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In at least 500 words, reflect upon your work over the course and the work you are now doing on your final project:

  • What have you learned in the course about representations of sex, love, and intimacy that you didn't know before?
  • How have the past few weeks contributed to your own ideas of what the future of intimacy can look like?
  • What information, frameworks, or issues do you think we must consider in order to have more supportive and liberated conversations around sexuality and intimacy? 

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Porn Studies ISSN: 2326-8743 (Print) 2326-8751 (Online) Journal homepage: https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rprn20 A sex worker perspective Filippa Fox To cite this article: Filippa Fox (2018) A sex worker perspective, Porn Studies, 5:2, 197-199, DOI: 10.1080/23268743.2018.1434111 To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/23268743.2018.1434111 Published online: 05 Mar 2018. Submit your article to this journal Article views: 246 View related articles View Crossmark data Citing articles: 1 View citing articles Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at https://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=rprn20 PORN STUDIES 2018, VOL. 5, NO. 2, 197–199 https://doi.org/10.1080/23268743.2018.1434111 FORUM A sex worker perspective Filippa Foxa,b a Sex worker, Australia; bMelbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Australia I write this article as a femme academic who works both in the public health sector and in the sex industry. Due to anti-sex work stigma in both academia and public health, I have chosen to author this article under a pseudonym. This act of self-erasure speaks to the epistemic injustice sex workers face in scholarly and policy dialogues about our health. My own understanding of epistemic injustice is drawn from the work of José Medina and Gaile Pohlhaus Jr, as well as Miranda Fricker (Fricker 2009; Medina 2011; Pohlhaus Jr 2012). The notion of epistemic injustice marks those ways in which we can be harmed in our capacity as knowers when communicating with others (Fricker 2009). Medina amends Fricker’s original account by arguing for a temporal understanding of durable epistemic injustices, using the term ‘dominant social imaginary’ to refer to the mainstream understanding of particular aspects of the world and the limits of that understanding. Durable epistemic injustices are those which occur when groups of marginalized persons fail to be recognized in the dominant social imaginary for long historical periods as subjects who can speak for themselves (Medina 2011). Pohlhaus Jr uses the term ‘wilful hermeneutical ignorance’ to describe how, despite epistemic resistance and knowledge production by marginally situated knowers, ‘dominantly situated knowers nonetheless continue to misunderstand and misinterpret the world’ (2012, 716). I am wearily familiar with the longstanding ideological coalition between the religious right and sex worker exclusionary radical feminism in the United States. Aziza Ahmed (2011) has written an excellent article on the history of this coalition and its impact on HIV/AIDS prevention and policy around the world. The current public health policies proposed by this coalition – exemplified by the longstanding anti-prostitution pledge preventing foreign non-governmental organizations from receiving US HIV/AIDS funding if they do not oppose ‘prostitution’ – make life considerably harder for those of us involved in the sex industry. At every turn, we are made invisible from dialogues about our own health and well-being. One of the most longstanding strategies of sex worker exclusionary radical feminism has been to insist on a causal relationship between pornography and violence against women, exemplified by Robin Morgan’s (1980) ‘Theory and Practice: Pornography and Rape’ and Andrea Dworkin’s (1980) ‘Beaver and Male Power in Pornography’. The small number of articles that serve as an evidence base for this myth have been discredited time and time again, and yet the myth itself endures as an all-too-effective discursive strategy for justifying the erasure of sex worker voices from public discourse. CONTACT Filippa Fox filippafoxx@gmail.com Health, University of Melbourne, Australia Sex worker, Australia; Melbourne School of Population and Global © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group 198 F. FOX We are understood as victims of violence whose knowledge is coerced and therefore untrustworthy. Those of us who refuse to be victims are seen instead as threats to the social order – illegitimate, criminal subjects unable to be assimilated into polite society. Our bodies are understood reductively as vectors of disease; either literally through unsubstantiated claims of heightened STI rates, or figuratively as agents of moral decay. To engage the services of sex workers or to consume the pornography we produce is seen as morally reprehensible. It is assumed that we are all cisgender women who exist in contrast to good wives and good mothers in monogamous, reproductive sexual relationships. We are seen as a threat to these relationships. Just as our bodies are believed to be infectious, we are believed to pollute the social environment, encouraging violence and undermining the heteronormative family unit. We are constructed both as helpless victims and as powerful manipulators of the social order. This construction of the sex worker subject did not arise with the coalition between the religious right and sex worker exclusionary radical feminism. It has been with us since at least the earliest stages of British imperialism exemplified by the 1864 Contagious Diseases Act in British-occupied India. In the dominant social imaginary, we have been understood for a long historical period as subjects unable to speak or reason for ourselves. It is because of this durable epistemic injustice that it does not occur to many non-sex workers that we have uniquely useful, nuanced, and plural perspectives on our own health and work. Although we actively resist, most non-sex workers continue to dismiss the epistemic resources we develop. They maintain their ignorance about our lives while simultaneously claiming to have expertise over them. For sex workers who experience compounding historical injustices, such as transfemme workers, Indigenous and First Nations workers, or Black workers, this ongoing exclusion from the dominant social imaginary is even more thorough and violent. The coalition between the religious right and sex worker exclusionary radical feminism in the United States is effective precisely because it can comfortably expect non-sex workers not to have access to sex worker perspectives. Non-sex workers who may not share the political orientation of the religious right may nevertheless find it easier to believe what the dominant social imaginary says about pornography than to seek out the epistemic resources developed by porn workers. Sex workers remain stigmatized and hidden from the dominant social imaginary in ways which make it hard for others to understand us as potential conversational partners with expert knowledge about our own lives. The social epistemological perspective I have traced here clarifies how the marginalization of sex workers makes possible the endurance of myths which are at odds with our lived experience. This perspective also clarifies the wilful failure of dominantly situated persons to use the epistemic resources we develop. Furthermore, the erasure of porn and other sex workers from the ongoing public dialogue about pornography and health prevents us from addressing the very real health crises which we do face. At present, I live and work in Australia in a jurisdiction where sex work is legalized and licensed. Unlicensed and non-compliant workers continue to face criminalization and punitive interference by the police. The Australian healthcare system provides adequate care to a greater proportion of marginalized people, including sex workers; nonetheless, sex work stigma regularly affects the quality of the care we receive. Mikey Way, Australian porn worker and activist, noted to me in conversation: PORN STUDIES 199 Medical practitioners here have no knowledge of the standard practices in the porn industry and often need to be taught them during medical appointments, effectively requiring us to out ourselves and place ourselves at risk of discriminatory behaviour. On top of that, many of the things we rely on as porn performers are under-researched – e.g., the effects of menstrual sponges on physical health, the impact of anal douches and enemas on health, harm minimization for [consensual] bareback sexual contact, and the success or lack thereof of a testing-based [STI] transmission prevention method. Much of what Mikey brought up has parallels in my own experience with other sectors of sex work: discriminatory behaviour on the part of health professionals, the requirement to educate doctors, incorrect diagnoses based on false assumptions about risk, and a dearth of evidence related to my needs and health practices as a worker. Many of us face even greater barriers accessing mental health care and finding providers who respect our occupation and do not assume, for example, that we are sex workers because we have experienced trauma, or that our work is the sole cause of our ill-health. American porn worker Andre Shakti (2017) addresses a number of similar points related to sex worker health in her excellent Rewire commentary ‘No One in the Porn Industry Likes a Broken Vagina’, including the lack of workplace protections, the difficulty of accessing private insurance in the United States as a sex worker, and the potential legal ramifications of disclosing sex worker status to health professionals. As a scholar, activist, and worker dedicated to improving sex worker access to appropriate and adequate healthcare, I find the language of pornography as a ‘public health crisis’ to be deeply and deliberately disingenuous. It is the latest strategy in a long history of epistemic injustice committed against sex workers. Because of the persistent erasure of porn and other sex workers from the public dialogue on pornography and health, it is difficult for us to join this conversation and use it is as a platform to improve our own occupational health and safety. I call this an erasure because I want to be clear that we are having ongoing conversations about our health. It is the responsibility of health professionals and policy-makers to listen to us. It is the responsibility of non-sex workers to exhibit epistemic humility and make an effort to understand and use the epistemic resources we create. Disclosure statement No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author. References Ahmed, Aziza. 2011. ‘Feminism, Power, and Sex Work in the Context of HIV/AIDS: Consequences for Women’s Health.’ Harvard Journal of Law and Gender 34: 226–258. Dworkin, Andrea. 1980. ‘Beaver and Male Power in Pornography.’ New Political Science 1 (4): 37–41. Fricker, Miranda. 2009. Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Medina, José. 2011. ‘The Relevance of Credibility Excess in a Proportional View of Epistemic Injustice: Differential Epistemic Authority and the Social Imaginary.’ Social Epistemology 25 (1): 15–35. Morgan, Robin. 1980. ‘Theory and Practice: Pornography and Rape.’ In Take Back the Night: Women on Pornography, edited by Laura Lederer, 134–140. New York: William Morrow. Pohlhaus Jr, Gaile. 2012. ‘Relational Knowing and Epistemic Injustice: Toward a Theory of Willful Hermeneutical Ignorance.’ Hypatia 27 (4): 715–735. Shakti, Andre. 2017. ‘No One in the Porn Industry Likes a Broken Vagina.’ Rewire. February 17. Accessed August 1, 2017. https://rewire.news/article/2017/02/17/no-one-porn-industry-likes-broken-vagina/. Introduction: The Politics of Producing Pleasure CONSTANCE PENLEY, CELINE PARREÑAS SHIMIZU, MIREILLE MILLER-YOUNG, and TRISTAN TAORMINO T he Feminist Porn Book is the first collection to bring together writings by feminist porn producers and feminist porn scholars to engage, challenge, and re-imagine pornography. As collaborating editors of this volume, we are three porn professors and one porn director who have had an energetic dialogue about feminist politics and pornography for years. In their criticism, feminist opponents of porn cast pornography as a monolithic medium and industry and make sweeping generalizations about its production, its workers, its consumers, and its effects on society. These antiporn feminists respond to feminist pornographers and feminist porn professors in several ways. They accuse us of deceiving ourselves and others about the nature of pornography; they claim we fail to look critically at any porn and hold up all porn as empowering. More typically, they simply dismiss out of hand our ability or authority to make it or study it. But The Feminist Porn Book offers arguments, facts, and histories that cannot be summarily rejected, by providing on-the-ground and well-researched accounts of the politics of producing pleasure. Our agenda is twofold: to explore the emergence and significance of a thriving feminist porn movement, and to gather some of the best new feminist scholarship on pornography. By putting our voices into conversation, this book sparks new thinking about the richness and complexity of porn as a genre and an industry in a way that helps us to appreciate the work that feminists in the porn industry are doing, both in the mainstream and on its countercultural edges. So to begin, we offer a broad definition of feminist porn, which will be fleshed out, debated, and examined in the pieces that follow. As both an established and emerging genre of pornography, feminist porn uses sexually explicit imagery to contest and complicate dominant representations of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, ability, age, body type, and other identity markers. It explores concepts of desire, agency, power, beauty, and pleasure at their most confounding and difficult, including pleasure within and across inequality, in the face of injustice, and against the limits of gender hierarchy and both heteronormativity and homo- 10 INTRODUCTION normativity. It seeks to unsettle conventional definitions of sex, and expand the language of sex as an erotic activity, an expression of identity, a power exchange, a cultural commodity, and even a new politics. Feminist porn creates alternative images and develops its own aesthetics and iconography to expand established sexual norms and discourses. It evolved out of and incorporates elements from the genres of “porn for women,” “couples porn,” and lesbian porn as well as feminist photography, performance art, and experimental filmmaking. It does not assume a singular female viewer, but acknowledges multiple female (and other) viewers with many different preferences. Feminist porn makers emphasize the importance of their labor practices in production and their treatment of performers/sex workers; in contrast to norms in the mainstream sectors of the adult entertainment industry, they strive to create a fair, safe, ethical, consensual work environment and often create imagery through collaboration with their subjects. Ultimately, feminist porn considers sexual representation—and its production—a site for resistance, intervention, and change. The concept of feminist porn is rooted in the 1980s—the height of the feminist porn wars in the United States. The porn wars (also known as the sex wars) emerged out of a debate between feminists about the role of sexualized representation in society and grew into a full-scale divide that has lasted over three decades. In the heyday of the women’s movement in the United States, a broad-based, grassroots activist struggle over the proliferation of misogynistic and violent representations in corporate media was superceded by an effort focused specifically on legally banning the most explicit, and seemingly most sexist, media: pornography. Employing Robin Morgan’s slogan, “Porn is the theory, rape is the practice,” antipornography feminists argued that pornography amounted to the commodification of rape. As a group called Women Against Pornography (WAP) began to organize in earnest to ban obscenity across the nation, other feminists, such as Lisa Duggan, Nan D. Hunter, Kate Ellis, and Carol Vance became vocal critics of what they viewed as WAP’s illconceived collusion with a sexually conservative Reagan administration and Christian Right, and their warping of feminist activism into a moral hygiene or public decency movement. Regarding antiporn feminism as a huge setback for the feminist struggle to empower women and sexual minorities, an energetic community of sex worker and sex-radical activists joined anticensorship and sex-positive feminists to build the foundation for the feminist porn movement.1 The years that led up to the feminist porn wars are often referred to as the “golden age of porn,” a period from the early 1970s to the early 1980s, INTRODUCTION 11 marked by large budget, high-production-value feature films that were theatrically released. A group of female porn performers who worked during the golden age—including Annie Sprinkle, Veronica Vera, Candida Royalle, Gloria Leonard, and Veronica Hart—formed a support group (the first of its kind) called Club 90 in New York City. In 1984, the feminist arts collective Carnival Knowledge asked Club 90 to participate in a festival called The Second Coming, and explore the question, “Is there a feminist pornography?”2 It is one of the first documented times when feminists publicly posed and examined this critical query. That same year, Club 90 member Candida Royalle founded Femme Productions to create a new genre: porn from a woman’s point of view.3 Her films focused on storylines, high production values, female pleasure, and romance. In San Francisco, publishers Myrna Elana and Deborah Sundahl, along with Nan Kinney and Susie Bright, co-founded On Our Backs, the first porn magazine by and for lesbians. A year later, Kinney and Sundahl started Fatale Video to produce and distribute lesbian porn movies that expanded the mission that On Our Backs began.4 In the mainstream adult industry, performer and registered nurse Nina Hartley began producing and starring in a line of sex education videos for Adam and Eve, with her first two titles released in 1984. A parallel movement began to emerge throughout Europe in the 1980s and 90s.5 By the 1990s, Royalle and Hartley’s success had made an impact on the mainstream adult industry. Major studios, including Vivid, VCA, and Wicked, began producing their own lines of couples porn that reflected Royalle’s vision and generally followed a formula of softer, gentler, more romantic porn with storylines and high production values. The growth of the “couples porn” genre signified a shift in the industry: female desire and viewership were finally acknowledged, if narrowly defined. This provided more selection for female viewers and more opportunities for women to direct mainstream heterosexual films, including Veronica Hart and Kelly Holland (a.k.a. Toni English). Independent, lesbianproduced lesbian porn grew at a slower pace, but Fatale Video (which continued to produce new films until the mid-1990s) finally had some company in its micro-genre with work by Annie Sprinkle, Maria Beatty, and Shar Rednour and Jackie Strano. Sprinkle also made the first porn film to feature a trans man, and Christopher Lee followed with a film starring an entire cast of trans men.6 In the early 2000s, feminist porn began to take hold in the United States with the emergence of filmmakers who specifically identified themselves and/or their work as feminist including Buck Angel, Dana Dane, Shine Louise Houston, Courtney Trouble, Madison Young, and 12 INTRODUCTION Tristan Taormino. Simultaneously, feminist filmmakers in Europe began to gain notoriety for their porn and sexually explicit independent films, including Erika Lust in Spain; Anna Span and Petra Joy in the UK; Emilie Jouvet, Virginie Despentes, and Taiwan-born Shu Lea Cheang in France; and Mia Engberg, who created a compilation of feminist porn shorts that was famously funded by the Swedish government. The modern feminist porn movement gained tremendous ground in 2006 with the creation of The Feminist Porn Awards (FPAs). Chanelle Gallant and other staffers at sex-positive sex toy shop Good for Her in Toronto created the awards, which were open to films that met one or more of the following criteria: (1) A woman had a hand in the production, writing, direction, etc. of the work; (2) It depicts genuine female pleasure; and/or (3) It expands the boundaries of sexual representation on film and challenges stereotypes that are often found in mainstream porn. And of course, it has to be hot! Overall, Feminist Porn Award winners tend to show movies that consider a female viewer from start to finish. This means that you are more likely to see active desire and consent, real orgasms, and women taking control of their own fantasies (even when that fantasy is to hand over that control).7 These criteria simultaneously assumed and announced a viewership, an authorship, an industry, and a collective consciousness. Embedded in the description is a female viewer and what she likely wants to see—active desire, consent, real orgasms, power, and agency—and doesn’t want to see: passivity, stereotypes, coercion, or fake orgasms. The language is broad enough so as not to be prescriptive, yet it places value on agency and authenticity, with a parenthetical nod to the possibility that not every woman’s fantasy is to be “in control.” While the guidelines notably focus on a woman’s involvement in production, honored filmmakers run the gamut from self-identified feminist pornographers to independent female directors to mainstream porn producers; the broad criteria achieve a certain level of inclusiveness and acknowledge that a range of work can be read by audiences, critics, and academics as feminist. The FPA ceremony attracts and honors filmmakers from around the world, and each year since its inception, every aspect of the event has grown, from the number of films submitted to the number of attendees. The FPAs have raised awareness about feminist porn among a wider audience and helped coalesce a community of filmmakers, performers, and fans; they highlight an industry within an industry, and, in the process, nurture this growing movement. In 2009, Dr. Laura Méritt (Berlin) cre- INTRODUCTION 13 ated the PorYes campaign and the European Feminist Porn Award modeled on the FPAs. Because the movement has had the most momentum in Europe and North America, this volume concentrates on the scholarship and films of Western nations. We acknowledge this limitation: for feminist porn to be a global project, more would need to be done to include non-Western scholars and pornographers in the conversation. The work we do now, as scholars and producers, could not exist without early examinations of the history and context of pornography, including Caught Looking: Feminism, Pornography and Censorship by FACT, the Feminist Anti-Censorship Task Force. Linda Williams’s groundbreaking 1989 Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the “Frenzy of the Visible” opened the door for feminist scholars to productively examine pornography as film and popular culture, as a genre and industry, textually, historically, and sociologically. Laura Kipnis’s 1996 Bound and Gagged: Pornography and the Politics of Fantasy in America made the strongest possible case that “the differences between pornography and other forms of culture are less meaningful than their similarities.”8 Jane Juffer’s 1996 At Home with Pornography: Women, Sex, and Everyday Life urged us to pay close attention not just to the hardcore porn typically consumed by men but to the uses of pornography in the daily lives of ordinary women. Since 1974 the film magazine Jump Cut has published more original scholarship on porn from a pro-sex, anticensorship perspective than any other media journal and by leading figures in the field, including Chuck Kleinhans, Linda Williams, Laura Kipnis, Richard Dyer, Thomas Waugh, Eithne Johnson, Eric Schaefer, Peter Lehman, Robert Eberwein, and Joanna Russ. More recently, Drucilla Cornell’s Feminism and Pornography, Linda Williams’s Porn Studies, and Pamela Church Gibson’s More Dirty Looks: Gender, Pornography and Power cemented the value of porn scholarship.9 The Feminist Porn Book seeks to further that scholarship by adding a significant, valuable component: feminists creating pornography. In this book, we identify a forty-year-long movement of thinkers, viewers, and makers, grounded in their desire to use pornography to explore new sexualities in representation. The work we have collected here defies other feminist conceptions of sexuality on screen as forever marked by a threat. That threat is the specter of violence against women, which is the primary way that pornography