"The women of Bikini Kill let guitarist Billy Karren be in their feminist punk band, but only if he's willing to just "do some shit." Being a feminist dude is like that. We may ask you to "do some shit" for the band, but you don't get to be Kathleen Hannah."--@heatherurehere

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Listening to Sinnamon Love

"I was naive about the sexual liberation movement, and had never considered whether or not my decision to flaunt my sexuality on screen was a feminist act. I had never wondered whether fighting for the right to be both mother and sex worker was part of a greater fight for the rights of women around the world. I certainly had never given thought to whether my choice to be tied up, disciplined, and fucked by men and women on film contributed to sexual freedom.All I knew was that I alone was responsible for my body, my life, my sexuality, and my bills. It never crossed my mind that someone might tell me what I should or shouldn’t do with my body or my sex".--Sinnamon Love, The Feminist Porn Book

As I talked about in my post on Jiz Lee's contribution to The Feminist Porn Book, I find that listening to folks who work in and produce porn to be one of the best ways to understand how so many of the arguments from anti-porn feminists just don't hold up.  Once we listen to the folks who are actually doing this kind of work, it's easier to understand that this work can be inextricably intertwined with not only straight-up feminist work, but also social justice work around race, class, queerness and the like.  

Sinnamon Love has been in the industry for almost twenty years and, as a black woman, she has the nuanced, complex insight into the industry that one would expect from somebody so experienced.  Racism is rampant in porn (as it is in film, and society in general, of course), and Love gives us all sorts of insights into how her work from inside the system has helped to fight the good social justice fight around race, and in doing so she touches on how "feminism" sometimes needed to take a back seat because of the intense need to de-stigmatize black women's sexuality:
 "I’ve set a goal to enjoy my work so that my fans will enjoy it as well. I find myself more concerned with the representation of black women’s sexuality than making a statement only about my gender. Perhaps this is because so many people fight the good fight on behalf of (white) women and so few are fighting for black women like me. For example, there are countless examples of white women’s sexualities portrayed in porn, but very limited images of African American women. And when you do see black women in porn, they are often stereotyped or demeaned."
As she began to better recognize the negative elements in her workplace, she began to fight them, utilizing feminist ideas and methods (for instance: she became a producer!).  And, as was echoed in Jiz Lee's piece, agency is all-important as regards doing this kind of work:
"There is no doubt in my mind today that I am a feminist....[f]or me it is about agency. My black feminism is about helping women like me to be able to claim their sexuality in the face of decades of mis-education of African American women who were made to believe that they must choose between education, marriage, and family, or sexual freedom...I suppose, if I were to label who I am today, I would call myself a black feminist pornographer. Instead of accepting work merely to insure the bills get paid, I purposefully work for directors and companies that portray black female sexuality in ways that I feel are expansive, progressive, and interesting."
I encourage y'all to read the entire piece in The Feminist Porn Book, as it is packed with so many insights that it was tough to pick the ones I wanted to talk about here.  She covers 19 years in the industry in just a few pages!  It's also a thoroughly "positive" piece, talking about the practical ways that Love has worked to change things in the industry.   

Sinnamon Love's site
The Feminist Porn Book

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