Vaginal Fantasy Book Club discussion

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Tangents/Off-Topic Discussions > Art versus Erotica versus Pornography

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message 1: by Gary (new)

Gary How would you define art (as it relates to sex/nudity) and erotica and pornography? What are the differences or similarities?


message 2: by Michele (new)

Michele | 128 comments Art you want to look at and appreciate, perhaps from a slight distance. It captures moments - maybe at a different angle from the usual.

Erotica you want to be a part of. It gives you the essential emotions and movements while leaving something to the imagination.

Pornography is like an instruction manual (sometimes poorly translated from Chinese) - tab A into slot B, add slight variations, ad nauseum.


message 3: by T.S. (new)

T.S. Adrian (shadyia) | 163 comments Art -- You can look at with your grandmother standing next to you. She may *tisk*tisk* but you don't care.

Erotica -- You can look at with your lover in the room (such as the nude scenes in HBO's Game of Thrones)

Porn -- You look at by yourself


message 4: by Philippa (new)

Philippa | 143 comments I think that art is the medium and whether it is erotica or porn is determined by the intention of the artist and to some extent the audience. A lot of the famous nudes of the Renaissance or later (such as Titian's "Venus de Urbino"for example) were given to men to hang in galleries behind curtains. They would then unveil the paintings for their friends or sometimes save them for private viewings for themselves. So, we now consider them great "art", but their original purpose was far more "erotic".


message 5: by Krysta (new)

Krysta MacDonald (krystamacdonald) | 12 comments I agree about it being the intention of the artist and audience... perhaps even moreso the audience. I know that when I read or watch or look at something I may find it artistic, but others may find it erotic or even pornographic. And there are things I have seen I would place in the latter two categories, but others have described as art.
So it really entirely depends.


message 6: by M. (new)

M. Keep (jmkeep) | 10 comments In the end its going to vary from person to person, but there is a lot of grey area. I would say art focuses on the person and the background, erotica focuses on the body, and porn focuses on the sexuality of the body, but there is tons of cross over and overlap, etc. I think most people determine what it is based on a personal feeling, rather than logical deduction.


message 7: by Farlander (new)

Farlander | 6 comments Interesting question. I'm an artist, and the distinctions are quite slippery, not at all easy to define or separate into clearly marked boxes. I feel quite certain that some works qualify for all three designations, but the terms are highly subjective, too.

In life drawing class, working from a nude model always seemed detached from sexuality, to me, even if the model was very attractive. You stare at the naked figure posing in front of you for hours, trying to faithfully capture or cleverly interpret the form on your pas of paper. Looking at the resulting sketches or paintings does not generally convey anything erotic, mostly because of the static pose in an academic setting. The models were not arranged for us in luxurious beds like in Manet's famous work, nor were the poses deliberately provocative. So that's one kind of nude art form, at the far end of the spectrum from erotica or pornography. Anatomical, observational, concerned with technique.

I've also participated in several exhibitions with a theme of erotic art. You see a pretty wide range of interpretations submitted in response to a prompt like that. Often there is some element in the composition or presentation of a nude figure, in that setting, which is trying to emphasize sexuality. That could be just rendering a naked body as beautifully as possible, or it could focus very intimately on a detail that draws the viewer in, or it could depict a connection between two people, through touch or expression. Erotica presents the body as something more desirable, rather than clinical or simply as an object in space and light.

Pornography is often associated with the intention to arouse and stimulate, frequently as a sort of tool to aid in masturbation or sex with a partner. It has it's own language of visual foreplay, which can be psychological as well as graphically representing sexual acts. Some art is created with that deliberate intent, while other works may be created with different motivations, but are put into service as pornographic aids by viewers who respond to them that way. Kind of like a personal massager designed for therapeutic relief that becomes popular as a sex toy.

The distictions between erotica and pornography are pretty thin. I think in many ways they are synonyms, but with a positive or negative association attached. How we classify individual pictures one way or the other probably speaks to our personal aesthetics, morals, and sexual preferences. Commercialism also plays a role, since there is a large industry of magazines, websites, and videos which consumers and critics both recognize as pornographic. Marketing pushes some products toward a high-end erotica category, while others are targeted toward porn.

Art is what you make of it. Every piece is completed by the viewer.


message 8: by Caitlin (new)

Caitlin I'd say erotica is the art and pornography is a means to an end?


message 9: by George (new)

George (georgefromny) I would agree.


message 10: by Steelwhisper (new)

Steelwhisper Caitlin wrote: "I'd say erotica is the art and pornography is a means to an end?"

