Yes, Pornography Is Racist

In Shira Tarrant’s blog post on race and porn, she interviews some well-known African-American performers to challenge my claim that porn is racist. There are some women of color who have been successful in pornography, but this doesn’t change the fact that porn is systematically racist. Systems of oppression are flexible enough to absorb some members of subordinated groups; indeed, they draw strength from the illusion of neutrality provided by these exceptions. Thus, the election of Barack Obama does not prove the end of racism, nor does Hillary Clinton’s success prove that politics isn’t patriarchal.

As a sociologist, I am interested in identifying and explaining patterns to help understand how systems of power shape the way the majority of people live. In porn, women of color are generally relegated to “gonzo,” a genre that has little glamor, security or chic status. Here, women have few fan-club websites, do not make it to pop culture and have to endure oral, anal and vaginal pounding that ends with the usual ejaculation scenes on the body and in the mouth.

Women of color are also paid less than white women. Well-known black porn performer Lexington Steele told author Lawrence Ross that:

In a boy/girl scene, one girl one guy, no anal sex, the market dictates a minimum of $800 to $900 per scene for the girl. Now a white girl will start at $800 and go up from there, but a black girl will have to start at $500, and then hit a ceiling, of about $800.

What makes regular gonzo different for a black woman is the way past and present stereotypes are dredged up and thrown in her face. Not satisfied to call her the usual gonzo terms of slut/whore/cumdumpster, she is often referred to as a “black ghetto ho” with a mouthy attitude who needs to be taught a lesson. This stereotype of black women as promiscuous, overbearing and in need of control is one that has historical resonance–from slavery to Moynihan–and continues to inform present day governmental policies.

Take, for example, the text on the site Ghetto Gaggers that accompanies pictures of “Vixen” covered in semen:

Vixen is a sassy ghetto fabulous beyatch with more attitude than Harlem has crack. She needed a learnin’ by some white cocks …. Ghetto Gaggers, we destroy ghetto hoes ….

In sites like these, the debased status of the black woman as a woman is seamlessly melded with, and reinforced by, her supposed debased status as a person of color. In the process, her race and gender become inseparable and her body carries the status of dual subordination. It is this harnessing of gender to race that makes women of color a particularly useful group to exploit in gonzo porn, since gonzo porn works only to the degree that women are debased and dehumanized. This sexualizes the white supremacy in ways that render the actual racism invisible in the mind of most consumers and non-consumers alike.

Racism in porn and the wider society is not going to change because some women of color are making their own porn. Racism and sexism are macro-systems of oppression, and the way to do battle with them is not to produce more porn but to instead organize against a power structure that allows an industry based on the degradation of all women to flourish.

Photo is of Dines’s new book: Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality.


Comments

  1. Shira Tarrant does not challenge the notion that the porn industry is systemically racist just because some African-American women there have good careers. The women themselves questioned that, based on their knowledge of the industry in general (including, implicitly, comparing notes with other black performers). They alluded to lots of porn featuring black men and women (not just their own) that do not look or sound anything like the examples offered above.

    The presence of Oprah does not make racist practices in Hollywood disappear, but the way to fight that is by reforming it, not abolishing it. Ditto with porn.

    Before 1947, there were no black players in Major League Baseball. Clearly, MLB was systemically racist. If Prof. Dines had her way, she would just outlaw baseball. But instead, Brooklyn Dodger owner Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson had a different idea – reform baseball through integration. The idea worked, and a historic step forward for civil rights was achieved.

    I noticed that you admitted at the start of yuor article that there some porn performers who are not degraded, but then, in your last sentence, you describe porn as “an industry based on the degradation of all women.” How did ‘all’ get back in there?

    In “Pornland”, you say you oppose censorship, so why did you call on the Justice Department to enforce obscenity laws as part of a delegation that organized a congressional briefing?

    • I agree with you Sheldon. Shiara’s blog post sounded much like what white people say after they made a prejudiced or racist remark. You know “Oh, I’m not racist, I have friends who are black. I would never mean that!”

      I’m not implying Shiara said anything of that nature but she’s making it sound like that because black women are successful in the porn industry, that everything’s not as big as Dines makes it out to be. Shiara’s wrong and I think Dines’ response took care of Shiara’s assumptions.

      • Are you sure you agree with me, Trent?

        Re-read my post – I agree with Shira. Her main point wasn't that a few black performers are successful, but that their insider view of the business is very different than Prof. Dines. The view of an African-American porn scholar as well as the black performers she interviewed is that the industry's stance and practices on race is too diverse to be generalized as systemically or inherently racist.

        • And I'm saying black performers won't tell the truth while they're in the industry. Shiara should interview black performers once they are no longer necessary by porn producers. I think you'll get a more complete (and a more accurate) story.

          • Do you know of any black performers who said one thing when in the industry, and something opposite once having left?

    • Seems that Sheldon confuses censorship with criticism…

      • Nope – I’m just taking what Shira Tarrant said about Gail Dines at face value.

        Tarrant reported on these blogs that Dines called for enforcement of obscenity laws. Do you think those laws are just ‘criticism’?

  2. That's a load of bunk. I wrote a lengthy response.
    http://www.houseofsodom.com/2010/08/27/lefty-hypo

    • Chris…I was toiling in mind…you see, I was wondering why Mrs. Dines hadn’t remarked on your lengthy note and lambasted you in a finely written reply. “Bitches getting fucked in every hole” is that how you say it? With vocabulary like that, you haven’t any footing and never will.

      Sher

      • berryblade says:

        " "Bitches getting fucked in every hole" is that how you say it?"

        Yes, agree totally Sher, houseofsodom doesn't really offer himself much credibility.

  3. There is no comparison between an institution that discriminates by excluding blacks, women etc, and an institution that systematically uses the bodies of subordinate groups as sheer sexual objects at best, and open toilets at worst. The latter institution also perpetuates vicious stereotypes, as Dines discusses it. Of course if an institution remains completely white-supremacist it should be eradicated. But baseball isn’t inherently racist. It’s a sport that in and of itself is race-neutral and fun, and valuable in different ways for many people. Pornography is inherently racist and sexist since it’s part of the definition of porn in terms of how it operates, especially as gonzo, that women and people of color are treated as trash for others to masturbate over. It’s not a matter of opinion or personal feeling as to when an institution objectifies and trashes another group. If a slave insists that they are a happy slave that doesn’t make slavery a good or right institution to have. The judgment that pornography is unjust and vicious is based on the argument that pornography is based on unequal power relations (male domination, female submission; white dominance and racial subordination) and–here’s the moral part- that these unequal power relations corrode and destroy imagination, physical integrity and connectedness to self and others.

