Siobhan Brooks: Black Women & Erotic Capital in Sex Industry

 

Exotic dancing and the sex industry, in general, is a very controversial topic. Some people feel that Black women should stay away from the sex industry altogether, while others feel that it can be empowering as long as the women are respected and given rights. I am not sure how I feel about the sex industry, but after reading Siobhan Brooks, I learned that there is an entire niche within the sex industry that is based on feminism and empowering women and there is even a union for some women in the sex industry. But, do Black women get treated the same within the industry as other women…?

Siobhan Brooks is a lesbian feminist, PhD, former exotic dancer  and author of the book Unequal Desiresa book that examines the discrimination and disadvantage that Black women face in the sex industry. Brooks worked at the Lusty Lad, a club that hires women and is run by women. It is considered one of the few “feminist” clubs that cater to exotic dancers.

Brooks notes that Black women get paid less for working at predominately white clubs. White and Asian men often do not want to see the Black dancers and will not pay the same amount for the “private pleasures,” booth.

Brooks writes:

If a Black dancer was performing, White (and some Asian) customers often would leave the window and move to one where a White woman was standing, sometimes talking with other White dancers, and ignoring the customer all together. In an extreme case, a White man wanted his $5 back after placing it in the bill collector, and the window revealed a dark-skinned, curvy Black woman.

However, the full impact of the racism at the club was the issue of Black women performing in what was called “Private Pleasures,” a booth that was separate from the main stage, but a more lucrative way for dancers to perform, with wages starting at $5 for 3 minutes; dancers could make up to $60 an hour.

When I asked Josephine about this, she explained that because White men would pay 25 cents to see us on stage, as opposed to the $5 required in the “Private Pleasures” booth, having Black women dance in the booth would lead to the club losing money.

At the predominately Black clubs, Black women face more sexual harassment and worse pay.  Some of the customers, both black and white, feel that they get more for less at the Black clubs. Meaning, the Black dancers tend to  have to exploit themselves more for less pay. She writes about how the hyper-sexuality of Black women (Jezebel stereotype) causes Black women to have lower erotic capital and in return, Black women get less pay and less respect in the industry.

Brooks interviewed one of the white men at the club. When asked why he came there, he stated:

“Honestly, I like coming here because you can touch more; at Conquest you can’t touch. I also think Black women are sexy. Sometimes I am only white man in here, especially at night when the hip-hop crowd comes in; but I don’t mind it. The women are not stuck up here like those white b*tches at Conquest.”

You’ll notice  in addition to being sexist and  feeling entitled to both white and Black women’s bodies, the white guy feels with Black women he should get more for less as Brooks stated.

Brooks writes:

“This form of symbolic racism against Black women and darker-skinned Latinas does not just function within the exotic dance industry, but also happens within marriage markets, educational institutions, real estate markets, areas of employment, health industries, and the legal system.”

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO INTERVIEW

MY OPINION: 

I am not sure how I feel about all of this. From an economic standpoint, I definitely agree it isn’t fair. If Black women need that money for school or whatever and white dancers are earning more, that just makes it even harder for Black women to sustain themselves financially and we’re already poorer than other groups.  But, at the same time, if a white man leaves the booth or if a Black man doesn’t want a dance from a Black woman because he sees them all the time, what can you do? We all know WHY people aren’t willing to pay to see Black women dance, we all know why…but what can we really do about it?

I sympathize because for one thing, it hurts economically and then the social rejection from a sexual standpoint is probably embarrassing for some Black women. We all know our beauty is maligned and we’re regarded as being the bottom, but why are we always fighting for recognition within mainstream? They’re never going to treat us right.

I think what Brooks did is great, but I think we need more feminist Black strip clubs and above all I would say safe, feminist, Lesbian strip club for Black women would be the best option. I just don’t know how I feel about this situation. Just as I say in the modeling industry, stop waiting for non-blacks to accept us, start our own thing. I think Black clubs need to be made safer and more clubs that feature Black women in safe environments should be the focus.

