It’s been extremely difficult to think and write about the subject of sexual abuse without being overrun with a whole range of difficult emotions. It’s not easy to take on the task of looking in our culture’s dark corners. This analysis is my attempt to understand and process this cultural phenomenon.
The larger cultural context we are working with is the colonized, United States in the 21st century – therefore something like Ghetto Gaggers (GG) had to exist. This is not to say it’s inevitable that it will exist into the future – I believe exactly the opposite. It had to come about now because we have not dealt with the collective resentments and consequences of our history and present realities of oppression. It’s the sick punchline to the joke: what do you get when you cross white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, and the Internet? GG is the toxic filth that our cultural legacy defecated out into the internet.
The violence being carried out against the women in these films is not porn. These sites are not depicting filmed prostitution. A lot of the content I would only describe as sexualized, racist torture. Fundamentally, it mixes sex with intentional abuse. Somehow this physical, emotional, cultural abuse has been carried out since around 2005, as if it’s a legitimate business. Abuse porn (the Ghetto Doorway sites and surely other sites) goes way beyond the norms of porn as I and many others perceive them. As other commenters have insisted, this is contract sexual and cultural violence, designed for real, not controlled and safe, humiliation and degradation. There is real sexual force/rape mixed into these films. Yet this production of trauma continues on, while at the same time people talk seriously about “hate speech” and “obscenity.”
This “porn” isn’t even objectifying these women. Objectification is treating somebody like an object. There would be no reason to treat an object the way these men do. It’s a very human thing that these men are doing – they are trying to take away another human’s dignity (focusing on race and gender), acting out the historical/interpersonal tragedy that haunts us as a culture. The producers of this content laugh while asking the female performer who sexually abused them in their childhood to lead them to that place of degradation. Their shameless words and violence reveal the insecure desire to control Black people who don’t want to be controlled, and this is their symbolic attempt to lower Black women out of a place of dignity. These videos seize on feelings of white male insecurity and turn them in the worst direction.
This porn highlights the worst in capitalism, a system based on veiled theft and exploitation. It is the logical consequence of a system that respects profit and possessions over human life and dignity. It is beyond mere speculation to say that GG is directly fueled by right-wing ideology that defends the dominance of the wealthy and white. Several of the perpetrators post right-wing capitalist political content on social media, heavily mixed with male-worshipping misogyny and racism. This ideology involves the shameless glorification of the upper crust elite and disgust for the common people who do the hard work, who are portrayed as the social leeches and parasites off the real manly powerful creator-types at the top. This amazing inversion happens when you have sociopathic white aggressors like the creators of this trash, men who were probably treated like objects as children and as adults specialize in releasing their own hurt out on others. These are the men who grow up and try to intellectually justify taking “revenge” on all the people who threatened their masculinity or sense of racial advantage.
The money-worshiping ideology that has no understanding of solidarity, cooperation, real freedom etc. is, of course the one that people capable of making GG believe in. The man who created these sites, calling himself “Duke Skywalker,” claims he’s “pioneering” extreme abuse porn just because there is market demand for it! Just because that’s what people want to see. He says he doesn’t even have a particular problem with people of color. (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/tmill/2010/04/15/duke-skywalker) I know that’s a self-protecting lie, but on the economic level, he’s dead on. If there was no racist, misogynist resentment to exploit, there would be no Ghetto Doorway. The market is the institution that commodifies human bodies, the hate is the fuel for the product. In the 21st century, you can pay to watch people try to steal human dignity for sexual enjoyment.
