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Erotica versus Porn

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From Shadow L. Parker
Erotica is the nice way to place romance and use strange words in a story and is supposed to turn on frigid women. Porn is telling it like it is. Erotica= He placed his masculine hands on my bosom and the sweat started beading up on my forehead. Porn= He felt my tits and I began having small orgasms and knew they would only lead to my screaming for more.

From Jul
I may be singular in my view, but it would seem that pornography and erotica are different in the approach. There is a build in true erotica that simply is not felt in porn. If the writer is of any salt, you will feel the emotion and the feeling. Porn, on the other hand, stimulates the mind with a graphic, no holds barred approach. Erotica and pornographic books can also be confused, but again, true erotica stimulates something deeper within the soul.

From Firemermaid
They do differ, & I don't think it's a matter of who is dominating who, &/or in the degree of explicitness. Porn generally dehumanizes the participants--it may indeed be about gratification, but at least part of that gratification comes from the objectification of the observed--usually divided into easy-to -select categories, often demeaning the performers--often to the level of meat. ("PUMPING FAT-ASSED SLUTS!""GAGGING & BARELY LEGAL!""OLDER ANAL!"). After all, if sex is bad, then the people doing those things must be bad (especially if we are not In Love with them) so they must be stripped of humanity to make it all ok.

It's a consumer thing for a guilt-ridden world mostly dominated by an outmoded patriarchal worldview that serves neither the planet, nor men & women with a sense of the sacred, imaginative & magickal possibilities in sex.

Porn is easy, (hence it's wide availability) porn is junk food for the libido, porn is first & foremost about profit. Yeah, we all eat junk food sometimes, but a steady diet of it rots us & the earth. little nourishment there. Porn numbs us, so in the end, the observer is also an object--a wallet.

While there may be money involved--erotica at least attempts to somehow touch the humanity of all involved. There is a choice to include the brain, the imagination; & that expands the stories that may be told a million times over. It's much more creative. the sacred is alive, even in the down n' dirty stuff, even in descriptions & depictions of body parts doing stuff to body parts. it has feeling; it has soul.

I find porn bores me pretty quickly most of the time--as a hetro female, little is produced for my gratification, & anyway, the shock value wears off & then it's flat. Erotica, on the other hand, comes in so many variations I can always find/create something to get myself off & feel, well---nourished & stimulated, ready for more! It's downright sustainable.

From Chas
It may be that drama is what separates mere porn from erotica. When people merely copulate ad nauseam, with no conflict or dramatic tension, that might be said to be merely pornography.

I like to write scenes where you could hear a pin drop.

From Steve
I once read that erotica might use a feather but porn uses the whole chicken. Suggestion from erotica (tho' sometimes very direct) versus in-your-face-no-imagination-required porn. (p.s. Just found the site and love it.)

From LitCritChick
There is a HUGE difference between Porn and Erotica. I am reading Anais Nin's "Little Birds" right now and there is a story that has no sex in it at all (only the suggestion of) and I get so turned on reading it. Porn is so in your face, football and beernuts kind of sex, that I find it hard to be aroused for more than one orgasm. I also feel like I need a shower and maybe a prayer meeting afterwards.

But when I read erotica (I prefer Victorian) it gets my creativity going, it makes me look at myself as a sexual being, I look forward to my husband coming home, because I most likely won't come while reading but will wait until I can have sex and it's so much better because my mind has been having sex all day! Talk about foreplay.

Porn is good for the instant gratification of a good jerk but erotica will keep you going long after you've put the book down and it may even teach you something about you or about life or about love. The Lickety-Slits videos are torturous to sit through if there are any pretenses of "story" or "plot" but in erotica the whole thing hinges on story and plot.

Read Anais, she's wonderful. She'll teach you about life. (and get your rocks off at the same

From Tony
I totally agree with Beth, Erotica touches the soul, the mind, it is not a quick fi, it should be a long sensual ride touching all your senses firing your imagination.

Its not about how wet it was, how hard ect, erotic can be where, when, what's worn,� what's removed, particularly what's said, circumstances are everything. you have to be able to imagine yourself in this intriguing situation trying to guess what is going to happen next. It's all in the biggest sex organ of the human body 'The Mind.'

