Sex has been around for ages, and porn has become well established in its own right. From the 1980s onward, porn became increasingly popular as a result of a number of favorable Supreme Court decisions and a generally more open-minded society. Advances in technology have greatly changed both the sex and porn industries greatly. Before the mass-market success of the videocassette in the late 1970s to early 1980s, porn was substantially less popular than it is now. After videocassettes revolutionized home movie viewing, however, adult entertainment companies were quick to take advantage, increasing the availability, variety, and popularity of porn.
The Internet has brought a whole new twist to the sex and porn saga. Now, both sex and porn are easily found on any number of adult-oriented websites. Online personals and Craigslist classifieds offer places for consenting adults to meet one another, and porn on the Internet abounds. Though producers of adult videos initially enjoyed booming online sales, the proliferation of free online video websites and file-sharing programs has led to the widespread availability of free porn, which is threatening the continued viability of subscription-based porn websites. On the other hand, online sales of sex toys and accessories have grown steadily, reflecting society's changing attitudes about sex and sexuality.
Though sex is widely recognized as a potentially risky activity, sex-related toys and accessories have been seen as safe alternatives to actual sex. Recently, however, concerns have been raised about the safety of the materials commonly used in the manufacture of sex toys. Comfort is a major concern for consumers, but cost has also been an important factor in their decision-making process. As a result, manufacturers have often resorted to using cheaper materials to make their products in an attempt to maintain competitive prices. Though manufacturers rarely disclose the exact composition of their products, one commonly used material is PVC. While PVC has not been shown to be toxic, chemicals known as phthalates are used in many sex toys to soften the normally-rigid PVC and provide a more realistic feel. Scientific data on the subject is somewhat scarce, but some studies have linked phthalates to infertility and even cancer. The lack of governmental regulation somewhat exacerbates this problem, as there is no agency in charge of regulating the manufacture of sex toys. Several manufacturers have promised to eliminate phthalates from their products, but the larger issue of whether phthalates pose a health risk or not is still up in the air, causing uncertainty and concern for customers.
Adult media producers and distributors