Interracial Porn: Holding Us Back While Getting Us Off? (Pt 1)

by Racialicious special correspondent Wendi Muse

I am by no means an expert on porn, nor do I pretend to be. Yet considering the volume of hits on xtube.com or youporn.com that could be traced back to my IP address, one would assume so. If not that, one would at least be able to mentally file away my name with all the other people in the “creepy” category. Some of you may be wondering about this new obsession of mine that has developed during my period of hiatus, but I can fortunately hold someone else partially responsible.

In November of 2007, Courtney, a contributing blogger for Feministing, reviewed a book aptly titled Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity by Robert Jensen. Much like fellow feminist theorist, the late Andrea Dworkin, Jensen considers pornography a visual manifestation of misogyny—hatred of women captured on film. With sexual arousal distracting the viewer, acts of violence and subjugation of women are interpreted through a different lens than, say, if they were portrayed minus the element of sex. Yet also like Dworkin, Jensen’s work borders on misandrist, stating as his major thesis that “If men are going to be full human beings, we first have to stop being men.” Using pornography as a microcosmic representation of the world as a whole, at least insofar as relationships between men and women are concerned, Jensen proposes that masculinity must be abandoned altogether as, in his opinion, it is inextricably linked to a world in which women are viewed as stupid, submissive, and deserving of abuse.

I agree with Courtney in her mention of the many loopholes within the book, in particular her comments regarding women who enjoy submission or even pain during sex. I also concur with regard to her discussion of images and scenarios within pornography playing out in real life. Many once-taboo subjects and sex acts, including, but not limited to, threesomes or multi-partner sex, anal sex, BDSM, and even the use and purchase of sex toys, have become mainstream. Porn is not entirely the culprit, but its proliferation has certainly aided Americans in their burgeoning sexual open-mindedness. With an orgasm only a click away, pornography has experienced a similar transformation to that of the music industry, with the creation of mp3s and pirate sites, and the film and tv industry, with the onslaught of youtube and bootleg dvds of sidewalk entrepreneurs.

After reading Courtney’s review of Getting Off (which you can read, in full, here) I wanted to take Jensen’s argument a bit further. Despite my disagreeing with him on some points, I felt that Jensen’s thoughts on gender roles in porn could be easily applied to the use of race in porn, particularly interracial porn. Following his thesis, in short, that masculinity by definition supports a system of misogyny, a characteristic clearly demonstrated in (straight) pornography, and the only way to progress beyond this conveyance of hatred toward women is to eradicate masculinity in its entirety, I came up with the following:

Race, at least in the terms that we define it presently, supports a system of hatred toward people of color, as demonstrated in (interracial) pornography, and the only way to progress beyond this conveyance of hatred toward people of color is to eradicate the use of race in its entirety.

The word “race” could easily be replaced with a term like “white supremacy,” but considering that several genres of interracial porn include couples of color (though considered different “races”), I felt it prudent to stick simply to “race,” as whites are not the only ones guilty of acting out on and consuming films related to such fantasies. Much like my research on Craigslist personal ads, I decided to search for films based on racial categories like “Latina,” “Asian,” “Black,” and “White.” Also, considering that there are several categories within each, I narrowed my search to nationalities and regions in some cases, searching for films based on categories like “Brazilian,” “Mexican,” “Chinese,” “Korean,” “African,” “Eastern European,” etc. The results were hard to stomach at times, but they were nothing short of the usual. My search provided me with a plethora of racial and regional stereotypes—all, of course, essential to one’s sexual prowess (or in some cases, lack thereof; the descriptions of “Mandingo” porn films often included a line about a white woman’s presumably white husband not being able to satisfy her).

The themes I uncovered were strikingly similar to those I enumerated in the Craigslist ad article, furthering my aforementioned statement on porn finding its way into real life, though with a few twists. For example, there were far more films with black women in submissive roles than I had expected, especially considering the stereotype of black women being incredibly domineering. Given, most of these films included multiple white male partners in a group sex scene, often with a description detailing the black woman’s sexual hunger, so the aspect of the stereotype regarding black female libidos was left in tact. Other deviations from the common stereotypes included black men in submissive roles (though these were more common in gay films regarding “homothugs” than in straight films). Also, bearing in mind that sites like youporn and xtube allow for the uploading of both professional and amateur films in full and clip form by members worldwide, certain American concepts of race had to be altered to accommodate more international ideas, for example “Asian” in England is a term representative of people of South Asian descent, whereas in the U.S., the term more commonly describes people from East Asia.

For the most part, however, despite the inclusion of porn uploaded from other parts of the world, racism was rampant in terms of stereotyping and essentialization. In accounting for the hundreds of hung black stallions, bored and docile white MILFs, barely legal, small-chested Asian “girls,” and desperate, sex-hungry Latinas longing for citizenship, I couldn’t help but wonder: if we rid ourselves of race, would porn like this exist? What would we even call racism at that point?

The hypothetical situation I posed above is clearly as far-fetched as Jensen’s advocacy of ending masculinity, but in the long run, especially with so many supporters of the eradication of race and the installation of colorblind institutions, could an erasure of race as we know it lead to an altering of our fantasies and their portrayal on screen?

To be continued next week . . .