From R.P. Faulkland
This is a tongue 'n cheek answer, however, it does make sense at least when trying to decide if a picture is porn or erotica...

If it's in focus - it's porn. If it's hazy - it's erotica.

From Jack
Admittedly, I must agree with many of the other postings, in that there is a definite difference in the DEFINITION of erotica and pornography, however as we all know there is a large amount of pornography that people attempt to pass off as erotica and often times true erotica (especially pictorial essays) is wrongly termed pornography. Truly beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and in that sense each of us must judge the tastefulness of material for ourselves and determine into which category it falls. The important point here, however, is that there are separate categories for erotica and pornography, and although placement in these categories is not always agreed upon they do exist. Thank you all for addressing this important issue.

From Benny
Well, as somebody said, "What I like is erotica; what YOU like is porn". Actually I can't see any difference, except that I am not sure what "porn" means. But I certainly think that a violent movie, with people being killed and disemboweled, etc., is a hell of a lot more "porn" than a movie about people making love (or fucking, as you will).

From Beth
I feel there is a large difference between porn and erotica. Like most of the other comments. Porn is a get it up ,get it off and get out where erotica is a state of mind body and soul. Porn reaches our taboo state of mind where erotica can reach the seductive, sensual side. Porn is like a quickie where as erotica is a long "love making" session.

From Anonymous
imho [in my humble opinion]... yes, they're both about sex but... the approach is different and possibly the intent ( even if, and that's a big IF, both lead to the same outcome )� porn leaves absolutely nothing to ones imagination... everything is laid out for you ( no pun intended ) there is no direct connection or interplay between you and what's happening on the screen... erotica, when it's good, totally pulls you into the story... it becomes YOUR story... your imagination playing out the scenes in your mind - faces you picture, places you envision... erotica enables your mind to do the work and take you places that porn never really can...

From Julia S
In my mind, they are very different. Erotica deals with thoughts, feelings, sensations, intenseness, not forgetting tantalizing. Porn, on the other hand, is straight out nudity and sexual acts. As an artist, I would draw a pert hardened nipple draped with a black satin scarf, that is erotic. It leaves something to the imagination, stimulates the mind sexually. Porn would have the whole breast exposed, with a cheesy smile, and that would be boring.

From Zinc
I came across your site when I was researching about classical Victorian Eroticas. I'm an a writer of essay and poetry in Chinese and was curious about how sexuality was portrayed in such genres of literature as "Eroticas". The answer I believe, is that, porn in writing, are equivalents of supermarket romance novels with a fancy cover, and old plots about how the handyman "bonked" the lonely, sensitive, 30 something widow with his "8in."; while erotica on the otherhand is more dedicated to the relationship between literal imagery and fragrence, with the ever so common obsession every one was born with. SEX! :) Also, erotica usually referrs to literal imagery of sex. That's why porn is short for pornoGRAPHY.

From Anonymous
What do you do with it when you're reading� it? The same thing?�Then it is the same thing, eh

From Bill
Porn and Erotic for me are pretty much the same and I think it depends what class you come from. The middle class are pretty hung up on things so prefer to refer to 'erotic' as if it makes them feel like better people. But others seem more relaxed about 'porn'. Both are something for giving pleasure to yourself (i.e. masturbation) and hence the word 'fetish' and 'perversion' could probably be lumped together too. Sex to me refers to acting out sensual pleasures with a partner whereas porn, erotic et cetera is self-induced and depends on your social identity for your choice of word. 

From Kay
There is absolutely a difference, although I am hard put to express that difference except in terms of my own writing. I don't know that I ever really wrote what I would classify as porn, but I do know that I definitely lean to the erotic: taking small situations and looking for the heat in them; leaning toward the suggestive rather than the overt.

All right: let's take a shot at definitions. Porn is in-your-face, get up, get in, get off, get out; erotica is a slow build-up that leaves you breathless and your body ready to play. My wife once expressed an interest to someone about reading a description of sensual massage, as the very concept of massage turns her on mightily. What he wrote back was amazingly erotic and puts a flush on her cheeks every time she rereads it. It has the power to make her own imagination work; which is, I think, what erotica is intended to do, as opposed to frank porn, which relieves one of the need to imagine anything. Some days, porn is just the ticket. But on the whole, I think I prefer erotica.

