It isn’t until about 1860 that the word “pornography” as we know it today comes to be – as a consequence of those giant phalluses from Rome. As Italy was going through liberation, those artifacts were going to become public and there had to be some way to describe them and, in this case, condemn them. This is one small example of the actions of an era where society felt the need protect sensitive populations – now-literate women and children – from the dangers of sex.
In Britain, the first Obscene Publications Act was also adopted around this time in an attempt to outlaw obscene works. The act was heavily criticized for basing literary standards on what’s moral for young readers and was difficult to enforce. “Literally, Lords got up and said what might be obscene to one person might not be obscene to another and how can we judge?” says Clarke.Back to top