"Erotica and Pornography" by Gloria Steinem

Essay by onyi02College, UndergraduateA-, February 2006

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What is the difference between erotica and pornography? Gloria Steinem tackles this question in "Erotica and Pornography". Most people picture Pornography as being hardcore, more likely to be sold in specialty adult bookstores or in sealed plastic at the newsstand. Erotica, on the other hand, includes foreplay, intimacy, and a mutually- satisfying experience. However, Steinem believes that the main differences between pornography and erotica are that individuals involved in pornography are just looking for anything to satisfy their sexual needs, while individuals involved in erotica have a particular someone in mind. Gloria Steinem states that erotica is "in the idea of positive choice, free will, the yearning for a particular person" (130). Erotica is a depiction of a love-making experience rather then just having sex. Steinem states that pornography is when the "subject is not mutual love, or love at all, but domination and violence against women" (130). In pornography, one individual is a dominant force, and erotica is when both individuals are on equal standing.

8 mile and Monsters ball are both featured on "Playboy's Top 10 Film Sex Scenes". Monsters Ball, starring Billy Bob Thornton and Halle Berry, exemplifies Gloria Steinem's view of pornography, while 8 Mile, staring Eminem and Brittney Murphy, corresponds to Steinem's view of erotica.

In "Monsters Ball", Billy Bob Thornton plays a white corrections officer named Hank working on death row who oversees Lawrence Musgrove's death. Hank doesn't get along with his son or father (both of whom live with him) and eventually quits his job after a death in the family. He then becomes involved with Leticia, has sex with her, and changes his racist ways. Leticia (Halle Berry) plays Lawrence Musgrove's (Sean Combs) wife and then widow who smokes, drinks and ends up falling for Hank (with whom she...