From Donovan
I heard one time the difference between pornographic and erotic is: if you don't like it, it's porn; if you do like it, it's erotic. So, they're the same thing, but it's all in the eye of the beholder.

From Tarrick
According to a friend who's a distributor (videos, books, toys, etc.) in the adult industry, 'porn' isn't used for legal reasons. Basically, how would one defend against a 'pornography' lawsuit before a Mississippi grand jury if one has admitted ahead of time that the product in question is, in fact, 'porn?'

From Lady Rush
Porn and Erotica are both parts of Sexual Art (look at this as a genre like Romance, Sci-Fi, Romantic Comedy, Wars Movie *chuckle*) I see the difference between porn and erotica as the difference between (ok, geek comparison here) Star Wars and Blade Runner. Both were fantastic movies...but Blade Runner really says something, where-as StarWars was just fun. Porn is wonderfully indulgent and raw and delicious....when done right. Erotica uses sexuality, sensuality, to deliver a message...when done well. Both can be done badly, or be done well.

When done well, you can fuck while you watch...or feel your nipples tingle ever so slightly on the bus while you read. When done badly, you just want to take a bath...and not a fun one.

From lauren
A very interesting, well-articulated and, in my opinion, correct essay on the topic is Gloria Steinem's "erotica vs. porn," which can be found in her book "outrageous acts and everyday rebellions" [Available at� &� Amazon UK]� and probably also somewhere online. she explains what many posters here have already said about the roots of the words and the general idea of porn as domination and exploitation vs. erotica as portraying equivalent partners without pain or objectification. I highly recommend this article, as well as her other work.

From Anonymous
I disagree with most of the posters here on one point. I DO think there is a difference in erotica and porn, but I don't think that the difference is one shows a male as dominant, while the other shows equality. I think the difference is in porn you are giving just sex. No deep insights on what the characters feel or think, just that they are "horny" and how bad they want sex. There is no real plot line, just sex scene after sex scene strung together. Erotica, in my humble opinion, does have a plot line, and character development, and the other things that make a good story, but includes sex. Sexuality plays a major part in the story, but the story is not only sex.�

I have written stories about dominance and submission with the male in the dominant position, but I and those who have read them consider them erotica, not porn. I delve deep into my character's psyche, about what they feel and think and what brought them to this point in their lives, and use the sexual aspects to further the story. They have a plot, either an actual action plot, or just the characters coming to realizations about themselves, others, the world, etc. I think the word porn has negative connotations, implying it is something trashy and shameful, while the word erotica typically leads one to believe it is somewhat classier. Erotica can explore sexuality, all aspects of it, not just the equality and "making love" parts, while still maintaining its worth. Porn can display even a simple act of a married couple "making love" and make it seem meaningless. Does that make sense? I'd like to hear any comments.

From Robert
I think there is definitely a difference between pornography and erotica. It is a distinction that is probably difficult to define precisely. One of those things were you know it when you see it. Both are intended to cause sexual arousal is the consumer and I am sure succeed.

For me probably the major distinction is that erotica involves the brain as a sex organ and porno uses only the physical aspects of sex. For example erotica (written or visual) portrays equal partners using sex to give each other pleasure. Porn depicts one partner (usually male) taking his pleasure from his partner. Porno also tends to refer to women who like sex as "sluts" or portray them as cheating wives or promiscuous or in other ways not "nice".

So are pictures of naked women, even those with very explicit display of their sex organs, pornography? I prefer to assume that the woman involved is not being exploited for her body, but rather is celebrating one of the most beautiful creations of nature, thus it is erotica. I make exception for some pics that imply that the girl is underage or was photographed without her knowledge.

