What is Porn?

This question is actually a little bit hard to answer, since what is considered pornographic depends on who you ask. In a nutshell, pornography is any work that has been produced to effect sexual arousal in the viewer. Pornography is often considered in relation to erotica, which is an artistic product that is attempting to highlight the beauty and mystery of sexuality. Although porn can be erotic, more often than not it simply skips straight to the images and ideas that the producer knows will turn you on the fastest.

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Porn is Fiction

Just like other entertainment products, pornography is a work of fiction. It is scripted by a writer, funded by a producer, directed and performed by professionals and sold to an audience. In this sense, porn isn’t all that different from TV, film or video games. And because porn is fiction, it is free to depict fantastical situations that would be difficult or impossible to accomplish “in real life.” Sexy delivery boys and naughty school-teachers populate the world of porn — just like superheroes and evil villains populate the world of films or comic books. These characters and situations are meant to be over-the-top and entertaining — they are not meant to be taken literally. As Marty Klein, psychologist and advocate of porn literacy puts it, “Porn… is not a documentary.”

Porn is a Product

In order to sell the fantasy of porn as “real sex,” it is made to look as sleek and polished as possible. This means that although plenty of time and sweat and effort go into making a porn — countless takes and set changes, script rewrites and bloopers — what you see on the screen is a tightly edited finished product. What you don’t see are the sexual moments that are considered “boring” because they are not explicit, such as rolling on a condom, or discussing boundaries between partners. While these things do happen behind the scenes — most porn actors have contracts outlining what they will and won’t do, and porn actors are now required to wear condoms — these “real” moments take away from the fantasy world of sex created by pornography: a world where everyone is attractive and sexually available and sex is always safe and consequence-free.

Go to next page: Who Makes and Watches Porn?

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