Pornography and Race. Power, Politics and Profit Part One. A Little Experiment. In the early 1980’s Alice Mayall and Diana E.H. Russell went to several heterosexual pornographic stores in San Francisco’s bay area.
Power, Politics and Profit
In the early 1980’s Alice Mayall and Diana E.H. Russell went to several heterosexual pornographic stores in San Francisco’s bay area.
The question they had was to determine how race was view in pornography who was being portrayed as what and why.
They looked to see magazines, film, etc… and made a careful catalog of all of the observations and what it means in our society.
The issue was who was displayed, how and why. If men and women of more “ethnic” races were displayed was this related to racism.
The theory is since “white” is the standard of beauty in Western Culture, people of color fall into “special interest” categories that include bondage, toys etc…
Those covers that did display women of color used over 73% of the time African-American women (who displayed at least some “white” features—looked less “ethnic.”
The word “Bitch” is almost exclusively applied to black women in pornography with titles such as “Black bitches,” and “Bitch’s in Heat vol. 1-4.”
What this implies is that African-American women are most associated with animals.
“Where white women are depicted in pornography as ‘objects,’ Black women are depicted as animals. Where white women are at least depicted as human bodies if not beings, Black women are depicted as shit.”—Alice Walker
Feminist Scholar Tracy Gardner offers a further explanation for this dictomy by saying “I have noticed that while white men like Black women ‘looking baaad’ in leather and whips, Black men like Black women in bondage, helpless and submissive.”
The implications are clear that if we can hold pornography as a cultural lens for which to view what hasn’t changed about our culture, then racism as well as misogyny are still part of the culture we don’t speak about, the one we don’t address.
Animal Sex Among Black Women
Black Ghetto Teens
Candy’s Black Lover
Her New White Master
Seductive Black Bitch
Are either sweet young “lotus blossoms” or objects of bondage (usually it is extreme b bondage too).
In 1984 the artsy Penthouse magazine contained a nine page pictorial of Asian women with this self-description.
“…bund tightly with ropes cutting into their ankles, labias, wrists and buttocks.”
Mixed in with this were Haiku quotes and two of the photos showed Asian women bound and hanging from trees as if they were dead.
Japanese Sadist’s Dungeon
May Ling’s Master
Samurai Slave Girl
Teen Slaves of Saigon
Whips of Chinatown
Vietcong Rape Compound
This is a smaller genre, even smaller than Hispanic women, but it is definitely part of the racist power dynamic that underlines some of the pornography present.
Gestapo Bondage Brothel
Gestapo Lust Slave
Nazi Dungeon Slave
Sluts of the S.S.
Gestapo Training School
Nazi Slut Work Camp
Raped by Arab Terrorists
Maria’s first English Lesson
Sheik’s Hand Maiden
When it comes to race, the horrific past and extended historical periods of abuse are sexually stimulating in pornography at it’s worst.
At it’s best, some scholars argue that race in pornography serves a purpose—it is discussing (Albeit more crudely) the real issues we avoid discussing and ultimately we will know when people are equal in our society by the kind of pornography we produce.
Dorchen Leidholdt contends that “pornography contains a racial hierarchy in which women are rated as prized objects or despised objects according to their color.”
Hugh Hefner, publisher of Playboy magazine disagrees and claims that “that portraying women of color as sex objects to a predominantly white male readership is a radical development that shoes Playboy’s social conscience.”
Most of the examples in this experiment focus on extreme examples that are often special interest for reasons other than race. However, this is not to excuse the extreme racism nor is it justifying Hefner’s belief that now, we’re so enlightened, we will objectify all women equally. Women of color are now worthy of being objectified. Is that really progress?
Most Black activist consider pornography a “white market” and therefore a “white issue” they seem to be unconcerned with the extreme racism presented in extreme pornography.
Alice Walker refuses the term “feminist” because it implies fighting for the goals, needs and rights of white middle class women and neglects those of women of color, poor, different sexual orientation or those in the sex trade.
If you think about what mainstream feminism is concerned with, this makes an interesting concept.