Porn-NO: An Exploration of Erotic Imagery

watercolor image depicting a man and woman in 69 position

Image found here.

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…many things that are erotic to some may be lewd or crass for others…the difference between what is erotic versus what is pornographic begins with our initial neuro-association with each term. When most people think of “erotic” it elicits sensuality, essentially being tantalized and teased by whatever the art form is…

It is typically suggestive and not overt, leaving much to the participants’ imagination, and as such, leading to the continuity of pleasure, lust, and desire.

~ Marissa Nelson, LGMFT

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PORNOGRAPHY

When I think of pornography, what comes to mind is explicit visual depictions of penetrative sex acts:  disembodied genitals, objectification of the individual, baseness/crassness…  Basically, graphic displays of sexual aggression.

And while I know it can be argued that porn comes (heh) in multiple forms, the word is associative for me, and is specific to images.  Pictures.  Moving pictures, especially.  You know the ones:

  • Fake tits, fake moans, fake orgasms.
  • Giant, always-hard dicks.
  • Slam-slam, grunt-grunt, focus on the carnal bits.
  • Completely unsexy pointy-tongued clit stabbing that passes for cunnilingus, and shot at angles that make the whole thing look ridiculous.
  • Quick, get to the fucking!  Focus on the penis as a pleasure center.
  • Got the money shot?
  • Annnnd, that’s a wrap!

Watching a pornographic film is, to me, about as uplifting an experience as watching a slug crawl through the freshly turned dirt in my rose garden.  My response to each of these two activities is equal:  (1) I get a terrible squiggy feeling in my tummy, and (2) I feel a desperate need to shower off any atmospheric ick-slime I may have accidentally acquired in the watching.  The primary difference being that I typically can’t tear my eyes away from the slug, whereas I can barely keep my eyes open during a porno.  (Porn puts me to sleep.  Literally.)

So:  Porn?  NO.

However, I do enjoy erotic imagery.

But, you are wondering, aren’t they the same thing, Feve?

Welllll…

Yes and no.

HOW DOES PORN DIFFER FROM EROTICA?

This is a heated debate, and one that doesn’t have a definitive answer because everyone has a different interpretation of the two terms.

The erotic is sensual, suggestive, tantalizing. Your imagination goes to work to create whatever sexy scene you desire. It is your creation.

~ Francis Cohen Praver, PhD

As a working definition, this feels *almost* right to me.

In an article for Psychology Today, Leon Seltzer, PhD addresses the difference between pornographic and erotic images.  He points out one thing that I agree with as being a distinguishable differences between the two genres:  ATTITUDE.

“If the work has been executed erotically,” Seltzer says, “it’s generally assumed that the creator viewed the subject matter as praiseworthy. Something to take pleasure in, celebrate, exalt, glorify. . . . And in this sense, the erotic and the aesthetic merge.”  Seltzer goes on to say, “If the subjects are portrayed in a manner that focuses on their inner and outer radiance, their fleshy vitality, and the work itself seems to manifest a passionate and powerful affirmation of life and the pleasures of this world, then I think we’re talking erotic.”

THIS, I agree with.

While some types and/or aspects of porn *may* be erotic, I think there is a difference between the two.  The difference is subjective, and varies by individual preference.  The difference is often also cultural, and one’s views are impacted by the standards of their community.

In defining “erotic imagery” for the presentation of images to follow in this post, I am going to loosely follow the explanations offered by the people quoted above.

With one addition of my own:  INTIMACY.

EROTIC = INTIMATE

For me

and here’s where I emphasize the for me portion of the program; these are my thoughts and opinions

– an image is most likely to evoke an erotic response if it depicts intimacy.

And by ‘depicting intimacy’ I don’t mean ‘shows fucking’.

Intimacy means there is an emotional element involved.  An image is erotic if it arouses me while also touching me, emotionally, in some way.  Whether the image illustrates the relationship between the subjects it represents or shows an activity in which I have a personal interest/affinity/understanding/desire/expertise/insert-descriptor-here, it has to draw me in.

Nudity is considered by many to automatically be both sexual and ‘intimate’.  However, I tend to be very casual about nudity.  So for me, nudity alone is not erotic.

HOWEVER

If an artist or blogger or regular ol’ person shares a nude image (painting, drawing, photograph, etc – of themselves or otherwise) that holds my attention emotionally or reflects intimacy between its subjects:  I find that erotic.