From Patricia
There are diverse views of both erotica and pornography because of the different socialization that people have been exposed to in learning about sex. Those who have been exposed to a more superficial portrayal of nudity and sexuality where women have been belittled, ridiculed, debased or revealed only for the value of their body shapes, the size of their body parts, or the extent to which they perform sexual acts is true pornography. In areas of heavy religious conviction, mere nudity or writing with sexual reference can be considered pornographic. Eroticism often involves nudity and sexual acts but generally portrays the female (and the male) complete with both emotions and with human thinking which causes action and reaction as opposed to the animal instinct of lust. While lust may be a factor in eroticism, it usually accompanies the instance of choice to which the person gives in and rarely, therefore, involves domination or violence unless it is a part of sexual and controlled game playing that is never violent since it would by definition destroy the choice that makes the sexuality so exciting.

From Bryan
I am going to defend a writer who responded to your article. It does come down to semantics. When you look at the true meanings themselves, there is a big difference. Both words come from the Greek. Erotica comes from the word eros, meaning "physical love."

Physical love is exactly what it is, a physical expression of your love and dedication towards your beloved. It has very little to do with sex. SEX IS ONLY A FORM OF PHYSICAL LOVE, WHEN IT IS DONE THE RIGHT, BY WAY OF MAKING LOVE. When you make love, you are satisfying your lover, as well as yourself. Because the love is physical, it involves all five of the physical senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. When we take these senses and make them correspond to each other in an amorous environment, we call that synesthesia.

Pornography, on the other hand, comes from two words: porne, meaning "whore," and graphia, meaning "writing." In other words, it means "writings about prostitutes." What do prostitutes do? They have sex for money. In that kind of environment sex is cold, mechanical, and empty. There is no love behind the sex. It is about self-gratification. It becomes sex for the sake of sex. That kind of writing becomes a means of pleasuring ourselves, not our partner.

I read and write erotica. Erotica to me is D.H. Lawrence, Anais Nin, Ovid, and others like them. Pornography to me is that crap you find in a mostly black wrapper with only the title showing. You can also look at this in one other way: erotica is words, pornography is pictures. Erotica is also the poetical use of words by way of mostly metaphors to better describe the act of making love. Pornography will hit you hard, right in the face, about having sex, usually in an obscene manner.

I am a hopeless romantic. I will always choose erotica over porn any day of the week. There is romance in erotica. Of course, that is just my opinion. I could be wrong.

From Aries
I have sat here and read all of the postings to this question. Now I would like to say that they are all really the same. I agree that there is a difference between the two and will also agree that you are all right as I see it. But will some one someone please tell me why when I try to search for erotica or erotic text the only sights I get are for the live sex� shows and other porn sights? Not to mention that all of you who say you write and that your writing is good neglected to add links. How are we suppose to find you??? Thanks to the few who did add links there are those of us out here that do appreciate it.�

Editors note: I suggest you go back to the main page of the Erotica Readers & Writers Association website, and click on the image of Eve. You'll find the best of our members' stories. Also, if you click on 'Portfolio' on the same page you will find links to dozens of erotic story sites.�

From jody1971
The difference between erotica and pornography is easy. I keep "erotica" books or even videos on sexual massage, etc.., on my book shelf for anyone to read or view. Pornography, and I hate using the word pornography generally, because some of it is erotica, but porn in general, is kept hidden. I think that pornography has received a bad name because people that don't have sex think that mostly prostitutes, people with drug problems, or those that were sexually molested as children are the only ones that make and watch pornos. I will admit that I have seen pornos that have completely turned me off, and I don't like it when I see girls that can not be over the age of 18. Maybe another difference to note is that in reading and/or seeing erotica everyone is enjoying themselves. With the "general" pornography it appears that the women are doing it for the money, not enjoyment, and that is not erotic!

From imouse
Many years ago the Kronhausens published a book called "Pornography v. the Law." True, that was an older time. Still, they tried to make the distinction between "erotic realism" (their phrase) and "pornography." Actually I think you will find it was a neat and tricky way to get some really hot porn published in those days. 

I have recently acquired a used copy from an online source and to this day it offers a clever if thin distinction. "In the old days (aren't you gagging?) we called them "dirty books." We all knew what that meant, and were never disappointed. 

Still, I enjoy the discussion as it let's me into your minds and fantasies that I find quite arousing. And isn't that in fact the goal of erotic or porn lit?

