What is pornography?
Pornography is a form of expression, in any medium, which is both produced and consumed with the sole purpose of creating, in the consumer, a specific neurochemical reaction.
This is my definition, and as a definition is inherently arbitrary. But I think it’s a pretty good and useful one.
A few comments:
1) Note that it is all about intention. I cannot claim that, for example, Manet’s Olympia is pornography, just because I have jerked off to it. I can, however, claim that sexually explicit, 18th century Japanese wood-block prints are art. This is true even if the artist’s intention was essentially pornographic, if my interest as a viewer is not dominated by the sexual content and its effect on me.
I admit of course that the creator’s intention is more important in defining pornography, but feel that the viewer’s/reader’s intention must also be respected. It is possible for a work of 100% pornographic intention to be seen as art, by somebody somewhere.
2) Note also that my definition allows for non-sexual pornography. I would classify much of the output of Hollywood as Violence Porn, Fear Porn, Crying Porn. A straight-to-video Jean-Claude VanDamme film is not as a general rule art, nor is it trying to be.
3) I am not judging porn. Why *not* create expressive works designed to provoke (for example) sexual arousal, or visceral horror, or deep weepy sadness? My only ethical or societal concerns are about the long-term exposure to too much of some kind of emotionally manipulative entertainment: Too much violence porn *will* make people more violent. Etc. As I have mentioned elsewhere: Too much of certain kinds of porn can warp perceptions of human beings and sexuality.
Pornography: I’ve defined it.
Consume with mindfulness and moderation.