By now the entire world is familiar with what is currently going on: massive civil unrest as thousands across the world take to the streets to fight for racial equality, justice, and an end to police brutality (among other things). Many think we have reached a tipping point in this country and even though the future is uncertain, changes are definitely coming. Even the adult industry is trying to make some changes to show that they value Black lives and that racial equality & social justice matters. But..are those changes actually helpful? And if not, what sort of changes could the adult industry make that are actually impactful instead of hollow and performative?
(Before I dive further into this blog post, I want to take the time to reiterate the fact that I am a BLACK Woman who believes that the lives of Black Women MATTER. I have also had plenty of first hand experiences with many of the things that people are currently in the streets protesting. I have also been “boots on the ground” before, on the front line fighting for what I believe in. I unapologetically write this blog post from that vantage point and it does shape My view of the world around Me.)
Adult Platforms Take A Stand for Equality in the Adult Industry
Yesterday, AVN (Adult Video Network) released a public statement announcing they would “be eliminating the terms “IR” and “Interracial” from its news coverage online and in its print publications” as well as “AVN will be eliminating all “interracial” and “ethnic” categories from the AVN Awards”. ManyVids also took the time to reiterate their “no race play allowed” rule and deleted content that fell under that category. Some of you may even remember a couple years ago, IWantClips declared it was putting an end to the racial humiliation & race play categories on its website as well. Many were happy to see these sites speaking up and taking a stand on racism, especially at a time when many are being silent about what is currently unfolding around the country.
However, I, as a Black Woman, see these changes as being well-intentioned but totally one dimensional and not impactful in the slightest, except in the way of garnering praise from the public. I do not believe that changes like these are effective and in fact, stand to further harm BIPOC in the adult industry.
Now let Me explain why that is…
The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions
First of all, whether you want to admit it or not, our society has been brought up to see white people as the standard for everything. You don’t (typically) go to an adult site and see them advertising “All white girls”. Sure, you may see other words used that imply whiteness (blonde, redhead, pawg etc) but there is no need to explicitly state that you’re going to find white girls on said site. Why? Because it goes without saying. Whiteness is the standard. Unless a site explicitly states they are an “all Black” or “All Latinx” etc website, you know already know you’re going to find white girls. It is simply implied. (Whether or not this is right/wrong is a separate discussion that I’m not getting into, but let it be known I do not agree with whiteness being the standard.)
I fully understand the desire to be “treated like everyone else” and not be divided on the basis of race/ethnicity but sometimes….(watch out, piping hot take coming through)..its not a bad thing. Having racial/ethnic categories on sites gives BIPOC a space where they can be seen. Having these sort of categories eliminated and lumping us in altogether only serves to erase us from the big picture. It lets our content get lost in the massive sea of Internet porn. As a Black Woman, I already have to work twice as hard to get half as much as a white woman, and by erasing My visibility on sites I now have to work EVEN HARDER to be seen….in a world where white girls can simply show up, take selfies in a filthy bedroom with bedhead and jagged, unpainted toenails and STILL make money hand over fist compared to a BIPOC who pours their ALL into their work.
As for the elimination of racial humiliation & raceplay categories on sites, I’m not with that either! No, I don’t believe that white people should be able to profit off of using racial slurs and making hateful content, but I also don’t believe in censorship. It is simply too easy to end up silencing EVERYONE. What’s to stop these sites from deleting content made by BIPOC creators? If you’re Black, chances are pretty good that your customer base consists of a lot of white men who want to be called “white boys” and want to worship you because you’re a “Black Goddess/Domme etc”. That inherently makes a lot of My work, by definition, racial and in some cases, My work could be classified as racial humiliation. Eliminating these types of categories from clip sites now makes My very existence (and the addressing of My clientele) taboo. How is this fair to Me, as a Black Woman? How does this help Me and other BIPOC content creators who are just trying to make a living like everyone else in this world? I understand the need to get rid of those who are making a living off of hate, but I don’t appreciate the risk of My hard work (and the work of other BIPOC) being sacrificed in the process!
Censorship is a VERY heavy handed weapon that has the capacity to do lots of unintended damage and really should be applied carefully and sparingly.
I also have My own views on policing the sexual fantasies of others. In My opinion, this sort of thing borders on thought crime and even though people may think extremely shitty, awful thoughts…you simply cannot police thoughts and fantasies. If a Black man wants to pay a white woman to call him racial slurs, that’s really none of My business. Do I think its fucked up? Certainly, but at the end of the day as long as other people’s sexual desires are not causing undue harm to others, its none of My business.
