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“A Taste for Brown Sugar:Black Women in Pornography”-Dr. Mireille Miller-Young

Join us for the first talk of the 2018-2019 New Directions in Black Feminist Studies speaker series, organized by Dr. Shoniqua Roach in WGSS!

Friday, Oct. 19 2018
Gerlinger Lounge, 12 p.m.
University of Oregon

Talk abstract: Black women’s representations and experiences as sex workers in the pornography industry are shaped by a racialized and gendered sexual commerce where stereotypes, structural inequalities, and social biases are the norm. Black women are devalued as hyperaccessible and superdisposable in an industry that simultaneously invests in and ghettoizes fantasies about black sexuality. In light of feminist arguments against the victimization of women by pornography, Miller-Young contends that black sex workers, while facing multiple axes of discrimination and harm, also employ hypersexuality and deviance to achieve self-care and self-authorship. In the context of hegemonic capitalism that exploits all labor and social relations, black women’s illicit erotic labor represents one strategy for survival. In choosing pornographic sex work as a path to mobility and erotic sovereignty, this presentation explores how the increasing significance of the sexual economy as a site of work, identity formation, and political expression for women of color in the 21st century.

Speaker bio: Dr. Miller-Young is Associate Professor of Feminist Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara.  She researches and teaches about race, gender, and sexuality in US history, popular and film cultures, and the sex industries. Her book, A Taste for Brown Sugar: Black Women in Pornography (Duke University Press, 2014) was awarded the Sara A. Whaley Prize for Best Book on Women and Labor by the National Women’s Studies Association and the John Hope Franklin Prize for Best Book by the American Studies Association. Dr. Miller-Young was a co-convener of the Black Sexual Economies Project, a multi-year think tank at Washington University School of Law, and is a founder and convener of the New Sexualities Research Initiative at UC Santa Barbara.  Dr. Miller-Young has published in numerous anthologies, academic journals, and news outlets including Porn Archives, Queer Sex Work, Sexualities, Meridians, The New York Times, Ms., The Washington Post, Coming Out Like a Porn Star, and $pread, a sex worker magazine.  With Constance Penley, Celine Parreñas Shimizu, and Tristan Taormino, she is an editor of The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure (The Feminist Press, 2013), which was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Best LGBT Anthology and has been translated into German (2014) and Spanish (2016). She is also lead editor of Black Sexual Economies: Race and Sex in a Culture of Capital, which is forthcoming from University of Illinois Press in 2019.


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