Erotica vs. Porn?

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Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby duaneb » Sat Nov 10, 2007 10:07 pm UTC

So, I was having a chat with my english teacher (we're real close) about greek homosexuality; she's writing her dissertation on it. After a lengthy discussion on it, we came to the defining question of the conversation: What is the difference between porn and erotica?

Personally, I think erotica is simply glorified porn; both are meant to arouse the reader/audience sexually. If anything, I think erotica can be defined as having a wider range of possible implementations; for example, one could write an 'erotica' book that was only subtly explicit but extremely erotic; the same english teacher thought that gone with the wind could be defined as erotica because of this, personally I disagree with this case, but I see her meaning as a whole.

So, folks, here's the big question: What the heck is the difference between Porn and Erotica? Is it simple entertainment and art, as some define it, or is it something more complex?

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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby Infornographer » Sat Nov 10, 2007 10:13 pm UTC

Vulgarity, really. I would agree with you to an extent, that they both describe sexual implements, but differ in their elevation. We see arousal over images as vulgar, but arousal of the mind as a hobby or a game. I think it comes back to the same reason we see witty innuendo as classy and skimpy clothing as skampy. They both achieve the same effect: capturing sexual interest, but one requires more work and more thought than the other. Porn (images or video of sexual activity) constitutes a sort of intellectually-lazy erotica, and people construct an adamant division between them primarily to artificially pronounce this gap.
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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby halkun » Sat Nov 10, 2007 11:32 pm UTC

Girls read erotica.
Guys watch porn.

That's how I see it.
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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby RockoTDF » Sun Nov 11, 2007 12:04 am UTC

One of my friends once said "Erotica is just black and white porn where nobody smiles"

She might be right.
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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby Pai » Sun Nov 11, 2007 12:18 am UTC

RockoTDF wrote:One of my friends once said "Erotica is just black and white porn where nobody smiles"


I don't understand what that's supposed to mean at all.

From what's I've seen, erotica is basically porn in text form. The word 'pornography' comes from a word that means 'pictures' doesn't it? So really, it's just a difference in medium. They both have the same purpose.
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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby theyellowhobbit » Sun Nov 11, 2007 12:28 am UTC

Pai wrote:
RockoTDF wrote:One of my friends once said "Erotica is just black and white porn where nobody smiles"


I don't understand what that's supposed to mean at all.

From what's I've seen, erotica is basically porn in text form. The word 'pornography' comes from a word that means 'pictures' doesn't it? So really, it's just a difference in medium. They both have the same purpose.


It actually comes from the Greek porneia which means something that is inappropriate sexual conduct. It's translated as "fornication" a lot in the New Testament.

(Yay for classes in early Christianity where I get to learn this kind of stuff. Who knew it could be useful?)
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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby Insignificant Deifaction » Sun Nov 11, 2007 12:37 am UTC

Erotica evades the American definition of pornography:

Images or other media lacking artistic merit which inspire arousal.

Erotica doesn't meet the 'lacking artistic merit' criteria, supposedly.
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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby Verator » Sun Nov 11, 2007 12:41 am UTC

Porn: Only purpose is to stimulate sexual arousal. The main purpose of the medium is to generate a sexual response in the user (whether viewer, reading, etc.). No consideration is taken into account for artistic details, usually consists of only copulation in any forms. Usually unrealistic. (Fantastical - purpose more so to allow the user to live out fantastical situations.)

Erotica: Purpose is glorification of the human body, and the beauty of the human nude. While sexual arousal can result, it is not a purpose of the medium. Is intended as an intellectual appreciation for the physical, sexual acts merely present to show beauty of inter-human relations. Usually more realistic. (Genre Scene's - Showing average humans doing average things, in this context sex. Purpose of showing beauty of everyday people.)

That's how I see it.
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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby JayDee » Sun Nov 11, 2007 12:57 am UTC

Insignificant Deification wrote:Erotica evades the American definition of pornography:

Images or other media lacking artistic merit which inspire arousal.

Erotica doesn't meet the 'lacking artistic merit' criteria, supposedly.

That sounds about right. Erotica is much the same as porn, only artistic. Which does sound like a cop-out or justification, I guess, but there is a difference, honest.

