A subtype of sexually explicit materials is erotica. Erotica can be either soft – or hardcore, but it is a distinct kind of pornography, regardless of how explicit the material is. The word erotica is rooted in eros, or "passionate love" (Steinem, 1998). Erotica consists of "depictions of sexuality which display mutuality, respect, affection, and a balance of power" (Stock, 1985, p. 13). Often, pornographic films directed by women are similar to those directed by men, but some women who have been involved in the making of sexually explicit materials have changed the themes of those materials (Sun et al., 2008; Milne, 2005). For example, Femme Productions’ hard-core adult films emphasize sensuality and women’s pleasure and assertiveness. Films such as Nina Hartley’s Guide to Better Cunnilingus and The Sluts and Goddesses Video Workshop promote the development and expression of women’s desire and arousal.
Is erotica appealing to women but not men? Not according to research on college students. The subjects, who were at least 21 years old, watched four video segments,
each of which represented different combinations of high versus low expressions of love and affection in conjunction with high versus moderate sexual explicitness (hard-core versus soft-core X-rated material). The study found that both male and female subjects rated most arousing the video that was both highly romantic, displaying love and affection, and highly sexually explicit. The researchers speculated that these results indicate that college-educated men and women have integrated love and affection with sexual arousal (Quackenbush et al., 1995). Another study of interviews with 150 men in the United States, Canada, and Europe found that men enjoyed pornography the most when men and women were equal participants or when men were recipients of female sexual assertion. For the men to enjoy watching the material, they consistently emphasized the importance of the women appearing to experience genuine pleasure (Loftus, 2002).