Citation

Can the Ho’s Speak? Queering Black Porn, Illicit Eroticism, and Sexual Rights

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Abstract:

As a visual culture and capitalist media economy, pornography provides a space where the instabilities and permeability of cultural and psychic sexual borders along racial lines become revealed, reworked, and reiterated. Black bodies, as well as other bodies of color, have been historically figured as hyper-sexual, hyper-available, and hyper-visible sites of desire in hardcore production, illustrating the profound anxieties and investments in commodifying and consuming Black sexualities in the most explicit media. The disciplining of Black bodies in the increasingly globalized pornography industry was initiated as, and continues to be, a product of the imagination and financial acumen of white male hardcore producers, filmmakers, distributors, and others. Their segregation of Black and interracial sex into niche or specialized markets has tended to marginalize and degrade Black images as well as Black workers, even while it generates unprecedented growth in profits within the contemporary $10-14 Billion dollar adult industry. This paper, drawn from my research and manuscript in progress on African American women in the pornography industry, will explore how African Americans in the U.S. adult entertainment industry have negotiated the intimate economy of sexual labor in part by embracing identities of sexual minoritarians and non-conformists. Considering the historical engagement of Black people with underground, illicit economies, including the sex industry, and the valence of non-conformist sexual politics in the Black community, can we understand their choice to commodify their sexuality within this specific industry as part of a broader tradition of strategic labor in intimate economies? Using ethnographic and oral history data of Black sex workers in hardcore, I will ask how, in light of the dominant critiques by Black feminists of pornography and prostitution as inherently racist and heterosexist, can we read the participation of Black workers in ways that take seriously their concerns for economic and sexual autonomy? Furthermore, attending to Cathy Cohen’s call for Black Studies to engage how social actors marginalized for their sexual deviance may teach us a lot about how minoritarian subjects “queer” Black heteronormativity on the ground, through their sexual labor practices. This paper will contribute to the major concerns of the conference and the panel in terms of citizenship and belonging, and race and sexual identities and practices.
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Name: American Studies Association Annual Meeting
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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p318289_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Miller-Young, Mireille. "Can the Ho’s Speak? Queering Black Porn, Illicit Eroticism, and Sexual Rights" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Renaissance Hotel, Washington D.C., <Not Available>. 2014-11-28 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p318289_index.html>

APA Citation:

Miller-Young, M. L. "Can the Ho’s Speak? Queering Black Porn, Illicit Eroticism, and Sexual Rights" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Renaissance Hotel, Washington D.C. <Not Available>. 2014-11-28 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p318289_index.html

Publication Type: Internal Paper
Abstract: As a visual culture and capitalist media economy, pornography provides a space where the instabilities and permeability of cultural and psychic sexual borders along racial lines become revealed, reworked, and reiterated. Black bodies, as well as other bodies of color, have been historically figured as hyper-sexual, hyper-available, and hyper-visible sites of desire in hardcore production, illustrating the profound anxieties and investments in commodifying and consuming Black sexualities in the most explicit media. The disciplining of Black bodies in the increasingly globalized pornography industry was initiated as, and continues to be, a product of the imagination and financial acumen of white male hardcore producers, filmmakers, distributors, and others. Their segregation of Black and interracial sex into niche or specialized markets has tended to marginalize and degrade Black images as well as Black workers, even while it generates unprecedented growth in profits within the contemporary $10-14 Billion dollar adult industry. This paper, drawn from my research and manuscript in progress on African American women in the pornography industry, will explore how African Americans in the U.S. adult entertainment industry have negotiated the intimate economy of sexual labor in part by embracing identities of sexual minoritarians and non-conformists. Considering the historical engagement of Black people with underground, illicit economies, including the sex industry, and the valence of non-conformist sexual politics in the Black community, can we understand their choice to commodify their sexuality within this specific industry as part of a broader tradition of strategic labor in intimate economies? Using ethnographic and oral history data of Black sex workers in hardcore, I will ask how, in light of the dominant critiques by Black feminists of pornography and prostitution as inherently racist and heterosexist, can we read the participation of Black workers in ways that take seriously their concerns for economic and sexual autonomy? Furthermore, attending to Cathy Cohen’s call for Black Studies to engage how social actors marginalized for their sexual deviance may teach us a lot about how minoritarian subjects “queer” Black heteronormativity on the ground, through their sexual labor practices. This paper will contribute to the major concerns of the conference and the panel in terms of citizenship and belonging, and race and sexual identities and practices.


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