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Porn or Erotica?

Is there a useful difference between porn and erotica?

My usual answer to this question is that the distinction between porn and erotica is pretty artificial. It generally comes down to subjective taste, conveniently dovetailed with character and even moral judgment. “I like erotica; you like porn; they like filthy smut.”

But when I have time to kill, I sometimes amuse myself by trying to come up with an answer. The way I often frame it is, “If someone held a gun to my head and made me give a coherent distinction between ‘porn’ and ‘erotica,’ one that most people who use the words would recognize and might even accept… what would it be?” Regardless of whether I think one is better than the other — regardless of whether I accept the common verdict that erotica is high-minded and beautiful while porn is tawdry and degrading? (Or whether I accept the other common verdict: that porn is exciting and hot while erotica is stuffy and boring?) Is there a useable distinction between the two?

Here’s what I have, provisionally, come up with.

Porn is sexually explicit art that has, as its primary intent, the sexual arousal of the audience, and in which any other artistic/ political/ cultural intent is secondary or incidental.

Erotica is sexually explicit art that has, as its primary intent, some artistic/ political/ cultural goal other than the sexual arousal of the audience, and in which this sexual arousal is secondary or incidental.

Note that these definitions don’t have to involve a judgment about which one is better. They often do, of course — we live in a sex-negative culture, sexual arousal isn’t by itself considered a worthwhile objective, blah blah blah — but they don’t necessarily have to. We can, at least theoretically, discuss whether a piece of sexually explicit art is primarily motivated by sexual arousal or by some other intent, without placing judgment about whether one of these motivations is morally superior.

But I see a serious flaw in these definitions. It’s this:

What if the sexual arousal of the audience is, in itself, an artistic, cultural, or political aim?

The example that leaps to my mind most readily is On Our Backs, the “by lesbians, for lesbians” sex magazine published in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Some of the work in On Our Backs certainly had serious literary, artistic, political, etc. content — Dorothy Alison wrote for them, as did Sarah Schulman, Jewelle Gomez, Sapphire, me, and other serious writers. Ditto for the photography. But plenty of the work in that magazine was porny porny porn porn. It existed to get women turned on, and to get them off. Period.

Yet that, just in itself, was an act of serious political defiance. For women — writers, photographers, publishers, readers — to say out loud, “We like sex, we enjoy smut, we’re going to make it and sell it and buy it and get off on it, and anyone who doesn’t like it can cram it sideways”… that was a serious political statement, with far-reaching effects both within the lesbian community and outside it. And it wasn’t just defiance of sexism and sex-negativity in mainstream culture, either. It wasn’t just defiance of the message that women don’t really like sex, don’t care about sex, don’t pursue sex for its own sake — and that if we do, we’re bad bad people. It was also defiance of a variety of feminism that was very prevalent at the time (and still is, although less so): a version of feminism that was hostile to the very idea of sexually explicit art. (The very name On Our Backs was a satire on the anti-porn, anti-kink, anti-sex-work feminist newspaper, off our backs.) The intent to get women off, with sexually explicit material designed to get them off… that was a political intent.

Another example, I think, is gay male porn. For decades, even the raunchiest, tackiest, porniest gay male porn has been an important source of gay pride: an important way for gay men to reclaim their sexuality from a culture that reviles it. That was true during the repressive fifties; it was true in the gay liberation seventies; it was true during the worst years of the AIDS pandemic; and it remains true to this day. Writing a story, taking a photograph, drawing a cartoon, saying “Gay sex is cool” — that was, and is, a political act.

