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The Porn You're Watching is Racist


Abstract

Racism in porn has been most apparent amongst the African-American community. The harsh reality is Black Women are minimized to their bare butox and vagina and Black Men are reduced to the size of their penises. Portrayed as beings with hypersexual behavior, African Americans have taken the stage as being the “butt of a bad joke”. What is worrisome is that black women and men have become seen as “less than human” in these pornographic images. This media, which is being watched at a staggering rate, affects the image of a community that is more than negative concepts. The idea is that the porn industry capitalizes off of racism and cliche beliefs by using them as narratives for their videos, pictures and promotions. It is important for these issues to be discussed and dissected so that stereotypical ideals are not seen as normal.


Introduction

It is said that Pornography dates back to the beginning of time. “In 2005, German archeologist Harald Stäuble uncovered a sculpture of what he described as the "oldest representation ever of a pornographic scene." It originated in about 7200 BCE and appeared to depict two figurines, a man and woman, having sexual intercourse. The sculpture also stands out for clearly showing the male figurine's genitalia.” (Head). 

Webroots states that approxamatly 200,000 people are classified as “sex addicts”. Surprisingly enough, sex in America is still a taboo to some. For those who do support porn, there has been a rising concern in the content that is published to these porn sites. Cracked states that “Ebony” is the #1 most searched word in the District of Columbia, #2 in Mississippi and #3 in North Carolina. It is clear to see that black bodies in the porn industry are highly demanded. While this may be a fact, the question arises: Why is ebony porn a high commodity and how does the industry use it to their advantage?

Engraved into the porn industry is evident racism that has caused a clear distinction in how black bodies are viewed in comparison to white bodies. This toxic media has played a role in how African-American woman and men are viewed in relation to sex. 


The Problem

There is a direct correlation between stereotypical ideals and how they are portrayed in the porn industry, specifically African-American people. Out of interest, I decided to search “Nigger” on the #1 widely used porn website, XVideos. With no surprise, this search presented 1,040 results. After searching “Black Slave”, the number of results came to a whopping 146,431 results.

“Again, while pornography certainly makes use of these themes, it did not invent them. The notion of black men and women as super-sexual beings and the intense focus on their body parts is rooted in the history of slavery.” (What’s Up With Porn). The problem is that there is an obvious lack of acknowledgement, a lack of action to fix the issues at hand and an absence of unification within the African-American community. Some of the concerns relate to stigmas and stereotypes attached to the African-American men and women. The harsh reality is that the porn industry capitalizes off of devaluing a group of human beings. 


Purpose

This topic is highly relevant to today's society and has been a problem for a while now. racism in porn is not solely an issue for African-Americans. This worldwide battle still yields solutions. Racism in the industry affects all people of different ethnicities, races, religions and genders. All things considered, because I am a black woman and this is a prominent issue within the A.A. community, the following will explain and support research in regards to the black community.. 


Black Women in the Porn Industry

The degradation of Black Women dates back further than you and I could imagine. The story of Sarah Bartman stands out when it comes to the sexualization of African-American bodies. Dating back to the 1800s Sarah Bartman was known for her steatopygia. Bartman was paraded around and showcased at a freak show in Europe because of her stature. She passed on December 29, 1815 but her legacy did not die. “Her brain, skeleton and sexual organs remained on display in a Paris museum until 1974. Her remains weren't repatriated and buried until 2002.” (Parkinson). Fast Forward to the 1900s, in America slavery was still prevelant. Black Women were used as objects for sexual exploitation and labeled in a negative fashion . Often reffered to as “Jezebles” black women were subjected to sexual abuse. “The Jezebel was depicted as a black woman with an insatiable appetite for sex.” (Dr. Pilgrim). While this is not justifyable, Dr. Pilgrim offers his opinion that the name was used as a rationalization for sexual relations between white men and black women. 

This type of exploitation still takes place in modern day America and it shows through in the content posted to porn sites. Porn sites use the Black Woman to illustrate racist narratives. Titles such as “Black slave girls pleasues white master and call herself ‘Nigger Whore’” and “Big Booty Ebony gets fucked at Popeyes” are published to highly used sites such as Pornhub and Xvideos.