has come to be seen. Claiming that explicit sexual representations are nothing but gender oppression means that pornography’s portrayal of explicit sex acts is a form of absolute discipline and subjugation for women. Within this frame, women who watch, study, or work in pornography bear the mark of 14 INTRODUCTION false consciousness—as if they dabble in fire while ignoring the risk of burning. The overwhelming popularity of women’s erotic literature, illustrated by the recent worldwide best seller, Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James, and the flourishing women’s fan fiction community from which it emerged, proves that there is great demand among women for explicit sexual representations. Millions of female readers embraced the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy—which follows a young woman who becomes the submissive sexual partner to a dominant man—not for its depiction of oppression, but for its exploration of erotic freedom. Women-authored erotica and pornography speaks to fantasies women actually have, fantasies that are located in a world where women must negotiate power constantly, including in their imaginations and desires. As with the criteria for winning a Feminist Porn Award, these books and the feminist porn movement show that “women are taking control of their own fantasies (even when that fantasy is to hand over control).” With the emergence of new technologies that allow more people than ever to both create and consume pornography, the moral panic-driven fears of porn are ratcheted up once again. Society’s dread of women who own their desire, and use it in ways that confound expectations of proper female sexuality, persists. As Gayle Rubin shows, “Modern Western societies appraise sex acts according to a hierarchical system of sexual value.”10 Rubin maps this system as one where “the charmed circle” is perpetually threatened by the “outer limits” or those who fall out of the bounds of the acceptable. On the bottom of this hierarchy are sexual acts and identities outside heterosexuality, marriage, monogamy, and reproduction. She argues that this hierarchy exists so as to justify the privileging of normative and constricted sexualities and the denigration and punishment of the “sexual rabble.”11 The Feminist Porn Book showcases precisely these punishable sex acts and identities that are outside of the charmed circle and proudly sides with the sexual rabble. Spotlighting the numerous ways people confront the power of sexuality, this book paves the way for exploring the varieties of what were previously dismissed as perversities. At the same time, feminist porn can also expose what passes for “normal” sexuality at the center of that charmed circle. One of the unfortunate results of the porn wars was the fixing of an antiporn camp versus a sex-positive/pro-porn camp. On one side, a capital P “Pornography” was a visual embodiment of the patriarchy and violence against women. On the other, Porn was defended as “speech,” or as a form that should not be foreclosed because it might some day be transformed into a vehicle for women’s erotic expression. The nuances INTRODUCTION 15 and complexities of actual lowercase “pornographies” were lost in the middle. For example, sex-positive thinking does not always accommodate the ways in which women are constrained by sexuality. But the problem with antipornography’s assumption that sex is inherently oppressive to women—that women are debased when they have sex on camera—ignores and represses the sexuality of women. Hence, for us, sex-positive feminist porn does not mean that sex is always a ribbon-tied box of happiness and joy. Instead, feminist porn captures the struggle to define, understand, and locate one’s sexuality. It recognizes the importance of deferring judgment about the significance of sex in intimate and social relations, and of not presuming what sex means for specific people. Feminist porn explores sexual ideas and acts that may be fraught, confounding, and deeply disturbing to some, and liberating and empowering to others. What we see at work here are competing definitions of sexuality that expose the power of sexuality in all of its unruliness. Because feminist porn acknowledges that identities are socially situated and that sexuality has the power to discipline, punish, and subjugate, that unruliness may involve producing images that seem oppressive, degrading, or violent. Feminist porn does not shy away from the darker shades of women’s fantasies. It creates a space for realizing the contradictory ways in which our fantasies do not always line up with our politics or ideas of who we think we are. As Tom Waugh argues, participation in pornography, in his case as spectator, can be a “process of social identity formation.”12 Indeed, social identities and ideas are formed in the act of viewing porn, but also in making and writing about it. Strongly influenced by other social movements in the realm of sexuality, like the sex-positive, LGBT rights, and sex workers’ rights movements, feminist porn aims to build community, to expand liberal views on gender and sexuality, and to educate and empower performers and audiences. It favors fair, ethical working conditions for sex workers and the inclusion of underrepresented identities and practices. Feminist porn vigorously challenges the hegemonic depictions of gender, sex roles, and the pleasure and power of mainstream porn. It also challenges the antiporn feminist interpretive framework for pornography as bankrupt of progressive sexual politics. As a budding movement, it promotes aesthetic and ethical practices that intervene in dominant sexual representation and mobilize a collective vision for change. This erotic activism, while in no way homogeneous or consistent, works within and against the marketplace to imagine new ways to envision gender and sexuality in our culture. But feminist porn is not only an emergent social movement and an 16 INTRODUCTION alternative cultural production: it is a genre of media made for profit. Part of a multibillion dollar business in adult entertainment media, feminist porn is an industry within an industry. Some feminist porn is produced independently, often created and marketed by and for underrepresented minorities like lesbians, transgender folks, and people of color. But feminist porn is also produced within the mainstream adult industry by feminists whose work is funded and distributed by large companies such as Vivid Entertainment, Adam and Eve, and Evil Angel Productions. As outliers or insiders (or both) to the mainstream industry, feminists have adapted different strategies for subverting dominant pornographic norms and tropes. Some reject nearly all elements of a typical adult film, from structure to aesthetics, while others tweak the standard formula (from “foreplay” to “cum shot”) to reposition and prioritize female sexual agency. Although feminist porn makers define their work as distinct from mainstream porn, it is nonetheless viewed by a range of people, including people who identify as feminist and specifically seek it out, as well as other viewers who don’t. Feminist porn is gaining momentum and visibility as a market and a movement. This movement is made up of performers turned directors, independent queer producers, politicized sex workers, porn geeks and bloggers, and radical sex educators. These are the voices found here. This is the perfect time for The Feminist Porn Book. In this book, we place academics alongside and in conversation with sex industry workers to bridge the divide between rigorous research and critique, and real world challenges and interventions. In Jill Nagle’s seminal work Whores and Other Feminists, she announced, “This time . . . sex worker feminists speak not as guests, nor as disgruntled exiles, but as insiders to feminism.”13 As in Nagle’s collection, here those working in the porn industry speak for themselves, and their narratives illuminate their complicated experiences, contradict one another, and expose the damaging one-dimensional rhetoric of the antiporn feminist resurgence. Like feminist porn itself, the diverse voices in this collection challenge entrenched, divisive dichotomies of academic and popular, scholar and sex worker, pornographer and feminist. In the first section of the book, Making Porn, Debating Porn, feminist porn pioneers Betty Dodson, Candida Royalle, and Susie Bright give a grounded history of feminist porn as it emerged in the 1980s in response to the limiting sexual imagination of both mainstream porn and antiporn feminism. Providing a window into the generative and deeply contested period of the sex wars, these feminist pornographers highlight the stakes and energies surrounding the birth of feminist porn activism in INTRODUCTION 17 the face of an antiporn feminism that ignored, misunderstood, or vilified them and their efforts. Bright’s account of watching her first porn film, sitting among suspicious men in a dark adult theater, sets the stage for how the invention of the VHS player shifted women’s consumption of porn and dramatically changed the marketplace. In the last decade, a new war on porn has been resurrected and redefined by Gail Dines, Sheila Jeffries, Karen Boyle, Pamela Paul, Robert Jensen, and others. Feona Attwood and Clarissa Smith show how this resurgent antiporn movement resists theory and evidence, and tendentiously reframes the production and consumption of porn as a mode of sex trafficking, a form of addiction, or a public health problem of epidemic proportions. Attwood and Smith’s work powerfully exposes how feminist porn remains challenged and often censored in contemporary popular discourse. Lynn Comella focuses on the consequences of pornography going public. She examines one of the most significant elements of the emergence of feminist porn: the growth of sex-positive, women-owned-and-run sex shops and a grassroots sex education movement that create space for women to produce, find, and consume new kinds of pornography. Watching and Being Watched examines how desire and agency inform pornographic performance, representation, and spectatorship. Sinnamon Love and Mireille Miller-Young explore the complex position of African American women as they watch, critique, and create representations of black women’s sexuality. Dylan Ryan and Jane Ward take up the concept of authenticity in porn: what it means, how it’s read, and why it is (or is not) crucial to feminist porn performance and spectatorship. Ingrid Ryberg looks at how public screenings of queer, feminist, and lesbian porn can create spaces for sexual empowerment. Tobi Hill-Meyer complicates Ryberg’s analysis by documenting who, until very recently, was left out of these spaces: trans women. Keiko Lane echoes Ryberg’s argument of the radical potential of queer and feminist porn and offers it as a tool for understanding and expressing desire among marginalized communities. The intersection of feminist porn as pedagogy and feminist pedagogies of porn is highlighted in Doing It In School. As porn scholars, Constance Penley and Ariane Cruz grapple with teaching and studying porn from two very different perspectives. Kevin Heffernan offers a history of sex instruction in film and contrasts it with work from Nina Hartley and Tristan Taormino in educational porn movies. Hartley discusses how she has used porn to teach throughout her twenty-five-plus years in the industry, and Taormino outlines her practice as a feminist pornographer 18 INTRODUCTION offering organic, fair-trade porn that takes into account the labor of its workers. Performer Danny Wylde documents his personal experiences with power, consent, and exploitation against a backdrop of antiporn rhetoric. Lorelei Lee offers a powerful manifesto that demands we all become better students in order to achieve a more nuanced, discerning, and thoughtful discourse about porn and sex. Now Playing: Feminist Porn takes up questions of hypercorporeality, genderqueerness, transfemininity, feminized masculinity, transgressive racial performance, and disability. Jiz Lee discusses how they (Lee’s favored gender-neutral pronoun) use their transgressive female body and genderqueer identity to defy categories. April Flores describes herself as “a fat Latina with pale skin, tattoos, and fire engine red hair,” and gives her unique take on being (and not being) a Big Beautiful Woman (BBW) performer. Bobby Noble explores the role of trans men and the interrogation of masculinities in feminist porn, while renowned trans male performer Buck