, and condemns feminist anti-pornography campaigns.[18]
    • "A Feminist Overview of Pornography, Ending in a Defense Thereof"[19]
    • "A Feminist Defense of Pornography"[20]
  • Annalee Newitz. "Obscene Feminists: Why Women Are Leading the Battle Against Censorship" San Francisco Bay Guardian Online May 8, 2002. May 9, 2002[21]
  • Nadine Strossen:
    • "Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex and the Fight for Women's Rights" (ISBN 0-8147-8149-7)
    • "Nadine Strossen: Pornography Must Be Tolerated"[22]
  • Scott Tucker. "Gender, Fucking, and Utopia: An Essay in Response to John Stoltenberg's Refusing to Be a Man"[23] in Social Text 27 (1991): 3-34. Critique of Stoltenberg and Dworkin's positions on pornography and power.
  • Carole Vance, Editor. "Pleasure and Danger: Exploring Female Sexuality." Boston: Routledge, 1984. Collection of papers from 1982 conference; visible and divisive split between anti-pornography activists and lesbian S&M theorists.

Opposition

References

  1. ^ H. Mongomery Hyde (1964) A History of Pornography: 1-26
  2. ^ http://books.google.com/books?id=vhSHn-B89A0C&pg=PA195
  3. ^ H. Montgomery Hyde A History of Pornography. (1969) London, Heinemann: 14
  4. ^ Beck, Marianna (May 2003). "The Roots of Western Pornography: Victorian Obsessions and Fin-de-Siècle Predilections". Libido, The Journal of Sex and Sensibility. http://www.libidomag.com/nakedbrunch/archive/europorn07.html. Retrieved 2006-08-22. 
  5. ^ President's Commission on Obscenity and Pornography. Report of The Commission on Obscenity and Pornography 1970, Washington, D.C.: U. S. Government Printing Office.
  6. ^ Richard, Emmanuelle (2002-05-23). "The Naked Untruth". Alternet. Archived from the original on 2004-09-28. http://web.archive.org/web/20040928182112/http://www.alternet.org/story/13212/. Retrieved 2006-09-08. 
  7. ^ Schlosser, Eric (2003-05-08). Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 978-0618334667.  Schlosser's book repeats the $10 billion figure without additional evidence
  8. ^ Ackman, Dan (2001-05-25). "How Big Is Porn?". Forbes.com. Forbes.com. Archived from the original on 2001-06-09. http://web.archive.org/web/20010609221146/http://www.forbes.com/2001/05/25/0524porn.html. Retrieved 2007-11-08. "$2.6 billion to $3.9 billion. Sources: Adams Media Research, Forrester Research, Veronis Suhler Communications Industry Report, IVD" 
  9. ^ a b Mearian, Lucas (2006-05-02). "Porn industry may be decider in Blu-ray, HD-DVD battle". Macworld. Mac Publishing. Archived from the original on 2006-07-12. http://web.archive.org/web/20060712001523/http://www.macworld.com/news/2006/05/02/pornhd/index.php?lsrc=mwrss. Retrieved 2007-11-08.  Ron Wagner, Director of IT at a California porn studio: "If you look at the VHS vs. Beta standards, you see the much higher-quality standard dying because of [the porn industry's support of VHS] ... The mass volume of tapes in the porn market at the time went out on VHS."
  10. ^ a b Lynch, Martin (2007-01-17). "Blu-ray loves porn after all". The Inquirer. Incisive Media Investments. Archived from the original on 2007-11-07. http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:www.theinquirer.net/en/inquirer/news/2007/01/17/blu-ray-loves-porn-after-all. Retrieved 2007-11-08. "By many accounts VHS would not have won its titanic struggle against Sony's Betamax video tape format if it hadn't been for porn. This might be over-stating its importance but it was an important factor. ... There is no way that Sony can ignore the boost that porn can give the Blu-ray format." 
  11. ^ Gardiner, Bryan (2007-01-22). "Porn Industry May Decide DVD Format War". FOXNews.com - Technology News. Ziff Davis Media. Archived from the original on 2007-02-10. http://web.archive.org/web/20070210100959/http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,245638,00.html. Retrieved 2007-11-08. "As was expected, the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show saw even more posturing and politics between the Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD camps, with each side announcing a new set of alliances and predicting that the end of the war was imminent." 
  12. ^ "Playboy undressed video game women - Aug. 25, 2004". http://money.cnn.com/2004/08/25/commentary/game_over/column_gaming/. Retrieved 2006-08-26. 
  13. ^ Baxter, Sarah; Brooks, Richard (2004-08-08). "Porn is vital to freedom, says Rushdie". Times Online. Times Newspapers. Archived from the original on 2007-11-08. http://www.webcitation.org/5TD5Q8UAz. Retrieved 2007-11-08. "Pornography exists everywhere, of course, but when it comes into societies in which it’s difficult for young men and women to get together and do what young men and women often like doing, it satisfies a more general need.... While doing so, it sometimes becomes a kind of standard-bearer for freedom, even civilisation." 
  14. ^ "Bodies, Breakfast and the Marriage Bed". http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/TasteAndSee/ByDate/1997/3097_Bodies_Breakfast_and_the_Marriage_Bed/. Retrieved 2010-01-05. 
  15. ^ Feminism and Free speech: Pornography
  16. ^ Pornography Helps Women, Society
  17. ^ Pro-Sex Feminism: Redefining Pornography
  18. ^ You Are What You Read?
  19. ^ A Feminist Overview of Pornography, Ending in a Defense Thereof
  20. ^ A Feminist Defense of Pornography
  21. ^ Obscene Feminists: Why Women Are Leading the Battle Against Censorship
  22. ^ Nadine Strossen: Pornography Must Be Tolerated
  23. ^ Gender, Fucking, and Utopia: An Essay in Response to John Stoltenberg's Refusing to Be a Man

