Pornography

Pornography
Front box cover for a pornographic video

Pornography or porn is the explicit portrayal of sexual subject matter for the purposes of sexual arousal 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.

A pornographic model poses for pornographic photographs. A pornographic actor or porn star performs in pornographic films. In cases where limited dramatic skills are involved, a performer in pornographic films may be called a pornographic model.

A distinction is often made between erotica (the portrayal of sexuality with high-art aspirations, focusing also on feelings and emotions) and pornography (the depiction of acts in a sensational manner, with the entire focus on the physical act, so as to arouse quick intense reactions).[1] [2]

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.[3]

With the emergence of social attitudes more tolerant of sexuality and with more explicit definitions of obscenity in law, an industry for the production and consumption of pornography arose in the latter half of the 20th century. The introduction of home video and the Internet saw booms in a porn industry that today generates billions of dollars a year worldwide.

Contents

Etymology

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

The word is similar to the modern Greek πορνογραφία (pornographia), which derives from the Greek words πόρνη (pornē, "prostitute" and πορνεία - pornea, "prostitution"[4]), and γράφειν (graphein, "to write or to 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". No date is known for the first use of the word in Greek.

"Pornographie" was in use in the French language during the 1800s. The word did not enter the English language as the familiar conjunction until 1857 [5] or as a French import in New Orleans in 1842.[6][dead link]

History

The Venus of Willendorf, a figurine with exaggerated sex organs
Oil lamp artifact depicting coitus more ferarum.
Depiction of sex by Édouard-Henri Avril.

Depictions of a sexual nature are as old as civilization with depictions such as the venus figurines and rock art existing since prehistoric times.[7] But the concept of pornography as understood today did not exist until the Victorian era. For example the French Impressionism masterwork by Édouard Manet, titled Olympia was a nude picture of a French courtesan, literally a "prostitute picture". It was controversial at the time.

Nineteenth century legislation eventually 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.[8]

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.

Fanny Hill is considered "the first original English prose pornography, and the first pornography to use the form of the novel."[9] It is an erotic novel by John Cleland first published in England in 1748.[10][11] It is one of the most prosecuted and banned books in history.[12] The authors were charged with "corrupting the King's subjects."

The world's first law criminalizing pornography was the United Kingdom Obscene Publications Act 1857 enacted at the urging of the Society for Suppression of Vice. The Act, which applied to the United Kingdom and Ireland, made the sale of obscene material a statutory offence, giving the courts power to seize and destroy offending material. The Act did not apply to Scotland, where the common law continued to apply. However, the Act did not define "obscene", leaving this for the courts to determine. Prior to this Act, the publication of obscene material was treated as a common law misdemeanour[13] and effectively prosecuting authors and publishers was difficult even in cases where the material was clearly intended as pornography.

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.[14]

Pornographic film production commenced almost immediately after the invention of the motion picture in 1895. Two of the earliest pioneers were Eugène Pirou and Albert Kirchner. Kirchner directed the earliest surviving pornographic film for Pirou under the trade name "Léar". The 1896 film, Le Coucher de la Marie showed Louise Willy performing a striptease. Pirou's film inspired a genre of risqué French films showing women disrobing and other filmmakers realised profits could be made from such films.[15][16]

Sexually explicit films were soon characterised as obscene and rendered illegal. Those that were produced were produced underground by amateurs starting in the 1940s. Processing the film by commercial means was risky as was their distribution. Distribution was strictly private.[17][18] Denmark was the first country to legalize pornography in 1969, which led to an explosion of commercially produced pornography. It continued to be banned in other countries, and had to be smuggled in, where it was sold "under the counter" or (sometimes) shown in "members only" cinema clubs.[17]

Sub-genres

Former hardcore porn star Penny Flame in a Cheesecake image (no penetration, genitals not visible, no nudity, but implicitly sexually suggestive content)

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

Pornography is classified according to the physical characteristics of the participants, fetish, sexual orientation, etc., as well as the types of sexual activity featured. Reality and voyeur pornography, animated videos, and legally prohibited acts also influence the classification of pornography. The genres of pornography are based on the type of activity featured and the category of participants, such as:

Economics

Revenues of the adult industry in the United States are difficult to determine. In 1970, a Federal study estimated that the total retail value of hardcore pornography in the United States was no more than $10 million.[19]

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,[20] after being published in Eric Schlosser's book on the American black market.[21] Studies in 2001 put the total (including video, pay-per-view, Internet and magazines) between $2.6 billion and $3.9 billion.[22]

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 pornography 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)[23][24] and in the Blu-ray vs. HD DVD format war (the high-def format war).[23][24][25]

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.[citation needed]

Technology

Mass-distributed pornography is as old as the modern printing press. Almost as soon as photography was invented, it was being used to produce pornographic images. Some claim[who?] that pornography has been a driving force in the development of technologies from the printing press, through photography (still and motion), to satellite TV, other forms of video, 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, a practice known as sexting.

