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How the Porn Industry Exploits and Misrepresents Black People

The porn industry has a troubling history of perpetuating, normalizing, and profiting from racism and racist stereotypes. Let’s discuss.

Trigger warning: This article contains explicit porn titles containing graphic and derogatory terms, reader discretion is heavily advised.

Some argue that porn is “just a fantasy,” but the porn industry’s troubling history of perpetuating, normalizing, and profiting from racism and racist stereotypes shows that “fantasy” still has the capacity to be deeply damaging and problematic. Let’s discuss.

A 2021 study analyzed videos from popular porn sites and found that videos featuring Black people perpetuate harmful racist stereotypes, disproportionately emphasize violence and aggression, and often depict Black people as “worse than objects.”Fritz, N., Malic, V., Paul, B. et al. Worse Than Objects: The Depiction of Black Women and Men and Their Sexual Relationship in Pornography. Gend. Issues 38, 100–120 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12147-020-09255-2COPY 

Related: How the Porn Industry Capitalizes Off of Racism and Racist Stereotypes

For example, these are real porn titles from popular porn sites:

  • “White Male Plantation Owner Forces Black Slave And Sex”
  • “A Lil Squirt for My Side N—r.”
  • “Black Thug Burglar F—s MILF Police Women for Freedom”
  • “Black Slave to Mate an African Girl in Chains”
  • “Juicy Butt Black Teen […] Gets F—ed by Aggressive BBC Thug”

Porn performers are often reduced exclusively to their race in the porn industry, with Black performers often being paid significantly less for the same work as their white scene partners. White performers often even earn bonuses just for doing a scene with a Black person. (Ohikuare, 2017)

As writer Yomi Adegoke puts it, “Sexual abuse at the hands of music managers is a scandal; in porn, it is seen as a hazard of the job. We chastise the film industry for racially stereotyping characters, but barely blink at the wildly racist caricatures in porn… as though sexual desire mitigates any type of responsibility.”

“Over the years, thanks in part to the civil rights activists, overt examples of racism that were once commonplace in mainstream media have become less acceptable. Yet, hidden behind the facade of fantasy and fun, porn delivers racist stereotypes that would be considered unacceptable were they in any form of mass-produced media.” –Carolyn M. West, Ph.D.

Related: This is How the Porn Industry Profits from Blatantly Racist Portrayals of Black People

Racism doesn’t suddenly become acceptable once it’s sexualized. It’s still racism, and it’s still not acceptable.

Fight against dehumanization. Fight against discrimination. Fight for love.

 

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