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Debating Pornography$
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Andrew Altman and Lori Watson

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780199358700

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199358700.001.0001

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Conclusion: The Big Historical Picture

Conclusion: The Big Historical Picture

(p.131) 6 Conclusion: The Big Historical Picture
Debating Pornography

Andrew Altman

Oxford University Press

Social norms regarding sex and its representations have changed radically in the West, from ancient times to the present. The sexually permissive norms of ancient Greece and Rome were replaced by the highly restrictive norms of the Christian world. In Greece and Rome, sexually explicit images were routinely displayed in public and private settings. Prostitution and pederasty were permitted by prevailing norms. By contrast, Christian doctrine and culture regarded it as a sin to engage in sex outside of marriage and for reasons other than procreation. Sexually explicit images were condemned and suppressed. The sexual revolution of the 1960s, in turn, fundamentally altered the sexual norms of society, relaxing many of the previous restrictions but without returning to the norms of the ancient pagan world. This chapter places the current issue of pornography in the context of those large-scale historical changes and explains how the issue is, in a certain sense, a moral one.

Keywords:   pornography, the sexual revolution, paganism, Christianity, morality

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