But you see the problem, right? To some extent, this is true of pretty much any porn/ erotica/ whatever you want to call it. Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler, Deep Throat, the mainstream video porn industry, amateur and low-budget Internet porn… all of this has had an effect on the culture. The mainstreaming of explicit sex magazines; the increasingly blatant sexuality of those magazines; the “chic” of the porn film industry in the 1970s; the home video revolution and the filtering of sexually explicit movies into the living rooms of millions of everyday couples, the Internet porn revolution and the democratization of porn production — all of these have had a powerful effect on our sexual culture. Whether you think this effect has been positive or negative or a complicated stew of all of the above (my vote is for the last one, btw)… the culture and political impact is undeniable. And it’s often a conscious one. Hugh Hefner has a political and cultural and artistic vision. So does Larry Flynt. You may or may not like that vision… but it exists.

And I’m reminded of one of my own pieces of porn/ erotica: the novella “Bending,” part of the three-novella collection Three Kinds of Asking For It (currently available, btw, on Kindle and in dead-tree physical form). When I was in process of writing it, I sent a partial draft to my editor, Susie Bright, who gave me this feedback (paraphrasing here), “You have enough erotic treats for the readers — you don’t need any more sex scenes, focus now on fleshing out the story.” My reaction was to think, “What the fuck? This is porn. It’s supposed to be about sex. So screw you. I’m going to write more sex scenes. In fact, I’m going to write nothing but sex scenes. I’m going to make the entire novella be just sex, from beginning to end.” And that’s what I did. With the exception of a couple/few paragraphs, every sentence in that story involves people either having sex, talking about sex, or thinking about sex. And that’s how the story gets told. Characters change, conflicts emerge, relationships develop, insights are gained, crises unfold… all through sex. And if I can be arrogant for a moment here, it’s pretty freaking hot sex.

So what’s the primary intention? Is the primary intention to arouse the audience, or to tell a story?

Is it porn, or erotica?

And so I keep circling back to my original conclusion: The distinction between erotica and porn is an artificial one. Even if you decide that porn is mainly trying to get people off, and erotica is mainly trying to do something else… that’s not a clear distinction. It’s blurry at best, artificial at worst. The difference between “Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife” and “Butt Balling Honeys #9″ isn’t whether it’s porn or erotica.

The difference is whether it’s good.

Comments

  1. chrisj says

    I’d definitely go along with that. I’ve encountered an awful lot of definitions that boil down to “Erotica is the tasteful stuff that I like, while Porn is unappealing [or even 'unhealthy'] things that other people should be kept away from”.

    The other plausible non-judgmental distinction I’ve encountered (and occasionally used myself within limited contexts[1]) is that erotica is sexually stimulating material that doesn’t feature actual sex, with all other sexually exciting material being porn. Which has the advantage of not requiring any assessment of the creator’s intent, but the disadvantage that some people inevitably will decide to make a judgmental distinction that matches it.

    [1] the one that springs to mind was a discussion about the relative difficulty of creating sexually stimulating material for various audiences that did/didn’t include explicit sex.

  2. says

    If you ask me, erotica is porn in which the artistic element is strongly prioritised. If it’s not seriously about arousal, then it’s not even erotica, just a story/picture/etc with sex in it as a part of the work. But the artistry is what distinguishes it. It can be very explicit, full detailed sex, but if the artist is also heavily about the chiaroscuro or the perspective or the poetry as well as the sex, then it’s erotica.

  3. Praedico says

    “Three Kinds of Asking For It (currently available on Kindle … )”
    Not in the UK, it isn’t.
    I clicked the little ‘Tell the publisher I want to read this on kindle’ link, but Christ knows if/when it’ll be made available. Dammit Amazon, I want to read Greta’s porn! /cry

    Ahem.

    Yeah, I can’t come up with an objective distinction really. For me, erotica is classier(read: not exploitative garbage) or more artistic, but that’s a purely an aesthetic, subjective distinction.

    I think, really, we just need to stop regarding them as different things. If it’s main objective is to get someone off, it’s porn. Erotica is just a subset.

  4. Aliasalpha says

    If I had to make the distinction, I’d probably say they differ in the approach to the same end.