    • Baseball – inherently – is a game in which one team athletically subordinates the other by beating them in competition. A culture that glamorizes that will certainly find all such sports competitions useful in reinforcing other types of subordination. "Race-neutral"? Sure… fun – for whom?

      • Non-starter says:

        Baseball pits two theoretically equal groups against one another in good fun and in equal opportunity. Nobody is throatfucked or pissed into, and nobody gets pounded without a guaranteed chance to pound their partner right back.

        Competition is not the same thing as domination. It’s like how scientific or medical authority (having the facts on one’s side) is a totally different thing from legal authority (having the power on one’s side) or organizational authority (holding a high position in a hierarchy).

    • Well said, kmiriam!

  4. saba malik says:

    Thank goodnesss for this article! Thank you Ms magazine. More of the same please, it is so good to see a radical feminist analysis of porn in this pornified society.

    Sheldon, Dines is not a supporter of obscenity laws because she doesn’t think they work. She supports ( as I do) the Dworkin/MacKinnon approach which defines porn as a civil rights violation. When she testified at the congressional hearing it was to make sure that there was a feminist voice in the hearings, not in support of obscenity law.

    • Saba, this is what Shira Tarrant wrote in her introduction to "Porn: Pleasure or Profit? Part III Ms Interviews Gail Dines":

      "Dines recently briefed members of Congress on the harms of pornography, arguing for greater enforcement of existing obscenity laws."

      In response to Shira's articles, Dines has posted a comment on the Ms blogs, but she has not contested the veracity of the above statement.

  5. Cameron Murphey says:

    Wonderful article, Gail. I want to second your point that systems of oppression function more effectively when they create "the illusion of neutrality" through exceptions.

    Sheldon wrote: "Before 1947, there were no black players in Major League Baseball. Clearly, MLB was systemically racist. If Prof. Dines had her way, she would just outlaw baseball. But instead, Brooklyn Dodger owner Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson had a different idea – reform baseball through integration. The idea worked, and a historic step forward for civil rights was achieved."
    What a CHEAP comparison, really; as if the pornographic industry is structurally capable of being a revolutionary force for (doubly) oppressed populations. As many radical feminists have written for decades now, much of the industry functions only through this very oppression, through the sexualization of racial, sexual, and financial inequality. Please do your analysis a favor and read some works on political, social, and feminist theory.

    • Oh, I've read all the books you mean, the ones that support the anti-porn side. But I've also read the books by, for instance, Ellen Willis, one of the original radical feminists and a founder of Redstockings.

      Just because YOUR radfems have made claims against porn "for decades" doesn't make them true. I'm not sure how my comparison is cheap – do you reall think baseball is structurally capable of being a revolutionary force for anybody? "Cheap" or not, what's important is that the analogy is valid.

  6. Nancy Schwartzman says:

    By highlighting counterstories and allowing women in the industry to speak for themselves about their experiences, Dr. Tarrant was challenging an absolutist argument. She's pushing for a little more nuance in the conversation. Important distinction.

  7. is porn racist, absolutely. and so is the rest of mainstream media. one of the ways racism is subtly perpetuated in media is by not allowing people of color to represent themselves. one well-meaning individual (usually white but not always) ventures off into urban, impoverished america and declares that he or she is going to be the voice for the voiceless and then represents one side of a very complicated experience. dr. tarrant's piece reminded dr. dines that she's teetering on that "let me speak for you (black women in porn) because i know best" precipice. i don't think anyone agrees that porn is unproblematic, but if you're going to talk about porn and racism, don't make the racist mistake of not talking to the people within it. i haven't read dr. dines book yet, but i noted her quote from a quote in the blog was curious. did she actually talk to any of these black women in porn? did she bother to find out what their experiences were? whether we agree or disagree with the women dr. tarrant quoted, at least she was serious enough to talk to the people she was writing about.

  8. I believe that Dines is missing the crux of the issue. Are there racist themes in some forms of pornography? Certainly. As there are in traditional forms of media, too. However, this is not a simple issue. Instead of making sweeping generalizations about pornography, how about acknowledging (or interviewing) the people who are trying to change it? Or digging deeper as to why performers or producers perceive it differently than Dines? It is not enough to state that porn is totally racist or anti-feminist. It is not enough to "Just Say No!" to pornography. Whether we like it or not pornography is a form of media and deserves to be critiqued like anything else. That critique should be comprehensive and not part of a bigger agenda.

  9. PART ONE of my reply to Sheldon, in a multi-part response:

    I believe you spuriously and grossly misrepresent Gail's work and will and I'd like to ask you to clarify some points you made. I'll also respond to portions of your recent comment.

    Re: The presence of Oprah does not make racist practices in Hollywood disappear, but the way to fight that is by reforming it, not abolishing it. Ditto with porn.

    Please show us where in Pornland Gail accomplishes "abolishing" pornography. Gail's approach is rather obviously education and awareness–she shows people images in pornography; she doesn't seek to hide them. Can you please cite from her book the pages and paragraph where she states she supports abolishing pornography? Thank you.

    There is a general response common to pro-pornography arguments that appears close to what you state. The response is phrased in many ways, but amounts to this: the oppressed group (whether women, people of color, or lesbians and gay men) is trying to censor us (the oppressor group). I hear this often from the KKK and other neo-Nazi folks in the U.S. The argument seems to be, and correct me where I'm wrong here, please, Sheldon, that if a few women want to abolish pornography, that means that pornography is abolished–at some point in time. That women who want laws that allow women harmed in the industry, or by men using the material against them, who are wanting their human rights to be respected–the right to not be violated by any man–are taking something away from the men who make and want pornography.

    What would be taken away is this: men's gross entitlement to abuse women with no accountability. That would, in theory, be taken away if a civil rights law was passed allowing women (and anyone else harmed by and in pornography) to sue the harmers, including the producers of the pornography used in the abuse. However, nowhere in the U.S. is there such a law, and nowhere in the U.S. is there any law mandating that pornography be banned from society. So what is the fear about, I wonder? Isn't it misplaced, the way whites fear of Mexican immigrants is misplaced? Because the people who are dangerous are always the people with more power, not less. So whether it is gay men and lesbians relative to heterosexuals; people of color relative to whites; the poor relative to the rich; or women relative to men, it will always be the more institutionally empowered groups that can do the major harm, not the oppressed.

    Here's one example: 3000 people were murdered through an act of terrorism on 9/11/2001. Since then the U.S., out of a call to "defence" has murdered hundreds of thousands of civilian Iraqis and Afghan citizens. How, which group has more power: Al Qaeda or the U.S. military? Which group can get away with murdering hundreds of thousands–not three thousand–citizens in a country? The answer would be the U.S. And which gender gets away with murdering 3000 of another gender each year in the U.S., domestically? That would be men; boyfriends and husbands who terrorise and kill women. Why is this not termed "domestic terrorism" in our press? For the same reason that the U.S. military and its government is not called terroristic, Sheldon. For the same reason that rapist pornographers and pimps aren't called terrorists. Because it is, after all, only "the oppressed" who are being killed.

