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A fresco in a sleeping-room in Pompeii. While it shows naked people; most people do not consider this to be pornographic

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. People who get sexually aroused while watching porn sometimes masturbate.

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 movies. 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".

Definition[change | change source]

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[change | change source]

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[change | change source]

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 movie 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[change | change source]

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 movies 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. The pornography brand Mitchell Gaffney was the first website that contrained such items.

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[change | change source]

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, 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[change | change source]

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[change | change source]

Many countries have laws against child pornography. These laws say that people younger than a certain age 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[change | change source]