Although erotica does get used in other ways (the word, I mean) like to refer to print works. Which is sometimes true, but you can also get plain old print porn. Playboy forum letter, for instance.
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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Nov 11, 2007 1:15 am UTC

Linguistically, "pornography" comes from "porno", meaning "whore", essentially, and "graphos", meaning "writing" or "writer". The first uses in English of it and related words all have to do with writing, not with pictures.

That said, I'm going to agree with the others who've basically said that erotica is when it does have some kind of "redeeming artistic or literary value", and porn is when it doesn't.

Now, deciding in practice where the divide is tends to be fairly difficult. But I think the fact that there's a gray area doesn't detract from the fact that this is the essential difference between the two.
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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby SecondTalon » Sun Nov 11, 2007 4:03 am UTC

Erotica is a fine set of jeweler's tools, to carefully cut and divide. Fine, delicate work that takes skill.
Pornography is a sledgehammer, to shatter as quickly as possible. Pretty much anyone can do it.
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In my mind, they're both trying to do the same thing, one's just far more honest and direct to the point (Oh, so you like watchin'/readin' about/lookin' at people fuckin', eh?) which, depending on the mood, could be a desired attribute. Or not.

There is quite a bit of grey area between them, just as there's quite a bit of grey area between Erotica and Books that Describe Sexual Relations in Detail.

Both Erotica and Pornography have become so ill defined as to no longer have something I can point at and say "This is porn, this is erotica, this is how they're different." No matter what someone else may try to tell you, useage of the phrase "heaving bosom" doesn't automatically mean it's erotica.

Re: Images or other media lacking artistic merit which inspire arousal.
As per the Bill Hicks bit, sounds like every bit of advertising out there.
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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby wirehead » Sun Nov 11, 2007 4:26 am UTC

At least for photography and video, the difference between erotica and porn is said to be the lighting.

It's not that simple, of course.

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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Sun Nov 11, 2007 4:34 am UTC

I've been informed that erotica is what my wife looks at and is fine, and porn is what I look at (and should be horribly disgusted at myself for).

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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby zingmaster » Wed Nov 14, 2007 4:39 pm UTC

The point of erotica is to stimulate the imagination, really. Porn is much less suggestive and much more direct. Erotica is much more of an art than porn, in the end.

RockoTDF wrote:One of my friends once said "Erotica is just black and white porn where nobody smiles"

She might be right.

That's awesome. I might have to save that for later.
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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby Garm » Wed Nov 14, 2007 5:27 pm UTC

The difference is the lighting.
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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby Delalyra » Wed Nov 14, 2007 5:32 pm UTC

halkun wrote:Girls read erotica.
Guys watch porn.

That's how I see it.

That's how I always saw it too...though I know some of the stuff I read is not very artsy and likely falls under the "porn" category.
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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Nov 14, 2007 6:30 pm UTC

Delalyra wrote:
halkun wrote:Girls read erotica.
Guys watch porn.

That's how I see it.

That's how I always saw it too...though I know some of the stuff I read is not very artsy and likely falls under the "porn" category.

Except, where then do you fit pornographic writing and erotic films? Most "romance" writing is not very artsy, and involves some of the same objectionable scenarios (positive-outcome rape, for instance) that people so hate in pornography. Yet it remains somehow more acceptable than porn...
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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Wed Nov 14, 2007 6:31 pm UTC

Well, yeah, it's in a book. ANYTHING in a book is fine. Now if there were romance magazines...

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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby pKp » Wed Nov 14, 2007 9:02 pm UTC

There is :D
I read a french pornographer's blag. He's called John B. Root. The guys makes porn, not erotica ; he defines himself to do so. He makes movies that revolve around sex, with a lot of sometimes "extreme" sexual activity. However, his movies are shot in gorgeous places, with great care for lighting, some FX, a real scenario and actors playing about convincingly.

He says that a man and a woman making love (or, for that matters, two persons making love) is something beautiful to watch, and also that masturbating (and watching sexual material with your partner) is good and ameliorates your sex life.