External links

Commentary
Government
History
Sociology

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Pornography is the representation of the human body or sexual activity with the goal of sexual arousal.

  • [I can't define what is pornography.] "But I know it when I see it."
    • popular paraphrase of Potter Stewart, opinion in Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964)
  • Obscenity is a cleansing process, whereas pornography only adds to the murk.
  • I once stole a pornographic book that was printed in Braille. I used to rub the dirty parts.
  • PORNOGRAPHY: A two-dimensional substitute for that which the consumer cannot accomplish in three.
    • Rick Bayan, The Cynic's Dictionary
  • Pornography has been so thickly glossed over with the patina of chic these days in the name of verbal freedom and sophisication… Part of the problem is that those who traditionally have been the most vigorous opponents of porn are often those same people who shudder at the explicit mention of any sexual subject… There can be no equality in porn, no female equivalent, no turning of the tables in the name of bawdy fun. Pornography, like rape, is a male invention, desgined to dehumanize women… Pornography is the undiluted essence of anti-female propoganda.
    • Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will (1975)
  • Pornography is the theory, and rape is the practice.
    • Robin Morgan "Theory and Practice: Pornography and Rape", 1974 in Going Too Far: The Personal Chronicle of a Feminist (1977).
  • Pornography is about dominance and often pain. Erotica is about mutuality and always pleasure.
    • Gloria Steinem "Erotica vs Pornography", in Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions (1983).
  • The difference between pornography and erotica is lighting.
  • In practice, attempts to sort out good erotica from bad porn inevitably comes down to 'What turns me on is erotic; what turns you on is pornographic.'
  • [I]n the male sexual lexicon, which is the vocabulary of power, erotica is simply high-class pornography: better produced, better conceived, better executed, better packaged, designed for a better class of consumer. As with the call girl and the streetwalker, one is turned out better but both are produced by the same system of sexual values and both perform the same sexual service.
  • Pornography is used in rape - to plan it, to execute it, to choreograph it, to engender the excitement to commit the act.
    • Andrea Dworkin, testimony before the New York Attorney General's Commission on Pornography in 1986
  • Feminists are often asked whether pornography causes rape. The fact is that rape and prostitution caused and continue to cause pornography. Politically, culturally, socially, sexually, and economically, rape and prostitution generated pornography; and pornography depends for its continued existence on the rape and prostitution of women.
  • Women, for centuries not having access to pornography and now unable to bear looking at the muck on the supermarket shelves, are astonished. Women do not believe that men believe what pornography says about women. But they do. From the worst to the best of them, they do.
  • Pornography is the orchestrated destruction of women's bodies and souls; rape, battery, incest, and prostitution animate it; dehumanization and sadism characterize it; it is war on women, serial assaults on dignity, identity, and human worth; it is tyranny. Each woman who has survived knows from the experience of her own life that pornography is captivity -- the woman trapped in the picture used on the woman trapped wherever he's got her.
  • The pornographers actually use our bodies as their language. We are their speech. . . . Protecting what they 'say' means protecting what they do to us, how they do it. It means protecting their sadism on our bodies, because that is how they write: not like a writer at all; like a torturer.
  • Men characterize pornography as something mental because their minds, their thoughts, their dreams, their fantasies, are more real to them than women's bodies or lives; in fact, men have used their social power to characterize a $10-billion-a-year trade in women as fantasy.
  • Pornography is the essential sexuality of male power: of hate, of ownership, of hierarchy; of sadism, of dominance."
  • Pornography incarnates male supremacy. It is the DNA of male dominance. Every rule of sexual abuse, every nuance of sexual sadism, every highway and byway of sexual exploitation, is encoded in it.
