In our continuing commitment to being timely, today we honor Black History Month—by discussing the question of racism in pornography.
The criticism that pornography is racist comes from the Left—from publications like Ms., university departments of Women’s Studies, and groups who believe that all sex work is male violence against women.
Their current champion is author Gail Dines, whose recent book “Pornland” blames every one of America’s evils (except the Social Security mess) on pornography. In the chapter titled “Racy Sex, Sexy Racism!” she makes the nonsensical assertion that porn “racializes the bodies and sexual behavior of the performer” by noting dialogue like “Saxxx tried to clean herself up [but] she was still a low-down dirty ghetto ho! So I rammed her.” And she triumphantly cites video titles such as “Oh No! There’s a Negro in My Mom.”
Dines sounds like the kind of person who would say that the title “Animal House” denigrates college students, “The Sunshine Boys” denigrates old people, “Miss Saigon” denigrates Asians, and “Lawrence of Arabia” insults non-arabic Lawrences. For someone who claims to study culture, she is completely tone-deaf to the musical language of both film and sex.
Some have responded to these neo-Marxist, post-modernist critiques of pornography by noting the many empowered non-white directors and web mistresses. But that dignifies the “racism” argument and misses the point. Let’s get right down to the action.
In pornography today, men of color portray a variety of roles: aggressive, loving, playful, awestruck, horny. Mostly horny, just like white actors. And women of color do the same: they are, variously, submissive, dominant, demanding, and squealing with pleasure, just like white actresses.
Of course, if you want to see racial stereotypes in porn, you’ll find them with absolutely no effort: white women rammed with huge black erections. White men rammed with huge black erections. Black women thrilled to blow white musclemen. Black men mumbling like Snoop Dogg, black women with weaves and ridiculously long nails, Asian women with small breasts, Brazilian women with those round Brazilian butts, Latino men with more tattoos than their Jewish friends.
Considering that all these portrayals are simply vehicles for sexual fantasy, anyone who calls those racial stereotypes needs to look at their own racism, not the viewers’.
Because what these complaints are really about is that people of color are portrayed as sexual. If it’s bad to show a big Black penis sending a white woman into ecstasy, is it better to show a small Black penis doing the same? What about a Black penis—small or large—disappointing a woman, white or Hispanic? And if it’s racist to show a small Asian woman meekly submitting to a dominant white man, what about showing her demanding sex, shoving his face between her legs and barking, “I’ll let you know when it’s time to stop!” Is that less racist?
There are plenty of people who think that pornography—any pornography—is so bad that adults should be denied access to it. While this thinking is dangerous, simple-minded, and bad for America, there’s a purity to it that one can almost respect. But criticizing pornography—the representation of sexual fantasy—for its portrayal of race is intellectually dishonest. It’s emotion disguised as thought. It’s the willful misinterpretation of tropes and metaphors that porn viewers understand.
It’s the same old criticism—we shouldn’t gratify our sexual impulses outside authorized real-life relationships—dressed up in post-modernist rhetoric that disguises its prudery and rejection of sexuality.
Every porn actor and actress appears to be some race. Porn doesn’t do that, the human body does that. What sexual configuration of bodies that exhibit race can’t be construed as racist?
Show me pornography that includes actual sex, where the actors and actresses sweat and swear, all the orifices and organs get used, the average consumer gets off, and that can’t be attacked as racist. I say it doesn’t exist. Show it to me, and I’ll listen to an argument that today’s pornography is racist.
Until you can show me nasty, taboo, hot-monkey-love porn that can’t be called racist, I say the problem for the Gail Dines crowd is that it’s porn, not racist porn.
‘Fess up, honkies.