What do you all think?

Read More: on Dawn Ali about Discrimination in Sex Industry

Work Cited:

Source 1

Source 2

Siobhan Brooks: Black Women & Erotic Capital in Sex Industry

9 thoughts on “Siobhan Brooks: Black Women & Erotic Capital in Sex Industry

  1. The ‘private pleasures’, as this mainstream dance club in the article was named, was, in fact, a very public pleasure insofar as the seller, other customers, and the ladies in question, knew who was into what. Moreover, as a presumably white club, white and child-like Asian females are on par with each other in terms of feminine status.

    White women naturally are representative of female for most white men while Asian women double up as both female and child in the white imagination. Neither was chosen for their ability to out-dance Black women, you can be sure about that!

    Now if the club had been one in which dominatrix were plowing their trade (and was thus more private or underground), you can best bet that Black women would be sought out before either white or Asian females because Black women represent both the mammy, and the amazonian (alpha) sex Goddess in white men’s minds.

    This lazy assertion that white men look down on Black women is an outright myth. Most of all, its a myth promoted by women such as the author who truly believe in their own racial and feminine inferiority. Just attaching a feminist or lesbian tag to one’s research does not alter this simple fact!

    Like

    1. Kay Are Ess says:

      “This lazy assertion that white men look down on Black women is an outright myth.”
      ^ You obviously must not be a WOC, nor have much experience in observing the slights and dangers that they face to make that same tired out statement.
      If it were a myth, then why is it that BW are still so underrepresented in so many fields (like the ones mentioned in the article?) And why is it that just as this article highlighted -and as the quote taken from a white male customer quite clearly pointed out- that BW must work more, exploit themselves more and basically place themselves closer to harm’s way (and sometimes IN harm’s way) only to still make less than thier lighter-skinned counterparts?

      Can you answer these questions? Can you also answer this quote taken from the article:
      “When I asked Josephine about this, she explained that because White men would pay 25 cents to see us on stage, as opposed to the $5 required in the “Private Pleasures” booth, having Black women dance in the booth would lead to the club losing money.”
      ^ Because that certainly dosen’t sound like the it’s an issue of being out-danced.

      “Most of all, its a myth promoted by women such as the author who truly believe in their own racial and feminine inferiority.”

      And when posters such as yourself not only attempt to dismiss the problem, but then have the audacity to imply that an entire system that detriments BW is somehow not only solely the responsibility of BW, but also the fault of BW? That is just beyond ignorant.

      “Just attaching a feminist or lesbian tag to one’s research does not alter this simple fact!”

      And just throwing long-disproven and victim-blaming generalizations on the comments thread for a throughly thought-out article on an issue that you clearly haven’t attempted to read nor understand, does not make the fact that you didn’t understood the article any less true.

      Like

  2. Romy says:

    Black women should stay out of the porn business and out of stripclubs period,
    because we are better than that.
    We dont need the approval from white men nor Asian men to feel as a women.
    The media and the world are telling us, that if white men, black men or Asian men
    do not like black women you are less. This is ridiculous.
    You can`t cure ignorance and fear.
    Nobody can make you feel less, only if you give them the power.
    Black women are funny, sexy, and have an inner strenght that is simply amazing.
    Our strenght and spirit carried us true the past and it will carry us true the future.

    Like

    1. you are right, but at the same time women shouldn’t be discriminated in the work place (and that includes the exotic industry) but some people think that being an exotic dancer is okay, others disagree with it all together.

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  3. The One says:

    It is truly sickening that a whole race of women are so hated and considered less than by ALL races of men. Why do Black women have to deal with this? Why?

    Like

    1. The One says:

      Why don’t you shut up and go away? You are an anti-Black female racist and your words are meaningless, nonsensical drivel. Go to blogs that worship White women and cry about how “Bad” Black men supposedly have it. You have no business on nor anything of value to add to Black women’s blogs, anti-Black female BIGOT.

      Like

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