  • When we fall for arguments against pornography or "obscenity", we hand repressive agents the tool for censoring our speech. It is not their speech – their remarkably sexist speech – that will be censored; it is our own. Because the view that women really do own, and have a right to control, our own bodies and our own sexuality is still a subversive and modern idea, and the legislators who support "decency" legislation don't like our idea very much. These are people who believe that women's liberation is the very Devil himself. Don't let them exploit your fears to fuel their repressions.
  • I can’t tell you how surrealistic it is to find myself and others called “puritanical”, “the new Victorians”, or “anti-sex” for the same views that got us condemned as “sexual libertarians” and “immoral women” until a few years ago. Women and men who oppose pornography for its normalization of violence will have to fight hard if we’re going to avoid the suffragists’ fate of being recorded in history as boring, asexual bluestockings... Depictions of mutual pleasure and the sexualization of equality are so rare that pornographers seem to have the franchise on sex. They can get away with claiming that to oppose pornography is to oppose sex… The answer to pornography lies not only in exposing it as an institution, but making sure that individuals who are drawn to it, but who are not hurting others, don’t feel condemned. It’s partly the feeling of being personally accused that has caused some women, including some feminists, to defend pornography.
    • Gloria Steinem, "Preface", Outrageous Acts and Everday Rebellions (2nd ed) (1995)
  • Though watching porn may seem degrading to some women, the fact is that it's one of the few jobs for women where you can get to a certain level, look around, and feel so powerful, not just in the work environment but as a sexual being. So, fuck Gloria Steinem.
    • Jenna Jameson, How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale
  • To this day, I can't watch my own sex scenes.
    • Jenna Jameson, How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale
  • What's the difference between art and pornography... a government grant!
  • No one knows what pornography is. Supreme Court says pornography is anything without artistic merit that causes sexual thought, that's their definition, essentially. No artistic merit, causes sexual thought. Hmm. Sounds like... every commercial on television, doesn't it? You know, when I see those two twins on that Doublemint commercial - I'm not thinking of gum. I am thinking of chewing, maybe that's the connection they're trying to make.
  • Pornography is literature designed to be read with one hand.
  • Men may buy pornography but women pay for it – in terms of exploitation, rape, violence, and a society that sees them as disposable sexual objects.
    • Rosalie Maggio The Dictionary of Bias-Free Usage (1991)
  • But fantasy kills imagination, pornography is death to art.
  • Pornography is pornography, what is there to see? Movies are attempting to destroy something that's supposed to be the most beautiful thing a man and a woman can have by making it cheap and common. It's what you don't see that's attractive.
  • Erotica: The depiction of naked men. Depictions of naked women are far less innocent and are known as "pornography".
    • Richard Summerbell, Abnormally Happy: A Gay Dictionary, 1985
  • What do my science fiction stories have in common with pornography? Fantasies of an impossibly hospitable world, I'm told.
    • Kurt Vonnegut, Conversations with Kurt Vonnegut (1988), Pg. 133
Wiktionary-logo-en.png
Look up pornography in Wiktionary, the free dictionary

Simple English

Pictures, movies and writing about sex are sometimes called pornography (or porn). Pornography is a picture, movie or writing that is created to make people get sexually excited.

Works of art, movies or writing that show sex can be called by several different names. Pictures or movies showing naked people might be called "erotica" or might be "pornography", depending on the way the naked person is shown. Works of art, movies and writing about loving people acting in a sexual manner to each other are often called "erotica", rather than "pornography".[1][2] It also depends on the judgment of the person who is looking at the picture.

In the law of most countries, showing naked people is not called "pornography" unless the people are doing something that is sexual. In the law of many countries, many types of pornography are legal. Some types of pornography are believed to harmful or disrespectful to the people taking part, or to the people who watch or read it. Harmful pornography is called "obscene". Most countries have laws against these types of pornography. One type of pornography that is against the law in most countries is child pornography. Some people have moral or religious views which are against the making and use of pornography.

