Highlights

  • India is the third-largest consumer of porn in the world.
  • Pornography refers to the explicit depiction of sexual behaviour.
  • Erotica caters mostly to the connoisseurs of art and focuses more on aesthetics.

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In Depth: Pornography vs Erotica: Is it time to stop shoving them under the same umbrella?

Let’s take a dive into erotic literature and the controversial world of pornographic cinema, to understand how the two differ from each other, and maybe why we Indians should stop shoving it all under the same umbrella.   

When you start talking about taboos and stigmas in India, what are the first few things that cross your mind? Porn? Erotica? Adult Movies? Nudity? Often, morality is used as an excuse to rubbish anything that promotes sex and sexuality. Any conversation is discouraged, questions avoided, and eyes averted. So even though India is the third-largest consumer of porn in the world, a mere mention of the word is enough to leave Indians feeling awkward and tongue-tied.      

Additionally, India is the land that gave the world the Kamasutra, one of the oldest books which explores sexuality and eroticism. Not only this, but India is also home to several temples, like the Khajuraho Temple in Madhya Pradesh and the Konark Sun Temple in Orissa, that are known for erotic carvings and sculptures. And yet, we shy away from speaking about intimacy, pleasure and eroticism.   

So, let’s take a dive into erotic literature and imagery and the controversial world of pornographic cinema, to understand how the two differ from each other, and maybe why we Indians should stop shoving it all under the same umbrella.   

In layman's words, Pornography refers to the explicit depiction of sexual behaviour with the sole purpose of stimulating sexual arousal or excitement. The understanding of this definition may not be as simple for it is very subjective and depends largely on changing community beliefs.  

While one part of the Indian society condones porn, the other half watches it to seek pleasure and attain sexual satisfaction. The part of society that shuns it, finds pornographic material to be marriage-wrecking, immoral, unethical, impossible-body-standard-generating and even exploitative. The other half finds porn to be a simple means to quick excitement. 

The porn industry is a booming space but if not dealt with care, it can also be quite terrifying for those working in it. The advent of Ethical porn has made sure that actors get to work in a safe environment that respects their rights. However, there still are performers who are either underpaid or overworked and combined with a deplorable work environment and compromised health, are constantly putting themselves at risk.  

Erotica on the other hand caters mostly to the connoisseurs of art, as it focuses more on aesthetics and deeper meaning, meant to stimulate both your sexual and intellectual cells. From the steamy Lihaaf to the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy to Mills & Boon, erotic literature has been around forever and is widely consumed across the globe.  

Erotic films, paintings and photographs have more depth involving both artistic visions and perspectives. Each story unravels a different layer of sexuality and the possibilities of desire. For the readers and viewers, it opens an opportunity to explore eroticism through the characters depicted in the work, bringing them closer to their own needs, desires and sexuality.  

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