The stigmas placed on black women make sex work complicated. How does a woman of color express her sexuality without being objectified and fetishized? 

Not only does this mistreatment show in the media but it translates into how Black Women are treated in the real world. Women in the industry face the hard decision: To continue to do the work they feel is liberating or stop working purely based off of the fact they they are targets in the industry . 


Black Men in the Porn Industry

The media disbursed for users to watch is highly racist against African-American men. It is 2019 and titles such as “Knocked up by Niggas” and “Black slave serving Southern Belle” are still posted for billions to see on Pornhub. When it comes to Black Men in the industry, the racism is more widely blatant.

It was with no surprise to find out that white actors have rights to turn away black actors if they feel it would affect their reputation. “Dr. Miller-Young elaborates: "Overwhelmingly, white actresses declining to do scenes with black men do so because they have been told by management or agents that it will decrease their value, or erotic capital, in the business. These producers and agents argue that fans often believe that white women become tainted when they have sex with black men."” (Strusiewicz)


Societal deficiencies in relations to Domestic Violence

Western society has objectified body parts of African American bodies. Oftentimes, stereotypes play a role in these invasive and disrespectful narratives. “The rumours of black men’s over-sized penises and black women’s out-of-control lust and hyper-sexual, bootylicious bodies developed in this racist context, and continue to circulate today, both in porn and everywhere else.” (What’s Up With Porn). According to Webroot, $3,075.64 is spent on pornography found on the internet. The industry profits off of ignorance and gives the scraps to black actors completing this degrading work. “According to Dr. Miller-Young: "African-American actresses are paid one half to three quarters of what white actresses earn for the same work.” (Cracked) 


Conclusion

To offer solutions for the issue of racism within the porn industry would be a start.  We can begin to acknowledge that the porn industry continues to capitalize off of negative stereotypes and pure racism. In order for that to happen the first step is to open avenues for black people to communicate about the inequalities within the industry. To clearly acknowledge that racism is the root of dysfunction in the industry will start productive conversation about how we could solve this issue. For a long time, we have strategically been placed to fail. Open dialogue about problems within the porn industry extremely important, but it is extremely necessary. Lastly, the African-American community needs to start defining what respect looks like. This way future generations will have something to live by. The problem with modern day society is that we’ve become complacent. We’ve become okay with content like this being pushed and this is unacceptable. By not feeding into these racist narratives, African-Americans can start constructing a healthy narrative when it comes to sex. 


Bibliography

Cezaryjanstrusiewicz. “5 Ways Porn Is Bizarrely Racist Behind The Scenes.” Cracked.com, Cracked.com, 20 Mar. 2016, https://www.cracked.com/personal-experiences-2208-going-black-hurts-your-career-5-examples-racism-in-porn.html

“Internet Pornography by the Numbers; A.” Cybersecurity & Threat Intelligence Services, https://www.webroot.com/us/en/resources/tips-articles/internet-pornography-by-the-numbers.

Mwansa, Natasha. “The Story Of Sarah Baartman & The Objectification Of Black Bodies.” Medium, The Establishment, 6 June 2018, https://medium.com/the-establishment/the-tragic-story-of-sarah-baartman-the-enduring-objectification-of-black-bodies-b310ef20c739.

Parkinson, Justin. “The Significance of Sarah Baartman.” BBC News, BBC, 7 Jan. 2016, https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-35240987.

“Porn and Racism.” What' s Up With Porn?, 4 Dec. 2012, https://whatsupwithporn.wordpress.com/understanding-representation/porn-and-racism/.

Smith, Andile, and Andile Smith. “Saartjie Sarah Baartman: 10 Astonishing Facts You Didn't Know About Her.” BuzzSouthAfrica, 24 Mar. 2018, https://buzzsouthafrica.com/sarah-baartman/.

“The Jezebel Stereotype.” The Jezebel Stereotype - Anti-Black Imagery - Jim Crow Museum - Ferris State University, https://www.ferris.edu/HTMLS/news/jimcrow/jezebel/index.htm.

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