Overcoming racism and fat-shaming in the adult movie biz
Hit up any major porn website and one of the front page categories you’ll find is “interracial”. While many argue the description’s legitimacy as a fetish, the fact that white women sleeping with black men or vice versa is still a considered a sexual taboo is indicative of a wider issue facing the adult movie industry today.
The subgenre is shockingly considered an “extreme act” and although some might consider “interracial” an innocent category in a not-so innocent industry, it reflects an old attitude society is unwilling to let go of: that a person’s ethnicity can by itself make the act of sex forbidden.
But it’s not just with regards to black men sleeping with white women where this issue is present – Nadia Ali, known in the biz as the “Muslim Porn Star”, made a name for herself by performing sex acts while wearing her hijab.
Having left the industry and now working as a beauty salon owner, Ali opened up about her experiences with regards to racism and prejudice within the porn industry, explaining in an interview with The Daily Beast that she was told to use her religion and cultural Islamic outfits in the movies in order to get famous – a decision Ali said she’s “not really happy” about making.
“I did find the adult industry very racist,” unlike these Geelong Escorts noted Ali. “For a movie, they wanted me to wear the Islamic garb and have ‘Donald Trump’ fucking me from the back. It was like sending a message through porn – a political message.”
The issue of industry racism came to a head back in May when actor Maurice McKnight – who goes by the name Moe the Monster – filed the lawsuit against James Joseph Camp, claiming the filmmaker tried to get his approval for his white co-star to use the n-word twice during a movie shoot.
Despite the fact McKnight refused, the racist slur was used in the shoot. “I just felt violated and betrayed,” said McKnight. “I’ve shot over 50 scenes for this company. For a long time, I was one of their top guys. And I’m always publicly talking about racism. For them to even ask me was an insult, then to do it against my will, it hurts. It feels like it was a set-up.”
McKnight is now suing for fraud, negligence, and failure to prevent racial harassment, while seeking damages for lost wages, emotional distress, and embarrassment, reported Complex. Unfortunately, incidents like McKnight’s and Ali’s are not uncommon, highlighting a widespread issue. As The Daily Beast pointed out, “racism remains a glaring blind spot in adult entertainment.” But why in 2018 are these incidents still rearing their ugly heads?
One of the concerns is that porn is still a taboo subject in itself and is therefore left out of mainstream discussions when it comes to workplace issues. But you only need to look at the statistics with regards to pay to realize that racial discrimination is institutionalized in the adult movie-making business. Actor James Deen – who is now producing and directing his own adult movies – described how he would often be told by an agent, “She doesn’t do interracial porn,” when discussing an actress.
“There are women who have never had sex with a black man on camera and want to be paid $500 extra for it, as if it’s a chore. It’s racist and it’s belittling and it’s keeping me from making a good product and it’s hurting good performers like Mickey Mod,” raged Deen.
Unfortunately, change can’t be enforced until these unspoken rules are brought into the public consciousness and talked about in open and honest ways. Until then, those in top positions of the major production companies will continue to fit actors and actresses into these tight boxes – and it’s not just the “interracial” category that raises questions regarding prejudice and morality.
In an interview with Motherboard, a group of performers spoke out about the labels that leave them in the margins of the porn industry. Ivy Davenport, an SSBBW (Super-Sized Big, Beautiful Woman) performer, explained that while there are some fans who are comfortable in their desire for her and others within the SSBBW and BBW sectors, there are a number of viewers who take dangerous standpoints on what the industry categorizes as “fat”.
“There are guys who, for whatever reason, love fat women, but can’t bring themselves to marry or date them,” she said, before going on to explain that this behavior can become abusive, particularly when men project their shame onto her and other performers. “Being a SSBBW also means having to face a lot of discrimination and harassment,” noted Motherboard.
For BBW women of color, the industry is even harder to navigate. Performer Shy Spells said that being a Black woman of color and a BBW makes her an “easy target” for hate and harassment. “Sex workers get a lot of hate already, and not being what mainstream considers beautiful boosts that . . . I have had some viewers tell me that they would never book a show with a fat girl. There is a lot of the N-word, and to be honest, I think the Black comes up first, before the fat.”
It’s shocking to see Spell speaking frankly about such sinister vitriol and abusive feedback from the industry in which she works – but unfortunately, it is a reality for many performers making adult movies today. If anything, a sector in which sexual barriers are broken down should be one where social prejudices are broken down too. But in many cases, it seems to perpetuate and highlight stereotypes and utilize them in a negative way.
Fortunately, there are many individuals and organizations paving the way for change, including those leading the rise of ethical porn. Ethical porn – also known as fair trade porn – emphasizes treating performers fairly, celebrating diverse bodies, and portraying natural human interactions.
There are a number of feminist porn sites that also fight hard to break down violence against women, racial prejudices, and fat-shaming. For example, Bright Desire offers sex-positive videos of actual couples getting it on, as well as realistic orgy scenes.
Filmmaker Shine Louise Houston manages Pink & White Productions – a company generating gender-inclusive adult movies that respect actors’ desires and boundaries. And of course, there’s Erika Lust – a filmmaker who brings user-submitted fantasies to life in safe sex environments via her channel XConfessions.
Meanwhile, a number of key figures state that we need to see an overhaul of the industry, starting with diversifying who makes the decisions. Performer Misty Stone – who says that despite her stardom, is still compensated less than her white peers – joked that “she wanted to have a company populated with black performers and ‘one token white girl,’ a play on the fact that she has so often been the token black girl.”
The intolerance within the porn trade is so pervasive that it has gone largely unnoticed for many years. However, with the rise of the #MeToo movement and Black Lives Matter, debates regarding the disparity between ethnicities, genders, and sexualities are bringing these issues into the public consciousness. With this in mind, speaking frankly and openly about such topics is a major step on the path towards exposing and overthrowing porn’s dirtiest secret.