    I hope you see the point of me detailing this. Do you believe any White Nationalists who would argue that if people of color and white Jews keep critiquing white supremacy and challenging White Nationalist pro-fascism hate speech, that White Nationalist's speech will soon disappear? Do you think White Nationalists' speech will even be threatened in any substantive way?

    The problem here is two-fold, at least.

    1. Dines is not working to abolish or censor or ban pornography. That's a factually untrue claim you make, and, again, I welcome you to produce any evidence at all that Gail Dines is working to do that.

    2. If we are to posit a hypothetical in which an antipornography activist was wanting to ban pornography, how would that be accomplished? I mean in reality.

    • "Can you please cite from her book the pages and paragraph where she states she supports abolishing pornography? Thank you."

      Page 165 – the concluding paragraph of "Pornland":

      "As long as we have porn, we will never be seen as full human beings deserving of all the rights men have. This is why we need to build a vibrant movement that fights for a world where women have power in and over their lives – because in a just society, there is no room for porn."

      "There is no room for porn" – yup, I'd say that's a call for abolition of porn. And by the way, Dines is not qualifying that by specifying "gonzo" porn or gay porn or feminist porn – she means all of it, without exception.

      • K. Scriven says:

        Sheldon,

        I am just now stumbling across this article and your discussion, over a year later. Pardon the lateness.

        You and Julian appear to be referring to abolition in different ways. While I am not sure how you are speaking of it, Julian is clearly speaking of it in a legal sense; that is, legally banning porn. Are you claiming that Dines wants the government to ban porn, or that Dine wants people to stop using porn, which certainly will decrease the supply of it? Because the quote does not support the former without legal reference.

        Julian stated that Dines does not support an outright banning of porn because that likely would not work. With such a high demand for it, there would be ways to evade the system. At least according to Julian (and I will learn more about Dine’s stance from her interviews, articles, and books), Dines is targeting the actual desire to watch porn, which will prove far more successful than merely banning it.

        I am pro-sex and all for celebrating the human body and human sexuality in all of its forms, as well as mainstreaming that idea and its manifestations. I would love to see statues of the nude human body out in the open, for example, and I would love for people to be able to look at, respect, and admire them. But let’s not pretend that porn does that or that that is what porn is for. I wonder if Dines is similarly-minded? I shall find out.

    • According to Shira Tarrant, Dines supports greater enforcement of obscenity laws. Did you not read her introduction to Part III of her interview with Dines? Dines has not come forward to deny that, even though she has posted here already.

      "The argument seems to be, and correct me where I'm wrong here, please, Sheldon, that if a few women want to abolish pornography, that means that pornography is abolished–at some point in time."

      Yes, you are wrong. Most of the anti-porn spokespersons are right-wing men, and such arguments from anybody, regardless of gender, are wrong. When anti-porn feminists ally with such forces, they wind up strengthening them, and weaken the women's movement.

  10. PART TWO, to Sheldon:

    If oppressor-class folks want to promote hate speech, for example, such as in pornography and Klan literature, they are "free" to do so generally, with State support. When anti-Klan people oppressed people want to stop them from producing hate speech, that hate speech doesn't go away at all. Even a little bit.

    So what you're positing is a scenario that simply has no grounding in legal or social reality: no where in the actual world do feminists make pornography disappear, or go away, or get banned, or be censored, or otherwise get removed from the social environment. Nowhere does that happen. This tells me that it's not something to be worried about, or to accuse people of wanting to do. Why? Because it simply isn't done. It's a non-issue.

    This fear, of pornography being taken away, is grounded in a fiction perpetuated by pimps who profit from the racist-misogynistic material that harms so many people. What is not a fiction is the racism and the misogyny in the industry. That is socially, institutionally, systemically real; it is not at all imagined. What is not fictional is the fact that pornographers, not feminist antipornography activists, have the billions, and the hundreds of attorneys, and, often enough, the ACLU, to ensure that their speech is protected.

    Re: Before 1947, there were no black players in Major League Baseball. Clearly, MLB was systemically racist. If Prof. Dines had her way, she would just outlaw baseball.

    What is the factual basis for that point of view? "If Dines had her way…" What "way" is that, Sheldon? What is "her way"? Please state that clearly, and back up your claims with facts, not fiction. Again, please quote directly from her work or her interviews. Source the pages or URLs please, to back up your as yet unfounded accusation. In your hypothetical you believe she'd ban baseball? There's nothing in her work that indicates she'd "ban" baseball or pornography–assuming she could (which she can't). Through what legal or military channels might Gail Dines successfully ban any pornography, Sheldon. I want to know how you envision that actually occurring. Please share with us that vision.

    Re: But instead, Brooklyn Dodger owner Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson had a different idea – reform baseball through integration. The idea worked, and a historic step forward for civil rights was achieved.

    To gain clarification, is the parallel you're drawing that if we only accepted more oppressed groups into a system of gross exploitation, abuse, rape, and trafficking, we'd achieve "freedom" for the exploited, abused, raped, and trafficked? Is that your argument?

    So, to draw other parallel arguments: would admitting out lesbians and gays into the military accomplish the goal of achieving peace? Would allowing poor, working, and middle class people to gain easier access to the health insurance industry's products means that they get healthier and that we move closer to being a healthier society? Would allowing more poor people to get wage work that is grossly exploitive and dangerous means that we have, as a society, brought ourselves closer to economic justice?

    I hear you arguing that allowing more and more women of color into the pornography industry, and presumably paying them what white women in the industry are paid, results in some form of tangible, experiential freedom or liberation for those women of color from racism and misogyny. Is that what you mean to be saying?

    • "If oppressor-class folks want to promote hate speech, for example, such as in pornography and Klan literature, they are "free" to do so generally, with State support." Right off the bat, you feature a flawed assumption – that pornography is hate speech.

      "No where in the actual world do feminists make pornography disappear…This tells me that it's not something to be worried about, or to accuse people of wanting to do."

      The reason why radfems have not made porn disappear is because lots of other feminists have been worried about that and organized against them. Constant vigilance on behalf of free adult sexual expression is a round-the-clock job.

      "would admitting out lesbians and gays into the military accomplish the goal of achieving peace?" No, but the reason it should be supported is because the LGBT comnmunity deserves equality. I take it that you OPPOSE that equality?

