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Erotica


Erotica is any material or device that arouses sexual interest or is used to enhance a sexual experience. Largely as a result of Gloria Steinem's 1980 article, the term has come to be used by most to refer to material that contains loving interaction that goes beyond the mere sexual.

Commonly, erotica is in the form of sexually explicit writing or visual images such as photographs, drawings and films. Devices made to vary or enhance pleasure during sexual activity, sometimes referred to as "sex toys", are also considered erotica.

Sexually explicit written and visual material dates back as far as ancient times and has been known to exist in numerous cultures. With the advent of the modern legal system some sexually explicit material - depending on its degree of explicitness and based on the interpretation of the observer - has been classified as obscene.

The Standards of Legal Obscenity

U.S. Supreme Court has set standards of legal obscenity, which are always implemented on a state or local level, but they are extremely difficult to apply on a case by case basis. There is no formula for deciding when something is erotica or obscenity (also called pornography), thus decisions are often left up to communities and individuals.

There are many reasons why people are interested in the use of erotica. Viewing and reading erotica provides a source of knowledge and comparison about sexual anatomy and behavior. Erotic materials are used by some to spark sexual arousal rather quickly or to prolong it, depending on the person's appetite at the time. Some people use erotic readings, pictures or movies to accompany masturbation.

Like sexual fantasies, erotica triggers the imagination and allows people to deal with forbidden or frightening aspects of sex in the controlled environment of the imagination. Erotica gives people opportunities to rehearse in their thoughts acts that they hope to try or are curious about.

Others use erotica primarily to heighten their sexual desire (but not as the main course), to turn on their partner, or simply to enrich a sexual experience with their partner.

Erotica: A Matter of Individual Taste

Preference for one type of erotica over another is a matter of individual taste. Some people prefer the real-life action of films, whereas others prefer to let their imaginations expand on a drawing or photograph or find that stories or other written accounts of a sexually explicit nature offer greater erotic potential.

Whatever the venue, there seems to be little difference in the sexual arousal that they help produce. In contrast, the content of erotica, rather than its style of presentation, does have a specific effect. People are more likely to be aroused by content to which they can relate, rather than by depiction of sexual acts that they find uncomfortable or offensive.

The sexual arousal that occurs with the use of erotica can be both psychological and physical. Many investigators have noted specific physiological changes in people while they watch erotic movies, read erotic passages, or listen to tape recordings of erotic stories.

Men often experience erection and women undergo changes in vaginal blood flow or lubrication. In had been generally assumed that men responded more frequently and powerfully to erotica than women. However, research indicates that this is not necessarily the case.

Both sexes are capable of responding to erotic material in much the same ways, although the type of erotica (style, content, plot) may be important in determining its turn-on potential. Furthermore, until recently, most erotica has been developed by men for men. This may be one reason why some women do not find traditional erotic materials as appealing as men do.

Copyright 2002 Sinclair Intimacy Institute


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