Last weekend I flew home to the UK for a month’s stay to see my family - we have a lot of catching up to do. Skype and the telephone are all very well but there is nothing like having a good old chat together. And for some reason the chat between my son and I led us on to talk about erotica and pornography. Mm I hear you thinking – what mother discusses such things with her son?! Well in this instance I did! We have a fairly frank and open relationship which covers many subjects, although my son is pretty much what you call ‘straight’ and gets a bit squeamish if he thinks I’m going too far – i.e. he’s young and I’m not!! In this particular conversation we disagreed – he believes there is no difference between erotica and pornography while I feel there is. It’s a bit akin to ‘gazing or leering’. Now normally I like to research a subject to ensure I’m properly informed, but in this case I chose not to because the whole question is subjective and steeped in moral, aesthetic and religious values. I thought that if I spent time reading other literature I might change my own beliefs and viewpoint. My son (and others), regard these two subjects in sexuality as coinciding, while I believe they exist on essentially different planes.
Let’s take aesthetic art for instance. In painting or photographing nudity, we don’t look to see whether the composition is anatomically correct. We look at the subject from an erotic execution and assume that the artist viewed the model as commendable. We take pleasure in this and thus the erotic and aesthetic merge.
The artist’s work suggests, but unlike pornography it doesn't appeal totally or exclusively to our senses or carnal appetites. It employs our aesthetic sense, in how we judge the figure in measure of human beauty and shows there is more overlap between the aesthetic and the erotic, than between the erotic and pornographic. Of course, erotica and pornography both present the human organism in a manner that's sexually compelling. But the main aim of the pornographer is not to get their audience to appreciate or honour the human form. More likely their object is to sexually ‘turn on’ the onlooker. The brazen purpose is simple: immediate titillation leading to intense arousal. Okay, the erotic might end up having the same effect. But, the ideal behind erotica is to add a third dimension that won't grow old, or become stale over time as pornographic images generally do. Pornography I think is basically "sex for sale." Artists seek eroticism, I believe, as much as they seek beauty. Pornographers are less motivated by the desire to faithfully represent what they may (or may not) regard as beautiful or aesthetic. Rather, their undertaking is contrived to "produce" what they believe will turn the largest possible profit. Besides pornography's being a money-making venture, the very word pornography (or porn) connotes certain corruption, which is at times the humiliation or defilement of human sexuality. Many writers have complained that pornography, by portraying women, reduces them to sex objects whose fundamental value is to satisfy a man's libido.
But I think it can do more than that. Porn literature, including songs, photographs, or films can cheapen--for both sexes--the whole beautiful experience of physical intimacy. It can take acts of affection, love, and caring, and dehumanise them into something depraved. Acts that combine love with lust are often shown as mere outlets for easing sexual tension. That which we humans seek to make special is then shown as activities lacking caring and concern. Pornography is literally sex without any sort of relationship. Pornography surely gives a temporary fix for our sexual frustrations; eroticism offers us something more subtle --an opportunity to experience sensuous pleasure of a higher order. Pornography appeals to our more savage animal instincts; its portrayal of human flesh is calculated to arouse our most primeval appetites. Pornography might show some interest in beauty--but only to heighten sexual allure.
I’ve read how some women writers of erotica say that before they came across this genre they didn’t even know it existed…there is this whole world of erotica in print and online and mainly catering to women! They go on to say that many people view anything sexual as smut or just porn while others can relish the differences between erotica and porn and all the areas in between. Many think porn is usually visual and geared towards men with a purpose to physically arouse and stimulate. They say erotica goes further and deeper by appealing more to women and is often written (but not wholly) by and for women. Erotica can be real experiences versus unrealistic porn, covering a full story but including steamy sex scenes which are often omitted in most novels. Thus erotica can stimulate both mind and body, arousing the imagination and heightening emotions. Porn is all on display, leaving no imagination at all.
I personally think one difference is that a piece of erotic writing tries to explain why something feels good and pornography does not. Pornography can often take what some of us may consider a distasteful sex act and show it in a titillating manner. Whereas eroticism can take the same sexual act and question any pleasure gained from it. Eroticism can explore a wide range of emotions and make moral judgement, love, hate, fear, pain, rejection, and so on. Pornography cannot do any of this in an expressive way. My point is that sexuality covers a wealth of human sentiments and unlike pornography, erotica doesn't seek to limit these. It can be argued that erotica is more arousing because it implicates and arouses in many ways that pornography cannot. Human beings are such multifarious physical and emotional creatures – we are what we are. For us to be aroused, we have to think and pornography takes away any need for thought, concentrating on just supplying a physical need. Erotica stimulates us mentally, allowing us to explore our own feelings. Erotica works on so many other different levels to the pornographic.
But there again some people may say it’s all semantics! What do you think?
Thank you for dropping by and reading my post this week. I thought I’d write about something different for once and it’s a subject that may set many of you thinking! Despite my son complaining, I’m going to add a tad more sex to my next romantic suspense book, nothing smutty of course… and perhaps I won’t tell him when it’s out in print!
Have a great day wherever you are!