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.[26]

3D pornography

Due to the popularity of 3D blockbusters in theaters such as Avatar and How to Train Your Dragon, companies are now looking to shoot pornography movies in 3D. The first case of this occurred in Hong Kong, when a group of filmmakers filmed 3D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy released in April 2011.[27]

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.

In the United States, the sex film industry is centered in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. In Europe, Budapest is regarded as the industry center.[28][29][30]

Legal status

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 some countries have restrictions on pornography depicting violence (see e.g. rape pornography) and/or pornography depicting sex of a human with an animal.

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 sex shops, 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. A failed US law would have made these same restrictions apply to the internet.

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.

Some people, including pornography producer Larry Flynt and the writer Salman Rushdie,[31] 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.

Child pornography is illegal in most countries, with a person most commonly being a child until the age of 18 (though the age does vary). In those countries, any film or photo with a child subject in a sexual act is considered pornography and illegal.

Effect on sexual crime

Research concerning the effects of pornography is inconclusive on the issue of crime. 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. However, most of these studies focus on various correlations, and correlation does not imply causation.

Statistics

More than 70% of male internet users from 18 to 34 visit a pornographic site in a typical month.[32]

Anti-pornography movement

Opposition to pornography comes generally, though not exclusively, from three primary 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 and abjection 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.

See also

References

  1. ^ Erotica is Not Pornography, William J. Gehrke, The Tech, December 10, 1996
  2. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A2163070
  3. ^ H. Mongomery Hyde (1964) A History of Pornography: 1–26
  4. ^ List of Greek words starting with πορν- (porn-), on Perseus
  5. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary. Etymonline.com. Retrieved on 2011-04-21.
  6. ^ history of the word pornography | podictionary – for word lovers – dictionary etymology, trivia & history. podictionary (2009-03-13). Retrieved on 2011-04-21.
  7. ^ Richard Rudgley (2000). The lost civilizations of the Stone Age. Simon and Schuster. pp. 195–. ISBN 9780684862705. http://books.google.com/books?id=vhSHn-B89A0C&pg=PA195. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  8. ^ H. Montgomery Hyde A History of Pornography. (1969) London, Heinemann: 14
  9. ^ Foxon, Libertine Literature in England, 1660–1745, 1965, p. 45.
  10. ^ Wagner, "Introduction," in Cleland, Fanny Hill, 1985, p. 7.
  11. ^ Lane, Obscene Profits: The Entrepreneurs of Pornography in the Cyber Age, 2000, p. 11.
  12. ^ Browne, The Guide to United States Popular Culture, 2001, p. 273, ISBN 0-87972-821-3; Sutherland, Offensive Literature: Decensorship in Britain, 1960–1982, 1983, p. 32, ISBN 0-389-20354-8.
  13. ^ From the precedent set by R. v. Curl (1729) following the publication of Venus in the Cloister
  14. ^ 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. 
  15. ^ Bottomore, Stephen; Stephen Herbert and Luke McKernan eds. (1996). "Léar (Albert Kirchner)". Who's Who of Victorian Cinema. British Film Institute. http://www.victorian-cinema.net/lear.htm. Retrieved 2006-10-15. 
  16. ^ Bottomore, Stephen; Stephen Herbert and Luke McKernan eds. (1996). "Eugène Pirou". Who's Who of Victorian Cinema. British Film Institute. http://www.victorian-cinema.net/pirou.htm. Retrieved 2006-10-15. 
  17. ^ a b Chris Rodley, Dev Varma, Kate Williams III (Directors) Marilyn Milgrom, Grant Romer, Rolf Borowczak, Bob Guccione, Dean Kuipers (Cast) (2006-03-07). Pornography: The Secret History of Civilization (DVD). Port Washington, NY: Koch Vision. ISBN 1-4172-2885-7. http://www.kochvision.com/product.aspx?number=741952635291. Retrieved 2006-10-21. 
  18. ^ Corliss, Richard (March 29, 2005). "That Old Feeling: When Porno Was Chic". Time Magazine (Time inc). http://www.time.com/time/columnist/corliss/article/0,9565,1043267,00.html. Retrieved 2006-10-16. 
  19. ^ President's Commission on Obscenity and Pornography. Report of The Commission on Obscenity and Pornography 1970, Washington, D.C.: U. S. Government Printing Office.
  20. ^ 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. 
  21. ^ 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
  22. ^ 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" 
  23. ^ 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."
  24. ^ 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 had not 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." 
  25. ^ 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." 
  26. ^ "Playboy undressed video game women – Aug. 25, 2004". CNN. 2004-08-25. http://money.cnn.com/2004/08/25/commentary/game_over/column_gaming/. Retrieved 2006-08-26. 
  27. ^ "Hong Kong filmmakers shoot 'first' 3D porn film". yahoo. 2010-08-08. http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100808/wl_asia_afp/hongkongjapanchinafilmpornography_20100808051130. Retrieved 2010-08-08. [dead link]
  28. ^ “Strange and wonderful” Budapest — Where the living is increasingly pleasant...and still very cheap. Escapeartist.com (1989-09-11). Retrieved on 2011-04-21.
  29. ^ Sex trade moguls thrive by the Blue Danube – World, News. The Independent (1996-07-21). Retrieved on 2011-04-21.
  30. ^ The Art and Politics of Netporn » Abstract. Networkcultures.org. Retrieved on 2011-04-21.
  31. ^ Baxter, Sarah; Brooks, Richard (2004-08-08). "Porn is vital to freedom, says Rushdie". Times Online (London: 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." 
  32. ^ Statistics on Pornography, Sexual Addiction and Online Perpetrators and their Effects on Children, Pastors and Churches. Safefamilies.org. Retrieved on 2011-04-21.

