2.10.2013

Racial Inequality in the Porn Industry

I know, I know.  Porn.  But whether you enjoy watching adult entertainment, are merely curious about it or think it's the gateway to the ninth circle of Hell, it's still a legal way to make a living (as long as its between consenting adults, of course).  And as long as it's legal, the actors and actresses should be paid equal wages to perform the same damn job.  It's just that simple.

But alas...no.

ColorLines:
When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, it became illegal for employers to discriminate based on race. But decades laters studies show white workers still earn tens of thousands more than workers of color in the same job.
A 2011 Georgetown study found white engineers earn an average of $80,000 a year but their African-American counterparts earn $20,000 less. Latino engineers earn $24,000 less than white ones.
The racial inequality and wage gap also exists in the adult film industry.
Women of color in the pornography industry are paid half to three quarters of what white actresses tend to make.
In a New York Times essay published this week Dr. Mireille Miller-Young wrote that the greatest challenge faced by women who work in the pornography business, in addition to social stigma, is gender and racial inequality.
Miller-Young, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research explores race, gender and sexuality in visual culture and sex industries in the U.S.
In her New York Times piece titled “Empowering to the Women on Screen,” Dr. Miller Young writes about the inequality in the pornography business and provides additional context based on her research:

For instance, I have found that women enter the pornography industry because they are enthusiastic about its potential for lucrative, flexible and independent work. Women who previously worked in the retail sector or in nursing 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.
According to the performers I interviewed, the greatest challenge faced by women who work in the pornography business, in addition to social stigma, is gender and racial inequality. Overwhelmingly, women do not control the production and distribution apparatus of the business. 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.
African-American women - and 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.

Women of color are paid half to three quarters of what white actresses tend to make, according to a 2007 NPR interview with Miller-Young. She went on to say this “reflects the ways in which black bodies have historically been devalued in our labor market since, you know, slavery to the present.”
She says this is also visible in the production of the types of films that black women appear in: they have a lower production value, less of the kind of market, and lower kind of values in how they treat the workers.
Sadly, this doesn't surprise me.  At all. 

29 comments:

  1. Which explains why I can't name a single mainstream and successful Black porn actress, yet I know all about Jenna Jameson - and I'm not a porn watcher*.

    *Those gifs that show up on my Tumblr dash do not count.

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  2. Is anyone really surprised? Not to mention that my race is considered a sub- category and fetish. Ugh.

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  3. Remember that pornfest we had on the Narrative? This right here answers sooooooooo many questions.

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  4. Not surprising, especially when some of the titles of porn or porn clips all have tags with slut, ghetto, black bitch, etc.. to them, compared to the white counter parts.

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  5. Who would ever think that pornography would be unequal? One would think that it would be the least prejudiced of the entertainment industry.So crazy.

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    1. From what I read, the fetishes/stereotypes most WOC deal with in the regular world gets magnified in porn. The Spicy Latina, Docile Asian, Ghetto Mattress-Queen Black Bytch are very common themes in WOC-starred porn films. Since the customers keep buying them, they have no moral or ethical incentive to change the practise*. I once read a post years ago by a Blasian porn star, and she even said she was often told by directors to 'act more Black' in her roles.

      *Even Jameson said that she didn't do films with Black men because it would cost anger and alienate her fan base - her bread and butter.

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    2. After reading articles about how messed many of these women are from this industry I would be happy if WOC just left it. I know some make good money, but its just not worth it. Let the white girls have it.

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    3. I think Black women should stay in the industry, but they need to be in more control of it. Instead of working in someone else's studio, they need to start their own. And instead of catering to other people's racist fetishes, they need to portray themselves how they want to be seen in the industry.

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    4. That is the problem though. It will be hard because men have a choke hold on this industry. I know there were a couple of white women who started companies, but I do not think they lasted long. The only person of color with a production company in porn is Lexington Steele. His movies carry the same stereotypes also. I also think even if women managed to start their own companies the demand will still be for the common stereotypes. I read an article about the push for the use of condoms, but viewers resisted the idea by not buying those movies. The same thing would probably happen if women took over and reinvented how porn was made. It all boils down to money.

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    5. but viewers resisted the idea by not buying those movies.

      Which viewers? Men or women?

      Because I would love to watch porn from a female-run studio. Shit would clean, rooms wouldn't be tacky, music would be on point....

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    6. Sorry. I meant men. I would sincerely hope it would be cleaner with some serious interior decorating. I would also hope there would be more of a plot. I get that porn isn't known for plots, but does it have to be so stupid. Get some new words to yell out during sex. "Oh yeah" should be retired! I think women could be more original.

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    7. "Because I would love to watch porn from a female-run studio. Shit would clean, rooms wouldn't be tacky, music would be on point...."

