You Can Talk About Piracy and Manwin Takeovers, But Porn Won’t Address Racism; Women and Women of Color In Particular Are Marginalized in Porn Writes This Doctor

According to the LA Times, last week’s Los Angeles County porn condom law won big in nonwhite, working-class areas.

The ballot initiative which would dictate condoms in porn racked up huge margins in lower-income neighborhoods that are either heavily Latino, black or both, like East Los Angeles (67%); Inglewood (75%); Compton (76%); Los Angeles’ 8th City Council District in South L.A (76%); and Willowbrook, south of Watts (77%).

To me, this sounds a little like porn karma at work where racial discrimination after all these years has bit the porn industry square in the ass.

Years ago I was flabbergasted to learn that movies featuring black performers or IR scenes featuring mixed couples were simply passed over when it came to making cable deals.

And I remember then a number of black performers telling me they were being paid much less than their white counterparts. Truthfully, I didn’t know that was going on. Then again, I was representing AVN, the bastion of white bread porn supremacy.

[In all my years at AVN there was one black employee who worked in the warehouse and I doubt if there was ever one on the editorial staff after I left.]

To add fuel to the fire, this week Dr. Mireille Miller-Young, an associate professor of feminist studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, wrote an article for the NY Times about racial inequality in porn.

As a researcher of the porn industry for the past decade, Dr. Young claims to have interviewed dozens of performers.

For some performers she seems to think that porn is a path to college and out of poverty, and for others it’s a chance to make a statement about female pleasure.

“I have found that women enter the pornography industry because they are enthusiastic about its potential for lucrative, flexible and independent work,” she says.

Women who previously worked in the retail sector or in nursing [hey, Nina Hartley used to be a nurse!] found that pornography offered them greater control of their labor, and surprisingly, it treated them with more humanity.

“Some women found that it enabled them to rise out of poverty, take care of their families or go to college. Others emphasize the creative aspects of pornography, and say it allows them to increase their economic mobility while also making a bold statement about female pleasure.”

But the biggest challenge Dr. Miller-Young discovered to women working in porn is gender and racial inequality.

“Overwhelmingly, women do not control the production and distribution apparatus of the business,” she reports.

“The men who run both the large companies and the smaller, amateur businesses tend to marginalize women’s perspectives and priorities and to foster a competitive environment that pits female workers against one another.”

According to Dr. Miller-Young, African-American women and men of color in general – are paid half to three-quarters of what white actresses are paid.

“Like in other kinds of industries, they face prejudice and inequality in structural and interpersonal forms. But they also challenge them. Porn’s workers are fighting to achieve greater control over their labor and the products they produce,” she states, noting that with the Internet fast democratizing porn, women should have a larger voice in its betterment.

In an interview she did five years ago with www.npr.org, Dr. Miller-Young was a lot more forceful. She stated then: “I think that – my work specifically looks at pornography, for example – you can see that in the production of the types of films that black women appear in: lower production value, less of the kind of market, lower kind of values in how they treat the workers.

“Women are paid half to three quarters of what white actresses tend to make. And this, you know, reflects the ways in which black bodies have historically been devalued in our labor market since, you know, slavery to the present.

“I think that, you know, it speaks to the ways in which there’s this simultaneous problem that was like a deep desire to have those bodies present and to consume those bodies as commodities, but a deep disgust for black people, our humanity and our bodies, at the same time that allows that devaluing to function.”

Didn’t Jimmy the Greek get fired for stating something very similar?

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