Pornography has a long history. It is linked to human beings’ sexual motivation and erotic satisfaction through media such as books, magazines, postcards, drawings and, more recently, film and the Internet. An immense industry supports the latter; more actors work in the “adult” movie business than in Hollywood.
Sex-related words are the most searched-for words on the Internet. The Internet has dramatically changed the nature of access to pornography (both legal and illegal material). Pornography magazine sales have fallen as the number of sex websites has skyrocketed. While there has always been a vocal segment of the population that has opposed pornography, it was only in the nineteenth century that laws began to ban the publication and sale of certain writings or images considered to be pornographic. Denmark was the first country to legalize pornography—in 1969. There, pornographic magazines could be obtained in vending machines located in public places.
The varieties of pornography available can range from soft porn, where genitals are not normally seen or are displayed discretely, to hard core material, which depicts an extremely wide range of explicit sexual acts. In addition to professionally made pornography, the advent of the digital camera combined with a computer has spawned a large amount of “amateur” or non-commercial pornography on the Internet. In large meta-analyses of studies on the effects of non-violent pornography, it has been found that such pornography has no significant effect on sex crimes (i.e., as pornography has increased in availability, sex crimes have either decreased or not increased).
Erotica now has a wide societal acceptance, or at least tolerance, in most Western countries. Moreover, in all Western countries studied, despite an evolution in attitude, the viewing of pornography is absolutely restricted to adults, and children’s involvement in the production of such material is legally prohibited. Section 163 of the Criminal Code of Canada outlines the specific restrictions relating to child pornography.
- T. Holmes and R. M. Holmes, Sex crimes: Patterns and behavior(3rd ed.), Chapters 7 and 8
Key Terms and Concepts
- Kiddie porn
- Chat channels
- Relational pornography
- Sporting clubs
- Family disorganization
- Long term effects
- Photo exchange