I read an article on the subject this evening (Linked by another participant) that really touched a nerve with me.
My youngest is majoring in art history and she has entire textbooks that we have to hide from the prudish eyes of my wife's ultra conservative Christian family when they come to visit.
On one hand it's humorous that anyone would consider a chronological history of the human form in art to be "Pornography," but on the other hand, dancing around their sensibilities does get old after awhile.
The word, "Pornography" comes to us from the French pornographie
, which in turn is derived from the Greek, πορνογραφος. (pornographos)
It's a compound word formed by fusing πορνή (Prostitute) with γραφος (writing) and literally meant "Writings of prostitutes."
Unlike Greek terms of recent origin like "photograph" this is a real, bonafide ancient word that was used in speech. It described sexually explicit stories produced for prurient entertainment.
It had nothing directly to do either with nudity or the depiction of the human form in art. In contrast to Western society in the post Victorian era, the Greeks were not prudes when it came to the human body.
The author of the article I read drew a casual connection between the adoption of the word into English and the invention of the modern photograph. Maybe he should stick to soccer.
The word entered the English vocabulary in America via the French speaking section of New Orleans in the early 1800's and it described the established form of prurient literature at the time, which was still the written word.
This isn't to say that pictures and photographs cannot also qualify as pornography or that words don't change and evolve over time. But that is no reason to bastardize the term to mean whatever you want it to mean.
For example, I don't know if all of you get the same banner advertising that I do on this site, but a picture I keep seeing is an advert for Eden Fantasys which shows an attractive young woman with long brunette hair in a black camisole. She's balanced on her hands and knees with her back arched in a frankly sexual pose.
Is this picture pornographic?
All of us inject a little subjective perception into the words we use, but those perceptions are subordinate to a set of objective definitions compiled into a book we call a "Dictionary."
And by objective definition, the picture above is not pornographic. Pornography is by definition obscene and/or sexually explicit.
Even outright nudity does not in and of itself qualify as pornography. If it did, not only would many of the great works of art be pornographic, but my old EMT training manual and the National Geographic would as well.
A person may object and say, "The pictures in your EMT manual were not intended to be sexually arousing." While that's true, this is simply a backhanded attempt to reinject subjective perception into the definition. Written and visual material either meets the objective definition of pornography or it does not. You don't need to know the person who presented it or what their intent was to make that assessment.
To me, it seems that promoting the idea that the swimsuit edition of sports magazines is pornography deligitmizes the entire question of whether it is deleterious to marriage because it's obvious that the author or authors are not being honest with their use of the term and are promoting a purely religious agenda. I can find virtually identical reasoning in the writings of Islam.
Both approaches hearken back to the days when a woman could spend a day in the stocks for letting her ankles show.