In this particular form of exploitation of sex, written, graphic or other forms of communication are aimed at arousing sexual desires of a particularly lewd nature. Obscenity is an intrinsic tendency of the work itself and not the reaction of a particular person to it, be he genius, moron, or pervert. Opinions vary on whether it is more harmful to suppress pornography, therefore adding the excitement of guilt and secrecy, or to allow it to be freely available, hence perhaps corrupting children or encouraging sexual deviation. Unbiased information is lacking on the effects of pornography. Definitions of pornography range from any depiction of uninhibited nakedness or sexual activity to depicting women as limited beings with restricted sexual presence subservient to apparently specific male desires.
Efforts are being made by radical feminists to broaden the definition of pornography to cover: material that is either sexually explicit and violent; sexually explicit and non-violent, but subordinating and dehumanizing; or sexually explicit and based on mutuality and equality. The latter group is often referred to as erotica, namely any image which is sexual in nature.
Pornography can be found in books, magazines, films, television and increasingly in live-shows. Since what is considered pornography reflects a society's and individual's degree of permissiveness in sexual matters, from one country to another and from one individual to another, nude pin-ups, sexual intercourse on stage, sexual suggestions in advertisements, or blue jokes, may be regarded as an enticement to sexual depravity, as a display of eroticism, or as completely innocuous. In the last 20 years many Western countries (for example, Denmark, Germany, USA, the Netherlands) have authorized the production and marketing of sex, although prostitution, also a sex-act for money, may still be banned. The consumers of commercial pornography are predominantly male often respectable. In the USA approximately 40% of video owners admit having rented at least one pornographic film, of which the largest proportion are gay.
Pornography is a systematic practice of exploitation and degradation based on sex. It dehumanises sex so that beings are treated as things. It is degrades men, women, children and animals. Pornography expresses the culture's value for life. One major daily newspaper in the UK runs a new photograph of a bare breasted woman every single morning. Substantial exposure to such material is likely to increase the extent to which those exposed will view rape or other forms of sexual violence as less serious than they otherwise would have. It also sets the level of social imagery about its subjects. Whether one approves of such material or not, the picture enters the imagination. The self-understanding and social expectations are recreated daily by such photographs. The relationships between parents and children, workers and employers, teachers and students, fellow passengers on the train, are all informed.
No causal relationship has yet been established between pornography and sexual offences or violence. On the contrary, pornography reduces sexual crimes and in particular crimes committed against minors since it offers an outlet for repressed instincts. In Denmark, where pornography is unregulated, and in Japan, where pornography featuring rape and bondage is popular, the rates of rape are much lower than in the USA. The rate of rape has declined in the USA as pornography has proliferated. The status of women tends to be lower where, as in Islamic nations, pornography is suppressed.