Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: pornography from Philip's Encyclopedia

Visual or aural material presenting erotic behaviour that is intended to be sexually stimulating, and is lacking in artistic or other forms of merit. It is often considered to be demeaning to both sexuality and to the body. Although legal censorship in most countries bans forms of pornography, the interpretation of the law is subjective.


Summary Article: Pornography from The SAGE Glossary of the Social and Behavioral Sciences

Any material (audio/video, magazines, pictures, letters, etc.) intended for sexual stimulation. Some moral and religious groups have argued that pornography is immoral due to the sexually explicit messages it sends out. According to these groups, such messages conflict with the fundamental religious and family-oriented values put forth by conventional social institutions. These groups also argue that pornography promotes deviant sexual behavior as well as sexual promiscuity. Some feminist groups have expressed their disapproval of pornography, mainly because such material objectifies, exploits, and oppresses women. Groups that are opposed to pornography support the use of formal measures and sanctions to prevent individuals from viewing or being involved in the production of pornographic material. On the opposite end of the spectrum, liberal groups advocate against censorship, arguing that it constitutes a violation of individuals' right to freedom. To prevent individuals from expressing their preferences and beliefs is deemed a violation of the freedom of speech and expression. Censorship of pornography is also perceived by some as a violation of the right to privacy; sexual preferences are a private matter, and it is argued that individuals should have the right to express these preferences in private without external interference. Liberal groups further argue that viewing pornographic material does not cause any harm to anyone, and therefore, there is no basis for censor ship. Child pornography is prohibited, but the regulations around this are still developing. For instance, the use of “virtual” child pornography is legally acceptable, since it uses computer images and not the images of real children.

See also

Censorship (media studies)

Copyright © 2009 by SAGE Publications, Inc.

Related Credo Articles

Full text Article Pornography
Bloomsbury Guide to Human Thought

Pornography (Greek, ‘depiction of whores’), in its narrowest sense, is writing or visual images designed to provide sexual...

Full text Article Pornography
The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Love, Courtship, and Sexuality through History: The Colonial and Revolutionary Age

Definitions of pornography vary dramatically, but most historians agree that it involves graphic descriptions of sexual activities or genitalia...

Full text Article Pornography
The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Love, Courtship, and Sexuality through History: The Modern World

Pornography originated from the ancient Greek words “porni” and “grafi,” meaning “writings about prostitutes.” In the twentieth and twenty-first...

See more from Credo