Depiction of sexual behavior -> designed to cause sexual excitement. From
the Greek word porni graphein ->
prostitute to write, depicting the life of prostitutes.
Classification of pornography is subjective;
history of pornography is impossible to uncover -> to the beginning of time.
Imagery that is seen as sexual & erotic may be religious in another
society. European explorers to India were shocked by the imagery of intercourse
on Hindu temples such as Khajuraho. Muslim societies would label mainstream
western motion pictures and music production videos as ”pornography”.
Pornography classification is essentially dependent on the society and on the
In a historical context, depictions
of sexual behavior were portrayed in a religious perspective. From 1603 – 1867
Japan developed a society where visual erotica was depicted through pillow
pictures, woodblock art prints and books that it became a social mainstream
display. The mass production of this material was so large that in the 18th
century government officials were implementing laws and arrests in attempt to
lessen the production of pornographic material. In the 1500s Europe created new
technologies giving an outlet for prints containing features of humor, romance
The modern history of Western
pornography advanced in the 18th century when printing technology
was so cutting-edge that the production of erotica was able to be distributed
to all socioeconomic levels and audiences. Pornography became a symbol of
political protest against the church and state.
In the 19th Century the
inventions of photography and motion pictures were immediately put to the use
in the production of pornography. Widely distributed by the 1920s and by the
1960s the development of videocassettes and digital videodiscs created an
increase of purchases as these motion pictures were able to be viewed privately
at home. The emergence of internet in the 1990s provided the perfect platform
for the pornography industry to be one of the most profitable on the internet.
Understanding capitalism and what
drives this system helps comprehend the reason why porn has flourished the way
it has. A Marxist theory of pornography does not see pornography as being a
problem to do with men, as we cannot deny all of the industry is controlled by
Capitalism is motivated by profit
and competition; it seeks to make money from every aspect in life, everything
is a commodity for price. Something that can be purchased or sold, including
emotions and sexuality. Socialists want openness with sex, this was a demand of
the 1960s women’s liberation movement that sex should be more pleasure and not
However, pornography isn’t about
making sex lives better, its about making profit. The profits suggest that they
have been successful as the industry is worth $US97 billion, a growth compared
to yearly gross of $7 billion in the late 1990s.
The competition to exceed rivals by
producing the most explicit and extreme images. Instead of expanding horizons
of sex it limits them. Selling a narrow vision of sexuality based on
stereotypes. What men want from women. Radical feminists in 1970s Andrea
Dworkin and Susan Brown miller -> porn led to violence against women.
Socialists argue it does not cause but reinforces women as sex objects ->
women to suffer in the production of porn.
Capitalism using porn principles: Demand
cheap labor to turn maximum profit -> An individual rate for fetish porn is
$300 more than the company wants to pay; Hire another girl for cheaper.
Demands a disposable labor force to
continue turning max profit -> As a consumer you don’t like this girl, click
on another one. Girl contracts HIV after production of a film -> As a
director, hire another girl without HIV.
Economic inequality -> motivator
for selling sex, this inequality is a capitalist drive that the industry
Economic security demands education
-> a reason women choose to take up porn. The claim that selling sex can
help a woman evade poverty, on a micro level, could be a viable argument ->
generally new comers make minimal amount in return for selling one’s body,
reputation & future job opportunities.
Argument that participating in porn
is a way of disrupting patriarchy capitalism. Patriarchal capitalism & free
market determines the value of your body, and when she is no longer of use
-> time to retire. After retired she will re-enter the patriarchal
capitalist society where she will be ashamed or not.
Individualism approach ->
That acts are moral when they endorse the individual’s best long-term
interests, which eventually leads to greater good, gratifying immediate
Moral rights approach ->
moral decisions are those that best maintain the rights of those people
affected by them, people have fundamental rights & liberties that cannot be
taken away: Right to privacy, right to free consent, right to freedom speech.
Justice approach -> The
ethical concept that moral decisions must be based on standards of equity,
fairness and impartiality: Distributive justice -> different treatment of people
not based on certain characteristics; Procedural justice -> Requires rules
be administered fairly; Compensatory justice -> Compensation for the cost of
their injuries by the party responsible.