OR

If my partner shares an image of themselves – naked or otherwise – that shows something that appeals to me on an emotional level or that demonstrates in a tangible way the intimacy between us:  I find eroticism in that, whether it’s overtly sexual or not.

EROTIC IMAGES

I did a Google image search using only the word ‘erotic’ and what came back was…

Not erotic.  Not by a long shot.

Not to me, anyway.

Many were of women’s bodies – all thin, all white, all young, all toned – barely dressed and sleekly oiled.  A few were of washboard-ab men in various states of undress, making pouty faces and looking petulantly arrogant.  Randomly featured were pieces of fruit, ice cream, honey, and other foods being applied-to and/or assaulted-by various body parts.

So according to Google – which is supposedly reflective of What The People Want – I don’t know erotic imagery when I see it.

But maybe – just maybe – I do.

Below are a few images I find erotic.  Perhaps you will too.  🙂

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Romantic Scene With Senna

partial nude drawing of man laying over woman's back

What I love about this drawing by aenaluck is the fact that while sex is clearly on the menu, it invites you create a scenario that is to your own taste.  Is this the beginning of their encounter or the end?  Is she exhausted from their lovemaking or is he just now waking her in the morning after a good night’s sleep?

And the tenderness…

He’s clearly strong but just as clearly gentle.  His expression is warm, hers is worry-free.  The setting and the subject’s attitudes tell of a sensual story unfolding in a safe space.  Overall, it’s intimate and inviting, and it makes me want to snuggle-fuck.

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Rachel Baran

windblown woman standing on rockWhile I pretty much never go for explicit images, this one goes further in the opposite direction than you may be expecting.  Not only is she fully clothed, she is alone and in the middle of some sort of flight-of-fancy that’s taking place not only in her own imagination but in the…ocean…?

I find it surrealistically erotic for the feelings it evokes in me though.  Her face to the wind, the waves crashing around her, the gray-blue of the sky:  all these things are indicative of an impending storm, which is a turn-on in and of itself.  She’s captured the joy and exhilaration of windswept freedom and presented it in a way that, for me, is very sexy.

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Longing

surrealistic image of woman trapped in tree while her lover sadly waitsIf I have a ‘style’ when it comes to the art I collect for myself, it would best be described as whimsical.  This piece, by Ora Tamir, combines whimsy with want.

“Longing” is a bit darker, thematically speaking, than what typically appeals to me.  I have an affection for this piece though, because it so clearly illustrates the juxtaposition of desire and distance.  It calls to that part of me that wants more than I can have, in terms of sex and relationships – particularly my relationship with my own body – and it portrays a ‘peeling back the night’ vulnerability that I both fear and embrace.  The bodies of the lovers – together but not – are unique in form and surreal in presentation, which makes them somehow relate-ably fantastical.  The red of the goddess’s lips, the desolation of the landscape, the lost-in-a-dream sadness…  Somehow these all combine to demonstrate those painful parts of intimacy and growth – especially together, sexually – that I hate to love.

The colors of the sunset remind me of the colors that flash behind my eyes when I’m experiencing an intense orgasm, and the power in the tree-trapped heroine’s thighs make me want to flex the muscles in my own thighs and wrap them around the one I love.

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Molly Moore

I love the ethereal-ness of this image, but I also like how earthy it is.  The dappled light and verdant green give it a fantasy quality, but the textures I *know* she must be feeling – of the dirt ground beneath her and the rough bark she’s curled into – make this a tactile image, one I can experience while I’m looking at it.

She explained in her post where this image was featured that she was near a stream.  As may be obvious from my comments on Rachel Baran’s work above, I have an affinity for water.  The vast crashing unpredictability of the ocean and the quiet shushing of a gentle stream are equally experiential for me.  Water is power.  It is uncontrollable in its nurturing as well as in its destruction, and being around water in any form makes me feel alive in my skin.  Knowing that the reflections arcing like lightning veins across Molly’s skin are coming from the water below somehow adds to the primal-ness of this picture.  It’s…

Raw.

And yet it’s relaxed, isn’t it?  It’s a woman who’s comfortable with her natural self, being comfortable in nature.

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There are others.  More.

man's lips pursed in a kissAbstract paintings bursting with deep red and cobalt blue, streaked with a jeté of yellow that reminds me of the spotlight-flashes of pleasure and the seeming-illusory culmination that teases me when my fingers dance over my clit, seeking orgasm.  Surreal mixed media prints of mermaids’ dreams, the sky filled with volcano-smoke lovers embracing against a backdrop of imaginary entrancements.