Angel explodes sex/gender dichotomies by embodying his identity of a man with a vagina. Also concerned with the complex representation and performance of manhood in feminist pornography, Celine Parreñas Shimizu asks how race shapes the work of straight Asian male performer Keni Styles. Loree Erickson, a feminist pornographer and PhD candidate, represents not only a convergence of scholarship and sex work, but one of the most overlooked subjects in pornography and one de-eroticized in society: “queer femmegimp.” Emerging to speak from group identities previously missing or misnamed, the pieces in this section are by people who show the beauty of their desires, give shape to their realities, reject and reclaim attributions made by others, and describe how they create sexual worlds that denounce inequality. Throughout the book, we explore the multiple definitions of feminist porn, but we refuse to fix its boundaries. Feminist porn is a genre and a political vision. And like other genres of film and media, feminist porn shares common themes, aesthetics, and goals even though its parameters are not clearly demarcated. Because it is born out of a feminism that is not one thing but a living, breathing, moving creation, it is necessarily contested—an argument, a polemic, and a debate. Because it is both genre and practice, we must engage it as both: by reading and analyzing its cultural texts and examining the ideals, intentions, and experiences of its producers. In doing so, we offer an alternative to unsubstantiated oversimplifications and patronizing rhetoric. We acknowledge the complexities of watching, creating, and analyzing pornographies. And we believe in the radical potential of feminist porn to transform sexual representation and the way we live our sexualities. INTRODUCTION 19 Notes 1. Robin Morgan, “Theory and Practice: Pornography and Rape,” in Take Back the Night, ed. Laura Lederer (New York: William Morrow, 1980), 139. On the porn wars or sex wars, see Carolyn Bronstein, Battling Pornography: The American Feminist Antipornography Movement, 1976–1986 (Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 2011); Lisa Duggan and Nan D. Hunter, Sex Wars: Sexual Dissent and Political Culture (New York: Routledge, 1995); Carole Vance, ed. Pleasure and Danger: Exploring Female Sexuality (Boston and London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984); Pamela Church Gibson and Roma Gibson, eds., Dirty Looks: Women, Pornography and Power (London: British Film Institute, 1993); and the documentary film by Harriet Koskoff, Patently Offensive: Porn Under Siege (1991). 2. Annie Sprinkle, Post-Porn Modernist: My 25 Years as a Multimedia Whore (San Francisco: Cleis Press, 1998), 149–51. 3. Annette Fuentes and Margaret Schrage, “Deep Inside Porn Stars,” Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media 32 (1987): 41–43, http://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/ onlinessays/JC32folder/PornWomenInt.html. 4. Susie Bright, Big Sex, Little Death: A Memoir (Berkeley: Seal Press, 2011) and Susie Bright, “A History Of On Our Backs: Entertainment for the Adventurous Lesbian, The Original: 1984–1990,” http://susiebright.blogs.com/History_of_OOB.pdf. See also, “About Fatale Media,” accessed September 5, 2011, http://www.fatalemedia. com/about.html. 5. Feminists in Europe who used sexually explicit photography and film to explore themes like female pleasure, S/M, bondage, gender roles, and queer desire include Monika Treut (Germany), Cleo Uebelmann (Switzerland), Krista Beinstein (Germany and Austria), and Della Grace (England). In 1998, Danish film production company Zentropa wrote the Puzzy Power Manifesto that outlined its guidelines for a new line of porn for women, which echoed Royalle’s vision: their films included plot-driven narratives that depicted foreplay and emotional connection, women’s pleasure and desire, and male and female bodies beyond just their genitals. See Laura Merrit, “PorYes! The European Feminist Porn Movement,” [unpublished manuscript] and Zentropa, “The Manifesto,” accessed January 29, 2012, http://www. puzzypower.dk/UK/index.php/om-os/manifest. 6. In addition, we must acknowledge the early work of Sachi Hamano, the first woman to direct “pink films” (Japanese softcore porn). Hamano directed more than three hundred in the 1980s and 90s in order to portray women’s sexual power and agency, and challenge the representation of women as sex objects only present to fulfill men’s fantasies. See Virginie Sélavy, “Interview with Sachi Hamano,” December 1, 2009, http://www.electricsheepmagazine.co.uk/features/2009/12/01/interviewwith-sachi-hamano/. 7. Feminist Porn Awards, accessed September 5, 2011, http://goodforher.com/ feminist_porn_awards. 8. Laura Kipnis, Bound and Gagged: Pornography and the Politics of Fantasy in America (New York: Grove Press, 1996), viii. 9. See Feminist Anti-Censorship Task Force, Caught Looking: Feminism, Pornography and Censorship, 3rd ed. (New Haven, CT: LongRiver Books, [1986] 1992); Linda Williams, Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the “Frenzy of the Visible” (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989); Jane Juffer, At Home with Pornography: Women, Sex, and Everyday Life (New York: NYU Press, 1998); Jump Cut: A Review 20 INTRODUCTION of Contemporary Media, eds. Julia Lesage, Chuck Kleinhans, John Hess (http://www. ejumpcut.org); Drucilla Cornell, ed., Feminism and Pornography (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000); Linda Williams, ed., Porn Studies (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004); and Pamela Church Gibson, ed., More Dirty Looks: Gender, Pornography and Power (London: British Film Institute, 2004). 10. Gayle Rubin, “Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality,” in Pleasure and Danger: Exploring Female Sexuality, ed. Carole S. Vance (Boston and London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984), 279. 11. Rubin, “Thinking Sex,” 280. 12. Tom Waugh, “ Homoerotic Representation in the Stag Film 1920–1940: Imagining An Audience,” Wide Angle 14, no. 2 (1992): 4. 13. Jill Nagle, ed., Whores and Other Feminists (New York and London: Routledge, 1997), 3. Emphasis in original text. Introduction Brown Sugar Theorizing Black Women’s Sexual Labor in Pornography You are not supposed to talk about liking sex because you are already assumed to be a whore.—JEANNIE PEPPER In a private gathering following the East Coast Video Show in Atlantic City in 2002, legendary performer Jeannie Pepper received a special achievement award for twenty years in the porn industry, the longest career for any black adult actress. “It’s been a long, hard road,” she said to the audience of adult entertainment performers, insiders, and fans as she accepted the award from popular adult film actor Ron Jeremy. “There weren’t many black women in the business when I started.”1 In 1982, when Jeannie Pepper began her career as an actress in X-rated films, there were few black women in the adult film industry. Performing in more than two hundred films over three decades, Jeannie broke barriers to achieve porn star status and opened doors for other women of color to follow.2 She played iconic roles as the naughty maid, the erotically possessed “voodoo girl,” and the incestuous sister in films like Guess Who Came at Dinner?, Let Me Tell Ya ’Bout Black Chicks, and Black Taboo. She traveled abroad as a celebrity, working and living in Germany for seven years. In a career that spanned the rise of video, DVD, and the Internet, Jeannie watched the pornography business transform from a quasi-licit cottage industry into a sophisticated, transnational, and corporate-dominated industry. In 1997 Jeannie was the first African American porn actress to be inducted into the honored Adult Video News (AVN) Hall of Fame. By all accounts, Jeannie had an exceptionally long and successful career for an adult actress: she was well liked by her colleagues, and was a mentor to young women new to the porn business. Yet, as her acceptance speech reveals, her experience of being a black woman in the porn industry was shaped by formidable challenges. As in other occupations in the United States, black women in the adult FIGURE I.1. Jeannie Pepper during her tour of Europe, Cannes, France, 1986. Courtesy of JohnDragon.com. FIGURE I.2. Jeannie Pepper poses in the nude before onlookers outside of the Carlton Hotel, Cannes, France, 1986. Courtesy of JohnDragon.com. film industry are devalued workers who confront systemic marginalization and discrimination. Jeannie became a nude model and adult film actress in her twenties because she enjoyed watching pornography and having sex, and she was keen to become a path-maker in an industry with few black female stars: “I just wanted to show the world. Look, I’m black and I’m beautiful. How come there are not more black women doing this?”3 She felt especially beautiful when in 1986 she did a photo shoot with her photographer husband, a German expatriate known as John Dragon, on the streets of Paris. Dressed only in a white fur coat and heels, Jeannie walked around, posing in front of the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, cafés, luxury cars, and shops. Coyly allowing her coat to drape open (or off altogether) at opportune moments, she drew the attention of tourists and residents alike. She imagined herself as Josephine Baker, admired in a strange new city for her beauty, class, and grace. Finding esteem and fearlessness in showing the world her blackness and beauty, even in the cityscapes of Paris, Hamburg, or Rome, Jeannie felt she embodied an emancipated black female sexuality. Still, she remained conscious of the dual pressures of needing to fight for recognition and opportunity in the adult business, especially in the United States, and having to defend her choice to pursue sex work as a black woman.4 BROWN SUGAR 3 As Jeannie asserts in the epigraph, she perceived that part of the difficulty of being a professional “whore”—in photographs and films—was the expectation that she was not supposed to talk about or inhabit her sexuality in ways that would seem to exacerbate harmful stereotypes about black women, namely their alleged hypersexuality. Black women sexual performers and workers have had to confront a prevailing stigma: if all black women are considered to be sexually deviant, then those who use sex to make a living are the greatest threat to any form of respectable black womanhood. “Brown sugar,” this popular imaginary of African American women, saturates popular culture. In songs, films, music videos, and everyday life, the discourse of brown sugar references the supposed essence of black female sexuality. It exposes historical mythologies about the desirable yet deviant sexual nature of black women. Publicly scorned and privately enjoyed, the alluring, transformative, and supposedly perverse sexuality of black women is thoroughly cemented in the popular imaginary. Seen as particularly sexual, black women continue to be fetishized as the very embodiment of excessive or nonnormative sexuality. What is most problematic about this sticky fetishism—in addition to the fact that it spreads hurtful and potentially dangerous stereotypes with very real material effects—is that the desire for black women’s sexuality, while so prevalent, is unacknowledged and seen as illegitimate in most popular discourse. As a metaphor, brown sugar exposes how black women’s sexuality, or more precisely their sexual labor, has been historically embedded in culture and the global economy. Now a key component of the profitable industries of entertainment and sex in the United States, brown sugar played a central role in the emergence of Western nation-states and the capitalist economies. Across the American South and the Caribbean, black slaves cultivated and manufactured sugar that sweetened food, changed tastes, and energized factory workers in the Industrial Revolution.5 In addition to physical labor, their sexual labor was used to “give birth to white wealth,”6 and was thus the key mechanism for reproducing the entire plantation complex. “Sugar was a murderous commodity,” explains Vincent Brown, “a catastrophe for workers that grew it.”7 The grinding violence and danger that attended sugar’s cultivation in colonial plantations literally consumed black women’s labor and bodies.8 Brown sugar, as a trope, illuminates circuits of domination over black women’s bodies and exposes black women’s often ignored contributions to the economy, politics, and social life. Like sugar that has dissolved without a trace, but has nonetheless sweetened a cup of tea, black women’s labor and the mechanisms that manage and produce it are invisible but nonetheless there. 