The History of Porn pt. 1

10        Every since I could remember I have always loved Porn. Porn or Pornography rather derives from the Greek word pornographia which comes from the words; pornē, meaning “prostitute”, graphō, meaning “I write or record”, and the suffix –ia meaning “state of”, “property of” or “place of”. Loosely translated the word means “a written list or description of prostitutes”. To me it has always meant joy. Who doesn’t like watching people fuck? It is the next best thing to actually getting some yourself. The word originated with the Greeks who painted such frescos on the walls of their brothels. Such art was fantastic advertising for the homes where women sold their bodies for money.

In modern times, the word is used to describe the explicit depiction of sexual subject matter with the sole intention of sexually exciting the viewer. Pornography comes in a variety of media forms-printed literature, photography, sculpture, drawings, paintings, animation, sound and more predominately film. Sexual acts preformed specifically for a live audience however, are by definition not considered pornography. As well as the artistic depictions of the nude form, they are deemed a separate entity both legally and culturally in most countries. Over the last century, however, an immense global industry dedicated to the production of pornography has arisen. Thanks to technology, pornography is easily distributed across the world. Pornography has been the driving force in the development of many technologies from the printing press, through photography, video, satellite television, DVDs, and most importantly the internet. For those of you old enough to remember the early days when porn and Star Trek message boards were the only thing available online. Mass distributing porn is as old as the printing press itself, and almost as soon as photography was invented, it was used to produce pornographic images.

The depiction of sexual acts, are as old as civilization itself. Even the Neanderthals liked to watch each other fuck. Early pornography can be found painted in caves and various ancient structures. Researchers have discovered rock paintings demonstrating sexual intercourse between ancient people together with cave drawings showing hunting people. Archaeologists in Germany reported in April 2005 that they had found what they believe is a 7,200-year-old scene depicting a male figurine bending over a female figurine in a manner suggestive of sexual intercourse. The first (documented) pornography was printed in the form of manuals for sex education; the Kama Sutra” was the most popular among them. A portion of the work consists of practical advice on sex.Kāma means sensual or sexual pleasure and sūtra are the guidelines of yoga, the word itself means thread in Sanskrit. The Hindu people feared that their paper works would not survive, so they decorated temples with numerous figurines of people engaging in sexual acts. In early times, erotic depictions were often a subset of the indigenous or religious art of cultures and as such were not set aside or treated differently than any other type.Christianity had prohibited the depiction of anything but Saints for several centuries although pornography is not (specifically) addressed in the Bible, a fact that changed neither the quality, nor the quantity, of the sex trade. Erotic scenes in medieval manuscripts also appeared, but were seen only by those who could afford the extremely expensive handmade books. Most of these drawings occurred in the margins of books.

Medieval scholars believe that the pictures satisfied the medieval cravings for both erotic pictures and religion in one book, since it was often the only book some would own. Other scholars believe the drawings in the margins were a moral caution, although the depiction of priests and other ranking officials engaged in sex acts suggests political origins as well. When excavations of Pompeii were undertaken, much of the erotic art of the Romans became known, shocking the Victorians who saw them. They had no idea what to do with the frank depictions of sexuality. In an endeavor to hide them from everyone but upper class scholars, the objects that were movable were locked away in the Secret Museum in Naples, and what could not be moved was covered or cordoned off to not corrupt the women, children and the working class. Yet, despite their occasional repression, depictions of erotic themes have been common for millennia.

Porn flourished in the Renaissance when Julio Romano an apprentice to Rafael quarreled with Pope Clemens VII. As revenge, the artist painted an entire hall in the Vatican with porn frescos. The frescos then gave rise to a scandal that spread throughout Europe. Before the frescos could be removed some crafty painters made gravures of them, and the gravures allow them to make as many copies as needed. That is how porn spread about Europe and the spreading was made even more successful in 1440 with invention of the Gutenberg Press. One of the earliest examples of written pornography in the English language however was, The Earl of Rochester’s John Wilmot’s “Sodom” in 1675, though some have traced the beginnings of modern pornography even earlier back to 1650. When three pornographic classics appeared: “La Puttana Errante” (The Wayward Prostitute), “L’Ecole des Filles” (Girls School), and “Satya”. They were translated into all the major European languages of the time. These novels became the models for all later pornographic books and movies. Themes of lesbianism, sodomy, seduction, multiple copulation, flagellation and sadism dominate.

Little has changed with porn over the past 350 years as an examination of these works shows. By the end of the 18th century, France had become the leading country regarding the spread of pornographic pictures. Porn had become an element of playing cards, posters, post cards and other such things. By the 19th century, people caught spreading porn were brought to court and were obliged to pay fines. Many writers that are considered classical writers today were at that time brought to court on the charges of spreading porn in their work. The concept of porn as it exists today did not exist until the Victorian Age. Prior to that era many sexual acts were regulated or prohibited by law, while viewing images was not. The first porn daguerreotype appeared in 1855, and the first porn film was made in a year after the Lumiere brothers invented Cinema. The world’s first laws criminalizing pornography was enacted by Parliament in the United Kingdom in 1857; the Obscene Publications Act. Also known as Lord Campbell’s Act or Campbell’s Act, was a major piece of obscenity legislation in the United Kingdom and Ireland, it made the sale of obscene material a statutory offence, giving the courts power to seize and destroy offending material. In both 1959 and 1964, acts were passed in England and Wales with the same title as the 1857 act. As of 2008 the latter two Obscene Publications Acts are still in force, though it has been amended by more recent legislation.

vintage-porn06Pornographic motion pictures are as old as the medium itself. Since Thomas Edison invented the motion picture camera in 1891, and in 1896 May Irwin directed The Kiss on Edison Kinet-o-scope. The first kiss on film was denounced as shocking and pornographic, one of the earliest completely pornographic motion pictures is A L’Ecu d’Or ou la bonne auberge”, made in France in 1908. The film depicts a weary soldier who with a servant girl. The Argentine pornographic film “El Satario might be even older; and has been dated to somewhere between 1907 and 1912. 1915’s “A Free Ride, is considered the earliest American film with explicit sex scenes Some of the oldest known surviving pornographic films are contained in America’s Kinsey Collection, one such film demonstrates how early pornographic conventions were established. In the German film Am Abend” (1910) a ten-minute film which begins with a woman masturbating alone in her bedroom, and progresses to scenes of her performing fellatio and anal penetration with a man.

Pornographic movies became widespread in the silent movie era, and they were often shown in brothels. Many pornographic films were made in subsequent decades, but given the usually clandestine nature of the filming and distribution, details of such “stag films” are often difficult to obtain. In 1930, Hollywood established the Hays Code to set moral standards on mainstream films, though strict enforcement of the Hays Code did not begin until 1934. It is generally assumed that many sexually explicit films made before about 1950 are permanently lost. The 1951 stag film “Smart Alec became an underground hit sparking a revolution. In 1953, a young Hugh Hefner starts Playboy magazine. Seven years later, he opens the first Playboy Club. In 1965, Bob Guccione starts Penthouse magazine. In 1970, a Federal study estimated that the total retail value of all the hard-core porn in the United States was no more than $10 million. Then in 1972 along came a little film by the name of Deep Throat”. With this film and its high production values and articulate plot, Pornography fully entered the mainstream culture. In the 1970s and 1980s, feminists such as Dr. Catharine MacKinnon criticized pornography as essentially dehumanizing women and as likely to encourage violence against them. There was an alliance formed between anti-porn feminists and fundamentalist Christians in order to help censor the use of or production of pornography.

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