How the Porn Industry Capitalizes Off of Racism and Racist Stereotypes

By KC

TRIGGER WARNING

The following post contains descriptions of porn videos and graphic scenarios.

When was the last time you heard about a porn studio getting shut down because of the offensive, harmful, or degrading content they promote? Never? We haven’t either.

There are plenty of reasons why the porn industry is dangerous and promotes harmful messages in society, but would you expect capitalizing off of racism to be one of those reasons?

Why does porn get a free pass?

Not long ago, international retail store H&M was condemned for a racially insensitive ad. There was a public outcry, boycotts, and celebrities spoke out about the racist message their ad promoted. And last month, the world’s largest porn site released the most watched porn categories of 2018, and racially stereotypical content topped the charts. But there was not the same kind of outrage or boycotting for this porn site, or any other porn site that hosts dramatization videos of “African slaves” (trigger warning: link leads to explicit tweet) being abused by powerful caucasian individuals, packaged as sexual entertainment.

The porn industry seems to get a free pass to promote endlessly harmful and abusive content in the name of sexual entertainment to anyone with an internet signal, and it’s a problem.

Think about it: if the average film or TV show had the same kind of discriminatory content that you see on mainstream porn sites (even skipping the hardcore content), you can bet that those studios would be shut down and condemned for promoting offensive and unwarranted stereotypes, or even glorifying racism.

According to former performer Vanessa Belmond, as a biracial performer, she experienced the racist core of the porn industry personally. Not only her, but also her boyfriend who is a person of color as well: “My boyfriend grew to hate doing porn, because he was constantly told to act more like a thug stereotype. He got passed up many times because he was not dark enough, and because he was uncomfortable being rough with women and calling them racist names. He wasn’t good at playing into the ‘scary black man’ persona, so directors went for the guys that could.”

If this happened on the set of a famous Netflix show, you’d probably hear about it, right?

Bold, in-your-face racism sells

“The racism of the industry is so pervasive that it goes largely unnoticed,” according to a report by Gail Dines and Robert Jensen (FTND note: this report focuses on political issues on which FTND has no position as a non-legislative organization). “In an interview with the producer of the DVD ‘Black Bros and Asian Ho’s,’ one of us asked if he ever was criticized for the racism of such films. He said, ‘No, they are very popular.’ We repeated the question: Popular, yes, but do people ever criticize the racism? He looked incredulous; the question apparently had never entered his mind.”

Up-market porn producers such as Vivid “use mainly white women” for their content, according to the Dines and Jensen report. The report also details how, “…the official face of pornography is overwhelmingly white. However, alongside this genre there exists more aggressive material in which women of color appear more frequently.” As one black woman in the industry told Dines and Jensen, “This is a racist business,” from how she is treated by producers, to pay differentials, to the day-to-day conversations she overhears on the set.

“People of color in this industry have few opportunities that are not tied to their race,” said one male performer about his own experience as a person of color in an interview with Mic.

This is content that’s easily accessible. On any mainstream porn site, it wouldn’t take long to stumble upon any number of racist titles that promote offensive and unwarranted ethnic and racial stereotypes. In a report titled Racism in Pornography, (trigger warning: link leads to explicit descriptions of porn) Alice Mayall and Diana E. H. Russell provide examples of blatantly racist titles including, “Animal Sex Among Black Women,” “Geisha’s Girls,” “Gang Banged by Blacks,” and the list goes on.

Dines and Jensen note that, “Pornography vendors have a special category, ‘interracial,’ which allows consumers to pursue the various combinations of racialized characters and racist scenarios.”

Isn’t it interesting how in porn, so many things are normalized that wouldn’t ever be tolerated in any other scenario?

Only tolerated because it’s porn

If you’ve been on social media in the last year, you’ve likely seen articles and posts denouncing racist statements from public figures or, at times, in popular brands’ advertisements.

But how many of the people who have denounced this kind of behavior have also unapologetically supported an industry that thrives off of promoting unjustified racial stereotypes—simply because society has normalized sexual entertainment that breaks the rules of what’s generally accepted, and called it porn?

As our fellow activist and friend Gail Dines has said, “All pornography uses sex as a vehicle to transmit messages about the legitimacy of racism and sexism. Hiding behind the façade of fantasy and harmless fun, pornography delivers reactionary racist stereotypes that would be considered unacceptable were they in any other types of mass-produced media. However, the power of pornography is that these messages have a long history and…continue to inform policies that economically, politically and socially discriminate against people of color.”

Let’s hold the porn industry accountable for the role it plays in promoting discrimination.

At Fight the New Drug, we are listening and we are fighting—are you with us?

The post How the Porn Industry Capitalizes Off of Racism and Racist Stereotypes appeared first on Fight the New Drug.