How to Make Ethical Porn in an Industry Built on Racism and Fetishization

I hope that 2017 is the year I can retire my “Asian schoolgirl” outfit. "That pussy is so cute and Asian! I bet it's tight too!"

  Photo credit: Minnie Scarlet

 Photo credit: Minnie Scarlet

I was recently reading the latest comments on a new porn scene of mine where I was dressed in a schoolgirl outfit. I squinted as I thought about how people usually only mention my ethnicity when my character acts young, or maybe giggly. As if "Asian" is synonymous with cute, shy, or submissive. But that's the way it is. If I was a Latina girl, my attitude might be fetishized, same with if I happened to be a black girl. It just depends on what stereotype surrounds your ethnicity. I know that no one would attribute a "tight pussy" to being white. At least, not on any of the sites I've ever browsed. I would just be a white girl who happened to have a tight pussy. I know, I know, I'm staring at a video of myself masturbating, and somehow I'm sitting here thinking about fetishization, racism, and societal values.

Most people think putting critical thought into racism or fetishisation in porn is a waste of time because porn is just fap material, full of useless sluts (according to the eggs that tweet at me, anyway). Coincidentally enough, this slut has put enough thought into it for everyone. You see, porn is just one form of media. It's sexualized, and people masturbate to it—but it's media nonetheless. 

And the way casting in media works from what I've observed is the "normal"/default roles go to white people, while the people of color are always there for a reason (ie: criminals, nerds, etc). Stereotyping. Pigeonholing. Whatever you want to call it. I've been told that it's a tool used to get a message across faster in a scenario. For example, if you wanted to convey that a character was quiet or liked math, you might want to make her Asian. Or better yet, an Asian schoolgirl! But if you just want a normal ol' love story in America that isn't about immigration or the hood, it'll probably be some people who look like Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. Actually, I'm pretty sure that's a real movie pairing. Anyway, this tool's effectiveness relies on the audience being aware and believing that certain ethnicities are more likely to be in jail, or aggressive; while others are quiet, easy to make fun of, and weak. My point being this is just one of the many facets of what we know as systematic racism. It's a machine with many working parts, each part with its own function and all the parts work together to keep that machine in motion. The stereotypes that we're used to seeing on the big screen can also be seen on the little screen of your cell phone while you're fapping.

My actor friend and I have this running joke that if you're an Asian-American woman in the industry, any entertainment industry at all, you need to have a school girl outfit on deck pretty much all the time. She does comedy and "mainstream" (non-adult) acting and despite the fact her career isn't X-rated at all (she doesn't even show her boobs!!!), she's still had to dress up as a sexy schoolgirl for jobs. If you're wondering, we met where mainstream and porn collide: on the set of a B-film called Asian Schoolgirls—softcore, if ya nasty… and honest with yourself.

I'm a loudmouth on Twitter so it's not uncommon for me to burst people's bubbles of what an actual Asian sex worker is like, versus what their fantasy might be. And any time I ask where these people get these crazy ideas, I'm met with, "Well, I saw it in a porno..." or "I see it in movies!"

To which my response is always, "Then why don't we try to do better? Let's have some better representation so you don't only see certain groups of people doing certain things and acting a certain way." And then of course everyone goes crazy and yells about how it's just porn and it doesn't matter at all. People hate examining the fucked-up fantasies they have and the things they like because it's way easier to pretend like their favorite go-to fantasy of tying up a resistant Asian girl or wanting to be overcome by five BBC (big black cocks, for all you squares) happened to them by accident. I'm all for kinky, crazy, wild fantasies, but I'm also for being aware that they don't exist in a vacuum.

Racism and its bestie, colorism, both run rampant in porn, hand-in-hand, probably skipping. The same way loads of performers strategically wait for the most beneficial time to do anal, lighter performers reserve the opportunity of doing their "first IR" (aka interracial) scene while usually banking on extra money for that booking. But black performers and those with darker skin? Working with white or lighter performers is part of their job, it goes without saying, and without extra pay.

I can't even imagine the outrage if a non-white performer outright said she doesn't fuck anybody white! Beyond the outrage, the work out there would be SPARSE! But it's common to find white or lighter performers who refuse to work with black performers, period. Performers should have control of who they fuck, which is absolutely fine with me, and I will never suggest that anybody is forced to fuck anybody but if you are in a position where you are given that choice—that's a privilege in itself. And if you're getting paid extra to fuck somebody just because they are a specific race, yikes, it's hard to say that's not racist. I've heard some performers say they don't make the rules, but nobody is forced to capitalize off a racialized fetish when you aren't said ethnicity that is being fetishized. It's kind of strange sometimes because you'll see behind the scenes, everybody might be treated fine. But then when the DVD or scene comes out, it'll describe the non-white performers in a demeaning way or the scene with a more "diverse" cast might have lower production value. Not every performer of color will mind, but I know a lot of us do, and that's why I started shooting for myself only. I get to control the scenarios, my wardrobe, and the overall way I'm depicted. In order for some fantasies to be executed, just like they do in Hollywood, they use racial stereotypes to achieve the storyline.

I find myself wondering how we can strive for more ethical ways of producing porn if the scenarios presented to some people are almost always inherently racist. The first step is putting more performers of color into roles that aren't just stereotypes. Let the girls next door be a little more colorful! Let more women of color play roles that have nothing to do with what color they are. There are some performers who can't even play their own ethnicity because they don't match the fetishized fantasy of what that ethnicity is supposed to be. Even if they are literally that ethnicity. Yes, it's kind of a shit show in many regards, but there are so many amazing performers doing innovative and creative things nowadays. I honestly do have hope that in 2017 I can finally burn that 'Asian schoolgirl costume.'

Written by MINNIE SCARLET for VICE