Playing with the politics of perversion: Policing bdsm, pornography, and black female sexuality

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

In this article I use policing—literal and symbolic—to illuminate how race operates not only as an apparatus of power, but also one of pleasure. Through the lens of bondage and discipline, domination and submission, and sadism and masochism (BDSM) race play and race play pornography, I explore the complex relationship between discipline, pleasure, power, and violence hinged at the site of black female sexuality. First, I present my theory of the “politics of perversion.” As both a theoretical framework and praxis of black female sexuality, the politics of perversion pushes back against respectability politics to take seriously the perverse, as not merely a mode of producing pleasure but of black queer world-making. Second, I discuss black women’s fraught practice of race play, a controversial BDSM practice that eroticizes racial difference and often employs racism as an erotic tool of power exchange. Contextualizing black women’s modern-day performance of race play within historical feminist debates over BDSM reveals the longstanding reign of the politics of respectability on black women’s sexuality. Finally, I read an example of black/white interracial lesbian race play pornography that enacts the unspeakable and queer pleasures of race play, while illustrating the literal and metaphorical dimensions of the policing of blackness, queerness, and black queer female sexuality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-407
Number of pages29
JournalSouls
Volume18
Issue number2-4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science

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