Open main menu

Obscenity

act or statement that offends the morality of the period
The 18th century book Fanny Hill has been subject to obscenity trials at various times (image: plate XI: The bathing party; La baignade)

Obscenity is a term that is used to describe words, images or actions that offend the sexual morality most people have or had at the time. The word is often used in a legal context. The word goes back to the Latin obscenus, which meant "foul, repulsive, or detestable".

Even though the word has been used with a sexual connotation for a long time, it can still have the meaning of "inspiring disgust", in expressions such as "obscene profits", "the obscenity of war", etc. It can simply be used to mean profanity, or it can mean anything that is taboo, indecent, abhorrent, or disgusting.

The definition of what is considered to obscene depends on the culture in which it is used. Different communities and individuals may have different ideas on what is obscene and what is not. The definition of what is considered obscene also changes with time. Things that were obscene at one time no longer are at another.

Many cultures have produced laws to define what is considered to be obscene. Censorship is often used to try to suppress or control materials that are obscene under these definitions: These usually include pornographic material.

Related pagesEdit