    I’d say porn is more functional and direct whereas erotica is more experience & emotion driven, the former aiming to get the job done efficiently and the latter aiming to make you enjoy the ride more.

  5. says

    “The difference…isn’t whether it’s porn or erotica. The difference is whether it’s good.”

    Greta, I think it really is that simple. Artful or artless.

    You might have heard of a slang term called “shelter porn”. It refers to extravagant architectural and home-decorating media (usually glossy magazines) that dangle sumptuous domestic environments before you.

    Let’s explore it for a minute.

    Few of those magazines make a point about the architectural originality or merit of these buildings—if that were their aim, you would see architecture of every kind, not just homes. They give only the most cursory tales of the people who live there: where they bought the stuff, usually. It doesn’t tell me of the problems they solved to achieve the effect, nor does it ponder what the creative result means, symbolically.

    No, most people who are addicted to shelter porn (and I’m one of them) simply look at the pictures and say; “Oooohhhh. I WANT THAT.” You imagine yourself as the owner, and the wallow in vicarious pleasure. It stokes desire, which generally can be fulfilled only in fantasy.

    Sexual porn works the same way, perhaps? It stokes desire without (necessarily) provoking the reflection and personal growth that art instills.

    Of course, great art can provoke desire, too. But that’s secondary to the art. (or is it?)

    My mother was addicted to Mills & Boon. I guarantee it wasn’t for the artistic value—it was the desire for a her own personal knight-in-shining-armour which hooked her. Does anticipation, or imagination, release some of the same endorphins that experience does? Maybe, does it do so better than the real thing?

  6. Hazel Stone says

    @Praedico I just tried to buy the Kindle version of ‘Three Kinds of Asking For It’ and it’s not available in Europe either :-(

    Hey Greta, will you nag your publisher for us?

  7. Andrew G. says

    Here’s what I have, provisionally, come up with.

    Porn is sexually explicit art that has, as its primary intent, the sexual arousal of the audience, and in which any other artistic/ political/ cultural intent is secondary or incidental.

    Erotica is sexually explicit art that has, as its primary intent, some artistic/ political/ cultural goal other than the sexual arousal of the audience, and in which this sexual arousal is secondary or incidental.

    I don’t buy these definitions even slightly – both in the sense that they do not define useful categories, and in the sense that they do not match what people actually mean when they use the words.

    In particular, the term “erotica” is widely (but not exclusively) used for what you might call sexually implicit art – where the intent is specifically to arouse the audience without showing the sexual mechanics. To say that “erotica” does not have the primary intent of arousing the audience is to completely miss the point.

    Also, much of the motivation for many people’s use of the term “erotica” is somewhat hypocritical – it’s widely used as a euphemism for “porn I like” (or at least “porn I don’t object to”). One even finds examples of the form “porn degrades and exploits women; this work doesn’t, therefore it is erotica rather than porn”. This presupposes that porn necessarily exploits women, a dishonest argument since most people do not define “porn” that way.

    I disagree with #3 on the subset issue. If anything, porn is a subset of erotica rather than the reverse (non-explicit erotica would not usually be described as pornographic). The only question would be whether it’s possible to define a subset of porn which is not “erotica”, thus making them overlapping sets rather than subsets.

  8. Elm says

    I’m not sure this is a useful definition for most people, but I tend to view the distinction as being one of artistic achievement rather than goal or subject matter. Which is to say, well executed porn is probably erotica, poorly executed porn is porn, poorly executed erotica is porn, well executed erotica is erotica, regardless of whatever the folks behind it thought they were making when they did it.

    Of course, this allows a fair degree of subjectivity into the picture, since my opinion of what constitutes artistic achievement seems to be different from many other people’s, but I think a good first level test of erotica vs. porn is to look at:

    1. Does the photographer seem to understand how his (or her) camera’s focus works? If no, then porn.
    2. Does the photographer seem to understand how composition works? If no, then porn.
    3. Is it clear that the subjects are either relatively natural or openly posed? If no, then porn. (Which is to say that in a lot of porn, the subjects are posed but doing a bad job of pretending to be natural.)

