“Racism exists, and it exists in porn”

Posted April 1st, 2013 by
Category: Modern issues Tags: ,

Image Source/GettyPornography  isn’t the typical context within which we examine the contemporary legacy of race in the United States, but I think it can be—if you’ll pardon the pun—quite revealing.

The Daily Beast has posted an article which asserts that race is one of the final frontiers in the pornography industry, under the title “Interracial Sex Still Taboo for Many Porn Stars.”

The premise of the article is captured by this comment from “award-winning porn star Kristina Rose”: “Racism exists, and it exists in porn.”

Yet the article’s author, herself an adult-film entertainer identified as “Aurora Snow,” is quick to observe that race in pornography is actually “a complicated topic.” For instance, Snow cites industry figures suggesting that at one agency, only about 20% of performers are listed as willing to film interracial sex scenes, yet at another agency, 75-80% of performers are willing to do so.

Snow offers a variety of reasons for the unwillingness of many adult-film stars to engage in interracial sex on camera, and not all are compelling. She suggests at one point that some white, female performers may actually be afraid of the unusual penis size of the typical black, male performer. She also offers the possibility that performers may really be thinking of their careers, that they (or their agents) may fear the loss of other work if an “actress” becomes identified for doing interracial scenes. Yet she reports that interracial sex these days is, in fact, a ticket to larger incomes, more prominence, and even higher standing in the adult-film industry.

Racial prejudice among adult-film stars and their families

So what is the problem for many porn stars with interracial sex? Snow pays little attention to the possibility that the performers are personally prejudiced. She does quote an industry agent as saying that the most common reason he hears for refusing interracial sex is “my family wouldn’t like me doing it,” and Snow adds that she’s met performers who thought their families would have an easier time accepting that they were porn stars than that they had tried interracial porn.

This suggests that racial taboos in society, and racial prejudice on the part of loved ones, may play an important role. But that agent also indicates he isn’t sure the explanation about families is true, implying that personal prejudice on the part of the performers themselves may be at work.

On personal attitudes towards race, Snow notes that many performers come from small-town America, and that interracial sex might even be the first time they ever encounter a black man. She quotes an industry insider offering the common explanation that the issue may not be racial prejudice, but this lack of exposure to other races:

It’s not as if they have some racist gene. They aren’t anti-black, they just never had the opportunity.

While this sort of explanation may often ring hollow, Snow does her best to justify it by drawing on her own experience:

Depending on where a girl grew up, the porn industry’s racial mix can be a real eye-opener in more ways than one. I grew up on the central coast of California in a multiethnic city, unaware the cultural diversity in California was a misrepresentation of the United States as a whole.

It’s certainly true, especially these days, that where one grows up can dramatically affect how one experiences race and racial diversity. This comment, however, also draws attention to Snow’s personal take on the issue of interracial sex. She says, at the outset of the article, that she had no problem agreeing to interracial sex as an 18-year-old starting in the business: “I don’t know what the difference is. It’s just skin color.” This answer, implying as it does that she was fundamentally color-blind as a teenager, may be true, but it is certainly used frequently by white people to try to distinguish themselves from those who might have an issue with race.

Perhaps Snow’s most perceptive idea comes at the end of the article, when she suggests that ultimately, race in pornography is about making money, and that business, in turn, hinges on playing to racial stereotypes and generating the fantasies (whether of interracial sex or of racial purity) that can most easily be marketed to consumers in a society such as ours.

2 Responses to ““Racism exists, and it exists in porn””

  1. steven da great Says:

    I am not racist at all! However, i do find it hard to be turned on by a female of the an opposite race. When watching porno or participating in sexual activities myself, I only enjoy if my race is involved. Once again, i am not racist.

  2. hd love review Says:

    i dont think you can take sexual preferences and call that racist. sexuality is very complicated

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