For non-pornographic sexually explicit media, see Erotica. Various groups within society have considered depictions of a sexual nature immoral, addictive, and noxious, labeling them pornographic, and attempting to have them suppressed under obscenity and other laws, with varying degrees of success. Irrespective of the legal or social view of pornography, it has been used in a number non pornographic sex contexts.
It is used, for example, at fertility clinics to stimulate sperm donors. Some couples use pornography at times for variety and to create a sexual interest or as part of foreplay. Pornographie” was in use in the French language during the 1800s. The word did not enter the English language as the familiar word until 1857 or as a French import in New Orleans in 1842. Pornography is often abbreviated to porn or porno in informal language. Depictions of a sexual nature have existed since prehistoric times, as seen in the Venus figurines and rock art. Depictions of sexual intercourse were not part of the general repertory of ancient Egyptian formal art, but rudimentary sketches of heterosexual intercourse have been found on pottery fragments and in graffiti.
When large-scale excavations of Pompeii were undertaken in the 1860s, much of the erotic art of the Romans came to light, shocking the Victorians who saw themselves as the intellectual heirs of the Roman Empire. English prose pornography, and the first pornography to use the form of the novel. The world’s first law criminalizing pornography was the English Obscene Publications Act 1857 enacted at the urging of the Society for the Suppression of Vice. Historians have explored the role of pornography in social history and the history of morality. The Victorian attitude that pornography was for a select few can be seen in the wording of the Hicklin test stemming from a court case in 1868 where it asks, “whether the tendency of the matter charged as obscenity is to deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences. Although they were suppressed, depictions of erotic imagery were common throughout history. Pornographic film production commenced almost immediately after the invention of the motion picture in 1895.
Two of the earliest pioneers were Eugène Pirou and Albert Kirchner. Kirchner directed the earliest surviving pornographic film for Pirou under the trade name “Léar”. Sexually explicit films opened producers and distributors to prosecution. Those that were made were produced illicitly by amateurs starting in the 1920s, primarily in France and the United States. Processing the film was risky as was their distribution. Data suggests an increase in pornography viewing over the past few decades, and this has been attributed to the growth of Internet pornography since widespread public access to the World Wide Web in the late 1990s. The scholarly study of pornography, notably in cultural studies, is limited, perhaps due to the controversy about the topic in feminism.