But how surprising is it that our laws protect these people who make a profit off of sexual violence, when the system still treats people, especially people of color, as pawns to produce profit and serve the wealthy? When you got the money in the competitive capitalist power struggle, you get to exploit whoever is down and out and unlucky enough to fall into your clutches. That’s how the capitalist market structure situates most of us. We are considered unworthy of respect or survival unless we have the abstract green symbol of power attached to our name. We live in a society where people are subjecting themselves to this degradation for $1000-$2500 (according to their recruiting website http://satinsheetsproductions.com/). If they can’t stand the sexual violence, the assault on their spirit, they can “tap out” in the middle and get a “kill fee” of $200. The website still makes money selling the video online and humiliating the woman on film who goes home with less than enough to pay rent. There is a huge monetary incentive in doing what the white men in the films keep screaming at the women to do – to submit to the abuse – and walk away with ten times as much money as if you can’t stand it anymore after 5 minutes, half an hour, two hours and then “tap out.” According to the producer, these films generally take about 3-5 hours to film. America has commodified sexual trauma, ethnic dignity, the authority to consent or not. It costs as little as $200.
When we stop and take a look at what’s wrong here, it’s easy to imagine real transformation in these relationships. Why do most sex workers and the rest of us have to deal with bosses who call all the shots and owners who pocket all the profit from our hard work? It seems particularly important for sex workers to have maximum control on the job and to have a real stake in the money made on their work. There are numerous pimps, porn producers and middlemen who step in with money and violence who would be put out of business if more sex workers owned and controlled their labor.
WHITE MALE INSECURITY
It’s obvious that extreme misogyny fuels all of the abuse websites I’ve seen. Naturally, they seem to take a special hatred for feminists. Men’s fear of our own sensitivity and vulnerability generates a lot of hatred for femininity and is closely related to that aggravated white self-esteem that really hates to see a proud Black person.
The texts that accompany these videos can be very disturbing in themselves – they drip with an appeal to the disciplinary revenge that many insecure white folks feel in relation to Black people who aren’t passive or submissive. It is clear that GG is a sexualization of misdirected white indignation towards “sassy” Black women, who are feared, hated, and desired by insecure white men. This violence would end if white men stopped thinking it’s sexy to spit on Black women’s faces and choke them with angry white penises. This filth would go away. The dung beetles who produce this would run out of shit to wallow in and have to move on and try to make a profit on something else.
From my experiences with ignorant white men, this whole manufactured nightmare seems like the product of people afraid of their own weakness or traumas and envious of the strength of people who are socially vulnerable and oppressed. The white insecurity is thinking “how dare Black women demand their own dignity and self-worth and make me feel so low again! How dare they defy my power and leave me feeling so small!” This phenomenon is also motivated by an aggravated sense that many white people have that they work so hard every day to pay the bills and they imagine that many people of color do not “pay their own way.” This is the racist myth that the wealthy and their politicians spread to justify their oppression. This sense of feeling abused, weak, and aggrieved that the powerful exploit is what abuse porn directs against vulnerable sex workers.
It would be hard to believe that the minds who created and carry out this cruelty were not themselves in some way the victims of extreme brutality and trauma. Why else would people with access to money and privilege want to degrade themselves so deeply, creating heaps of toxic karma and inspiring the hatred of millions of people?
Understanding that abuse creates more abuse helped me to fit the pieces of this sad puzzle together. The maddening question of WHY someone would carry out these acts is no longer mysterious to me. It smells like the revenge of frustrated and traumatized men combined with the resentment of the beaten down “poor white trash.”
BLACK WOMEN – ENVIED, RESENTED, DESIRED BY WHITE MEN
One ironic aspect to this situation seems to be that the appeal of this porn lies in a sick response to an awareness of the power and resilience of Black women. It is based in a perception and fear of that strength and desire to take it away and dominate to compensate for white male insecurity. I can only assume this is nothing more than low, unconscious revenge of the worst kind by cruel, sociopathic, predatory haters. But nothing more than haters. Just pathetic haters armed with money, contracts, lawyers and penises. Clearly these people are very struck by and affected by the common proud, self-confident, defiant images associated with Black women. I don’t mean to bring up the “strongblackwoman” stereotype for no reason. I think this is a big part of why some people develop extra attraction for Black femininity, and also why people would choose to masturbate to a white man intentionally trying to strip a Black woman of these same qualities. I have to wonder how close those who enjoy this degradation are to loving Black women for exactly the same qualities? Isn’t it amazing and worthy of respect to have qualities of real strength, self-possession, demanding one’s own dignity, and so on after centuries of attacks by white people against the humanity of Black women?
