Pornography

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Origin

Greek pornographos, adjective, writing about prostitutes, from pornē prostitute + graphein to write; akin to Greek pernanai to sell, poros journey

The word is similar to the modern Greek πορνογραφία (pornographia), which derives from the Greek words πόρνη (pornē, "prostitute" and πορνεία - pornea, "prostitution"), 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 or as a French import in New Orleans in 1842.

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Definitions

Description

Pornography or porn is the explicit portrayal of sexual subject matter. Pornography may use a variety of media, including books, magazines, postcards, photos, sculpture, drawing, painting, animation, sound recording, film, video, and video games. The term applies to the depiction of the act rather than the act itself, and so does not include live exhibitions like sex shows and striptease. A pornographic model poses for still photographs. A pornographic actor or porn star performs in pornographic films. If dramatic skills are not involved, a performer in porn films may be also be called a model.

Pornography is often distinguished from erotica, which consists in the portrayal of sexuality with high-art aspirations, focusing also on feelings and emotions, while pornography involves the depiction of acts in a sensational manner, with the entire focus on the physical act, so as to arouse quick intense reactions. A distinction is also made between hardcore and softcore pornography. Softcore pornography can generally be described as focusing on nude modeling and suggestive, but not explicit, simulations of sexual intercourse, whereas hardcore pornography explicitly showcases penetrative intercourse. The consumers of porn (particularly hardcore) are assumed to be men, and thus most production targets their presumed tastes.

Pornography has often been subject to censorship and legal restraints to publication on grounds of obscenity. Such grounds and even the definition of pornography have differed in various historical, cultural, and national contexts. With the emergence of social attitudes more tolerant of sexuality and more specific legal definitions of obscenity, 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 worldwide porn industry that generates billions of dollars annually.

See also