      Equal pay for women of color in all industries is an important step to 'liberation' from inequality, and merits supports from feminists for that reason alone. That is what I 'mean to be saying.'

      • I thought it was more to do with the fact that men have made it into a multi-billion dollar a year industry than libertarian consumerist hedonists operating under the façade of feminism?

        What's the point of paying womyn 'equally' if their dignity is stripped away from them in exchange for $$$ on a daily basis?

  11. PART THREE, to Sheldon:

    Pornography is a global industry very tightly bound to prostitution and trafficking and rape. Most raped, trafficked, and prostituted women are of color, primarily because poverty is raced "non-white" and gendered "girl and woman". Women in pornography are there predominantly and usually because they've been harmed by a pimp, "seasoned" as it's called in the pimping industry. When the opportunity arises, many women and girls, such as those in the organisation Apne Aap, organise to get girls and women out of–not into–the industry and systems of trafficking.

    I'd call that an effort to get women and girls out of pornography and prostitution, out of being trafficked and enslaved, an honorable attempt to bring about meaningful liberation for women and girls. Fighting to allow more women of color into a system that rapes and otherwise mistreats them is not going to rise very high up on any list when it comes time to award Nobel Peace prizes. Malalai Joya and RAWA, and Ruchira Gupta of Apne Aap win human rights awards and garner attention for their honorable work to liberate women. Larry Flynt and Hugh Hefner ought not win any such awards, because all they do is promote the idea that women are things that exist for men to use and abuse sexually. There's nothing honorable or responsible about that kind of work, Sheldon.

    You neglected to respond elsewhere in a related discussion, here at Ms., to this point: Why does Black director and performer Vanessa Blue state very clearly that she would try and talk any girl or woman out of being part of the pornography industry? Do you believe she does that and would do that because the industry, generally and overwhelmingly, treats girls and women very well–especially those of color. (By "very well" I mean with compassion, regard, respect, dignity, and fairness.)

    I believe, from reading Vanessa Blue's full interview with Anthony Springer, that she knows the gross and systematic racist and misogynistic abuses that proliferate the pornography industry, that are, in a very tangible and practical sense, its trademark. Those abuses, from her statements, are not exceptional or merely anecdotal. Those abuses are not "something that may happen sometimes" as Anthony implies on Byron Hurt's Facebook discussion. Racist-misogynistic violence against women in the pornography industry is, in fact, habituated and normalised. It is, in fact, accepted and condoned by the pimps who run the industry.

    She knows some women make economic decisions to put up with gross abuse in order to get paid a living wage. That she or anyone else has some "not negative" things to say about the industry doesn't mean millions of children and women aren't trafficked and raped globally to maintain the profits for those corporate pimps about whom something nice might be said, occasionally. Pimps are people, after all; not monsters. Kindnesses might occasionally occur, particularly when it serves their interests and earns them more money to be kind. (You'd think they'd be kinder, actually.) And a Black pornography film director noting that there has positive experience for her inside the industry takes nothing away from her critiques of the industry as unexceptionally abusive to women. Capitalism helps people stay alive, right? That doesn't mean globalised capitalism isn't making genocide and ecocide very easy to accomplish. One isn't evidence of a lack of the other. The question is this: is there more harm or more good being done by pimps and the promoters of globalisation? And, who gets to answer that question? The people being most harmed or the people being least harmed?

    • “Women in pornography are there predominantly and usually because they’ve been harmed by a pimp, “seasoned” as it’s called in the pimping industry.”

      There is no proof that the female performers in the San Fernando film industry are predominantly former or current prostitutes.

      Vanessa Blue did not say that kindnesses “might occasionally occur” – that you putting words in her mouth to suit your anti-porn agenda. She – along with the women interviewed by Shira Tarrant – talked about lots of porn where there was no abuse in either the product or behind-the-scenes. And directors and producers and studio heads are not pimps.

  12. PART FOUR (of four), to Sheldon:

    Re: I noticed that you admitted at the start of yuor article that there some porn performers who are not degraded, but then, in your last sentence, you describe porn as "an industry based on the degradation of all women." How did 'all' get back in there?

    I'd presume that's because it's a class analysis, Sheldon. I don't believe libertarianism and individualism provide one with the theoretical tools to establish (or even notice) class-based oppression as a significant social problem at least equal to the problem of people losing civil liberties. Liberatarianism and individualism are social-political philosophies which are designed to highlight personal freedoms and obscure class-based freedoms. Women are harmed by misogyny as a class, even while some women accept misogyny as inevitable. Most women experience a variety of forms of oppression, intersecting and amplifying one another, in an exponentially harmful rather than only additively harmful way. And that is at least as important a matter of concern as white men who are racist misogynists getting to speak using women's abused bodies as their vocabulary.

    Re: In "Pornland", you say you oppose censorship, so why did you call on the Justice Department to enforce obscenity laws as part of a delegation that organized a congressional briefing?

    That's a serious charge, Sheldon. So where's the citation backing it up? I'm not seeing any thus far. Again, please provide the readership here with the information you're basing that on with links to actual (not fictitious) statements made by Gail Dines about how she worked to promote obscenity law.

    And, can you also inform us of exactly how much pornography doesn't exist now because of Gail's work? How many websites were taken down by State officials due to her writings, workshops, and interviews? How many images were destroyed, that men could then not have access to 24/7 (on demand)?

    What I find weak in your argument is the equation of someone wanting something to happen–whether or not they do–and it happening. So, for example, women activists wanting an end to rape and battery by men, and an end to men protecting rape and battery as an entitlement, is an activist goal grounded in actual horrific reality: one in three women worldwide are raped and/or beaten by a man. On the other hand, what reality is your stated concern grounded in–the one that is also expressed by pornographers and their customers, that feminists are trying to ban their pornography? Can you cite even one example of one case in which a feminist, through her activism, caused pornographic material to be removed from the possession of one pornography or one customer in the U.S.? This is the country we live in. And you are alleging, it seems to me, that Gail Dines is behind efforts to take away pornography from people here. Please cite the evidence for her actually accomplishing that objective or please retract it and apologise for making it.

    What is also weak to me, in your arguments thus far, is that you present Gail as wanting to do something she doesn't, in fact, want to do. You appear here to posit Gail as Censor or perhaps a "wannabe Censor". What State power does she have, really? And, again, what pornography has she succeeded in disappearing?

    And, how many billions of corporate dollars are flowing into her and her sister activists' pockets and bank accounts? Compare that to the amount of money men and women are paid to promote the pornography industry as "wholesome" or "fair" or "equitable" or "harmless fun". Are you saying that feminists who are against the misogyny and racism of the pornography industry–as well as the misogyny and racism beyond it–are well-paid activists compared to the activists who work for corporate pimps?

