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Updated: DECEMBER 21, 2021
Reviewed by Dr. Laura McGuire
on December 14, 2021

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.

More About Softcore

Softcore scenes are often carefully staged to make sure they show very little explicit imagery. Draped hair, clothing, or hands may cover body parts. Directors may position plants or drapery in front of the bodies. Camera angles will be carefully chosen to add to the mystery.

Due to their more acceptable nature, softcore films are less restricted than hardcore pornographic works. Softcore films can receive movie ratings, although they may get released without ratings. Some countries, such as Germany, allow teens to buy softcore content years before they can buy hardcore content. Adult filmmakers sometimes create softcore and hardcore versions of their films, with the softcore one featuring different camera angles. The softcore version can get sold to hotels for pay-per-view and in countries that restrict hardcore content.

What constitutes softcore pornography and the ways it differs from hardcore can be a matter of personal opinion. Someone who doesn't watch hardcore pornography may view some softcore works as hardcore. An individual who regularly consumes porn may feel that some porn in the hardcore category is actually softcore.

Despite its waning popularity, some people prefer consuming softcore content to hardcore content. Many people appreciate the sensuality and subtlety of softcore content. Softcore content can be more appealing to audiences looking for adult entertainment that presents loving relationships. As softcore movies are more plot-driven than most hardcore movies, they can also be more engaging. Sometimes these plots feel cliched or contrived, especially for older softcore content, but some fans say this only adds to the fun.

Viewing softcore pornographic content may be an alternative for people who worry about their consumption of hardcore porn. As softcore typically represents loving relationships, it is a more realistic type of adult content. People who do not enjoy hardcore porn may enjoy watching softcore porn with a partner to get aroused.


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