    I haven’t put this to an empirical study, but my feeling is that these three tests are probably adequate to identify about 75% of porn…

  9. otrame says

    I honestly don’t think there is much distinction in the two words, or rather, they mean nearly the same thing, but have different connotations. To me, the difference is unimportant because I have no trouble saying I like porn. To someone who is embarrassed by the word porn, erotica is just a more “socially acceptible” word and I think that is usually how the words are used now. I think that will change over time, however.

    I read a lot of gay porn in the form of fan fiction slash. Like a lot of straight women, the motto “two cocks are better than one” works for me. In fan fiction there is a distinction, PWP–porn without plot–that is used to designate a story focused entirely on sex. These are usually short, and if well-written, fun. But most slash is romantic and/or adventure fiction spiced with explicit sex. In Alethea’s definition, the first type is porn, the second is erotica, which is a reasonable distinction, and I suspect that as time goes on, and people, especially women, get over the embarrassment of admitting that they like porn, that is how the definitions of the two words will settle.

  10. Nathaniel says

    You’ve tried to define erotica by saying it has something other than pure sexual content. I think this is the wrong tack: I think the difference (fuzzy and gray as it is) is slightly different. Try this one on for size:

    Porn is art that is sexually explicit.

    Erotica is art that is both sexually explicit and implicit.

    That is, erotica attempts to be something more than explicit; successful erotica works on more than one level, with sexual tension showing up in more than just the obvious ways.

    Good? Bad? Stupid?

  11. michaeld says

    I think at the heart of this is a big problem of how we as people use language and try to communicate ideas to one another. To bring it back to the focus of FTB the term porn is kind of like the term god in that it means a lot of different things to different people. So in the end what I’m about to say is really just my definitions and is probably at odds with a lot of other peoples views on the subject.

    I liken the erotica vs porn distinction to the skepticism vs atheism. Where Erotica is the group of things purpose either partial or total is to promote feelings of sexual excitement in the audience. Porn to me is the subset of erotica that focuses more specifically on I was going to say sex but I think orgasms is more appropriate.

    So I guess to tie it all together into diagrams you have art loosely defined as performances, photos, stories etc designed to elicit an emotion from the audience. Erotica as the subset of art that focuses in whole or part on erotic and sexual feelings. Porn as the subset of erotica focused on depictions or portrayals around orgasms and the actions surrounding them.

    The value of the porn, erotica or art is then a measure of how successful it was at eliciting an emotion from you the audience.

    I suppose I like my personal definition cause I dislike how people tend to be very judgmental over issues surrounding sex and peoples particular kinks. Just look at furries for how even some seemingly sex positive people just love to bash the hell out of other peoples benign kinks.

    Anyway these are just my thoughts and definitions and I admit they’re a bit rough around the edges as I’ve only been thinking them over for a couple hours.

  12. says

    “P.s. WHERE did you get that lovely piece of tentacle porn?”

    Oh, I thought it came from PZ’s private stock–sort of a bribe to get you to drop out of the Readers’ Choice Awards.

  13. michaeld says

    LOL and while I try to write this all out and get my ideas all straight Nathaniel comes and steals the idea from my mind! Curse you Nathaniel CUUUURSEEE YOUU! *shakes fist* :P

  14. butchboy says

    Oh, gawd, “Bending” has such freaking hot sex :D

    It’s one of my favorite pieces of sex writing ever. Yum yum yum.