    Corporate pimps, the men who run the prostitution/pornography industry, have the means, the money, the power, and do, in fact, not fiction, exercise the brutal force to make women and girls do what pimps want women and girls to do for procuring men who are paying customers.

    I'll boil it down to this: who do you believe has more power, Sheldon? Antipornography feminists or antifeminist pornographers? If you say the latter, then why aren't you working to address and diminish the harm done by people with actual institutional power who do, in fact, racistly and misogynistically abuse actual human beings? Why are you instead working here, in your commentary, to try and discredit a feminist human rights activist?

    Why do you even see doing this as socially necessary when rapist, racist corporate pimps are protected by extremely well-paid lawyers and well-purchased politicians?

    In summary, please retract and apologise for your allegations against Gail Dines or detail exactly where and when she has promoted banning or censoring any piece of pornography or attempted to silence any single pornographer–or pornography generally and pornographers as a group. Thank you. I look forward to your thoughtful, responsible reply.

  13. I think its pretty Heterosexist to say ALL porn is sexist. There's a great deal of porn that does not contain women.

    • It’s ridiculous that you’re accusing Gail Dines of heterosexism for her use of the word “all”. There is a WAY greater deal of porn that contains women. Look at popular culture— look at TV commercials— type in “cartoon porn”— look at a newsstand: What is the sexualized image that most people see? A female. A certain type of female: young, toned, usually white, with a certain body type. Just because there are exceptions to the rule, doesn’t dismiss the reality that the porn industry is powerful because of its systemic exploitation of women.

    • I think it's pretty ridiculous for you to say things like this without examining the dynamics involved. And just because male-gay-pornography exists does not negate that majority of pornography is of girls and womyn.

  14. I'd like to reiterate the point that it is unproductive and ill-informed to dismiss all porn as "inherently" racist and sexist. Black-produced porn with all black casts does not necessarily depend "by definition" on racist stereotypes. Most porn is racist and/or sexist, but not all of it is, and it is not inherently so. I would like to refer anyone who disagrees with this to the porn directed by Tristan Taormino (especially the Chemistry series), which includes a scene in which a Filipina woman penetrates a white man in the ass with a dildo, and in which all of the performers in the multiracial cast are paid equally and given equal treatment, and are endowed with subjectivity (in the interview scenes which are intercut with all of the sex scenes). Their race is never fetishized. In one of the interview scenes, Mr. Marcus (a black performer) openly discusses racism in the industry–not as something that always exists and must inherently exist, but as something that is pervasive and must be counteracted. Taormino always lets women choose the fantasies that they want to enact, and lets them choose the male performers with whom they want to enact them. There are others in the industry who work this way as well. I would refer you also to Shine Louise Houston's porn–Houston is a black lesbian and her porn is expressly anti-racist, anti-sexist and sex-positive. Do you really want to deny all women's agency by condescending to dismiss as false consciousness any woman director's attempt to create porn that is not sexist or racist? Much of Taormino's porn qualifies as gonzo, incidentally. So I would also recommend that those who toss around the word "gonzo" as if they know what it means, educate themselves as to what it actually means: it is unscripted porn in which the filmmaker comments on or participates in the action. That's it. Why does that have to be "inherently" sexist and racist? What if a woman is holding the camera? What if all of the performers are male??? It seems as though porn's critics tend to forget, in a rather heterosexist manner, that gay and queer porn exist. I will never understand why the level of rigor involved in critiquing a medium or an institution drops substantially whenever porn is at issue. Since when is it ok to judge an entire medium, an entire industry, by its worst examples? Because particular films–even a majority–are sexist, etc., therefore all porno movies are "inherently" sexist? Am I to believe that porn's critics are sitting around watching as much porn as possible, so that they feel as though they can speak as authorities on the subject? Please. If sex itself isn't inherently sexist or racist, then why does filming it automatically make it so?

    • Kmiriam said, "Pornography is inherently racist and sexist since it's part of the definition of porn in terms of how it operates, especially as gonzo, that women and people of color are treated as trash for others to masturbate over." Racism and sexism are inherent in that definition of pornography. You may disagree with the definition, but what does that definition have to do with filming sex? As someone I know from the feminist blogosphere put it, "Sex is not porn. Porn is not sex." What is the point of conflating these two very different things?

    • Jennifer, I'm not sure whether your questions are rhetorical but Julian's posts really answer everything about this subject. Thank you Julian, your posts are so thorough and well written.

      Pornography today is not about a few niche artists struggling with the deepest mysteries of human sexuality. It never was. It is about making money. Plain and simple. Do you really think the people who benefit the most from this industry care at all if it's racist, sexist, brutal and degrading. They're making money and lots of it..

    • Didn’t Taormino have a grooming scene where an actress who wasn’t keen on preforming anal sexual activity on the camera was preened into it?

      Fantasies happen in peoples heads. The moment they occur outside of a head, they become reality. There is no “fantasy” in porn – what you are watching is reality for the individuals involved. Louise Houston’s website also describes the pornography she makes as her inner fourteen year old boy’s fantasy. That’s SO feminist!

      If a womon is holding the camera, she becomes a token of her own oppression. If all the performers are male, I suggest you observe the dynamics – one of them will be “feminised”/subordinated.

      The ‘worst’ examples are the mainstream. Google porn, you get taken to porn hub which recommends a website brazzers – full of violent, brutual, womon-hating pornography. It’s a user rated site and most the highly rated clips are extremely degrading and violent. These aren’t random examples, that’s the standard shit that’s out there these days.

      Many anti-pornstitution critics are survivors of the industry themselves. And I’m assuming by “sex” you mean PIV (which is incredibly heteronormative in itself,) google, it is your friend.

  15. Thank you, Gail Dines, for calling out the racism of the porn industry, and for taking a firm stance against the porn industry as a whole. It frustrates me how quickly people minimize the racism of the porn industry and how quickly they minimize the violence against women in porn (and violence against women in general). People attacking Gail Dines are eager to bring up examples of non-racist porn to hoist up the already incredibly powerful pornography industry, and this is absurd to me.

  16. Gail, can you clarify what point you are trying to argue? From context it had seemed you were trying to implicate all porn as inherently racist, thus the counter examples to disprove the absolute. Are you instead trying to show that the industry as a whole is influenced by institutional racism? If so, what is the conclusion we are meant to draw from that? However, I can't name a single industry not rife with institutional racism? If we should get rid of porn because of it's institutional racism, wouldn't it follow we should also get rid of higher education, the magazine industry, the internet, and so forth? Here's what I had to say about that on Shira Tarrant's article:

    "As a trans woman of color who's been in the mainstream industry and independently directed a groundbreaking film, I can say two things. First — yes, I have seen and dealt with racism in the industry, it's incredibly frustrating. However, racism is not unique to porn. I probably dealt with as much or more racism at my University.