4 INTRODUCTION To take the metaphor a bit further, the process of refining cane sugar from its natural brown state into the more popular white, everyday sweetener reflects how black women, like brown sugar, represent a raw body in need of refinement and prone to manipulation. The lewdness and raw quality associated with brown sugar in popular discourse today thus shows how ideas about black women as naturally savage, super-sexual beings have flavored popular tastes even as they have driven a global appetite for (their) sweetness. While processed white sugar is held up as the ideal, there remains a powerful desire, indeed a taste, for the real thing. The metaphor of brown sugar exposes how representations shape the world in which black women come to know themselves. But stereotypes usually have dual valences: they may also be taken up by the oppressed and refashioned to mean something quite different. Although brown sugar has been used as a phrase to talk about black women as lecherous, prurient sex objects, unlike other tropes such as the Mammy, Jezebel, or Sapphire, it conveys sweetness, affection, and respect. In African American vernacular speech and song, brown sugar often expresses adoration, loveliness, and intimacy even as it articulates lust, sensuality, and sex (along with other illicit, pleasuregiving materials like heroin or marijuana).9 As in the saying, “the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice,” brown sugar is sometimes used by black people to speak to the complex pleasures they derive from their own eroticism. In this book brown sugar references a trope that black women must always broker. Sometimes they refashion this trope to fit their needs. As Jeannie Pepper shows, some black women choose to perform brown sugar—the perverse, pleasurable imago projected onto black women’s bodies—in an effort to express themselves as desired and desiring subjects. Given the brutal history of sexual expropriation and objectification of black bodies, these attempts by black women to reappropriate a sexualized image can be seen as a bid to reshape the terms assigned to black womanhood. In this case, brown sugar might be a realm for intervention in their sexualization. Some black women might view Jeannie Pepper, the porn star, as a menace to the hard-fought image of respectable womanhood they have sought to create for more than one hundred years.10 Nevertheless, even though black sex workers know that their labor is seen to constitute a betrayal of respectable black womanhood, some pursue it. Their reasons may be purely economic: it’s a job, and they must survive and take care of their families, after all. Or, in Jeannie Pepper’s case, their motivations could be to take pleasure in “show[ing] the world” a beautiful and sexually self-possessed black woman. While such a move to represent oneself may be viewed, especially by many in the BROWN SUGAR 5 African American community, as perpetuating historical and ongoing stereotypes born out of horrible abuse, it is a powerful statement about how some black women redefine what respectable womanhood means for them. For Jeannie, more important than respectability, is respect.11 Respect means being acknowledged and valued for her performative sexual labor and treated as a star. Jeannie Pepper’s story illustrates how the perception of black women as hypersexual, which has persisted since the slave trade, has made it extremely difficult to acknowledge that some black women have an interest in leveraging hypersexuality. But it is possible to leverage this treacherous discourse and the black women who speak to us in A Taste for Brown Sugar explain how. They use the seductive power of brown sugar to intervene in representation, to assert their varied sexual subjectivities, and to make a living. In the process of making tough choices about how and when to commodify their sexualities, these women offer more complex readings of black gender and sexual identity than now prevail in the academy and popular culture. Porn is an important terrain in which this alternative sexual politics can emerge. Pornography as Culture and Industry Pornography is a highly controversial category, not just for its content but because it sparks heated debates about its role in society. Most often pornography is defined as a genre of mass-produced written or visual materials designed to arouse or titillate the reader or viewer. A facet of entertainment culture and a domain of the commercial sex industry since its modern circulation in literature, photography, and film in the nineteenth century, pornography has been powerfully regulated as the explicit, obscene edge of acceptable forms of sexuality. It is also more than a kind of object or media; pornography is an idiom that communicates potent, blunt, and transgressive sexuality operating at the boundaries of licit and illicit, sacred and profane, private and public, and underground and mainstream culture. Hence, as Walter Kendrick argues, “‘pornography’ names an argument, not a thing.”12 Pornography becomes a map of a culture’s borders, a “detailed blueprint of the culture’s anxieties, investments, contradictions,”13 and a site of cultural contest about social access and social prohibition.14 Focusing on pornography since the rise of the modern adult film industry in the 1970s, A Taste for Brown Sugar analyzes the operation of black women’s sexuality—its conditions of production, modes of representation, and strategic performances— in both the industry and idiom of pornography. This book traces the work of 6 INTRODUCTION the black female body in pornography as a material object, but it also delves into pornography’s function as a cultural discourse about racialized sexuality. Does pornography really make much of an impact on how we view sex, race, and gender? One argument about porn’s relevance is that it is big business with big cultural effects. Many critics have cited the broad impact of pornography on American life since its legalization during the sexual revolution of the 1960s and ’70s.15 With revenues of nearly $8–$10 billion a year, the adult entertainment industry is one of the largest entertainment industries in the United States.16 Pornographic films, videos, and websites are one part of this larger industry that includes exotic dance clubs, phone sex, magazines, peep booths, and sex toys. While Hollywood makes nearly four hundred films each year, the adult industry makes more than ten thousand.17 This book focuses on photographic film and digital media from the turn of the twentieth century to the early twenty-first, a period during which pornography became a “phenomenon of media culture and a question of mass production.”18 Indeed, mechanisms of mass production and consumption have become central to the growing convergence of sexual aesthetics and media industries, and their prominent role in defining private fantasies and public spaces. In recent years we have seen this convergence happening within popular culture, from “porno chic” fashion, to reality TV shows such as The Girls Next Door, to mainstream films like Zack and Miri Make a Porno and Boogie Nights, to adult actress and entrepreneur Jenna Jameson being interviewed on Oprah. Porn as an entrance into everyday consumer life can be seen as producing what many critics have termed the “pornification” or “pornetration” of culture.19 Previously illicit subcultures, communities, and sexual practices have been brought into the public eye through pornography, and in the process they have made their way into other modes of culture, including fashion, art, mainstream film, music, and television. Celebrity sex tapes, political sex scandals, and popular sex panics around issues like youth “sexting” have popularized the idea of public sex as a symptom of a pornographic mainstream media; they ignite worry that what is being projected and amplified is the worst of American sexual experience in terms of taste, values, and politics. Indeed, based on documentaries such as Chyng Sun’s The Price of Pleasure, one would imagine that the biggest threat to society is not war, torture, poverty, or environmental degradation, but the proliferation of pornography and its representation of “bad sex.”20 Rather than an act of romance, intimacy, or love, bad sex is seen as the product of the narcissistic, self-interested character of our culture. This unfeeling, vulgar kind of sex rubs up against expecBROWN SUGAR 7 tations of personal morality and rational social values rooted in traditional, bourgeois views of sex for the reproduction of proper families and citizens. Thus, fears of bad sex expose powerful anxieties about how changing meanings and practices around sex might lead to a downward spiral, a debasing of social life and the nation.21 More than a debate about how sex is represented in our culture, porn is a site of moral panic about sex itself. As an act of speech that speaks the unspeakable, pornography has been defined by what the state has tried to suppress.22 In the process of pushing against censorship and obscenity regulation, porn presses and redefines the limits of the culture of sex. Media technologies have played a leading role in making porn increasingly accessible and part of the public domain. With so many genres and subgenres of erotic fascination making up pornography’s “kaleidoscopic variorum” we might even think of it in a plural sense: as pornographies.23 Yet despite its vast proliferation, increased pluralism, and rich potential for the reimagining of allowable forms of desire, pornography’s commodification of sex has produced what Richard Fung notes as a “limited vision of what constitutes the erotic.”24 That porn reproduces predictable, indeed stereotypical, representations of sexuality for an increasingly nicheoriented marketplace is not surprising given its profit motive. This limited erotic vision may also be the result of sexually conservative regulatory systems, such as obscenity laws, which have defined what may or may not be broadcast via media technologies like television or the Internet or sold in stores, whether locally or across state lines.25 In addition to affecting media policy, the regulation of sexual culture has reinforced severely narrow representations of gender, desire, and sexuality that make it difficult to construct alternative imaginaries, even in supposedly transgressive spaces like pornography.26 Nevertheless, pornography reliably takes up the challenge of subverting norms, even as it catalyzes and perpetuates them. The fantasies it produces offer fertile spaces to read how eroticism, proliferation, commodification, and regulation get played out at the very heart of our public consciousness. In many ways porn is a political theater where—in addition to gender, sex, and class—racial distinctions and barriers are reiterated even as they may also be manipulated or transformed.27 Race, or more properly racialization, the process by which meanings are made and power is structured around racial differences, informs the production side of commercial pornography in at least two important ways: in the titillating images themselves and in the behind-the-scenes dynamics where sex workers are hired to perform in the production of those images.28 Black women, and other people of color, have historically been included in pornography to the extent that its producers 8 INTRODUCTION seek to commoditize, circulate, and enable the consumption of their images. Their bodies represent stereotypes of racial, gender, and sexual difference and the fantasies or deeper meanings behind them.29 Until recently, when black women and men started to produce and circulate their own pornographies, those fantasies were seldom authored by black people. Black women’s images in hardcore porn show that the titillation of pornography is inseparable from the racial stories it tells. A central narrative is that black women are both desirable and undesirable objects: desirable for their supposed difference, exoticism, and sexual potency, and undesirable because these very same factors threaten or compromise governing notions of feminine sexuality, heterosexual relations, and racial hierarchy. Pornography did not create these racial stories, these fraught imaginings of black being and taboo interactions across racial difference, but it uses them. What interests me is the work of racial