I agree with this, and also an artist here.

Pornography is meant to get you off, without any intention to do more or keep your mind occupied with it. It is completely replacable and undetermined, most any which will do.

Erotic art (which equals the term erotica in my opinion) wants to do more than just enable you to wank off, even if that might be a side effect. It wants to occupy mind and soul, and stay with you.

The distinction exists for me not just in the visual, but also in the written form. Unfortunately lately, mainly due newfound prudery of legislation and retailers, porn is cramming into the spaces formerly occupied by erotica/erotic art. That mix and mash isn't entirely satisfying.


Margo - Putting the Mmmmmm back in Menage | 40 comments I think we're too busy labeling and categorizing things to simply enjoy them.

People put anything into the "porn" category that makes them uncomfortable. For people who feel any sexuality is wrong, that can result in a pretty broad category. For instance I had a co-worker who felt the Victoria's Secrets ads on TV were pornographic and was horrified that his children might see them. I don't imagine the average citizen in Europe who frequents the nude beaches agrees with him. Since people's perspectives vary so greatly, I think it's important we allow a wide variety of materials out there, and then let people choose for themselves what they want to see.


message 12: by T.S. (new)

T.S. Adrian (shadyia) | 163 comments Margo - a.k.a. she who is forever behind on her reviews wrote: "For instance I had a co-worker who felt the Victoria's Secrets ads on TV were pornographic and was horrified that his children might see them. "




message 13: by Steelwhisper (last edited Feb 22, 2015 10:17PM) (new)

Steelwhisper Margo - a.k.a. she who is forever behind on her reviews wrote: "Since people's perspectives vary so greatly, I think it's important we allow a wide variety of materials out there, and then let people choose for themselves what they want to see. ..."

One problem in labels is that some labels, in this case "porn" and "erotica", can have automatic reactions and legal consequences attached to them. In most of Europe at least, a work (be it visual, filmed or written) which is classified as "porn" automatically gets restricted from general access. It is considered "obscene" and "of no artistic value". These two qualifiers mean that depending on what this work shows, or even just seems to show, it may land the creator, distributor and also often the consumer with a fine or prison sentence and a convicted sex offender.

Which is for instance possible for owners and retailers of most hentai and shota mangas. Or, photos for swimwear for underage consumers, even when employing adult models, can get you into prison the moment the poses are "suggestive" of sexuality. Recentmost legislation in several European countries makes even fully clothed children and minors in suggestive poses "kiddieporn", with ALL the consequences. Meaning, any and all "adultified" photos of girls like this

https://cynicalreview.files.wordpress...

or this

https://cynicalreview.files.wordpress...

have the potential in the hands of a zealous prosecutor to cause enormous problems for the viewer and owner. Which goes in much of Europe, definitely in the UK, also for a lot of merely written content.

So while it would be nice not to have to look at labels, I'd say currently no one consuming anything vaguely erotic can afford not doing it. The reasons why porn pushes into the labels "erotica" and "art" are precisely the above legal problems.


message 14: by PointyEars42 (new)

PointyEars42 | 476 comments Margo - a.k.a. she who is forever behind on her reviews wrote: "I think we're too busy labeling and categorizing things to simply enjoy them.
People put anything into the "porn" category that makes them uncomfortable. For people who feel any sexuality is wron..."


Hmmm. I am deeply (& usually angrily) uncomfortable with the gratuitous female nudity on TV and in movies but am proud of my porn collection, so I think that part of the issue is that (a) "porn" is always used as a pejorative term when it should just be an entertainment genre and that (b) the context in which the material is being experienced needs to feel appropriate.


message 15: by Sean Lookielook (new)

Sean Lookielook Sandulak (seansandulak) | 916 comments Mod
It's impossible to draw lines between these categories because they depend very much on individual tastes and community standards of what is acceptable. The exception is the boundary between soft and hardcore porn which is generally agreed to be visible penetration. I generally like to think of it in terms of contrasting scales of explicitness and classiness.



message 16: by Farlander (new)

Farlander | 6 comments Charting the constellation of ambiguous designations? Lovely piece of graphic art! (But not too graphic.). :)


message 17: by Mochaspresso (new)

Mochaspresso  | 22 comments Art is about highlighting the nude form.

Erotica contain nudity of hints of it, but it is really about highlight sensuality.

Pornography is about highlighting graphic depictions of sex.


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