NPN’s Jendi Reiter reviews an essay by Gail Dines, “King Kong and the white woman: Hustler magazine and the demonization of black masculinity”. This essay is published in Christine Stark & Rebecca Whisnant, eds., Not for Sale: Feminists Resisting Prostitution and Pornography (North Melbourne, Australia: Spinifex Press, 2004, pp.89-101).
This is the second in a series of reviews of the essays in this book. For earlier reviews, please see our Anti-Pornographers Bookshelf.
Dr. Dines, a professor of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College, is an expert on how porn perpetuates racism. One longstanding racist stereotype of black men is that they are hyper-sexual, aggressive savages who want to rape white women. The panic engendered by this myth has led to lynchings, police brutality and punitive anti-crime measures. For over a hundred years, the image of the black man as sexual monster has given the working-class white man a safe target for his anger about economic disenfranchisement; instead, he can be the hero who protects white womanhood. This storyline is a constant theme in Hustler’s cartoons. (p.90)
Black men in porn are even more likely than white men to be reduced to a single body part: their legendary enormous penis. (p.92) Many Hustler cartoons depict white men as pathetic, unable to compete with well-endowed black men for access to the few attractive white women. Black men are also commonly featured as rich pimps exploiting white johns. “The lower-class, sexually impotent male in Hustler cartoons is thus not an object of identification but rather of ridicule and a pitiful example of what could happen if white men fail to assert their masculinity and allow the Black male to roam the streets and bedrooms of white society. This character thus stands as a symbol of the devastation that Blacks can cause, a devastation brought about by ‘bleeding heart’ liberals who mistakenly allowed blacks too much freedom.” (p.99)
Hustler’s publisher and editor, Larry Flynt, has positioned himself as a hero of the anti-censorship left. He has always claimed a political as well as a sexual role for his magazine. People who are offended by Hustler, he says, just can’t handle the truth that his satires reveal. How ironic that progressives should fall for this line, when the “truth” he is promoting is simply the same old reactionary stereotypes that subordinate racial minorities and pit white and black working-class men against each other. (p.94)
Coming tomorrow: Our review of Andrea Dworkin, “Pornography, prostitution, and a beautiful and tragic recent story”.