fantasy, particularly fantasy involving black women. Given our racial past and present, what is the labor of the black female body in pornography? As my informants show, the players of pornography’s racial imaginarium are the ones who can best discern the crucial implications of these fantasies for black women’s sexual identities and experiences. They reveal how some black porn actresses tactically employ the performative labor of hypersexuality to intervene in their representation, “contest it from within,”30 and provide a deeper, more complex reading of their erotic lives. Working On, Within, and Against Historically, enslaved black women were marked as undesirable objects for white men due to their primitive sexuality. These women, as the myth went, were so supersexual that they virtually forced white men into sex they ostensibly did not want to have.31 Enslaved black women needed their sexual powers because otherwise these unwitting white men would never desire them. This myth concealed, denied, and suppressed the plain sexual exploitation of enslaved and emancipated African American women by casting the demand for their sexuality, both in images and as labor, as impossible. Chief to the racial fetishism of black women in pornography, then, is a double focus: a voyeurism that looks but also does not look, that obsessively enjoys, lingers over, and takes pleasure in the black female body even while it declares that body as strange, Other, and abject.32 Black women are of course aware of this regime of racial fetishism in representation (and the social and legal apparatus that sustains it), which licenses the voyeuristic consumption of their bodies as forbidden sex objects. BROWN SUGAR 9 As Jeannie Pepper noted, black women are always “already assumed to be” whores. She, then, uses this insistent myth in her own work. That is, Jeannie Pepper employs her own illicit desirability in a kind of sexual repertoire. By precisely staging her sexuality so as to acknowledge and evoke the taboo desire for it, she shows that racial fetishism can actually be taken up by its objects and used differently. Standing nude on the beach in the South of France as throngs of tourists look on, Jeannie takes pleasure in presenting herself as irresistibly captivating and attractive in the face of the denial of those very capacities. In this way, Jeannie Pepper exposes the disgust for black female sexuality as a facade for what is really forbidden desire. It is a myth that can be reworked and redeployed for one’s own purposes. Jeannie Pepper shows us how black women—particularly sex workers— mobilize what I term “illicit eroticism” to advance themselves in adult entertainment’s sexual economy.33 Actively confronting the taboo nature and fraught history of black female sexuality, black sex workers choose to pursue a prohibited terrain of labor and performance. Illicit eroticism provides a framework to understand the ways in which black women put hypersexuality to use. They do so in an industry that is highly stratified with numerous structures of desire and “tiers of desirability.”34 Black women’s illicit erotic work manipulates and re-presents racialized sexuality—including hypersexuality—in order to assert the value of their erotic capital.35 In an industry where they are marginal to the most lucrative productions, and where the quality of productions are largely based on demand, black women, along with Latinas and Asian women, face a lack of opportunities, pay disparities, and racially biased treatment in comparison to white women.36 Black women are devalued in terms of their erotic worth, and they are critical of how they are made lesser players in pornography’s theater of fantasy. These women seek to mobilize their bodies to position themselves to the greatest advantage. This mobilization requires a complex knowledge of what it means to “play the game” and to “play up” race by moving and performing strategically. However, because not everyone is able to increase their status in the established hierarchies of desire, black women employing illicit erotic labor face a complicated dilemma: lacking erotic capital, how can they produce more, and in the process enhance their erotic power, social significance, and economic position? One strategy for black women in pornography is to work extremely hard to carve out space and fabricate themselves as marketable and desirable actors. Their appearance is important to them; they invest a great deal of time and money on self-fashioning and taking care of their bodies in order to achieve 10 INTRODUCTION FIGURE I.3. Jeannie Pepper standing before the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, during her European tour in 1986. Courtesy of JohnDragon.com. competitiveness. Performance is critical; most performers attempt to portray seductive eroticism and sexual skill, which may give them an edge with consumers and added appreciation by other actors and producers. In addition to appearing in adult videos, they actively cultivate themselves as “porn stars,” which includes creating a captivating persona and becoming a savvy financial manager and entrepreneur. Selling themselves as brands or commodities means spending a great deal of time on promotion, including at photo shoots, appearances at trade conventions and entertainment-industry events, and on their websites, social networks, and chat rooms, to foster a fan base. All these spaces are spaces of work and contestation where black women must fight for their worth. Even more important, these primarily young, working-class black women do all this while also acting as mothers, aunts, daughters, sisters, and partners called upon to play important caretaking roles in their families. They are women who use their bodies as resources and their determined intellect as tools to make a living, and sometimes make a name too. Marginalized and exploited in the labor market, many young, workingclass black women today identify the sex industries as preferred spaces to make a living for themselves and their families.37 This is not new. As the history of black sexual labor attests, this choice has been recorded as part of their negotiations of the labor market since slavery and through the Great Depression.38 Black sex workers make a living when they take sex, which is associated with leisure and play, and turn it into what Robin D. G. Kelley calls “play-labor.”39 In commodifying sexuality, play-labor does not necessarily resist or overturn hegemonic institutions of power like patriarchy and racial capitalism. That is not its purpose. Play-labor is one strategy by which black women (and others) try to negotiate the existing political economy by using their corporeal resources, which are some of the only resources many black working-class women may in fact possess. Given that the other options open to working-class black women appear in service, care work, or other contingent labor industries, the “choice” to pursue sex work is of course constrained within a modern capitalist system where all work is exploited work, and black women’s work is super exploited.40 Part of a continuum of sex work—including streetwalking, private escorting, erotic dancing, modeling, phone sex, and S/M role play—and part of a history of black women working in underground or gray economies as “mojo women . . . bootleggers, numbers backers and bawdy house operators,” black women’s work in pornography maneuvers within illicit and licit sexual economies to pursue what Sharon Harley describes as “personal and commu12 INTRODUCTION nity survival.”41 Their maneuvers are generally prompted by market concerns, like porn’s relatively flexible and high-income work, but also by nonmarket motives, such as sexual pleasure and the enjoyment of erotic performance. Garnering fame in the adult entertainment industry is often regarded by performers as a viable aspiration and a stepping-stone to more opportunities in entertainment. For young black women, attaining fame could also reflect a desire to harness the erotic capital possessed by recognized black entertainers and actresses such as Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Halle Berry, Pam Grier, and Josephine Baker. Jeannie Pepper’s identification with Josephine Baker indicates that some black women working in porn understand the historical depictions of their bodies as containing dynamic possibilities for reinterpretation and re-creation through performance. These women work on representations of black sexuality by using their own bodies and imaginations. These representations— painful, punishing, or pleasurable—are part of what Asian American studies scholar and filmmaker Celine Parreñas Shimizu terms the “bind of representation.”42 As for Asian American women and other women of color in the United States, racialized sexual representation forms black women’s “very self-recognition every day and every minute.”43 Because black women are tethered to ontological concepts of sexual deviance, it is vital to acknowledge hypersexuality as a disciplinary instrument that effects pain, trauma, and abuse in their lives, and which, like other problematic representations of race, gender, and sexuality, is extremely hard to escape.44 Black women are not just victims of representation, however. Referencing three black Oscar-winning Hollywood actresses—Hattie McDaniel, Whoopi Goldberg, and Halle Berry—feminist literary and media scholar Rebecca Wanzo shows how many black women entertainers recognize the potentially recuperative nature of their performances. “Familiar with stereotypes about black female identity,” writes Wanzo, “they have attempted to reconfigure themselves as central agents of a particular project and then see themselves as making themselves objects in relationship to this racist history on their own terms.”45 Like actresses in the racist and sexist Hollywood film industry, some black actresses in the adult industry also recognize their performances as spaces to negotiate the overdetermined and reductive depictions, and try to engage them on their own terms. White American women are not judged in the same way, nor are they accused of representing the “hypersexuality of white womanhood.”46 Yet black women, as individuals, often come to stand for their entire racial group. Not only are black women performers burdened BROWN SUGAR 13 with representing every other black woman, they are seen to depict only simplistic and denigrating types.47 Black porn actresses understand that they are seen as archetypical whores and bad women by both the black community and the broader, categorically white, culture. Crucially, these women often assert themselves within these archetypes. Performers who not only fit the stereotype, but also boldly put it to work in their performances can be read as having more sophisticated understandings and counterresponses in relationship to representation than previously acknowledged. In discussing her role as the “voodoo girl” in Let Me Tell Ya ’Bout Black Chicks, Jeannie explained that she chose a role that, though still a stereotypical representation of exotic, supernatural, and hypersexual black womanhood, she saw as an alternative to the then-standard role of the maid: “So I played the part of the voodoo girl. I wanted that part. I was glad to have [it]. I loved the way they dressed me up, with the costume. They made me look very exotic with all the makeup and feathers, and I was running around [acting possessed]. But I didn’t want to play the maids. Those other girls were playing maids. . . . But I like my part.” By playing the exotically fetishized black woman instead of the recognizable fetish of the servile black maid, Jeannie negotiated what she saw as a demeaning representation.48 The voodoo girl was not necessarily a positive representation against the maid’s negative one, but it allowed space for Jeannie to take pleasure in what she identified as a more complex performance. Dressed as the primitive, magical savage in a tinsel skirt that looks more fitting for a luau than a voodoo ceremony, colorful neon bangles, and 1980s eye-shadow-heavy makeup, Jeannie’s voodoo girl uses a magic spell to conjure two white men to satisfy her sexual appetite. Jeannie brings erotic charisma and skill to her enthusiastic performance, stretching it beyond its impish and narrow construction. And, as she attests, her choice to perform a playful, mysterious, and (literally) self-possessed female character was a strategic move. Even though this move did not fully dismantle racist regimes of representation for black women in