From John
Porn and erotica may be at opposite ends of the same spectrum of explicit portrayals of sexuality. Perhaps porn focuses more on the parts and the mechanics, while Erotica is more about the mind and the theory. Most of us soon lose interest in close detail of some highly technical description of some piece of equipment, as we also would also soon be bored to tears with a theory "of relativity" utterly divorced from our reality. What most what we need or would appreciate would be found somewhere in between, some detail and some tickling of the imagination. The exact formula would probably shift horizontally along the spectrum depending on the person (me, you, him, her), the time (day, month, year lifetime), and/or the company (if any).

Most porn I've seen devalues people. The sex is about cunts and cocks and blow-jobs, body parts. Most so called erotica leaves me wanting more, not altogether bad, but in sex we eventually reach orgasm, completion, satisfaction.

I would guess that most of us want some of both, the idea and the romance, and the proverbial cigarette afterwards, and the line between what is acceptable and what for one reason or another is not good probably shifts continually, even while we are involved.

From Mimi
Mmmmnn.... Porn is fast food. Erotica is gourmet cuisine. A lot of people prefer fast food and don't get the point of a really good gourmet meal with all the trimmings. Pity!

From Masatar Torlyl
My understanding of erotica is that something that is so completely ordinary in life can become sexual with some suggestion in how it's made and presented to the reader or viewer. The language is also purple prose or flowery and romantic as well�it has a lot of variety to offer than porn.

Porn is out there in the viewer's face (as if the viewer is stupid or has no imagination to draw from), the language is crude and the acts are quick and violent looking. There's little or no plot to save it from it's only appealing aspect�sex.

From Jeff
I'm an erotic art photographer. My favorite anecdote regarding the difference between porn and erotica (in imagery) is that erotica has shadows! Guys... it's not about the content, its all about intent. Before i go on realize that I've seen many pieces of porn that I admire and was rewarded to have the experience. These are fuzzy lines at best.

Porn, by definition is a lowest common denominator product designed to appeal to the broadest number of users to titillate and provide stimulation for masturbating to orgasm. Porn producers sell product for pennies. They make money by selling many units of that product.

Erotica producers, whether written word or visual imagery, approach the subject more thoughtfully. Often they present the work in venues where more thoughtful people can enjoy it. Often the profit motive is minimized. I shoot images of lust because I believe that lust and sexuality make a hugely passionate and compelling subject for my art work. There are surely people who would look at my work and insist that it is porn. In my photographs one can often see open wet vaginas and young women enjoying themselves. I currently show a whole gallery of just vaginas.... I love the gallery. Pussies are just so damn beautiful and fun to photograph.

I am consciously attacking that stupid societal imaginary line between what is porn and what is art. In this I am certainly not new or alone. Google Mapplethorpe or Jeffrey Koons if you don't believe me. I believe what makes my work appeal to people is that clearly both I and my models are actively involved in self expression we are committed to and feel passionate about. My fans routinely speak of feeling a longing to express themselves similarly.

So is it porn? Who cares? Since when is the human body and human lust at it's most explosive anything but extraordinary and beautiful? Look at the writing or the image that has grabbed your attention and simply ask yourself, is this beautiful? If the answer is no then perhaps it is porn. It's up to you.

From Anonymous
I believe in dictionary usage, Porn and Erotica are actually the same meaning, that being writing or art designed to stimulate sexual arousal. Also, I don't think of "cunt" as an unattractive word. I suppose it's one's prior experience with a word that determines what connotations one gives the word.

From Rich
Seriously, I think the main thing that makes porn become erotica is how well written the work is. And, the choice of words to describe the activities. Erotica would never contain words like cunt!

From Cat Scarlett
I write erotic novels for Nexus in the UK. I have often been accused of writing porn by people who see any sort of sexual or sensual writing as morally reprehensible dirty books, in other words, for dirty people.

Personally, I delight in creating real people in a real world having real sex with each other. These people are not 'making love' in my novels or opening up spiritually to each other. They are having sex and more often than not kinky sex. The sort of forbidden skin-tingling sex we would all be secretly thrilled to get if there were no price tags attached. They learn about themselves through their sexual experiences, it's true, but only in the same way that everyone does. Because they're real people to me.

