Pornography is the explicit depiction of human sexual behaviour or sexually related imagery in film, novels, short stories, magazines, etc., with the generally accepted goal of sexual arousal. In its original meaning, the word was literally "writing about prostitutes." It evolved into writing about anything sexual, especially in a base manner, and grew to include sexually related material of all kinds, both written and graphical. The term pornography is often used with a negative connotation of low quality as compared to the more esteemed erotica.
The euphemisms Adult Film and Adult Video are generally preferred within the industry producing these works.
There are recurring urban legends of snuff movies, in which murders are filmed for pornographic purposes. No confirmed snuff movies have ever been found.
Legal situation Sometimes a distinction is made between soft-core and hard-core pornography. The former refers to materials which feature nudity and some sexually suggestive scenes but are usually tame enough to be sold in general stores and (in some countries) to be shown on TV. Hard-core pornography features close-ups of genitalia and sexual activities and is normally only available in adult bookstores (sometimes also in gas stations), and (in some countries) via special satellite TV channels. The term X-Rated is also used for these materials.
The legal status of pornography varies widely. While child pornography is illegal almost everywhere, most countries allow at least some form of pornography. In Japan until very recently, no genitals could be shown, but there is no taboo regarding sex and violence and also much less general concern about portraying teenagers as sexual beings (this applies to both out-and-out pornography and works dealing with other themes). Most western countries have some restrictions on pornography involving violence or animals, and they also restrict the sale of pornography to businesses which are open only to adults. The Netherlands have the most liberal rules: pornography is sold openly at normal newsstands and material involving animals is legal. In Sweden material involving animals is de-facto legal but subject to animal-welfare laws. Porn movies can be viewed beginning at age 15, and there are no age restrictions for magazines. In Britain, hard pornography has been illegal until recently, and it remains illegal (but tolerated) in Norway.
Anti-pornography movement Criticism of pornography comes from two directions: conservative and religious forces, and feminism.
Religious conservatives, exemplified by the American Rev. Jerry Falwell, decry pornography because they see it as immoral; sex is reserved for married couples, and pornography is thought to lead to an overall increase in immoral behavior in society.
In the United States, a 1968 Supreme Court decision which held that people could view whatever they wished in the privacy of their own homes caused Congress to fund and President Lyndon Johnson to appoint a commission to study pornography. The commission's report recommended sex education, funding of research into the effects of pornography, restriction of children's access to pornography, and recommended against any restrictios for adults. The report was widely criticized and rejected by Congress.
In 1985, President Ronald Reagan appointed another commission to study pornography issues. It was headed by Attorney General Edwin Meese and is generally known as the Meese commission. The commission's report, released in 1986, found that pornography is harmful and can lead to violent acts. These findings have been criticized for not reflecting the empirical evidence.
The feminist position on pornography is divided. Some feminists view pornography as a crucial part of the sexual revolution which lead to women's liberation, and see conservative views of morality as designed to fortify an oppressive status quo. Other feminists, most vocally Andrea Dworkin? and Catharine MacKinnon?, see pornography as degradation of women which leads to violence against women. They have attempted to create laws which allow sexually abused and otherwise affected women to sue pornographers. One such attempt in Indianapolis was struck down by the US Supreme Court in 1986. In a 1992 decision, the Canadian Supreme Court upheld the Canadian obscenity law, accepting the feminist argument that the law is intended to create gender equality and prohibits materials that harm women, rather than "immoral" materials. Dworkin herself favors a civil law approach and opposes all criminal pornography prohibitions.
The criticisms of Linda Boreman, who herself worked as a porn actor under the name Linda Lovelace, focus on the exploitative practices of the porn industry, rather than on pornography's societal effects.
History Pornography has possibly a very long history. Nude human beings and sexual activities are depicted in some paleolithic art. However it is not certain that the purpose was sexual arousal, the images may have had instead a spiritual significance. There are numerous pornographic paintings on the walls of ruined Roman buildings in Pompeii. One notable example is a brothel in which the various sexual services are advertised in murals above each door. In Pompeii you can also see phalluses (an erect penis and testicles) engraved in the sidewalks, pointing the way to the prostitution and entertainment district, to aid visitors in finding their way.
In the second half of the 20th century, pornography became available in "men's magazines" such as Playboy. These magazines usually featured nude or semi-nude women, sometimes engaging in the act of masturbation. Other magazines evolved into more explicit displays, featuring sexual penetration, lesbianism and homosexuality, group sex, and fetishes?.
The movie camera has been used for pornography throughout its history, and with the arrival of the home video tape recorder? the pornographic movie industry grew massively, people being able not only to view pornography in the privacy of their own home without having to go out to a theater, but also to make their own pornography.
Pornographic computer games have also existed almost since the start of the industry.
With the arrival of the Internet, the availability of pornography increased greatly. Many of the most successful internet entrepreneurs are those who operate pornographic internet sites. As well as conventional photographic or video pornography, some sites offer "interactive" video-game-like entertainment. Due to the international character of the Internet, it provides an easy means for consumers of pornography that is illegal in their country to simply acquire such material from sources in another country where it is legal or not prosecuted.
The almost-zero cost of copying and shipping of digital data boosted the formation of private circles of people swapping pornography. This type of exchange is especially popular for material that is illegal, most notably child pornography.
Playboy (originally only in US, nowadays has editions in many countries) Penthouse? Hustler Magazine? (originally only in US, nowadays has editions in many countries) Private (Established in Stockholm, Sweden in 1965 as the world's first full color hardcore sex magazine) Le Ore? (Italy), once an ordinary newspaper, in the 1970s had a notable turn in editorial line and represents now the most important title of a wide network of sex related magazines in central Europe. Movies:
Deep Throat Personalities:
Hugh Hefner Larry Flynt? John Holmes? Ron Jeremy Nina Hartley? Marilyn Chambers? Linda Lovelace Georgina Spelvin? Annie Sprinkle? Ilona Staller Moana Pozzi? Karin Schubert?
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