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What Is Pornography?

And how does it impact our sex lives?

Pornography, often called porn, is a representation of sexual behavior that is meant to excite and cause sexual arousal. It can be in many different forms like video, pictures, podcasts, books, statues, or other media.

The word "pornography" was originally defined as any work of literature or art depicting the life of prostitutes. It is derived from the Greek words porni, which means prostitute, and graphein which means to write.

Is Pornography Erotic or Obscene?

Perceptions around porn are very subjective and will be based heavily on a person's upbringing and culture. In different areas of the world, it will be seen in a different light. Religion and views on sex will also have a tremendous impact on how people see porn. What is acceptable in one area of the world can be positively obscene and unthinkable somewhere else. If people are raised to believe that sex and sexual acts are taboo and obscene, there is a good chance that they will view porn in a similar light.

Porn can also vary considerably in how it's made. Things like the background score, types of actors, types of activities shown, and even the overall tone or focal point of the porn will change with the cultural values of where it's being produced. All of these aspects play a role in how people see pornography and if they classify it as erotic or obscene. 

Pornography always seems to be straddling the line between erotic and obscene. As the content is always sexual and what is arousing will vary from person to person. The same representation could be seen as erotic by one person but totally obscene by someone else. It's also true that some representations may not be considered porn at all by one person's standards but a different person would see the same piece as porn.

Everyone across the world has a different measurement of what counts as porn. It is highly subjective and influenced by politics, religion, race, gender, and sexuality of a person.

A Brief History of Pornography

It's challenging to chart the history of porn because of the highly subjective and cultural nature of it. What would be considered erotic imagery of the past is just commonplace for some eras throughout history. There have been periods of history where great works of art featured nude characters and it wasn't considered erotic but merely art. Later those same pieces were altered to remove the nudity because the common societal views of that time period saw the nudity as highly pornographic. 

In ancient Rome and Greece, it was very common for a lot of phallic imagery and depictions of sexual activity to be present but from what we know, it would not have been considered porn as we define it today. Many cultures across history and the world have created a variety of depictions. Some of them have served religious purposes while others were just depicting another aspect of life.

As technology began to advance, images of sexuality became more prevalent and readily available. As the world moved into the 1800s, porn shops started to emerge in major cities. With each advancement of technology, porn would see a surge of popularity. Its popularity is particularly persistent in times throughout our history where society has taken on more puritanical views. 

How Do You Define Pornography?

Each person must decide for themselves how they feel about pornography. There is no right or wrong answer. As with other aspects of sexuality, it's something that you should decide your own comfort level with. There are many personal factors which will come into play for how you feel about it or if any of it appeals to you. Continue to learn more and make your own choices.

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