A Webzine about Porn

In the last couple days, I’ve come across two interesting critiques of pornography. The first is Pornography Is A Left Issue (via Lauren at Feministe) by Gail Dines and Robert Jensen, which addresses pornography as corporate media (which it surely is — the top distributors of pornography are your friendly neighborhood cable and satellite companies, including Rupert Murdoch’s DirecTV, and your homes away from home, the major hotel/motel chains); the second is blac(k)ademic’s Why Pornography Harms Women of Color (via reappropriate’s Carnival of Feminists 6), an attack on the explicit racism that fuels much of today’s pornography. Both are deeply thought and deeply felt critiques that raise a number of important points, but are ultimately unsuccessful as arguments against pornography in general.

Blac(k)ademic’s post is inspired by the high number of websurfers that find her site via searches for racial/racist porn. The meat of blac(k)ademic’s argument is that: pornography hurts women of color, because it reproduces the racist imagery assigned to brown bodies. when people type in “black lesbian bitches,” or “lesbian niggers” [on search engines] they are perpetuating the dehumanizing stigma attached to all women of color. the only thing that is different, is that pornography suppossedly makes these racist ideals sexy or desireable. it absolves racism as it is turned into a seemingly harmless sexual gratification.

I’m not entirely convinced that this is an argument against Adult reviews pornography so much as it an argument against the type of people or the type of desires serviced by pornography. The strength (or weakness) of the argument relies on how much of a role you believe pornography plays in shaping those desires; I tend to think “not very much”, noting for example that dehumanizing sexual relationships between white men and Teen Pussy women of color predate the modern pornography industry by several hundred years.

Neither do I think racism is “absolved” by the gloss of desire — the rationale here being, I think, that “if I were racist, I wouldn’t wanna fuck black chicks, now would I?” The reality is aptly described by blac(k)ademic a few paragraphs later: “the sickening part of it is, is that, when people…i assume men, young men or gay boys, look for “lesbian niggers,” they are relating their sexual arousal with racial hate.” Racism is not glossed over by racial porn, it is the object of it.

But raising the issue of racism in porn begs the question of whether blac(k)ademic would not be against Big Tits porn if there were no racial porn. Is it just a particular type of porn that’s “bad”, or is it the nature of pornography itself? This question haunts Dines and Jensen’s piece, which advocates a strong anti-pornography stand as part of the mainstream liberal position.

As leftists, we reject the sexism and racism that saturates contemporary mass-marketed Adult cams pornography. As leftists, we reject the capitalist commodification of one of the most basic aspects of our humanity. As leftists, we reject corporate domination of media and culture. Anti-pornography fetish are not asking the left to accept a new way of looking at the world but instead are arguing for consistency in analysis and application of principles.

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