Everyone Watches Porn, And We Always Have Ifprostitution is the oldest profession in the world, then pornography has got tobe the second oldest.
Dating as far back as humans have recorded, there havebeen depictions of humans engaging in sexual acts. Things such as Venus figuresand rock art have been found all over the globe (Rudgley). Even the ancientEgyptians with all their advancements in architecture and agriculture engagedin depictions of pornography. Thepicture to the left is a scene from the Turin Erotic Papyrus that dates all theway back to 1150 B.C. Looking at, and depicting people performing sexual actsis clearly not a new phenomenon, nor is it going away. According to Forbes.
com,the popular pornography website Pornhub.com saw 81 million viewers per day, ora total of 28.5 billion viewers in 2017. So clearly, the act of watchingpornography is not changing. However, what is changing is the way peoplerecord, edit, and view their pornography.
This paper will seek so explain whatpornography is, and briefly go into its history. I will also go into some depthabout the advancement of technology in the porn industry, and the subsequenteffect that the porn industry has on various other industries. Asmentioned in the previous paragraph, pornography is not a new occurrence. Foras long as there have been humans we have like watching each other having sex.On that topic Jeremey Black wrote in Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia:An Illustrated Dictionary, that a large number of artifacts form the ancientcivilization of Mesopotamia, approximately 2000 BC, have been found that depictelicit acts sex. (Black, et al.) The Mesopotamians were not the only greatancient civilization to engage in the act of recoding pornography. Black addedthat, in the remains of Pompeii, yet again archeologist found many examples ofRoman pornographic art.
(Black, et al.) This love of sexually graphic materialdoes not stop at pictures and drawings. In the mid-16th century thefirst “original English prose pornography, and the first pornography to use theform of the novel,” (Faxon). FannyHill was a novel by John Cleland that was originally published under the title”Memoirs of a Women of Pleasure.” This novel follows the life of a rich middleaged English woman who is married and content. The novel takes place as twoseparate letters to an old friend that proceeds to discuss the elicit sexualpast of the two friends, including Fanny’s stint as a prostitute inLondon.
According to F. D. Faxon inLibertine Literature in England, Fanny Hill became, “the most prosecuted andbanned books in history.” (Faxon) Again we can see that pornography is not anew idea, and that in fact is something that all regions of the world hold incommon. Whileall the regions of the world have a history of porn in common it has not alwaysbeen accepted as widely as it is today. In 1784, when Fanny Hill was written,the writers, and publishers of the novel were throw into prison for “corruptingthe King’s subjects.” (Faxon) The restricted sensibilities of the Victorian eraproceeded heavily into 1857, when the very first anti-obscenity law was passed.
The Obscene Publications act of 1857 made the sale of obscene material illegal.However, this law did not pertain to motion pictures, as that technology hadnot yet been invented. Withthe invention of the motion picture camera in 1895 you bet that mankind figuredout a way to make a new kind of pornography. Stephen Bottomore pointed out inthe novel Eugene Pirou that, just one year later, in 1896 the French film, LeCoucher de la Mariée, or The Bride’s Sleep, was first published. This film isonly seven minutes long and looks in on a newlywed couple in their bedroom. Thecouple then proceeds to engage in some sexually suggestive behavior,including the husband spying on the wife while she performs a strip teasebehind a folding changing screen.
(Bottomore) Despite the fact that this is theoldest recoded erotic film it would not even begin to compare to erotic filmsof today, as the lead actress in Le Coucher 6ude la Mariee is never fully nude. 100years after the first pornographic film was produced that the world began toembrace its more erotic side. In 1969 the world accomplished two very importanttasks. First, we sent the Neil Armstrong to the moon, to be the first human towalk on a foreign celestial body.
Second, Denmark became the first country toeliminate censorship, essentially making all different kinds of pornographylegal. (Rodley, et al.) Theactions of Denmark helped United States enter into what is now referred to asthe, “Golden Age of Porn.” (Paasonen) Starting in 1969 and going all the way to1984 this 15-year period was the birth of what we know as the Porn Industrytoday.
