The history of Pornography

Just to clarify this at the start. Yes this blog is about pornography. No it is not pornographic, although it will contain some nudity. As the title suggests it is about the history of pornography. I had intended to call it the history of erotic depiction, but I didn’t feel that would be the right title.

Not all sex is porn, but all porn is sex. There is a cultural difference as well. A German or a Dutch person have a different opinion then what an Irish, English or Italian person may have, regarding what pornography is.

The definition of “pornography” is famously subjective. After all, one man’s Venus de Milo is another man’s masturbation aid. But researchers generally define the genre as material designed solely for sexual arousal, without further artistic merit.

Pornography or porn, plays a part in many people’s lives. They may not admit it but it is a fact, and in my opinion there is nothing wrong in enjoying porn.

Ever since the introduction of the internet and search engines, porn has been the most searched subject. However pornography did not start with the start of sites like pornhub. Nor did it start with magazines like Playboy or Penthouse.

The word pornography was coined from the ancient Greek words πόρνη (pórnē “prostitute” and πορνεία porneía “prostitution”, and γράφειν (gráphein “to write or to record”, derived meaning “illustration”, as in “graph”), and the suffix -ία (-ia, meaning “state of”, “property of”, or “place of”), thus meaning “a written description or illustration of prostitutes or prostitution”. No date is known for the first use of the word in Greek; the earliest attested, most related word one could find in Greek, is πορνογράφος, pornográphos, i.e. “someone writing about harlots”, in the Deipnosophists of Athenaeus.The Modern Greek word pornographia (πορνογραφία) is a reborrowing of the French pornographie.

Throughout different historical periods, pornography has manifested in many different forms for many different people and has been expressed through radically different mediums. From the enlarged breasts of tiny fertility statues to the quick flashes of images one might see on an advertisement while browsing a pornographic website, the goal of pornographic material has always been the same: to invoke sentiments and sensations that live deep within our psyche and our most inner carnal being, ideas which resonate with our base instincts which scream at us to seek mates and procreate. Pornography affects us somewhere within our innermost human parts, the parts of us that want to survive and carry on our genes — and pornography always solicits a response when we see it, whether we like it or not.

Depictions of a sexual nature have existed since prehistoric times, as seen in the Venus figurines and rock art. A vast number of artifacts have been discovered from ancient Mesopotamia depicting explicit heterosexual sex.[

So where did it all begin?

The Venus of Willendorf is believed to be that beginning. The approximately 28,000-year-old sculpture of a rather voluptuous woman is the earliest surviving erotic depiction we have. The Venus is an incredible piece of prehistoric porn, one that stands only 4.4 inches tall.

It has been suggested that she is a fertility figure, a good-luck totem, a mother goddess symbol, or an aphrodisiac made by men for the appreciation of men. Further, one researcher hypothesized that it was made by a woman and that what has been seen as evidence of obesity or adiposity is actually the foreshortening effect of self-inspection. Although much has been written about the Willendorf figurine, little other than the details given in the paragraph above can be stated as fact.

Glyptic art from the Sumerian Early Dynastic Period frequently shows scenes of frontal sex in the missionary position(a sex position in which, generally, a woman lies on her back and a man lies on top of her while they face each other and engage in vaginal intercourse)

In Mesopotamian votive plaques from the early second millennium BC, the man is usually shown entering the woman from behind while she bends over, drinking beer through a straw. Middle Assyrian lead votive figurines often represent the man standing and penetrating the woman as she rests on top of an altar. Scholars have traditionally interpreted all these depictions as scenes of ritual sex, but they are more likely to be associated with the cult of Inanna, the goddess of sex and prostitution. Many sexually explicit images were found in the temple of Inanna at Assur, which also contained models of male and female sexual organs.

Le Coucher de la Mariée (Bedtime for the Bride or The Bridegroom’s Dilemma in English) is widely considered the oldest existing porn movie in the world. It was one of the first erotic films ever made in the late 19th century. The film was directed by Albert Kirchner, produced by Eugène Pirou, and starred French actress Louise Willy.

By today’s standards this pornographic film is quite tame. It features a newlywed couple on the night of their wedding. The husband looks on as his new bride performs a striptease behind a folding screen. Although the film was considered risque at the time, actress was never fully nude. The original short film was about seven minutes long, but only the two minute undressing scene has survived.

The first ‘hardcore’ porn movie was the German movie “Am Abend”, which was made in 1910. A so called early 20th century German Stag film.

Like the other two films, Am Abend begins with a primitive narrative frame sequence, then it shows signs of a more conventional cinema for a short period of time, and it finally shows hard-core scenes in a fragmented manner. Film studies scholar Linda Williams, suggested that early pornographic films, such as Am Abend, like modern-day pornographic videos, showed close ups of genitals and medium shots of sex. Thus, there were structural similarities between early stag films and modern-day pornographic videos.