  15. John Horstman says

    Huh, I think when applied to sexuality, the terms are exactly the same denotatively (though “erotica” has picked up a ‘more-legitimate’ connotation), but “porn” can be applied beyond media that aim for sexual excitement, e.g. “scenery porn” or “torture porn” or “cooking porn” having nothing to do with sexual excitement in response to those topics. In this sense, then, “porn” refers to art that is intended to exist for the sake of its subject matter, without any necessary value beyond existing (this frequently carries a connotation of “excess”, but that’s a situationally-relative judgement, and I therefore don’t find it to be useful – a definition more along the lines of “art that indulges in or revels in its subject matter to the greatest extent possible” would be more useful). “Erotica” is then “sexual pornography”, a wholly-contained subset of “porn”.

  16. MichaelD says

    To add\respond to what John said,

    To me, scenery porn is to porn as space opera is to opera. Porn and opera are both used in these cases (at least originally in space opera) as negative terms ascribed to something. In the case of porn its a focus on the aesthetic and physical aspects and for opera a focus on the melodramatic aspects.

    I guess to nit pick with your final definition I wouldn’t like to describe opera solely in terms of the melodramatics and excesses of plot for the sole purpose of emotional drive. While such a definition has merit in describing what — porn or —opera mean I don’t know that that kind of definition helps in describing the terms porn or opera on their own. But that’s just my take on it.

  17. says

    I must echo what a few of the other commenters have said – if porn and erotica both refer to sexually explicit art, then what word do we use to refer to sexually implicit art?

    I think there are meaningful distinctions between porn and erotica – but the problem is that there are more than one, so boiling it down to one is bound to fail. Some people call all written porn erotica, and all visual erotica porn. As a visual artist, I find meaning in distinguishing [visual] erotica from [visual] porn (and even then, the distinction, while meaningful, isn’t always clear cut) – but not because I disparage porn. I use the term “erotica” to refer to sexually implicit art, and it fulfills me in a way that sexually explicit art does not. It may or may not be as exciting, but it is more moving, and I both seek it and create it (instead of porn) for that reason (and not because “porn” is less accepted in the art world – a position I do not respect).

    But I love that you explicitly defined porn as art, because porn is most definitely art (even if it is a different sort of art than non-pornographic erotic art). And I also agree that pretty much all porn is a political statement, if for no other reason than sex is such a huge social and political sticking point.

    But if someone were to put a gun to my head, I would say, erotica is anything that turns you on, whereas porn is anything that depicts (or describes) explicit sex. Though it would be unfair of me to proclaim that the end of the discussion.

  18. crissakentavr says

    I always thought the simple answer is to one or the other is one has sexual acts and the other only hints at it or makes it available.

    Not that anyone will use my definition.

  19. Rabidtreeweasel says

    I think the definition is subjective, and there in lies the problem; what tantalizes me in a taboo sense is Porn, what does not (that I still wouldn’t watch with my Mother) is erotica. These definitions are useful only in what they tell us about individual interests. I am thinking specifically of fetishes. I am not turned on by painted toes in a pair of sandals, but I am aware that other people are. I, an turn, find red headed women playing video games with me naked to be very arousing.
    To the point, these distinctions serve more to vilify an Other than we probably realize. I would say “I’m all for porn, I’m sex positive!”, but I am still making what may be an unnecessary separation between that which gets me off (dirty, carnal, shameful, Porn) and that which I might discuss in mixes company (high-minded, artistic, classy,soft-focused, Erotica).

  20. says

    Quite honestly I’m more of an erotica fan. Porn is too trashy for me.
    I kind of just
    Another great article, Greta!

    theweirdworder-awritersworld.blogspot.com/

  21. says

    We’ve talked about this multiple times on our own site, back and forth about what makes something pornographic as opposed to erotic. We tend to promote our work as erotica because “porn” gets stigmatized and ghettoized in a way erotica does not. But really, I think most of what we do at Adventurotica is porn.

    What my thinking boils down to is: Porn is about all kinds of things, but has explicit sex in it as part of the experience, while erotica may not have any actual sex in it, but is about an erotic idea.

  22. says

    Love this article, Greta (though I’d probably say that about everything you write but that’s neither here nor there). I think that sexuality is a fun part about being human and there’s no reason to have something that is pornographic or erotic be bad, necessarily, and the difference is largely academic (though I, personally, prefer the word erotic because of the way it sounds).