    Second, by blaming the medium ("Porn is racist") rather than the behavior ("Racism exists within the porn industry"), it suggests that it's not even theoretically possible to create a porn film that isn't racist. In an attempt to make a more exciting claim (because let's face it, the latter claim is kinda obvious – racism exists everywhere) it lets the people engaging in racism off the hook by suggesting that reform is not possible and limits our options only to abolitionism. I will not accept that.

    Are books racist? Is higher education racist? Is the tech industry racist? Is porn racist? If those are the questions being asked I'd probably say yes, yes, yes, and yes. However, a broader frame is incredibly useful here. People have written books analyzing and critiquing racism, started ethnic studies departments, and made porn films specifically to counter existing racism. Should we call them racist too because they share a racist medium? To do so misses the point. It leads those of us committed to fighting racism to squabble among ourselves, angrily debating the legitimacy of each other's work and activism, rather than focusing together on tactics to change the dynamics we all clearly oppose."

    • K. Scriven says:

      Tobitastic,

      1) I cannot speak for Dines, but I can speak for the general idea. Please read this: http://sfsworld.temple.edu/tempress/chapters_1100/1339_ch1.pdf. It is chapter one of “The Gender Knot” by Allan Johnson. Essentially, we do need an entire re-working of the system to be female-friendly.

      However, there are differences between porn and the things you listed; namely that they are not inherently dependent and founded upon oppressive systems. Education is not racist/sexist. Magazines are not racist/sexist. The internet is not racist/sexist. While there is lots of mainstream sexist/racist content, it is not inherent.

      Mainstream porn, on the other hand, focuses on eroticising the degradation, oppression, and humiliation of women, as well as violence against them. Yes, there are exceptions, but they function merely as exceptions that prove the rule. There is no issue with mainstreaming education, magazines, and the internet, but one cannot argue the same of pornography (the industry, not mere depictions of sex). What social good can or has come from mainstreaming the eroticisation of the aforementioned things?

      Furthermore, removing the sexist/racist elements from magazines, education, and the internet would not transform them in any way because they are not inherent, but the same is not true of porn because they are its appeal and selling point. See #4 for elaboration.

      2) What is the function of mentioning the fact that you have probably experienced more racism at your university? To imply that, because it exists elsewhere, there is no reason to address it in particular spaces? The argument does not follow.

      3) Dines is arguing in a collective, not individual, sense. The point is not that nonracist films cannot be made, but that those nonracist films do not strip porn of its collective racist status. It is the same as asserting that Obama being president and Oprah being rich does not prove post-racism and that Clinton and Sotomayor’s positions do not prove post-sexism. Such social systems have room for exceptions because they do not change the systems themselves.

      This is a passage from Jennifer Pozner’s book, Reality Bites Back:

      “(p. 154) on oprah’s big give, the talk show queen promised viewers we’d be inspired by the power of fundraising to change america. participants were instructed to raise large sums of money (from companies like target and celebs like jamie foxx) and then give it away however they thought would do the most good. contestants bought groceries for random shoppers, passed out $2,000 worth (p. 155) of flowers to passersby on the street, and donated instruments to a community center serving kinds with down syndrome. these were all nice things to do, and it was lovely to watch contestants brighten people’s days, pay off medical and mortgage bills, and give poor kids christmas gifts. but by defining philanthropy so narrowly, the show reinforced that wat america needs is charity, not social change. individual recipients benefited from the experience, but as linda diebel wrote in the toronto star, “”nothing fundamentally changed. there was no revelation that decent education and healthcare are all rights in a developed society, not privileges to be bestowed” [upon] those with means. oh, and the “twist” that so often accompanies reality shows? the “biggest giver” won a million bucks from winfrey and ABC. because giving isn’t the greatest reward after all—a big fat check is.

      a similar problem plagued a secret millionaire, fox’s even more manipulative take on wealth, poverty, and philanthropy. each episode profiled the star’s exceptionally posh lifestyle before dropping them in “the hood,” where they had to “survive” on the equivalent of welfare wages for a week. camera crews followed their “undercover” interactions with the poor at soup kitchens and battered women’s shelters. at the end of the week every richie rich would reveal their true net worth—and distribute $100,000–to their downtrodden acquaintances. though poverty, homelesness, and drug abuse were more of a focus here than on oprah’s big give, these national scourges were presented as individual misfortunes rather than institutional problems.

      [...]

      (p. 156) … by nature, this makes invisible the economic and political causes of wide-scale inequity.*

      [* a similar problem plagues CBS's 2010 postrecession undercover boss, in which rich CEOs pose as workers in their own corporations, observe mistreatment and labor abuses, feel bad, then promise their employees things will improve. packaged as a populist fantasy in which greedy bosses finally Do The Right Thing, producers woo viewers by appealing to their job frustrations, then mollify them with notions that since the suits at the top really mean well, everything will be okay in the end . . . no need for any pesky labor organizing. each episode is a full-length commercial for companies such as hooters, and GSI commerce.

      so when larry o'donnell, president and COO of waste management, inc. gets emotional, promotes an administrative assistant, and promises to form a committee to address workers' concerns, viewers get a feel-good happy ending---never learning that waste management, inc. has a history of union-busting. corporate officers' feelings don't result in institutional change----adopting pro-labor policies does.]

      [...]

      (p. 157) series that focus on charitable giving encourage some form of public service, and as such are far more positive than classically sensationalistic reality shows. however, there is danger in representing poverty, homelessness, and lack of access to education without any focus on infrastructure. using malnutrition as an example, joel berg explains:

      ‘most americans hold tight to the myth that neighbor-to-neighbor generosity and compassion is the best support system for those in need. but trying to end hunger with food drives is like trying to fill the grand canyon with a teaspoon. because local charities cannot possibly feed 35.5 million people adequately, and because their efforts rarely enable people to become self-reliant, this belief that charity does it better than government only ensures hunger will persist in america.’

      such problems can [be fixed only] through policy solutions. but corporate underwriters like walmart, target, and waste management, inc. benefit from the economic status quo, so reality tv teaches us that the world will be a better place if only more of us would would give flowers to strangers.”

      It makes the point that we keep focusing on individuals and individual acts and accomplishments instead of focusing on the systems that cause the problems. Helping individuals is good and all and we should help them, but remember that when it comes down to it, if we’re focusing only on individuals, we’re helping only those individuals; we’re not addressing the system that cause the problems.