Oh, and, maybe more on topic : for me, the difference between erotic movies and pornographic material is the direct depiction of actual penetration. Without it, I call it erotica. But English isn't my mother tongue, so maybe I'm mixing it up with French.
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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby Delalyra » Wed Nov 14, 2007 10:31 pm UTC

Link, please? That sounds interesting.
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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby pKp » Wed Nov 14, 2007 11:09 pm UTC

http://www.explicite.org (obviously NSFW)
The blog is actually quite good, and has links to promotional galleries.
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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby Dan Frank » Thu Nov 15, 2007 12:03 am UTC

halkun wrote:Girls read erotica.
Guys watch porn.

That's how I see it.


I really hate that this is treated as an acceptable viewpoint.

No definitions offered, just vague gender stereotyping. It's also wrong in so many ways, I don't know where to begin.

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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby Delalyra » Thu Nov 15, 2007 12:23 am UTC

pKp wrote:http://www.explicite.org (obviously NSFW)
The blog is actually quite good, and has links to promotional galleries.

Hmmm...but when I click on the "I am 18 let me in plz" button, I get this. :( (also NSFW, clearly)
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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Thu Nov 15, 2007 1:16 am UTC

Dan Frank wrote:
halkun wrote:Girls read erotica.
Guys watch porn.

That's how I see it.

I really hate that this is treated as an acceptable viewpoint.

No definitions offered, just vague gender stereotyping. It's also wrong in so many ways, I don't know where to begin.

Yes, but without that stereotyping, my wife might actually have to think of GOOD reasons to call me names.

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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby Beandip » Thu Nov 15, 2007 4:21 am UTC

I think the problem here is that both terms are defined through a cultural lense. Because many of us are from a similar cultural experience, we see porn as one thing (often negative, dirty, or hidden) and erotica as another (artistic, more public). However, both terms are defined through the culture in which we were raised. Through history these terms have changed. Botticelli's Venus was viewed by some to be pornographic. In fact, they made him feel so bad about some of his "heretic" paintings that he threw a bunch of them into the bonfire of the vanities...
So, what is the difference? I think rather than one medium or another, it is a matter of how it's viewed by culture as a whole. If we feel dirty about it, or would hide it from others, then I think it falls under porn. And while you could make an argument that some porn has artistic value, if you are embarassed to view it in public it doesn't count. If, on the other hand, we see it as a natural extension of human sexuality, or it's somehow culturally accepted, then it becomes erotica.
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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby zenten » Thu Nov 15, 2007 12:29 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Delalyra wrote:
halkun wrote:Girls read erotica.
Guys watch porn.

That's how I see it.

That's how I always saw it too...though I know some of the stuff I read is not very artsy and likely falls under the "porn" category.

Except, where then do you fit pornographic writing and erotic films? Most "romance" writing is not very artsy, and involves some of the same objectionable scenarios (positive-outcome rape, for instance) that people so hate in pornography. Yet it remains somehow more acceptable than porn...


It's not the plot, it's how it's presented.

But yeah, a lot of "romance" novels are actually porn.

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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby zingmaster » Thu Nov 15, 2007 6:47 pm UTC

zenten wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:
Delalyra wrote:
halkun wrote:Girls read erotica.
Guys watch porn.

That's how I see it.

That's how I always saw it too...though I know some of the stuff I read is not very artsy and likely falls under the "porn" category.

Except, where then do you fit pornographic writing and erotic films? Most "romance" writing is not very artsy, and involves some of the same objectionable scenarios (positive-outcome rape, for instance) that people so hate in pornography. Yet it remains somehow more acceptable than porn...


It's not the plot, it's how it's presented.

But yeah, a lot of "romance" novels are actually porn.

Actually, romance novels make me laugh. The situations in there are so outrageously blown up. But with that aside, yes, it basically is porn. I'd say some erotica novels are mistakenly labeled as such.
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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby zenten » Thu Nov 15, 2007 7:02 pm UTC

zingmaster wrote:
zenten wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:
Delalyra wrote:
halkun wrote:Girls read erotica.
Guys watch porn.

That's how I see it.

That's how I always saw it too...though I know some of the stuff I read is not very artsy and likely falls under the "porn" category.

