Softcore is an adjective that describes anything that is a softer or gentler alternative to hardcore content. There is softcore music, softcore workouts and softcore sporting fans. In pornongraphy, softcore usually describes images and films that are sexual in nature, but not as explicit as hardcore pornographic works. The term softcore can also be shorthand for softcore pornography or softcore porn.
Softcore content places a greater emphasis on sensuality than sex. The models or actors in softcore content may never even touch another person. Instead, they may model lingerie or perform a sensual striptease for the camera. The camera aims to capture the beauty of the female or male form.
Softcore works can also show models or actors interacting sensually and sexually. Softcore works typically present these interactions in the context of loving relationships. They may spend more time kissing, embracing, or caressing one another than in hardcore works. Softcore works do not typically show actual penetration although the actors may simulate it.
While softcore content may show solo or mutual masturbation, it generally does not show oral sex or ejaculation. While the performers are often nude or semi-nude, softcore works usually do not show erect penises. If they do show erect penises, it’s unlikely that the aroused actor or costars would touch the erections. Vulvas may be shown, although they are sometimes digitally manipulated to suit local censorship standards. Softcore models and actors may wear latex genital covers to prevent intimate physical contact during simulated sex.
Like works that are hardcore, softcore content still aims to arouse its viewers. It was originally seen in men’s magazines of the 1950s when it was still considered unacceptable to show explicitly sexual images. While softcore images appeared earlier, The New York Times was the first publication to use the term softcore in 1966.
Softcore content was very popular from the 1970s to the 1990s. However, with the rise of free hardcore porn online, softcore porn has become less common.