Just like other ways that porn plays on unconscious passions and distorts reality, this porn is giving people the idea that Black women actually participate in this abuse because they like being treated like garbage by white men rather than needing to do work to survive. I think this is probably the secret desire for the people who enjoy this material. They desire Black women but the culture of hatred and exploitation of those same women prevents healthy, respectful relationships and abuse becomes the only outlet. The consumers buy the sick fantasy that Black women really want to be completely degraded like this, rather than thinking they would be filming something resembling sex or fantasy in order to make money to survive.
We can rise above this as a culture. The internet reveals the tragic effects of the particularly strong hatred against Black women in this country, including from Black commentators. I want to be clear though, that my goal here is accountability from white men, not to analyze or request anything from people of color. Different peoples have different cultural problems and our experiences provide us each with exclusive understanding, burdens, and ways of solving our own problems. White people have long felt far too comfortable judging the choices and not understanding any of the conditions of Black people as whole human beings. I think it’s up to people of common experience to develop their own understandings and knowledge together. This is an attempt at solidarity by a white man.
As to the wider effects of this content, I cringe to think of the young eyes who are exposed to this degrading material every day, as it is very easy to access on free sites on the porn sectors of the internet. To me this content is pure cultural filth and as adults we should take care how children are taught about the world, about racism and sexism and hatred. Our teachers have generally neglected to responsibly teach us an empowering or dignifying history of African-descended people and have just as often failed to fully reckon with the destruction of the human spirit engaged in by our “Founding Fathers.” George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and most of the others, despite their high-minded ideals, were aristocratic tyrants over countless enslaved people. If we still tell ourselves that the social structure that we inherited that slavery fit so well into is in fact just, empowering, and liberating, we will continue to teach children that it’s just natural for there to be capitalists to hire workers to do whatever the broke, vulnerable worker will agree to – and often much more.
On a personal note, I started watching internet porn when I was 10 or 11 years old. That was in the 90s. Let’s get real. There are 10-year-olds and younger looking for porn on the internet right now and the only thing stopping them from seeing this content is the box that pops up to verify you are above 18 (which never stopped anyone I’m sure) and maybe some porn-blocking software. Many of these videos pop up in porn databases even when the search and title of the video have nothing to do with degradation. Some of those videos, disturbingly enough, show several minutes of seemingly standard straight sex between a white man and Black woman, and then when you scroll down to the related videos, that section is filled with screenshots of women being choked by a penis, slapped, vomit poured on them, stepped on etc. That’s the problem with this garbage, is that it mixes sex with real violation and force. From what I can tell from those occasional clips I have seen without degrading words, or violent sex, sometimes the men in these films take a break from the insults and abuse and just have sex. I know I didn’t happen upon this porn looking for any kind of domination or submission and I’m sure many or most people who have found this porn are in the same boat. This abuse porn is infecting our culture and sadly, it’s extremely easy to find just looking for fun and sexy videos for free.
Finally, I want to highlight the fact that the internet is a perfect example of our collective cultural sharing of knowledge, entertainment, communication. The internet demonstrates our interdependent existence – all the good and bad that goes up on the world wide web has worldwide effects. One possibility to consider is that this kind of porn is already influencing the way people behave with sexual partners and even what they desire. Our desires are not fixed – there is a constant struggle for sexual norms. It used to be legal for white men to sexually assault women of color and it took many forms of struggle to win more justice. We have to continue the fight against permitted sexual violence today.
We can refuse to take this unaccountable sadism for granted – it is the result of centuries of hatred toward the feminine and toward Blackness, lust for money, and shameless rationalizations for greed. We can’t transform all the deeper causes for hate porn immediately, but we CAN stop this ugly manifestation of the curse of white supremacy.