What was once a crude taboo to be uttered within the confines of a boys P.E. locker-room, has now evolved to be a central part of many people’s lives.
Porn has created a sexual education produced and reproduced as a phantasm of sexual reality, that ironically has nothing realistic about it. Yet, porn in our modern age plays a vital role in shaping the young man, with its easy online access and lack of limitations for fetishes.
Studies have shown that porn revenue estimates could exceed companies such as Netflix, making it one of the most lucrative media industries, and the most subscribed to en masse. Due to the private ownership of porn firms, it is difficult to find an accurate representation of the amount of profit the porn industry gains. Yahoo Finance compared the estimated income of such industries from Netflix to Hollywood and the results are all but surprising.
Porn is on the rise and has shown no signs of slowing down. The industry has been contested to have accumulated up to over $6 billion a year; however, Yahoo Finance argues that this varies and could be a lot closer to a staggering sum of $97 billion . As the industry grows, so does its impact on boys’ identities today.
With that in mind then, why are we not talking about the toxicities within it? Especially regarding something as politically and socially charged as race. What happens if boys grow into men who think porn is like real life? We have all seen the reports about sexual assault normalisation in porn and the violent impact it has had in the real world, but what about the degradation of racial minorities as fetishes?
Porn for decades has acted as a playground for men, providing access to sites through which they can explore the depths of their libido and fantasies. Pre-internet, pornography was much more difficult to get a hold of, mainly accessed through videotapes or magazines found in the backs of sketchy stores. However, with the instantaneous nature of the internet today, porn is able to thrive in click-based ecstasy. The movie age of porn has seemed to be replaced with this post-modern emergence of the quick clip and short-lived videos, thus making it easier and faster to produce porn, which also leads to a wider range.
With wide-range, however, comes high demand; as porn videos become heavily mass produced, it can be easier to find your sexual niche. These small areas or categories become a microcosm of a new porn culture that aims to signify what its name suggests. For example, the prominent category of ‘black’ has formed a new culture of porn that features a sexualised, yet overtly stereotypical, archetype of the desirable ‘black figure’. This racialised category has subsequently sustained, and perhaps created, a fetish for ‘blackness’ that only exists as an alternative to mainstream porn. Specifically, on the homepage of the popular porn website ‘PornHub’, the page is populated with icons of white men and women usually of thin and bulky physiques, fitting with western standards of beauty. Whiteness remains at the forefront of this media, and ‘blackness’ acts as an alternative. There are many categories relating to sexual acts and fetish such as ‘BDSM’ and ‘roleplaying’ etc., but what sets apart the ‘black’ category is the fact that being black, here, is not an exclusively sexual property – since when did being black become a sexual fetish?
While, of course, it could be argued that this category caters towards those that find black people sexually attractive and could be a celebration of black beauty, but, in fact, it seems to be the opposite. This category forms a dichotomy that has had severe historical implications; the videos feature what appears to be white western males’ fetishization of black culture and black women, often reducing black women to their ‘big asses’; once a form of racial hatred from white people, has now become a source of pleasure, for the voyeuristic gaze of the oppressor. This type of racial fetish lends itself to the field of the ‘interracial’ category, which often entails the sexual subordination of women of colour and the emergence of the strong white male as the sexual dominator. This sexually, and socially, feeds into the still-living white supremacy that has systematically exploited marginalised women of colour, reducing them down to biology or sex. It plays back into a discourse of "I'm not racist but..", by suggesting that women of colour are a fetish simply by existing, is a belittlement of that existence and, therefore, racist.
So, before you decide to return to that blue lighted glare of shame, take a moment to reflect on the toxic and explicitly racist surface of porn – do you want to supply demand to an industry that benefits from the exploitation and gross misrepresentation of people of colour?