      4) A final note on the false comparisons: books, magazines, and the internet are means of distributing and accessing information, not information itself; they are not specific to any kind of information. Porn, however, is actual information that is distributed via books, magazines, and the internet. Distribution/access in itself cannot be racist, but information can be.

      To bridge #1′s point, to remove sexist/racist content from, for example, magazines does not change magazines in themselves because they are not dependent upon the content to be magazines. Porn, on the other hand, is dependent upon the content because it is the content. To alter the content is to turn it into something else entirely.

  17. other racist porn says:

    There is another kind of racism going on in porn that no one ever talks about. Which is the proliferation of 'Once you go black' type titles, featuring black men and white women, which I would bet any amount of money are far more popular than videos featuring black women. In these videos the blatant racist stereotype that black men are more potent and able to satisfy (white women in particular) is the major draw. Which is of course racist as well. Of course the other, less obvious facet of this particular brand of racist porn is that the black guys would way rather have sex with the white women than black women.

    Once again the black women are on the bottom of the pile.

    This is also in keeping with the mainstream media trend in the last 20 years or so to glamorize black men, while failing miserably to do the same with black women, except a very few R & B singers perhaps.

    • Part 2: Here's the problem – if black women performers were to act as enthused as white, Asian and Latina women, the industry would face a renewed surge of accusations that it is promoting the 'animalistic black woman' stereotype. If it doesn't hire black woman AT ALL due to poor sales, then it will be accused – correctly – of racial bias in hiring. So the industry has tried a middle course – hire black women as long as it is understood that they need to tone it down. In the short term, this works to solve the aforementioned two dilemmas, but in the long term, the ensuing poorer sales are used to justify paying black women less than their white counterparts, putting the former at the bottom of the porn 'pile'.

      It's a tough dilemma, and I don't envy the industry's attempts to navigate these contradictory pressures. Damned if it does, damned if it doesn't. If it were up to me, I would schedule a summit conference with sex industry leaders, black sex workers, feminist porn scholars like Mireille Miller-Young (sp?) and open-minded civil rights leaders.

  18. Historically, porn videos featuring African-American women have not been best sellers. Contrary to those who accuse porn of perpetrating the 'animalistic black woman' stereotype, black women performers in general have appeared unenthused and listless on camera.

    Star performer Lexington Steel, in Lawrence Ross' book "Hung", stated that black women will not go as far as white women. They don't do the 'hundred-men-gang bang' type of videos, they don't even engage in more standard sex acts like deep throating well-endowed male performers. As a result, their fan base is smaller and the web sites garner fewer hits. Steel's former girfriend, Vanessa Blue, affirmed the more laid-back attitude of black porn actresses, identifying Monique as an exception.

    –continued

    • Sheldon, I've been trying to find the book Hung by Lawrence Ross, but I can't. Could you have the name wrong? Has it only very recently been published?

      • Correction: Lawrence C. Ross, Jr.'s book is called "Money Shot: The Wild Nights and Lonely Days Inside the Black Porn Industry" (Running Press, 2007).

  19. trying2bme says:

    here's the deal for me. most people like normal porn every so often a fantasy one, so as a consumer i guess the different companies are in competition to come out with the most extreme fantasies ever. which i see no problem with. but where to draw the line? nigger bitch takes huge white dicks? wtf! i mean that's a sick power role play but i guess no harm done or is it? i am scared of white men no lie mostly because of porn. the actors seem to have sex with black women with hate/passion like stated before, 'to teach that ghetto ho a lesson.' as a result of something like that being in my psyche sometimes when i see a white man i feel sick i think they want to kill me. to top it all off, all i have heard in the media or in real life is that they are the reason america hates black women so i stick to watching amateur porn and dating black guys only thanks to porn. reason is because i don't know if a non black male guy really likes me or if he's trying to fulfill a fantasy. this might not make much sense to some men because well they fantasize about who they like anyway just like women fantasize about guys they like. here's the deal about non black men approaching black women your not sure if they like you or want to see if they can please you like a black man. always assuming that every single black guy you been with had a huge dick. or because of their penis size black men have a "inferior technique" when it come to sexual skills which is all untrue. – I know all porn isn't racist it's usually the fantasy stuff & inter racial but not just blacks it's done to everyone and it's wrong. white boy fucks asian slut or white whore black dick i mean we can tell what they are right? usually when you go to watch porn your already horny. my other theory is that the porn industry depend heavily on their sites being trafficked, so the more outrageous the title the more the site stands out in your mind. getting you more and more used to perverseness and insensitivity once this happens all types of porn seems normal to you no matter how outrageous. that's usually when people get addicted spending hundreds of dollars watching other people do things they probly don't even do. porn exploits you as much as you let it but i won't deny that yes even porn creates a presence of stereo types that re- instill racists views that already exists.

  20. Porn is very racist. I am an anti-porn feminist young woman now but when I was even younger I admit like so many kids growing up I did indeed look at internet porn (attempts to make it hard for children to access are a total joke, completely ineffective). I noticed all kinds of sexist stuff of course and racist stuff as well. On many of the websites, they will categorize the focus of the porn based on what the viewer wants to see into little sub-categories that will be listed. Some very common ones I saw were:
    -Blonde (Which always seemed to be the most popular, or almost always…the blonde women would have the highest ratings- some of these sites allow you to rate the "models" as they call them or the videos they are in and they almost always i mean at least 90 percent + of the time get the highest ratings…which brings me to something kind of odd. By blonde it is automatically assumed it is a white blonde woman. What about women who are bi-racial, of another race (I know there aren't many but they do exist), and so on and so forth who are blonde? They don't get into this category. It was always white women. Which brings me to something else…how many of those blonde white women are actually natural blondes? It wouldn't matter except for the fact that this proves the inherent racism…I noticed quite a few times the roots of the women's hair being brunette/dark in other words, not blonde- but they died their hair…so white women are allowed to die they hair blonde to fit into this popular category but if you are not white, you can die your hair but you will not get into this category no matter what. Racist, yeah?)
    -Brunette (Always white women, which I found really strange because there are over 1 billion brunette/dark-haired women in China and over 1 billion as well in India, and of course most women who fall into the category of "racial minority" in the USA are brunette be they African-American, Latin, whatever…and yet this was always white women. Racist, yeah?)
    -Redhead (Again I noticed plenty of non-natural-redheads but they were all white.)
    Yeah, porn's racist.
    Oh and….these are also common categories:
    -Asian
    -Latin.

    I never saw black.

    • K. Scriven says:

      Alysia,

      Thank you for your comment; I never thought about it before, but it is true.

      As for “black,” it is typically called “ebony,” and it is a mainstream category.

