Pornography, sometimes shortened to porn or porno, is, in its broadest state, the explicit representation of the human body or sexual activity with the goal of sexual arousal. It is similar to erotica, which is the use of sexually-arousing imagery used mainly for artistic purpose. Over the past few decades, an immense industry for the production and consumption of pornography has grown, due to emergence of the VCR, the DVD, and the Internet, as well as the emergence of more tolerant social attitudes.

In general, “erotica” refers to portrayals of sexually arousing material that hold or aspire to artistic or historical merit, whereas “pornography” often connotes the prurient depiction of sexual acts, with little or no artistic value. The line between “erotica” and the term “pornography” (which is frequently considered a pejorative term) is often highly subjective. In practice, pornography can be defined merely as erotica that certain people perceive as “obscene.” The definition of what one considers obscene can differ between persons, cultures and eras. This leaves legal actions by those who oppose pornography open to wide interpretation. It also provides lucrative employment for armies of lawyers, on several “sides.”

Pornography may use any of a variety of media — printed literature, 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 or reproduction of the act, rather than the act itself.

The word derives from the Greek pornographia, which derives from the Greek words porne (“prostitute”), grapho (“to write”), and the suffix ia (meaning “state of”, “property of”, or “place of”), thus meaning “a place to write about prostitutes”.


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