Dashiki Dialogues: The racial politics of porn

2011-07-01 12:14

Sex sells. That statement is probably truer than the one that says black people love their fried chicken. I mean chicken-cooking is not quite the oldest profession, is it?

But let me leave poultry for a bit. What I really want to talk about is porn. Yes, I know this is meant to be a Sunday read but come on, lighten up.

Adam and Eve have always been depicted in the nude, even on church walls. Some of that stuff is imagery for adult magazines if you ask me.

Anyway, very recently a friend of a friend set a cat among the pigeons after he asked a group of us what we thought about representations of race in pornography. In other words, what we thought of racism in porn?

What the hell? I mean what sort of creature gets cerebral about that stuff? Who sits with a thumb on his chin in full view of a nookie spectacle and goes “mmh, there certainly are racially insensitive inclinations here”, or “you know, this actually perpetuates negative racial stereotypes”?

Okay, pause. I guess we should declare here that yours truly agrees with the chorus that points out the misogyny and sexism inherent in this immoral dirt called porn, right?

Sure, I know that some of my female colleagues actually confessed to having enjoyed discovering this stuff early in their teens. Some say back at boarding school. They are probably a minority anyway, right?

But I found myself gobsmacked by the history of my acquaintance’s question after trawling the internet a bit.

One aspect of the debate involved Hustler founder Larry Flynt, where a blogger called Carly Sue argued how the porn mogul was a progressive guy because “black women were naked and spread-eagled in Hustler long before they were in Playboy”.

Now that’s special. I’ll understand if you’re shaking your head in disbelief right now.

So, when I went to a black female colleague to seek her counsel on the issue, she pounced: “And why must all black guys in porn always have epic schlongs, aren’t there normal-sized ones out there?”

Needless to say, I died.

But her exclamation wasn’t really flippant at all. Race-based role stereotyping in the service of pleasure is huge.

Titles like The Runaway Slave and the Master’s Wife or Oh No, There’s a Negro in my Mom! are just two examples.

I’m not sure how this affects our daily reality. But a fair dashiki dialogue should also cover men and women of colour who actively produce and manage their own pornographic product, not as victims but as active players, too, because some do.

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