For the first time in history of erotic films the main stream media wasgiving it positive attention. Originally, erotic movies were made as “stag–films” or movies that were intended to be viewed only my men in brothels orother private quarters. (Thompson) In 1969 Andy Warhol produced a film calledBlue Movie. According to Vincent Canby, in his New York Times movie review ofthe film, it made some light commentary on the Vietnam war and included severalscenes of non-simulated sex. (Canby) However, the crown jewel of the Golden Ageof Porn was the movie Deep Throat. The film was released in 1972 and was thefirst pornographic film to have a plot.
Despite the fact that Deep Throat was apornography film it got several mentions from Johnny Carson and Bob Hope ontheir late night talk shows. This reverence by the mainstream media helped tolaunch Deep Throat into box office success. (Corliss) Theactual definition of pornography, according to Merriam-Websters.com is, “thedepiction of obscene behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to causesexual excitement.” However, one man’s obscenity is another man’s art, and thisis something that has been argued in the United States courts for decades. Asrecently as 1973, the Supreme Court heard a case that revolved around thediscussion of what pornography, or more importantly, what obscenity is. Thecase of Miller v.
California was a decision of the Supreme Court in which,”court redefined its definition of obscenity from that of “utter9lywithout socially redeeming value” to that which lacks “seriousliterary, artistic, political, or scientific value”. (Miller) However,there have been no image based obscenity cases in the United States. Despitethe fact that in 1973 the Supreme Court was essentially ruling againstpornography, technology industry has continued to embrace the pornographyindustry. Much like with the inventionof the motion picture camera the pornography industry has persistent in their effortto take advantage of new developments in technology, the most influential technologicaladvancement being the Internet.
According to Safefamilies.org, “More than 70%of male internet users from 18 to 34 visit a pornographic site in a typicalmonth.” This advancement alone has allowed the pornography industry to growfrom a $10 million industry in 1970 to a $13 billion industry today, with “$3,075being spent on porn every second and a new porn video being produced every 39minutes.” (Lipton) With this much demand for pornographic content it is awonder that more people are not talking about this industry. TheInternet has allowed people all over the world to have access to knowledge andinformation that would otherwise be unobtainable to them. It has also allowedpeople all over the world to have access to pornography. However laws around the world differ greatlywhen it comes to pornography. The image shown to the left displays the legalityof porn in different regions around the world.
The green indicates the portionsof the world where most porn, with the exceptions of animal and child porn, is completely.The yellow indicates portions of the world where porn is somewhat legal. Thered indicates where porn is completely illegal, and the grey indicates where thestats were unobtainable (Baxter, et al.) Somepeople argue that pornography is a matter of free speech. Larry Flint andwriter Salman Rushdie “argued that pornography is vital to freedom and that afree and civilized society should be judged by its willingness to acceptpornography.
“(Baxter, et al.) Due to people like Flint and Rushdie in 2014, thecourts in the United States made a ruling on the matter of what exactly ispornography. The case of Massachusetts, Commonwealth v. Rex weighed in on whatis considered to be pornography, and more specifically what is child pornography.In July of 2014 the courts determined, “determined that photographs of nakedchildren that were from sources such as National Geographic magazine, asociology textbook, and a nudist catalog were not considered pornography inMassachusetts even while in the possession of a convicted and (at the time)incarcerated sex offender.” (Kernes) Despitethe fact that the majority of the world is regularly watching pornography thereare still some that are vehemently against it. Many feminist argue thatpornography is degrading to women and should be outlawed entirely. One of themain arguments against this is that pornography contributes to violence againstwomen, not just in the production of the pornography but also in theconsumption of it.
However, there are strict laws that govern the production ofpornography that attempt to protect both the actors/actress and the consumersof porn. In most countries around the world is illegal to produce, view, or ownpornography if you are under 18 years of age. (Kerns) Fromcrudely drawn pictures on cave walls, to the printing press, to modern dayinternet people have always watched pornography. It has not changed and itshows no signs of stopping. More than ever pornography is being accepted andeven embraced. It is the opinion of this writer that where ever porn goes thepeople will go and I see no indication otherwise.