Further reading

Advocacy

Opposition

External links

Government
Religion
  • Pornography entry in Human Nature: Science and Catholic Doctrine wiki
History
Sociology
Commentary

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • pornography — por·nog·ra·phy /pȯr nä grə fē/ n: material that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement ◇ Pornographic material is protected expression unless it is determined to be obscene. However, child pornography is illegal under …   Law dictionary

  • Pornography — Студийный альбом The Cure …   Википедия

  • Pornography — Album par The Cure Sortie 3 mai 1982[1] Enregistrement janvier 1982 février 1982 au RAK Studio One à Londres Durée …   Wikipédia en Français

  • pornography —    Pornography is defined by US anti porn activist Andrea Dworkin as: ‘the graphic depiction of whores’ (Dworkin, 1981). Most pornography does indeed feature women posing in sexually revealing positions for money. However, in the light of the… …   Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture

  • Pornography — bonkbuster carnography climate porn debt porn domestic pornography drive by porn eco porn …   New words

  • pornography — [n] obscenity adult material, adult movie, bawdiness, dirt, dirty movie, erotica, filth, girlie magazine, hard core pornography, indecency, obscene materials, porn, porno, porno film, sexploitation, sexually explicit material, skin flick, smut,… …   New thesaurus

  • pornography — 1857, description of prostitutes, from Fr. pornographie, from Gk. pornographos (one) writing of prostitutes, from porne prostitute, originally bought, purchased (with an original notion, probably of female slave sold for prostitution; related to… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Pornography — Por*nog ra*phy, n. [Gr. ? a harlot + graphy.] 1. Licentious painting or literature; especially, the painting anciently employed to decorate the walls of rooms devoted to bacchanalian orgies. [1913 Webster] 2. (Med.) A treatise on prostitutes, or… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • pornography — ► NOUN ▪ printed or visual material intended to stimulate sexual excitement. DERIVATIVES pornographer noun pornographic adjective. ORIGIN Greek pornographos writing about prostitutes …   English terms dictionary

  • pornography — [pôr näg′rə fē] n. [< Gr pornographos, writing about prostitutes < pornē, a prostitute, orig. a euphemism, lit., (something) sold, akin to pernēmi, to sell (esp. as a slave, or for a bribe) < IE base * per , to sell, bring across, come… …   English World dictionary


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.