pornography, Jeannie’s tactics for selfrepresentation are important to recognize. Angel Kelly, a contemporary of Jeannie Pepper in the 1980s, was the first black woman to win an exclusive contract from an adult film production company, Perry Ross’s Fantasy Home Video. An A-list actress like Jeannie, Angel desperately wanted to make choices in her career that would show her in what she saw as a positive light: as glamorous, sexy, and beautiful. However, sometimes the nature of the industry meant that she became mired in the stereotypical construction of black women’s sexuality. Like Jeannie, Angel was pressured to portray a “voodoo woman”: 14 INTRODUCTION There is one video called Welcome to the Jungle, where I look like an African, I look like voodoo woman [on the video box cover]. I hate that picture. I hated it. I hated it! And that’s why I wouldn’t do the movie for it. So there was no movie, but there was a [video box] cover called Welcome to the Jungle and what [the producer, Perry Ross] did was he just made it a compilation tape. See, they can screw you that way anyway because when they are shooting pictures they got footage on you, and they can take all your scenes out of one movie and put it with another cover in another movie. As Angel describes, she importantly chose to stand up to the demands of her producer by refusing to star in the production. Yet she did feel pressure to dress like an “African voodoo woman” for the Welcome to the Jungle (1988) photo shoot, because as she told me during our phone interview in 2013, “Sometimes if you wanted to work you had to swallow it. I tried to hold on the best I could.” Angel felt bitterly about the experience, noting her lack of power in relationship to the greater power of studios to use and manipulate her images. For Angel, who had on occasion played the shuffling maid to a white family (see The Call Girl), negotiating porn work included evaluating the terms of each production and deciding how she might infuse the role with her own desires. Angel expressed to me the pleasures she gained in her work: “I had a chance to play all types of great characters a man could fantasize about. I was surprised that I had as many female fans as I did male fans. I had the opportunity to be a star.” Black women’s counterstrategies of representation involve at times attempting to play the stereotype in order to reverse or go beyond it. At other times they offer alternative, more complex images of black sexuality, or they may refuse the roles altogether.49 In my analyses of black women’s participation in pornography, I identify where they tell stereotypical stories in their performances, but also where performers appear to tell stories about themselves that aspire to go beyond stereotypes, the “immediately available” stories told about black women.50 Illicit eroticism, like José Esteban Muñoz’s concept of “disidentification,” describes how cultural workers enact a repertoire of skills and theories—including appropriating or manipulating certain stereotypes—to “negotiate a phobic majoritarian public sphere that continuously elides or punishes the existence of subjects who do not conform to the phantasm of normative citizenship.”51 Unlike disidentification, illicit eroticism describes a repertoire of appropriations distinct to the realm of sexual and sexualized labor, available to those whose sexuality has been marked specifically BROWN SUGAR 15 as illicit, including people of color, and queer folk, including queer people of color. Illicit eroticism conceptualizes how these actors use sexuality in ways that necessarily confront and manipulate discourses about their sexual deviance while remaining tied to a system that produces them as marginalized sexual laborers. For Jeannie Pepper and others, leveraging one stereotype can mean avoiding another. Yet these performers’ layered work as black women remains connected to their very survival within a punishing field of representation and labor. Both Jeannie and Angel tell of their aspirations to be seen as more complicated subjects than the pornographic script allowed. Playing up, against, and within caricature, Jeannie, who delved into a stereotyped role, imagined herself as an actor depicting a woman with power, one who magically and mischievously produces men to service her sexual desires, while generating a kind of glamour and joviality. Imagining a black female pornographic sexuality as joyful, subversive, and attractive, Jeannie’s performance asserts erotic sovereignty. Her performance attempts to reterritorialize the always already exploitable black female body as a potential site of self-governing desire, subjectivity, dependence and relation with others, and erotic pleasure.52 Erotic sovereignty is a process, rather than a completely achieved state of being, wherein sexual subjects aspire and move toward self-rule and collective affiliation and intimacy, and against the territorializing power of the disciplining state and social corpus. It is part of an ongoing ontological process that uses racialized sexuality to assert complex subjecthood, inside of the overwhelming constraints of social stigma, stereotype, structural inequality, policing, divestment, segregation, and exploitation under the neoliberal state. Jeannie’s interventions are never separate from the conditions that propelled and shaped her work in the porn industry during the 1980s, including the impact of Ronald Reagan’s devastating economic policies on African Americans, and the porn business’s interest in capturing white consumers for blackcast products during the video era. By foregrounding the testimonies of black porn actresses like Jeannie Pepper and Angel Kelly, I hope to explain how black porn actresses might simultaneously challenge and conform to the racial fantasies that overwhelmingly define their representations and labor conditions. Their negotiations offer a view into black women’s needs, desires, and understandings, and into the deeply felt conflict between what stories about black women exist and what stories they long to imagine for themselves. Agency, a central concept in feminist thought, is generally understood as a person’s ability to achieve freedom or “progressive change” in the context of everyday and manifold forms 16 INTRODUCTION of oppression. I draw on postcolonial scholar Saba Mahmood’s productive conceptualization of agency as a “capacity for action that historically specific relations of subordination enable and create.”53 Not eliding the role of subordination, Mahmood reveals agency as existing along a continuum. At times agency enables progressive change or resistive action, and at other times and contexts it is the “capacity to endure, suffer, and persist.”54 Rethinking the meaning of agency in relationship to black women’s sexuality, I propose to open up the concept of agency by moving away from readings of its equivalence with resistive (sexual) freedom. We might instead read agency as a facet of complex personhood within larger embedded relations of subordination. Depending on the historical moment, agency emerges differently and operates along divergent nodes of power. Agency then might be seen as a dialectical capacity for pleasure and pain, exploration and denial, or for progressive change as well as everyday survival. Through my close readings of interviews with black performers in the pornography industry, we can observe their differing forms of agency given changing contexts of representation and circuits of sexual economy. The tension described above between aspiration and inescapable constraint forms the critical spine of this book. Although it is impossible to decipher what early black pornography actors imagined and desired as they performed during the rise of pornographic photography and film in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, it is important to think through the foundational nature of early pornography as it set the terms for the later performances, labor conditions, and forms of negotiation deployed by black adult actresses. Chapter 1 examines the fetishization of black women’s bodies in early pornography and considers how those bodies served as objects of spectacle, fascination, and disdain within the visual regimes of slavery, colonialism, and Jim Crow. A compulsive desire to sexualize race and to consume sexual images of black women and men intersected with the rise of commercial pornography, creating a distinct genre that I call “race porn.” Photographs and films concerning black and black-white sex illuminate how discourses of racial and sexual difference became calcified during this period. Even in the most intimate interactions in early pornography racial-sexual borders are erected, permeated, and then built up again. Deploying what I call a black feminist pornographic lens, I read the archive of early race porn to contemplate the ways in which early black models and actresses may have reached past the confines of porn texts to provide performances that give us a surprising view of black female sensuality, playfulness, and erotic subjectivity. Chapter 2 explores the performances of black porn actresses, like Desiree BROWN SUGAR 17 West, during the “Golden Age” of pornography in the 1970s. Not only did large-scale social transformations alter racial-sexual borders in the United States during this period, they also transformed meanings and interactions around pornography itself, such that newly popularized sexual media became an important site for black women. A combination of white fascination with black sexuality and African Americans’ desire to express a new, assertive sexual politics resulted in what I call “soul porn,” a genre that powerfully shaped black women’s performances and labor. Yet as black actresses became agents in the production of an emergent porn industry, they faced the anxieties and subjugations of racial fetishism and were sidelined by the extreme focus on black male sexuality as the archetype for racial-sexual border crossing. Throughout its history, technological and social forces have continuously altered the landscape of the adult industry. In the process technology has transformed the kinds of texts and modes of production black porn actresses encountered. Chapter 3 investigates how the adult industry’s adoption of VHS allowed for the growth of specific markets for black and interracial video. In this new interracial subgenre black actresses like Jeannie Pepper and Angel Kelly negotiated ways to assert their performances and professional personas into a restrictive formula and sometimes hostile terrain. In the early 1990s, digital media began to shift the production, marketing, and consumption of pornography, just as the rise of hip hop music began to shift the representations, discourses, and aesthetics associated with black female sexuality. Chapter 4 interrogates how the convergence of hip hop and pornography helped establish the trope of the black working-class woman as “ho.” Deploying this figure, the porn industry maintained a segregated, niche-oriented market for black sexuality based on commercial hip hop aesthetics. In the process, the ho became an inescapable text that black women in porn must decipher, and an archetype that speaks to black women’s battles to prevail in the sexual economy. Using what I call “ho theory,” I analyze the representation of working-class black women’s corporeal labors to insert themselves in the marketplace of desires, and to both take pleasure in and benefit from the fetishization of black women’s bodies. In addition, I explore the roles of black men in hip hop pornography as they are called upon to perform the roles of pimp or stud in their sex work. Chapter 5 focuses on the labors of black women performers by asking what socioeconomic or other forces catalyze them to pursue pornography as a field of work and site of imagination. How does illicit eroticism, the process by which subjects convert sexuality into a usable resource in the face of 18 INTRODUCTION a number of compelling forces and constraints, factor into their motivations to become porn stars? What do black women in porn identify as the most desirable, pleasurable, and powerful aspects of the industry? Because money, sex, and fame are the hydraulic factors in my informants’ articulations of the need and desire for this work, it is important to unpack how the realities of the business meet with these expectations. If chapter 5 is concerned with how aspirations collide with real-life experiences, chapter 6 analyzes these real-life experiences and the