    Also, where’s the +1 button? >.>

  23. says

    Just to make my personal definition clearer, I am actually saying that erotica IS a subset of porn. And it’s art as well. Picture a simple Venn diagram, with Porn and Art as the main circles, then Erotica is the set intersection.

    @Tony Elka – so some of my books are porn only when my mother is in the house? They flip category? Spooky!

  24. Musical Atheist says

    Reading the above very interesting discussion makes me feel naive! I always thought it’s porn if it involves people actually having sex, and erotica if the sex is only simulated or imagined. So Mira Nair’s ‘Kama Sutra’ is erotica and Maria Beatty’s ‘The Cabinet of Maria Beatty’ is porn, even though they both have high aesthetic values and interesting cultural references that go a bit further than the primary purpose of giving viewers a hot and beautiful erotic experience.

    If this is not the case, how does one differentiate between art in which actual people perform actual sex acts, and art which merely implies, describes or simulates this? It seems to me that how the art is made is rather important. I mean (according to this definition) criticisms that are frequently levelled at porn (exploitative, degrading etc) can’t be levelled at erotica in precisely the same way because you don’t have to worry about the sexual welfare of people who don’t exist, or who didn’t actually have to perform the sex acts depicted. This is one of the reasons why I used to only use ‘erotica’, until I discovered porn makers who explicitly promote good ethics policies.

  25. leftwingfox says

    I come at this from another way. The distinction between “Porn” and “erotica” exists only because we consider sexual arousal as an invalid emotion for artistic expression. If art brings you joy, sorrow, anger, disgust, fear or longing, we consider it art. If it provokes a sexual response, we call it porn. Trying to separate erotica from porn based on the artistic merits falls short quickly once you get into more artistic realms, like drawings or literature.

    Think of it this way. An artist with some measure of talent drawing a nude person is considered “legitimate art”. Alter the pose slightly, so the individual appears aroused or intentionally arousing to the viewer becomes “erotica” while someone in the midst or climax of masturbation would be considered “porn”. Same artist, same model, same composition, same skill; the only difference is the level of sexual arousal it tries to portray.

  26. wscott says

    I always liked the answer Susan gave on the BBC show Coupling when asked what makes something qualify as erotica rather than porn:
    “A plot you can’t summarize in diagrams.”

  27. michaeld says

    I guess my last word on the subject is that porn is a derogatory term similar to slurs like slut. Slut is used to degrade the value of someone and make it ok to act badly towards them as a result. Ex the idea that its ok to rape someone because they’re a slut. Similarly what is associated with porn its trashy, obscene, without artistic merit. This then makes it more acceptable to censor it in ways we wouldn’t apply to other art.

    Ex. Since its a magazine full of say men engaged in *insert graphic and descriptive sex acts here* it can say be stopped from crossing the border. Why? Because this magazine depicts trashy photos without artistic merit. The magazine full of photos of kittens *insert adorably descriptive acts here* it has artistic merit and can be let in.

    In the end porn is used for what ever erotic art that the person personally disagrees with, finds trashy, wouldn’t leave out to let others see or is otherwise viewed as mediocre or of poor quality.

  28. says

    I believe there’s no longer a real distinction…

    If you want to see real crossover between art, erotica, porn, just look at a few tumblr.com sites.

    Start with a search for your favourite taste(less) subject and include ‘tumblr’: e.g. “tumblr exhibitionism”, or “tumblr erotic art”

    That’s just a start. To find more to your test check out the links that these sites follow – usually a matrix of links in a sidebar – to locate any particular deviancy that takes your fancy.

    … or so I’m told.