(You may be saying “but calling someone a racial slur IS harmful”. This is where I say personal accountability comes into play. You know good and damn well being called the N-word isn’t the best form of self care, but I can’t police you or your sexual desires. Only YOU know what’s good for YOU and what’s not.)
Working Towards Equality in the Adult Industry
Alright, so what is the answer to all of this? If eliminating racial categories isn’t the best way to help BIPOC adult content creators, what is? Well, I don’t have all the answers but I can think of some ways that, IN MY OPINION, would be more effective in working towards equality in the adult industry and creating a space that is inclusive and fair to all.
–The BIGGEST thing that I think adult sites can do to promote fairness and diversity is to have more Black people on staff. Not just have a Black writer submit an article during February or after a high profile police killing of a Black person. All of these clip sites and adult websites are primarily run by white people, white men to be exact. Stop that. Your staff should be just as diverse as the people who create the content that keeps your site running! Hire BIPOC to sit on your board, to staff your offices, and be a part of the various creative processes that make these websites work. Include BIPOC at all levels in your company and make sure their voices are HEARD loud & clear.
–Make sure marketing/promotional materials are inclusive and diverse! Stop using white faces as the standard in your advertising. If your website has ethnic/racial categories, categories for able & non able bodied people, categories for queer people etc…these things should be reflected in the faces you use to promote your site! Stop using the same white girls with the same look to be the face of your website! Stop using the same one or two Black performers on your banners during Black History Month! Normalize our presence on your site through your marketing materials FIRST before you go erasing our categories! Hammer it into your viewers heads that your site features people from ALL walks of life FIRST, before you engage in our erasure by eliminating the very categories that highlight us.
–Along with the above point re: marketing & promo materials…sites need to stop stereotyping performers/creators of color. Meaning…Black isn’t necessarily urban. Latinx isn’t necessarily spicy/fiery. Asian isn’t necessarily docile & exotic. Show Black goths, Latinx nerds, Asian punks, indigenous gamers etc etc. BIPOC PEOPLE HAVE THE RANGE AND WE SHOULD BE HIGHLIGHTING THESE THINGS.
-Make a STRONG PUSH to start showing more diversity in certain fetishes in particular, like interracial and cuckolding. WHY IS INTERRACIAL ALWAYS WHITE WOMEN WITH BLACK MEN!? WHY IS CUCKOLDING ALWAYS A WHITE COUPLE WITH A BLACK BULL?! There are so many different ways that these fetishes could be highlighted and made way more fun & inclusive! Interracial just means different races…there is nothing anywhere that says interracial is strictly white and Black people. Where are the Latinx folks? Where are the Asian folks? Where are the indigenous folks? Do you know how many times I’ve heard from people that cuckolding doesn’t interest them because they aren’t into race play? Cuckolding has NOTHING to do with race, but we have made it that way to the point where the original meaning of the fetish is COMPLETELY LOST. Why not start working to undo that through imagery instead of category elimination? Its the imagery that made helped make those fetishes into what they currently are today and it will be imagery that will undo it.
-Sites can show solidarity with their BIPOC content creators by increasing payouts for EVERYONE.
-Sites could also use algorithms/tech to showcase BIPOC performs/content creators on their sites.
-Give BIPOC equal opportunity to win awards in categories that are almost always dominated by white people. If you’ve got a website where people from all walks of life create porn, why is it when its time to hand out awards, the nominees are ALL white?! (When it comes to the topic of awards, this is an area where I don’t see ethnic categories as being a good thing. We should all be on equal ground to receive awards from the start, and THEN if you want to add racial categories thats fine. But its more important to make sure that we are all on equal footing FIRST.)
-Eliminate top selling lists that almost always consist of all white content creators. Top selling lists for individual categories would be better to give smaller studios/creators a chance at having some time in the spotlight.
Again, these are just some of MY IDEAS that I think would be more effective in helping to uplift BIPOC in the adult industry instead of just eliminating categories and thinking you’ve done something big. I know My suggestions don’t necessarily address the issue of eradicating hate (and the people who profit off it) on these platforms but maybe eradicating isn’t the answer. Maybe we have to suffocate these people….stifle them under the weight of inclusivity and diverse staff, marketing and promotional materials. Use tech to drown them out. Increase payouts so that “some people” don’t feel like they HAVE to cater to the lowest denominator to make a living. Re-write these fetishes that have become so racialized and show that they can be DIVERSE and just as hot.
Without doing any of these things, the actions that these websites are taking in the name of racial justice are just performances with no real power to create lasting equality in the adult industry and, in fact, could do more damage than intended to the very people they were trying to help.