      From the sounds of it, this would likely be a small, niche-market venture. Not saying that it's a bad thing, but that's likely where it would have to start. If Mainstream Hollywood molasses crawl to progress is anything to go by, hell will freeze twice before the Porno Honchos green-lit such projects - before I grow old and croak.

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    8. I don't think it would be small niche-market. That's why men have such a choke hold on the industry. It's the same reason white folks have a choke hold on mainstream media.

      Female-run studios would eventually take over. They'd pay better, treat the workers better, and they'd produce material more couples would enjoy.

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    9. I saw a documentary about women making porn...it's happening, and supposedly has more women's sensibilities but have no idea about where it's marketed or anything like that. I'm sure the women are split between appealing to the mass market and appealing to other women, since people act like women aren't visually stimulated and don't want to see porn that is meant to please them.

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  6. I think the main problem is that while white actress are seen as having "mail stream cross over appeal" Women of color are almost universally shunned by their communities. How many times did Keni Styles get written about and invited to Asian American new functions and events... how many times did Asian American women get invited? Within the Black community especially first and second generation African/ Caribbean Americans there's a stigma against a sexually liberated woman. "You can't turn a ho into a housewife" and my fingers would go numb quoting all the Reggae, Dancehall , Soca and reggaton songs based off the same sentiment. There are good black girls and bad black girls. The good ones are rewarded by being queens as long as they keep their mouth shut, the bad ones are social pariahs. How many White musicians or entertainers have had relationships with Porn actresses? How many mainstream Black entertainers?

    Because Black sexuality itself is such a taboo the sexuality of black women has been historically stifled, those that dare to enjoy and flaunt it are accused of bringing down the entire race by playing into white fantasy. While Black men that do that same and can be accused of playing into similar fantasies are exalted for it.

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    1. Boom.

      Girl, it's good to see you here at the Club!

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    2. How many White musicians or entertainers have had relationships with Porn actresses? How many mainstream Black entertainers?


      I cannot think of any mainstream from either race. Not big time actors/musicians anyway. Now when you get into the lesser known entertainers/musicians quite a few. And no I do not consider Charlie Sheen a mainstream actor.

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    3. You don't consider a man that was at one time the highest paid television actor mainstream?

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    4. I would consider him a past mainstream actor (on television) with a bad boy image. That I can agree. He proudly paraded the fact he was with porn actresses and what not. I cannot see someone like Tom Hanks doing that and getting away with it though. I could be wrong since this is men we are talking about so they are repeatedly given the opportunity to screw up. As for musicians its the whole sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll mantra. Its expected of them.

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    5. Lesa, Charlie Sheen just imploded his career on CBS about a year and a half ago. And he got another show and several commercials right after.
      He is old but definitely mainstream. You make it sound like he was last seen in the 80's or 90's.
      Colin Farrell had a sex tape with a black Playmate, but he was able to get the release blocked.
      And Bill Maher definitely dates the naughtier variety of black women.
      It's not just rock stars or bad boys who date these women.

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  7. Jazzy Jane

    Also FYI - interracial porn (between black and white only because all races other than black are considered white) pays WW more money. What I mean to say it WW get paid more to do porn with black men as an incentive.

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  8. Names of a few black female porn stars (that I can remember at 1:30am LOL!). Janet Jackme, Purple Passion (learned how to suck a D*c* watching her, I was all of 18! ), Heather ________?, Monique, veronica Blu, Roxxy, just to name a few.
    So I was reading on Keni Styles' website/blog he said that when a white girl has sex with him they (the white girl) gets paid more because it's considered IR, but when he has sex, say with a black girl (Marie Luv!) she doesn't get paid what the white girl gets.

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    1. I think the name you are missing is Heather Hunter...Lil Kim used to rap about her and Janet Jackme, plus, I think Heather Hunter had a public access show that was featured on Real Sex.

      Why is white p***y considered to be so special that any non-white penis that goes in it requires they be paid more? I saw Keni Style's picture...they should probably pay HIM more for dealing with those used up white chicks.

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    2. I mean, I'm sorry, those women age like fruit flies and don't make it to 30 without crows feet but it's considered slumming for them to have sex with non-white men who when the same age as them look at least a decade younger?

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    3. Gee! I thought that non Black/ White couples weren't considered to be interracial, at least that's the impression society gave. I guess when it comes to porn it's another story.. almost like its interracial when it's convient.

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    4. @M, I know what you mean...porn definitions and real life definitions are definitely different.
      I have definitely experienced the situation where WM/AW was somehow not considered interracial but anyone black with a non-black person is. There is an odd false equivalency sometimes given to just AW.

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  9. After reading articles about how messed many of these women are from this industry I would be happy if WOC just left it. I know some make good money, but its just not worth it. Let the white girls have it. Open Revolua Registration by Revoluza Network

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  10. Here is a good article by a black actress from the industry.

    http://www.guernicamag.com/features/transforming-pornography-black-porn-for-black-women

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