  29. John Horstman says

    @20: “…if porn and erotica both refer to sexually explicit art, then what word do we use to refer to sexually implicit art?” Art. :-)

    I don’t think there’s necessarily a clear divide between “sexually explicit” and “sexually implicit”. Some people would consider pictures of feet or calves or wrists to be sexually explicit, while others wouldn’t even consider them sexually implicit. Some people might consider anatomical medical photos of nude bodies (and especially genitals or other culturally-sexualized body parts) to be sexually explicit, implicit, or neither. Because arousal is highly dependent of the work in question, the viewer, and the context, I’m not sure it makes sense to even try to draw a line between implicit and explicit (or for that matter, sexual and not – if our cultural attitude toward sexuality wasn’t so incredibly dysfunctional, I don’t think we’d generally feel a need to label thing as either “porn” or “erotica”). And, of course, one person’s “pornography” or “erotica” is another person’s squick.

  30. says

    Well if that is the only distinction, then stories I have read you write are all erotica, cause fuck are they good. I sure wouldn’t mind a few more porn..err…I mean erotica stories from you.

  31. piero says

    I’ve developed a very simple test which might be of help:

    Do the performers call each other insulting names sucah as “dirty whore” or “fucking bastard”?
    Then it’s filthy smut.

    Do the persormers look at the camera?
    Then it’s porn.

    Do the performers keep mostly quiet and look at each other?
    Then it’s erotica.

  32. piero says

    That reminded me of another test developed by Umberto Eco in a very funny article (which unfortunately I don’t have time to translate in its entirety).

    Any way, the gist of the test was this:

    If the “film time” it takes for people to travel from A to B is the same time it would take in reality, the film is pornographic.

    The reasoning was as follows:

    A film consiting entirely of people fucking would soon become boring, and it would imply too much “wear and tear” for the performers.

    Hence, the film producers have to somehow intersperse the sex scenes with something else: otherwise the film would last ten minutes.

    Now, given that porn producers could not write a script to save their lives, they resort to artificially extebding the film with everyday activities in real time: if the performers meet at a restaurant to have lunch, the scene lasts exactly what it would take in real life, say 40 minutes. Easy.

  33. says

    What’s that old joke? “The difference between art and pornography is that art is out of focus?”

    Well, not really, I guess. (Oh, and Three Kinds of Asking For It fucking rocks.)

  34. Azkyroth says

    The most useful distinction I’ve ever encountered, aside from using the “erotica is what *I* like” routine to show up hypocrites, is the one used by the author of one of the sex manuals I bought years ago (I *think* it was the Guide to Getting It On), namely that “erotica is written material; porn is primarily visual.” I may be misremembering.

  35. says

    I truly appreciate your subject, something I grapple with often at my Erotic Literary Salon in Philadelphia. I use the word sensexual or sensexuala instead of pornography, erotica, basically to sidestep the issue of judgement.

    I have taken the liberty of posting part of your blog on mine, and including a link to your website for people to read further.

  36. crayzz says

    As far as I can tell, porn encompasses all explicitly sexual visual media. Erotica encompasses all sexual art. They’re not mutually exclusive terms. Porn is a subset of erotica.

    Yeah, I know. There is a lot of trashy porn. There is also a lot of trashy television. And music. And books. And pretty much every art form you can think of. But shitty art is still art, whatever annoying art elitists like to tell you.

  37. says

    Interesting! For some reason I always thought of it as a difference in medium used – porn was visual (pictures or video) and erotica written. Interesting to think that’s not the case after all.

    PS. “Three Kinds of Asking For It (currently available on Kindle … )” – also not available in Asia & Pacific (I’m in New Zealand).

  38. valhar2000 says

    70′s porn…

    I started watching movies form that era some time ago, and, I have to say, I wish they were doing that sort of thing today. I know that thsoe things get parodied to death, but the trivial plots and the often cheesy and sometimes hilarious conversations really add something, at least in my opinion.

    Modern videos in which people appear, have sex, talk to the camera (but not to each other), shoot loads and then leave is just not the same.

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