  21. MizJenkins says:

    I dunno…I mean sure that stuff is out there, but then there are derogatory/racist/ableist tropes thrown around about pretty much every woman in porn (Black hoes, Latina vixens, grannies, trannies, midgets etc. etc.) And yes, the pay gap is mad racist but that exists in every industry. It’s hardly exclusive to porn.

    But the thing that strikes me most about this article is that it seems…out of touch with technology. Maybe I’m being naive but do people really even watch themed porn anymore? I mean sure, loosely themed as in categorized by whatever gets a person off (Black hoes, Latina vixens, grannies, trannies, midgets etc. etc.) but we’re long past the days where most porn is purchased in store and marketed in a box that has to compete with the items next to it on the shelf by using a lot of colorful words and phrases and narrative concepts.

    Even themed porn websites aren’t that popular anymore. Most people just go to youporn.com or redtube.com or xnxx.com and watch whatever 5 minute clip they need to get them going. The copy is down to like five words: “Busty Black Babe Gets Banged” or some such. There’s plenty of variety and I wouldn’t say that even half of it plays into these racist tropes. Seriously, go check it out…

  22. What about middle eastern, arab, muslim, and indian women’s relatively recent emergence as an ethnic category. Until the war on terrorism they did not exist in american porn, as a category at least. The racism of war is reflected in porns racism. Just ask any asian woman, or man for that matter.

    Their representation is as an exotic object, oppressed, but also sometimes a target of rough sex.

  23. Black woman in porn don’t get paid as much as thw white gir,ls do, they don’t get cast in movie and they last only two years. I think that black woman shouldn’t do porn because it does support them.

  24. @Alysia – that’s a very good point. This categorization of people in porn is often a racial categorization: Whites, Blacks, Asians, Latinos. More recently Indians and Arabs. These racial categories serve specific fetishes.

    It’s interesting to note that there’s no Jews category yet (I haven’t come across video description such as “Jew gets c**k rammed down her mouth” or “Jewish slut get pounded”, where as if you replaced Jew with black or asian you’d get plenty) and I suspect that this is because it would be a clear-cut case of anti-semitism, and porn producers would have the anti-defamation league down on them like a ton of bricks.

    @berryblade – I’m glad someone brought up the case of “brazzers”. Anyone can see from their site (or searching for their videos on the web) that they purvey some of the most sexist and abusive pornography around – and we’re not talking about some niche porn that virtually no-one watches – brazzers are popular!!

    We need to rethink what pornography is and what we mean when we talk about it in these sorts of web forums. A good place to start IMO is by defining pornography as material is primarily made up from the most popular kinds of pornography visible on the web – this is a good indicator. This means that what constitutes pornography is always changing, and in the past few years has become ever increasingly violent and abusive. Taking pornography to mean what’s popular on the web immediately solves the problems thrown up by generalization, i.e. pornography in this sense does not include the tiny fraction of productions which are neither sexist, racist, degrading or abusive. (For those I would invent a different name for them, rather than pornography they could be simply called “sex-movies”)

  25. http://www.rapvideoauditions.com/ This is the same shit. i dont understand how the girls can do that. They cleary sold rasism. And a hole bunch of girls play it and dont now what they doing to her self. It is like for white guys who have a fitish to fuck blck girls. but they never would merry them. The girls in this video put them self to sex object…they promoted it and one day mabe they have a doughter. Who is gonna cry because a white boy just want to fuck her because of her skin couler. Thats what i talk is essentil for white girls.

    sry for bad english.

  26. kristy says:

    “an industry based on the degradation of all women.” … i’m going to have to disagree.

  27. Ms. Lovegood says:

    Excellent work Gail. This is a lovely and pointed response.

  28. What’s up with the poor ratings of Asian men with non-Asian women in porn sites I see all the time? Man, white men especially has some control issues here, and they point out a girl is Asian all the time and never with blacks, whites, or latinas. Something is seriously demented and needs to be addressed.

  29. And when I say that they make a big deal out of an Asian girl’s race it is usually on the forums but especially chat rooms where the girl cams.

  30. unpopularopinions says:

    Here goes: I am a (gay) trans boy who wishes i could be a sex worker as a guy. because the medical community refuses to give trans guys a working cock, this is impossible for me, as i would literally sooner die than do sex work without what i SHOULD HAVE between my legs. My boyfriend who is cissexual (assigned male at birth, or to those who don’t know the ‘lingo’, has always been a guy and has a dick), has engaged in sex work. He has NEVER had a bad experience. He stripped at a gay strip club. He did outcalls, and the johns were usually sad old gay men with the occasional closeted married guy who always treated him with respect and tipped him fabulously (and even one woman, who was considered a joke by the agency who sent him out because she dared to be horny and over forty and a woman, and even though my boyfriend is bisexual, the fact that she wasn’t a man with a dick made her be considered a disgusting nothing by the gay male run agency). He enjoyed his sex work because he got to be paid for having an orgasm by receiving oral sex or being on the “giving” part of anal sex (with the woman, he just touched her and made her come). also, condoms were always utilized. He was always in control, and the johns always respected his wishes. The other gay men I know who engage in sex work have told me similar positive stories, even those who chose to be in more vulnerable positions than my boyfriend (ie they received anal sex or gave oral sex). Meanwhile, every woman I have ever known (trans or cis, but ESPECIALLY cis women, ie women assigned ‘female’ at birth) have described horror shows. The worst have been rape and violence, but still, constant urinary tract infections, needing to take the morning after pill, men who pulled their hair and called them names…all par for the course. It seems to me that sex work is yet another arena where men have more fun and safety than women. Also, from what I’ve heard, the women have less choice in the matter. If a john wants to penetrate them, he sometimes does it no matter what they say. Meanwhile, my boyfriend and other sex worker guys that I know have NEVER been forcibly penetrated by their johns. One of my friends is a cis woman who is a dominatrix. The men are not allowed to touch her while she does her job. Well, guess what–she ended up getting raped by one client who wanted to “teach her a lesson that guys are the ones in charge”. No one should EVER shame sex workers no matter their gender, but i think that it is time to recognize that male and female sex workers have VERY different experiences. I am sick of hearing from my boyfriends’ gay male friends how great it is to do sex work and how women need to “stop whining and just spread their legs”. It is not shaming women sex workers to simply identify that this is just another area of life where gay cis men have a blast and women (cis or trans) can often be put in a bad position at the hands of a violent misogynist cis man. Let’s stop acting like the job of sex worker has the same risks and tribulations regardless of gender. My boyfriend and his friends are treated like gods among the gay men that service them. My female friends are treated like bitches and c**** by the straight men they service. As a trans boy, I am not directly involved in this world. But from my position, as someone who has lived as both genders, as someone who dates a sex worker and is good friends with sex workers in the female spectrum, i think i have seen enough to comment.

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