So does that make my novels pornographic? As most people have rightly pointed out, it depends on your definition. If erotica for you is about being flowery and keeping it all in the mind, then my writing is porn. But if you see porn as reducing people to homogenised sexual objects - "this goes in there, and then that goes in there" - then my books must be erotica.

So what do I do when people accuse me of writing filthy pornography? (My own father, as a recent example.) I smile at them sympathetically. Poor things. It must be dreadful to be so terrified of your own sexuality that you can't let anyone else enjoy theirs.

From Andrew
This topic of discussion is serious issue that can be looked at from a number of ways. For me, where I lived and grew up, sex - even "alterative lifestyle" or sexual deviancy, (if there is such a thing anymore) was considered normal and out in the open...

I feel, and I know a lot of other people who feel this way, that the "Sexual Revolution" in the 60's and 70's opened our public forums into a lot of things we never had to deal with before. And maybe, not for the better. I mean, pornography, other than the act itself, is pretty much standard popular culture now. You can see porn stars on cable television for godsakes! Not just sitting next to an n'th generation videotape polishing the old helmet...hehe

Which is why people need erotica, I feel. They need to awake a more natural or private emotional feeling towards sex, not just look at it as well-(fill-in-the blank.)

Our society will always look down at prostitution, saying it degrades woman or men, same with pornography. But, it is just our civilization cheapening a basic human need, as simple as that. Some sucker trying to make money off another person's primal need or fantasy, as it were.

But it's up to you. How do you want your fantasy...hehe

From DC
Porn pretty much puts it right in your face. Erotica ignites the imagination. The words have two different meanings to me.

From SDI
Can I please use your forum to vent on this topic? Thanks!

I can't say definitively that there's a difference between "porn" and "erotica" so long as the words remain undefined between those who use them. But here're my thoughts.

Personally, I HATE porn. It's cheap. It's contrived. It's "dime-a-dozen." Truly arousing imagery is what I'd call "erotica."

Can I be blunt? I want these images for the purposes of jacking-off. What helps to that end is erotica. What hinders to that end is porn.

Erotica is about the position and the angle. Porn is about the penetration close-up. My imagination is far, far more powerful than any penetration shot, or any cum-shot. What I'm looking for is 1) perceived interest of the participants, and 2) Position and Angle of the image.

I don't need to see the penetration. In fact, I don't want to see the penetration. I want to see the legs in the right place, the arms in the right place, the hips in the right place.... I want to see the eyes closed. I want to see the hands in the right place. I want to see the anticipation of the penetration, not the penetration itself.

I can't stand women looking into the camera. You are supposed to be enjoying him (who, in my mind, I'm role- playing). Quit looking into the fucking camera! I want to see images of people interested in each other!

No tattoos. No piercings. No fake orgasms. No fake hair-dos. No headbands! Nobody wears headbands anymore! And pulling your hair into pigtails does not make you look like a teen if you are obviously thirty years old.

I tell you the truth I am a happily married man with a wife who does more for me than most, I'd bet. But when she's not available, I'm looking for a "temp." A "stand- in."

Not a SLUT!
Not a WHORE!
Not a "cum-drenched bitch!"

I'm looking for ordinary people enjoying ordinary sex, so that I can use that to fuel my imagination.

Porn, as commonly defined and distributed is about demeaning and abusing women. I don't want to abuse my wife. And so it follows that I'm not interested in pics that seem to portray women being abused or demeaned.

Erotica is much more about imagination. Porn is about destroying imagination.

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Hot or not?

Porn for Women
Is there such a thing?

When Porn Isn't Sexy
What are they doing wrong?

Body Talk

Bare with Me
Is nudity your thing?

Bush or Bare
Your preference is...

Hot in High Heels
Is it worth the pain?

Name Your Dingle
We won't laugh...

Inquiring Minds

Age and Sex
Like fine wine or vinegar?

Losing Your Virginity
Fiction versus reality

Sexy Mainstream Movies
Your favorite sultry scenes?

Women: During The Act
What do you think about?

Men: During The Act
What do you think about?

What do Women Want's not size

What do Men Want rhymes with 'vex'