particular kinds of entanglements and pressures black porn actresses report as constitutive elements of their illicit erotic work. Former and current black porn actresses speak about the undeniable hurdles pornographic labor poses, and about how they grapple with issues of marginalization, discrimination, and abuse as they seek to promote their erotic capital under tremendous constraint in a business that profits from their objectification and exploitation. Ultimately, these sexual laborers expose how black women are made vulnerable by—yet critically intervene in—the larger sexualized economy of advanced capitalism in the United States. Black porn workers offer an alternative moral economy that sheds light on how marginalized people within industries like porn can cocreate social meanings, challenge conditions, and imagine other worlds. This book identifies pornography as an important location to think about sexual culture and racial ideologies, particularly in the context of the sexualization of both popular culture and economic opportunities for women. As such, it is necessarily in conversation with feminist critics and provides a launching pad to advance the conversation about the role of pornography in women’s lives. Pornography is a hugely controversial topic for feminists. For more than thirty years, feminists have been engaged in a fierce debate, widely known as the Sex Wars, about pornography’s role in society. The feminist antipornography movement emerged out of radical feminist activism during the 1970s, against what was viewed as the proliferation of explicit, misogynistic images in the media. Antipornography feminists like Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon defined pornography as equivalent to gendered violence, believing that pornography was the “subordination of women perfectly achieved.”55 For them, pornography commodifies rape and endorses and encourages men’s abusive sexual desires and violent behaviors toward women.56 Alternately, a diverse coalition of queer, anticensorship, liberal, and sexpositive feminists rejected the claims of radical antipornography feminists, citing porn as a convenient scapegoat for social-conservative attacks on sexual dissent. These critics and activists identified pornography not as a “unified (patriarchal) discourse with a singular (misogynist) impact,” but BROWN SUGAR 19 rather, as Feminist Anti-Censorship Taskforce member Lisa Duggan contends, as sexual discourse that is “full of multiple, contradictory, layered, and highly contextual meanings.”57 In other words, viewing practices for pornography are varied and dynamic; viewers are not solely abused by porn or trained for violent, misogynistic behaviors. While the adult industry is shaped by the problematics of heteronormative, homophobic, transphobic, and racist corporatist practices, pornography is not a monolithic or static entity. Porn is dynamic, diverse, and open for revision, including by those on the margins such as women, sexual minorities, and people of color. Black feminists have often followed the antiporn feminist critique described above, arguing that pornography as an industry perpetuates harmful stereotypes about black women’s sexuality.58 While these black feminist writers are not wrong, the story is more complex, and black women’s performances deserve a more nuanced analysis. Not only do black women’s representations in porn include portrayals that sometimes undermine stereotypes, black actresses often try to capture something quite different from the meanings normatively attached to their bodies. Moreover, black women in porn often try to revalue their images and work by fighting for better representations, asserting themselves in their roles, attempting to take control over their products, and helping other black women in the industry. Black women in porn also see themselves as a mirror for black women porn viewers. They imagine their relationship with black female porn fans—the group from which many of these performers came—as empowering and challenging to black women’s sexual politics. By including the performers’ voices in the discussion we can address questions that are vital to black feminisms, such as the critical significance of pornography for black women’s sexual labor and its significance for their own fantasy lives. Before she started working in porn, Jeannie Pepper was a porn fan. She had watched sex films in X-rated theaters and imagined seeing more black women like her represented. Yet she also knew that such a move into the industry would mark her with a deviance that was overdetermined by the historical construction of black gender and sexuality. While Jeannie has remained critical of the limits placed on black women in the adult industry and by black respectability politics, she found affiliation with the iconic celebrity of Josephine Baker. Baker, for Jeannie, represented a story of financial success, glamour, mobility, autonomy, and sexual rebellion. Baker, like Jeannie, was an erotic performer who became an icon. It is crucial to understand the attractions that draw black women to the pornography business. I suggest that porn work is part of a long struggle by black women to occupy their bodies.59 20 INTRODUCTION The primary methodological interventions of this project are twofold: first, I converse with porn actresses directly, listening to their voices and taking seriously their descriptions of their experiences; second, I read the complexity of their performances in pornographic imagery. Even as more attention is given to the workings of race in pornography, few have endeavored to learn about porn’s meanings by looking at the self-presentations and selfunderstandings of black women working inside the industry.60 Over more than ten years of fieldwork, I conducted ethnographic research with nearly sixty black women, and more than forty others involved in the porn business. My research included directors, producers, distributors, agents, crew, and actors. I talked to black women porn performers while they made dinner at home, signed autographs at industry conventions, networked and partied at social events, and prepared for sex scenes on porn sets. As a black woman, I discovered an affinity with my informants that unsettled the traditional methodological division between researcher and object of study. My informants trusted me, called on me, and embraced me in their lives. I also became an advocate for them: I brought my informants to speak to my classes, published their essays, and strategized with them about how to overcome career and family hardships. What I found during this decade of fieldwork and personal interactions challenged the views I had at the start. For instance I, like many people, thought that women in porn were primarily survivors of sexual abuse who got off a bus in Hollywood and were whisked away to Porn Valley by some shady pimp. Reading nostalgic accounts of the “Golden Age” of porn in the 1970s, I also imagined film sets to be an updated version of Boogie Nights, where playful orgiastic sex ensued between people who really didn’t care much if the camera was rolling. Instead I found no single story for the women that enter the porn business. While some admitted coming from abusive or neglectful family backgrounds, others spoke about having grounded and loving single or dual-parent households. Where I expected to see unmitigated eroticism I found work sites that were decidedly desexualized, where cast and crew moved about with workmanlike focus to get their movies made on time and, ideally, under budget. It is only by talking to those involved in the production of pornography that we can move past some of the myths and categorical generalizations about the business and its controversial products. As a historian, I wanted to know more about how black women became part of pornography, and what the changing regulatory, technological, and social contexts of porn’s development over the past century or more meant for black women’s representations, working conditions, identities, and aspirations. In hunting down long-lost BROWN SUGAR 21 vintage pornographic images in libraries and private collections, I soon realized that there was a vast missing archive of black pornography and erotica, and that black women performing in pornography prior to its deregulation would unfortunately have to remain unknown and, to an extent, unknowable. As a feminist, I wanted to understand how mainstream pornography, which appears to be so extremely focused on addressing white heterosexual male pleasure, is actually experienced by the women involved in making it. While it was not possible to track down black adult film actresses who worked prior to the 1980s, I discovered that the women I did contact were willing, if not eager, to talk about their experiences and to be understood. Like Jeannie Pepper, they knew that even to speak about their lives and work would challenge the stigma and silence around these issues for black women. Yet my informants fiercely desired to be seen and heard, to tell their stories and explain their performances, especially to another black woman. I had no choice but to see and hear them. This book is my attempt to recover and redress an untold dimension of black women’s sexual lives, by letting them speak for themselves. 22 INTRODUCTION Bound by Expectation: The Racialized Sexuality of Porn Star Keni Styles CELINE PARREÑAS SHIMIZU Celine Parreñas Shimizu works as a filmmaker and film scholar and is professor in the Department of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her first book, The Hypersexuality of Race: Performing Asian/American on Screen and Scene won the Cultural Studies Book Award from the Association for Asian American Studies in 2009, and her second book is Straitjacket Sexualities: Unbinding Asian American Manhoods in the Movies. Recently, her first feature film, Birthright: Mothering Across Difference, won the Best Feature Documentary at the Big Mini DV Festival. She teaches popular culture, social theories of power and inequality, race and sexuality, and film and performance theory and production. She is currently at work on her new film, Stoop Labor. For more, see www.celineshimizu .com. I n the now classic 1989 essay “Looking For My Penis,” Richard Fung identifies the predominance of Asian men performing as bottoms in gay porn.1 While critic/filmmaker Hoang Tan Nguyen’s work critiques the rendering of the bottom as undesirable, as if lacking power,2 Richard Fung’s work captures a critique that I call “straitjacket sexuality” which I define in my recent book as constrained definitions of sex that privilege norms and limit our understanding of the diversities of sexuality. That is, when Fung critiques the lack of a wide range of representations for Asian men in western pornography, his point shows us how such a limited scope acts like a chokehold on the sexual possibilities available to Asian men not only in pornographic imagery, but on the horizon of representations we can further imagine. Aggravating the problem of limited Asian male representations in pornography, antipornography scholars like Melissa Farley present the representations of racialized subjects as the ultimate manifestation of pornography’s victimizing power.3 Supposedly, the kind of sex scenes featuring people of color in pornography dama...
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Outline
Thesis Statement: This essay explains the information about the representation of sex, love, and
intimacy learned in this course, discusses the new ideas on the future of intimacy, and explains
the issues and frameworks that can be considered to have more support and liberated
conversations around sexuality and intimacy.
Introduction: The representation of sex and intimacy has gradually changed due to the different
preferences that human beings choose to show love to their significant others. In the past, sex
and intimacy were only allowed in marriages after following the proper steps of courtship
between a man and a woman.
a) In the past, women would get married to suitors they did not wish to spend their marriage
life with, but due to the limited movement, this was the only way.
b) Women's freedom to learn, work and provide for their families has changed the
representation of intimacy.
c) Also, talks on contraceptives are readily available for women to reduce the rate of
unwanted pregnancies and cases of abortion
Conclusion: Some frameworks can be considered to increase libera...


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