Pornography can be shown in different ways. Some ways include photos, drawings, paintings, animations, and films. Live shows (like sex shows or striptease) are usually not considered pornography. Pornography is made to entertain adults. Many people are involved in making, selling or showing pornography. Those people who are shown in pornographic pictures or movies are called pornographic actors (or actresses), or "porn stars".

Contents

Definition

The word "pornography" comes from the Greek words meaning "prostitute" and "writing".[3] The word was first used for stories that were written about sex.

The word pornography is now used for photographs and other pictures, movies, and writing that are about sex. In pornography, sex is the most important thing. It is also called "porn" or "porno" for short.

What is not pornography

There are different ideas about what is and what is not pornography. Diana Russell, a psychologist, says that there is a difference between pornography and erotica.[4] The word "erotica" is often used for pictures, movies or stories that focus on the beauty of sexuality. There is not often a clear difference between "erotica" and "pornography." The dispute over what is or is not pornography can even go to the courts.

Some people believe that anything that shows a naked body is a type of pornography. The laws of the United States and many other countries do not support this.[5] There can be all sorts of reasons for showing a naked or partly undressed body. Some of these reasons include art work or a medical diagram.

Types of pornography

File:AN Penny Flame
Pictures that show models in a sexy pose are sometimes called "soft porn".

There are different kinds of pornography. The term "soft porn" is sometimes used for pictures that show people who may or may not be naked, but who are posed in a sexy manner. Pictures of women like this are sometimes called "cheesecake", and pictures of men are called "Beefcake". Pornographic pictures or movies which show people having sex are sometimes called "hard porn".

Another type of pornography is "child pornography." In the law of most countries, people are children until they reach a particular age. Any film or photo that show a person who is a child (by law) being used for a sexual act is considered pornography and is illegal. There are laws to protect children against people who use "or exploit" them in this way.

The business of pornography

Businesses have been making pornography for many years. Until the 1970s, businesses making pornography were small because there were many laws against it. In the 1970s, pornographic magazines such as Penthouse became a huge and successful business. Pornography films also become popular at this time. In the 1980s, the creation of the video cassette recorder caused a rise in the pornography business. A number of companies began making pornographic videotapes in the United States. In the 1990s, as more people began using the Internet, businesses began selling pornographic pictures on the Internet. In the 2000s, the increased speed of computers allowed pornography companies to sell porn videos over the Internet.

There are many different kinds of businesses that make and sell pornography. There are magazines such as Playboy and Hustler. Movie companies such as Vivid Video hire pornography actors and produce videos. There are also thousands of Web sites that make and sell porn. Businesses that make pornography call themselves "adult entertainment" businesses.

Pornography and the law

In many countries, it is a serious crime to make pornographic photographs of children. This is called "child porn". In the United States, there are laws that say that anyone who takes pornographic photos must keep records that prove the ages of the people in the pictures are over 18.

In many countries, such as India, Indonesia, Iran, and Pakistan, making or owning pornography is a crime. However, in some cultures, such as Western European nations and the US, making or owning pornography is legal. It is legal as long as all of the people in the pornography are older than a certain age. It must also be sold to people above a certain age. Often this age is 18 years. The Netherlands have very liberal laws about pornography. Many cities or towns have rules about where pornographic videos or magazines can be sold, and on how these videos or magazines can be displayed. For example, some towns in Canada require pornographic video packages to be kept out of sight of children.

Criticism of pornography

Since the 1970s, many women's groups and feminist writers have criticized pornography, especially hardcore pornography. Women's groups and feminist writers have argued that hardcore pornography shows women in degrading or humiliating positions. Some psychologists who have talked with many people who are in jail for violent sex crimes, believe that pornography that shows violent sex often makes people less caring about the feelings of other people. This might make them more likely to commit rape and other sex crimes. Many pedophiles, who sexually assault children, also have collections of child pornography.[6][7]

Pornography is often criticised by religious people and churches who believe that it is unholy. Many parents do not wish their children to see pornography. Special computer programs can be installed on computers to block access to some websites, including websites that have pornography.

In the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, pornography is described as a tool that is secretly pushed by some evil governments. The governments believe it is a force that makes the public less likely to rebel, or even to care about injustice.

Other problems with pornography

Many countries have laws against child pornography. These laws say that children may not be involved in making pornography. There are problems however: With the Internet it can be very hard to say if a person involved in pornography is really a child, or if they are an adult pretending to be one. Also, organized crime makes money from trafficking human beings; often girls and women who are trafficked are forced into prostitution. They are sometimes also forced to make pornography.

References

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Citable sentences

Up to date as of December 29, 2010

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