Photos I’ve taken – of myself, of my lovers, of us together – over the years.

Images of my lover, often sent without seductive intent, will sometimes spark a low flame that accelerates a heat in me.  A picture of his smooth-shaven skin will call to mind one of our rituals.  A clip of him patting his shoulder, indicating I should rest my head there, reminds me of the way our bodies intertwine.  His lips, bowed into a kiss, come to me as an MMS and when I open the visual request it makes me think of the pleasure those lips have provided in all the places on my body they have kissed.

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And speaking of kisses…

Go ahead.  Click the lips.

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Do you think there is a difference between pornography and erotica?

What kinds of images turn you on?

10 thoughts on “Porn-NO: An Exploration of Erotic Imagery

    1. Mrs Fever Post author

      The line between the two is definitely hard to define. And how sharp or blurred that line is depends almost entirely upon the mindset of the viewer.

      Reply
  1. Bill

    When I was 6 or 7 I asked my parents what was the difference between exotic and erotic.

    They looked at one another and told me not to worry about it.

    So I used them as synonyms.

    Much to the chagrin of my elementary teacher.

    Then my parents had to be in the room whenever I watched “Love, American Style”

    And I didn’t write any more stories about seeing erotic places on TV.

    I started watching documentaries. Sure I might see some animals mating, but it would be presented scientifically as just part of the story of life.

    And some of those “Exotic” places would have Tiki gods, fertility goddesses, and maybe a Priapus type god. No exaggerations there.

    Sometimes documentaries will mention stuff as a side note without delving into it further. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electroejaculation

    A young mind contemplates, ejaculation=pleasure, electrocution=PAIN. Is there a connection. The following is just a joke, “And you thought PEEing on an electric fence was painful!” But it is true that one’s pain tolerance increases with driving desires. It is also true that after climax, pain is pain.

    A few years back one of the Law and Order franchises mentioned https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posthumous_sperm_retrieval while investigating how this dead guy inseminated a comatose female.

    I would still say that one of the most erotic things I’ve read is the alien masturbation sequence from Isaac Asimov’s “The Gods Themselves”. A gaseous being rock rubbing until it can penetrate the rock is HOT HOT HOT.

    Wild

    Reply
    1. Mrs Fever Post author

      I’m going to have to read that Asimov selection. Every time you mention it, I go “hmmm…” It sounds sexy in an otherworldly sci-fi kind of way.

      Re: electroejaculation ~ There is a sex toy that uses electric shock stimulation. It’s one of those things that makes me curious.

      Elementary school stories about erotic places? Oh my… 😛

      Your “little Wild” tale made me grin. (Your grown-up Wild tail might as well. 😉 )

      Reply
  2. Molly

    I LOVE that drawing you included in your image section. It is incredibly beautiful and yes very sexy and sexual to me too. I love the way his nose is pressed against her skin as if he is drawing in her warm morning scent. Yep, waking up morning sex is totally my thing

    Mollyx
    Molly recently posted…The dirty secretMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Mrs Fever Post author

      I *might* be a bit of a grumpy bear if someone wakes me up out of a deep sleep (not saying I *am* a grumpy bear; just that I *might* be), but I suspect I’d quiet my roar if I was woken like that. 😉

      Reply
  3. chris

    I want to see/read a flash of a moment in time where something special-intimate-unique was happening/being shared. That’s erotic. 🙂

    Reply
  4. Bee

    There is a really fine line between porn and erotica, what is porn to one is erotica to another. Even I swurch what fits in each groups at times. Most importantly, it’s about what you personally enjoy.

    That Ora Tamil piece is beautiful, it has a surrealist Dali feel and that is something that works for me.
    Bee recently posted…What gets me going?My Profile

    Reply
    1. Mrs Fever Post author

      She’s very Dali-esque, I agree. I really enjoy her work.

      There is a scene at the beginning of the movie Oceans 12 where Julia Roberts’ character is trying to instruct her housepainter on mixing paint colors to meet her exact specifications. It’s “too brown” then “too oxblood” and basically just too “not HER” until she does the mixing herself. And I think porn/erotica – whether there’s a dividing line between them or not – is very much like that. We each have a highly individualized idea of what it is, or what it ‘should be’ to suit our tastes. And finding the exact right “mix” that will color one’s arousal is a very personal thing. 🙂

      Reply

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