2.13.2013

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. 

**Cross-posted at The Black Girls Club.

6 comments:

  1. I wish I could be surprised. Sucks. It just sucks big time.

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  2. This would explain the low quality of the Blasian porn we have posted here. Every move is formulaic, everything takes place in one room, and the overall video looks like it cost $5 (and that's pushing it by $2).

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  3. PORNLAND by Gale Dines gives an amazing look into the porn industry as it relates to people of color. Not only are POC paid waaay less, but the videos are extremely racist in nature. A white girl can just be a "slut" but a black girl will ALWAYS be a "ghetto slut" or a "nasty ho". A black man will ALWAYS be portrayed as some sort of King Kong just slayin' bitches with his enormous penis. The Asian girls will ALWAYS be subservient, sweet, petite, eager-to-please and willing to be abused in order to please. Asian males are of course non-existent. Latinos will ALWAYS be portrayed as exotic feisty lovers with insatiable appetites for sex. It's like whites are the "standard" and POC are the "others" who must be categorized by stereotype in order to be identifiable. I do not watch porn, but after reading her book, I honestly can't figure out how anyone can get turned on while watching such a blatant display of disrespect. Our sexuality is exploited in such a salacious manner.

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  4. A Tumblr post on this very topic, featuring a quote from a Black male porn star: http://knowledgeequalsblackpower.tumblr.com/post/43292541876/porn-is-the-only-industry-basically-where-racial

    How much are you willing to bet that he's been made to pay for his 'outburst'?

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  5. Good article by a black porn actress.

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

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  6. I havent been on my blogger account in at least a year...ive forgotten how to follow someone. can u assist

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