Over the decades the idea of pornography has changed. No one alive today would considered The Kiss to be a “pornographic” film, but at the time of its release it was considered shocking and obscene. As the the name implies, the movie depicted the very first kiss on film. It was a re-enactment of the kiss between stage actors May Irwin and John Rice from the final scene of the musical The Widow Jones.

Although the kissing scene was very chaste, just a short peck on the lips, it caused widespread uproar. The Roman Catholic Church even called for censorship and moral reform because kissing in public could lead to prosecution. Several newspapers published disapproving editorials and police presence was requested in many places were the film was screened. Today, The Kiss is preserved in the United States National Film Registry for its cultural significance.

Modern day porn has become more mainstream and sometimes there is a very thin line between porn movies and mainstream movies. There is an increasing amount of mainstream movies and even TV shows, where the actors engage in actual sexual acts in front of the camera.

For examples the 2004 romantic drama ‘9 Songs’

The film was controversial upon original release due to its sexual content, which included un-simulated sex footage of the two leads, Kieran O’Brien and Margo Stilley, having sexual intercourse and performing oral sex as well as a scene of ejaculation. The film was showcased at the Cannes Film Festival.

I do think that most people are not quite ready yet for real sex in mainstream movies. You know when you watch a porn movie, sex is what you expect to see. This is not the case in regular movies. The movies 9 Songs gets a very low rating on IMDB. 4.8 out of 10, it also flopped at the box office. However ‘9 Songs’ is not the only movie there are actually a few dozen. most of them get low ratings.

I suppose pornography will always be controversial. But this controversy does come partly through hypocrisy, like every one is watching it but so few will admit to it. I am not saying that literally everyone watches porn but more figuratively.

sources

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Venus-of-Willendorf

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0411705/

https://thefulcrum.ca/features/a-brief-history-of-pornography-until-1910/

https://www.livescience.com/8748-history-pornography-prudish-present.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_erotic_depictions

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The not so original Cancel Culture

The buzz word nowadays is ‘Cancel Culture’ the definition of this phenomenon according to WikiPedia is

-Cancel culture (or call-out culture) is a modern form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles – whether it be online, on social media, or in person. Those who are subject to this ostracism are said to have been “cancelled”-

However cancel culture is nothing new. It does appear to resurface every once and again. Although the current ‘woke’ generation may think it is a socially very responsible thing to do, it is far from it.

The problem with cancel culture it only cheery picks elements of the truth in order to pursue a political philosophy. It also is more an ideology which is endorsed by both fringes of society, The far and extreme right and also the far and extreme left. You only have to look at the call out for banning of the Teletubbies ,by some far right evangelists in the USA, because it supposedly encouraged homo sexuality- Tinky Winky was allegedly a gay icon.

On the other hand there were calls for the books of Laura Ingalls “Little House on the Prairie” to be banned, by far left socialists, because if allegedly encouraged racism.

These are just 2 examples of the more current cancel culture phenomenon. As I said this however is nothing new. Back in the 1920’s there was a call for the banning of some movies because they went against the moral values of the wider society. Especially when there was nudity involved

A still of Annette Kellermann from A Daughter of the Gods (1916).

What many people nowadays don’t realize is that the first movie to win a best picture Oscar (the 1927 silent film “Wings”) had both male AND female nudity. In 1922, after several risqué films and a series of off-screen scandals involving Hollywood stars, the studios enlisted Presbyterian elder Will H. Hays to rehabilitate Hollywood’s image. Initially it started of with a list of 36 self-imposed “Don’ts and Be Carefuls,”

But soon that was no longer enough and the Hays code was introduced in 1934 and lasted for 34 years. The Hays Code was so strict that even the display of cleavage was controversial. There were some exemptions like in documentaries and comedies where some nudity was involved. Like the 1963 comedy “Promises! Promises!” starring Jayne Mansfield

We may not have the Hays code anymore but nowadays we have the “Community Standards” set by Social Media platforms such as Facebook, where it is possible toe get porn sent you via anonymous sources as spam and there seems to be no rule for that, however posting a topless picture of a wife or girlfriend on the beach is seen as totally offensive, but it is never explained who is offended by it. Or in my case where I was banned for posting a meme of Aerosmith’s Steve Tyler and his daughter actress Liv Tyler.

So far these examples have been relatively harmless but social media is becoming more and more the source for many of these cancel culture events. People just are not interested in educating themselves with all the facts. I totally condemn all racism, and I mean all racism. No one in their right mind will deny that there was slavery but slogans like “White Privilege” or “Black lives matters” will not help fight racism, in fact it will do the opposite. Of course we need to look at the history of slavery, but we need to look at all the history.

It is true that white slave traders went to Africa where they got slaves, but it mostly wasn’t them who captured the slaves. That was mainly done by other Africans often from other tribes.

