Transforming Pornography: Black Porn for Black Women

Feb 17, 2013
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A few years ago, I sat on a panel with notable feminist academics and a femi­nist pornographer—all of whom were well-respected. I was put on the spot when asked, “Do you consider yourself and your work to be feminist?” I didn’t know how to answer. I tried to steady my voice as I replied, “I’ve never really given that any thought.” The other panelists gave their view of my work and what they knew about me… but the question, which I had to answer for myself, remained: “Am I a feminist?”

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. I knew that prostitution was illegal and had heard rumblings of the unsuccessful fight for decriminalization in the United States. I knew pornography wasn’t the same as prostitution, by legal definition, but had no clue about the fight in court­rooms to make it so. I was like many of the porn stars of my generation who entered the adult film industry with the intent of earning a living, having a good time, or both.

When I walked onto my first adult film set at nineteen, I had never seen a porn movie or magazines or been to a strip club. I merely wanted to provide for my family and finish college. I wanted to have a kind of financial stability that I didn’t see possible as a divorced, single mother of two toddlers working two mall jobs and carrying a full load of classes. That first time, having sex with a complete stranger in his apartment wasn’t about a feminist agenda or some sort of promiscuous sexual itch I sought to scratch. It was about the best option I saw for myself at that time; it was about financial freedom.

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