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Introduction

Circular icon with the letters "xxx"
"XXX" is often used to designate pornographic material.

Pornography (often shortened to porn) is the portrayal of sexual subject matter for the exclusive purpose of sexual arousal. Pornography may be presented in a variety of media, including books, magazines, postcards, photographs, sculpture, drawing, painting, animation, sound recording, phone calls, writing, 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. The primary subjects of present-day pornographic depictions are pornographic models, who pose for still photographs, and pornographic actors or "porn stars", who perform in pornographic films. If dramatic skills are not involved, a performer in pornographic media may also be called a model.

Various groups within society have considered depictions of a sexual nature immoral, addictive, and noxious, labeling them pornographic, and attempting to have them suppressed under obscenity and other laws, with varying degrees of success. Such works have also often been subject to censorship and other legal restraints to publication, display, or possession, leading in many cases to their loss. Such grounds, and even the definition of pornography, have differed in various historical, cultural, and national contexts.


Fernande (1910–1917) French postcard by Jean Agélou.

Erotica is any literary or artistic work that deals substantively with subject matter that is erotically stimulating or sexually arousing but is not pornographic. Erotic art may use any artistic form to depict erotic content, including painting, sculpture, drama, film or music. Erotic literature and erotic photography have become genres in their own right.

Curiosa is erotica and pornography as discrete, collectable items, usually in published or printed form. In the antiquarian book trade, pornographic works are often listed under "curiosa", "erotica" or "facetiae".

Selected article

The effects of pornography on individuals or their sexual relationships depend on the type of pornography used and differ from person to person. Pornographic material has been studied particularly for associations with addiction as well as effects on the brain over time. Some literature reviews suggest that pornographic images and films can be addictive, particularly when combined with masturbation, while others maintain that data remains inconclusive. Other research has looked at pornographic material's relation to sexual violence, with varying results. Read more...

Selected work of erotic literature

Two folios from a palm leaf manuscript of the Kamasutra text (Sanskrit, Devanagari script).

The Kama Sutra (/ˈkɑːmə ˈstrə/; Sanskrit: कामसूत्र, pronunciation, Kāmasūtra) is an ancient Indian Sanskrit text on sexuality, eroticism and emotional fulfillment in life. Attributed to Vātsyāyana, the Kama Sutra is neither exclusively nor predominantly a sex manual on sex positions, but written as a guide to the "art-of-living" well, the nature of love, finding a life partner, maintaining one's love life, and other aspects pertaining to pleasure-oriented faculties of human life.

Kamasutra is the oldest surviving Hindu text on erotic love. It is a sutra-genre text with terse aphoristic verses that have survived into the modern era with different bhasya (exposition and commentaries). The text is a mix of prose and anustubh-meter poetry verses. The text acknowledges the Hindu concept of Purusharthas, and lists desire, sexuality, and emotional fulfillment as one of the proper goals of life. Its chapters discuss methods for courtship, training in the arts to be socially engaging, finding a partner, flirting, maintaining power in a married life, when and how to commit adultery, sexual positions, and other topics. The majority of the book is about the philosophy and theory of love, what triggers desire, what sustains it, and how and when it is good or bad.

The text is one of many Indian texts on Kama Shastra. It is a much-translated work in Indian and non-Indian languages. The Kamasutra has influenced many secondary texts that followed after the 4th-century CE, as well as the Indian arts as exemplified by the pervasive presence Kama-related reliefs and sculpture in old Hindu temples. Of these, the Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh is a UNESCO world heritage site. Among the surviving temples in north India, one in Rajasthan sculpts all the major chapters and sexual positions to illustrate the Kamasutra. According to Wendy Doniger, the Kamasutra became "one of the most pirated books in English language" soon after it was published in 1883 by Richard Burton. This first European edition by Burton does not faithfully reflect much in the Kamasutra because he revised the collaborative translation by Bhagavanlal Indrajit and Shivaram Parashuram Bhide with Forster Arbuthnot to suit 19th-century Victorian tastes. Read more...

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