This is a front cover of a London news paper a printed in 7 December 1889, of Tippu Tip, or Tippu Tib an Afro-Arab slave trader, ivory trader, explorer, plantation owner and governor. He worked for a succession of the sultans of Zanzibar. Tippu Tip traded in slaves for Zanzibar’s clove plantations. As part of the large and lucrative ivory trade, he led many trading expeditions into Central Africa, constructing profitable trading posts deep into the region. He bought the ivory from local suppliers and resold it for a profit at coastal ports.

Although he owned thousands of slaves and sold them for a profit , I haven’t heard anyone ask for him to be cancelled. He is not the only African slave traders there were many.

As for the aforementioned the banning or cancelling books like “the little house on the prairie” or a series of books of Dr Seuss really is nothing different then the 21st century version of book burning.

On April 8, 1933, he Main Office for Press and Propaganda of the German Student Union (DSt) proclaimed a nationwide “Action against the Un-German Spirit” Yes indeed the student union, supposedly educated people who actively encouraged fellow students and citizens to destroy books.

Of course the subject of History itself is under scrutiny and has been already cancelled in many schools.

We should all learn from the mistakes in history. We should also respect our differences and embrace them. But not by cancelling it but by debate and education. and especially education in History.

If we give in to these extreme philosophies on each side of the political spectrum we will make the same mistakes again. My biggest fear is that , and I mean this sincerely and genuinely, if we look at everything from just one side we will be contributing to a genocide we have never seen before.

Sex and WWII

++++ Contains some nudity+++++

We watched the 2001 World War II drama “Enemy at the Gates” a few nights ago. There was one scene where the characters played by Rachel Weisz and Jude Law had sex whilst surrounded by other soldiers, in the sleeping quarters.

This made me wonder how often something would happen for real during the dark days of WWII. It also made me think about the wider concept of sex during the war.

Sex is the most primal instinct human beings, and indeed all animals, have , even though nowadays some of the woke generation may dispute that . But sex is a normal and a beautiful thing.

Clearly sex was still happening during WWII if that hadn’t been the case there would have been no births during 1939 and 1945.

In Germany, and later in other countries occupied by the Nazis young women were encouraged and often forced to have children, through the Lebensborn program. The purpose of this program was to offer to young girls who were deemed “racially pure” the possibility to give birth to a child in secret. The child was then given to the SS organization which took charge in the child’s education and adoption. It was really meant to breed the “super-race” In the later stages children who looked ‘aryan’ were also forcefully taken from parents and given away for adoption.

Anni-Frid Lyngstad from Swedish super group ABBA was one of the children born via the Lebensborn program.

Sex of course isn’t just for making babies it is also to have fun and make you feel good about yourself. Even in the darkest days and despite facing horrors every day, some of those who were in the concentration camps still managed to have sex. In Rudolf Vrba’s book “I Escaped From Auschwitz “ he writes that on one occasion male kapo, part of a male inmate work group had a longing for sex with a female kapo of a female work group working in the same operation, sorting the belongings of the victims who had been murdered in the gas chambers. The female kapo was an attractive, young Hungarian girl who agreed to have sex if she was given some specified gifts. Vrba was instructed in one case was to transport the gifts to the female kapo before the sexual encounter.

Great Britain is not really known for its liberal attitude to nudity and sexuality, but the Blitz intensified sexual desire. A full two decades before the so-called permissive society of the Sixties, a dramatic, if understated, sexual revolution was already taking place. Life magazine featured on its cover in May 1941 three showgirls dressed in only underwear and gas masks. A more powerful symbol of the sexualisation of the Blitz would be hard to find.

All the major combatants involved in World War II used pornography as a small part of their psychological operations (PSYOP) strategy. Mostly this involved dropping propaganda leaflets using sexual themes from the air, in an attempt to demoralise enemy soldiers at the front.

There were also some hidden dangers especially in the time where condoms were not really used as much as they are now, aside from the unplanned pregnancies by lovers rather then husbands. There was also the danger of STI’s (sexually transmitted infections, aka VD).

In June 1942, a woman named Billie Smith was arrested in her hotel room in Little Rock, Arkansas, and charged with prostitution and violation of the state’s immorality laws. Smith pled guilty and paid the fine of $10—equivalent to $150 today—but authorities weren’t quite done.

Smith was turned over to the city’s health examiner, who ran tests for syphilis and gonorrhea. When both came back positive, the officer ordered her committed to a federally run quarantine center in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

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I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Sources

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-quot-lebensborn-quot-program

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3165954/How-Blitz-sent-Britain-sex-mad-New-book-reveals-Hitler-s-bid-bomb-surrender-startling-effect.html

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/10/during-world-war-ii-sexually-active-women-were-a-national-security-threat/409555/