Except, where then do you fit pornographic writing and erotic films? Most "romance" writing is not very artsy, and involves some of the same objectionable scenarios (positive-outcome rape, for instance) that people so hate in pornography. Yet it remains somehow more acceptable than porn...


It's not the plot, it's how it's presented.

But yeah, a lot of "romance" novels are actually porn.

Actually, romance novels make me laugh. The situations in there are so outrageously blown up. But with that aside, yes, it basically is porn. I'd say some erotica novels are mistakenly labeled as such.


Or intensionally mislabeled. I suspect that most women are inclined to buy "erotica" instead of "porn", even if that's what the book really is.

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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby jtniehof » Thu Nov 15, 2007 8:53 pm UTC

halkun wrote:Girls read erotica.
Guys watch porn.

I usually see it more like:
I enjoy the fine subtlety of erotica.
You slobber over porn.
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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby zenten » Thu Nov 15, 2007 9:05 pm UTC

jtniehof wrote:
halkun wrote:Girls read erotica.
Guys watch porn.

I usually see it more like:
I enjoy the fine subtlety of erotica.
You slobber over porn.
("Tragedy is when I stub my toe. Comedy is when you fall down an open manhole and die.")


But you still use it to get off, right?

I mean a really elegant meal should still be nutritious and filling.

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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby Belial » Thu Nov 15, 2007 9:06 pm UTC

His point was that "erotica" is anything HE looks at, and "porn" is anything THE REST OF US look at.

Thus the relevance of the tragedy/comedy quote.
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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby jtniehof » Fri Nov 16, 2007 12:35 am UTC

Belial wrote:His point was that "erotica" is anything HE looks at, and "porn" is anything THE REST OF US look at.

Well, rather, "erotica" is usually anything "the speaker" enjoys. It's a dichotomy that seems (to me) based in justifying one's own interests while denegrating someone else's, rather than any fundamental difference.

For some reason, there's a prevailing belief that sexually explicit material must be High Art to be permitted existence--or one's interest in it. Obviously part of this is the legal climate in the US, but that's also a reflection of the cultural climate, and around and around. And that's starting to drift topic, but I think it's key to why both terms are swirling around.

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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby zenten » Fri Nov 16, 2007 1:28 pm UTC

jtniehof wrote:
For some reason, there's a prevailing belief that sexually explicit material must be High Art to be permitted existence--or one's interest in it. Obviously part of this is the legal climate in the US, but that's also a reflection of the cultural climate, and around and around. And that's starting to drift topic, but I think it's key to why both terms are swirling around.


I think it actually has a lot to do with the legal climate of the location of the person holding the belief.

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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby pKp » Fri Nov 16, 2007 2:34 pm UTC

Delalyra wrote:
pKp wrote:http://www.explicite.org (obviously NSFW)
The blog is actually quite good, and has links to promotional galleries.

Hmmm...but when I click on the "I am 18 let me in plz" button, I get this. :( (also NSFW, clearly)

That's...strange :?
Try this, should work. (URL for the blog, still obviously NSFW)
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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby Delalyra » Fri Nov 16, 2007 2:53 pm UTC

pKp wrote:That's...strange :?
Try this, should work. (URL for the blog, still obviously NSFW)

Ahh, there we go. Thanks muchly.
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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby Pixel » Fri Nov 16, 2007 3:40 pm UTC

"In erotica, they spell it c-o-m-e." -Bill
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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby zingmaster » Fri Nov 16, 2007 4:52 pm UTC

I think erotica is the only place where they spell it c-o-m-e. Even in discussions like this, we're saying cum.
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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby Delalyra » Fri Nov 16, 2007 5:04 pm UTC

I thought come was the verb and cum the noun? I mean, they obviously are used interchangeably...but that's how my mind tends to see it.

/ramble
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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Fri Nov 16, 2007 5:12 pm UTC

This is why grammar has no place in the bedroom! Or, you know, in the box of Kleenex near your computer.

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Re: Erotica vs. Porn?

Postby zingmaster » Fri Nov 16, 2007 7:09 pm UTC

Nor do homophones. We just say what we want.
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