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Summary of Gloria Steinem’s Erotica & Pornograph

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Gloria Steinem’s “Erotica and Pornography” was published in Ms. magazine in 1972. In this piece she elaborates on why conception is not the only time human beings want to have sex. Humans not only have sex to create life but also to create a connection with another person. We have separated ourselves from other animals with our unique ability to affect our own evolution. Play, art, and invention can often take precedence over the primate dogma of work, nature and physical labor until an imparity is created in the former. Another part of sex that is exclusive to humans is the invention of contraception, which was probably created by our ancestors in order satiate humans distinguishing thirst for sex.

“Erotica” and “pornography” are terms that are easily confused and most people will condemn them for that very reason. Erotica, when broken down into its roots, means passionate love and pornography means writing about prostitution. Sex is a beautiful thing when it is considered erotic. But when it turns to pornography and force becomes involved it loses its beauty. Erotica is about sexuality and pornography is about pain and humiliation-it’s like rape. Most people would like to have sex with an equal partner. The point of which is for discovery, not for parity. This is not a real possibility because of the absence of erotica. We cannot differentiate between wife and whore unless we control our sexuality. The thought of simple, unfeigned motherhood is something we want to achieve, but we have made it very complicated. Erotica cannot exist while women are still being degraded and objectified in pornography.

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