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Current Page: U.S. | Friday, October 02, 2015
Porn and Hip-Hop Use Racial Stereotypes to 'Dehumanize and Promote Pimping' of Black Girls, Say Trafficking Experts

Porn and Hip-Hop Use Racial Stereotypes to 'Dehumanize and Promote Pimping' of Black Girls, Say Trafficking Experts

Rap artist Nicki Minaj (with microphone) performs "Trini Dem Girls" at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles, California, August 30, 2015. | (Photo: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni)

ORLANDO, Fla. — The degradation of black women has long been promoted in the porn industry and dehumanizes people of color, says Carolyn West, associate professor at University of Washington.

During the second annual Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation Summit held last month, West explained that words used by the sexual entertainment industry bonds African-American women to derogatory terms such as "hood rats," "ghetto freaks," and "hooker."

"In the 1990s we saw hip-hop and porn brought together in one place. Hip-hop almost became indistinguishable from pornography," West asserted. "They are pushing the message of minors, teens being pimped out ... that's pseudo child porn to me. They promote messages that portray them as 'screaming wild animals' that further dehumanizes them as well."

West cited examples of common video titles such as "Pimp my Hide" and "Pimp my black teen."

"Porn mirrors the same kind of historical colorism that we see throughout history," she added. "A few videos [aimed at young girls and teens] focused on the innocence of black girls, but not many because innocence or purity is usually not contributed to black women."

She then delved into stereotypes associated with colorism in which "lighter-skinned black women are portrayed as prettier, and darker-skinned women are portrayed as 'hood rats.'" She warned pastors and parents that darker skinned girls who process these stereotypes as being true can start to believe that they're less attractive and could be at greater risk of engaging in sexual intercourse for affirmation.

West believes this has "real life implications for African-American girls," but asserted that there are solutions to resolve this long-standing problem in the culture "if we understand history and contextualize" the way African-American women are being portrayed.

Melissa Farley, who's spent decades speaking out against pornography and prostitution, also made the connection between the two industries.

"We can no longer argue that only children or people with guns to their heads are the only ones involved in trafficking and prostitution," said Farley. "There is a huge majority of mental coercion or some form of economic control."

Farley said on average, 84 percent of adult women in prostitution are pimped or trafficked. "Pornography meets the legal definition of trafficking if the pornographer meets or entices the person into a sex act."

"The control and perversion exerted by pimps and traffickers is overwhelming and hard to resist and walkaway when you need the money and it is being flashed in front of you," she said.

Farley further explained that what many people don't realize is that people living in poverty are sometimes faced with prostituting themselves for a tank of gas or a hamburger — not just around the world but in the United States as well.

"We need to be able to explain the more subtle side, if you want to call hunger a subtle thing, the kind of coercion [against victims] even if you cannot see the coercion," she added.

While Farley said it was important to focus on the demand side, something she strongly agrees with, she also believes "we need to strongly support women's exit from prostitution." If that is not done "then we are failing at our job of abolition."

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