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The Irony: “Ebony” and “Black” are the Top-Searched Porn Terms in the American South

Pornhub, a popular adult website released their annual data that lists the top searched and most viewed porn categories worldwide. Recently, the site took a more in-depth look at the breakdown within the United States. The findings disclosed that “Ebony”, a term that denotes black performers ranked top 3 in the most searched categories.

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When they break it down by state, it gets even more interesting… a lot of those rural states are really into “step sister” categories, with “lesbian” dominating as most searched nationwide.

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But most watched, hands down Ebony rules the South.

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Being that the South encompasses some of the most conservative and racially divided states in the country, this study raises the very important question of “why?”

According to Vocativ, who aided Pornhub in combining the data, the race of the state’s inhabitants matters when it comes to porn searches:

“Several states seemed to instead express a racial preference: In Mississippi, Georgia and Delaware, the top search term was “ebony.” In Louisiana, it was “black.” In Hawaii, “asian.” This generally make sense: Mississippi, Louisiana and Georgia are among six states where the Black population accounts for more than 25 percent of the total population, according to the 2010 census. As of the 2000 census, Hawaii was the only state with a majority Asian American population.”

But what about worldwide?

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According to the above map, the US only ranks second to Africa when it comes to the popularity of the search term “black.”

While, the demand for black porn is high, how does this translate to the quality of life for black performers? It’s well known that black performers are paid half to three-quarters of what white actresses are paid. Dr. Mireille Miller-Young, a professor of Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara concluded the disparities faced by black performers in the pornography industry reflects the historic devaluation of black bodies:

You can see that in the production of the types of films that black women appear in: lower production value, less of the kind of market, lower kind of values in how they treat the workers. [Black]Women are paid half to three quarters of what white actresses tend to make. And this, you know, reflects the ways in which black bodies have historically been devalued in our labor market since, you know, slavery to the present. I think that, you know, it speaks to the ways in which there’s this simultaneous problem that was like a deep desire to have those bodies present and to consume those bodies as commodities, but a deep disgust for black people, our humanity and our bodies, at the same time that allows that devaluing to function.

In an interview with TheRoot, popular black actress, Misty Stone also chimed in on how the industry has consistently devalued her despite her popularity:

“That is absolutely true,” she said when asked if there is a pay disparity. “Now that I have raised my rate — which is not really that high; I know white girls getting paid [$1,500], and I’m getting about [$1,200] — I get booked less.” But she said that her current rate is a vast improvement over her previous rates.

“There was a time I was getting about 400 or 500 bucks a scene. Now that I’m with LA Direct [agency] and probably at the top of the food chain, I am now booked for $1,200 a scene, but they don’t want to pay an African-American girl that kind of money.” She explained that her bookings went down once her rates increased, despite the fact that they had increased based on her popularity and stardom.

There also is the expectation for more extreme sexual acts to be done by women of color for less pay:

…for certain, more extreme sexual acts, she knows white colleagues who were offered $3,000, while she was offered around $1,500 and occasionally as low as $1,200. She has so far declined to participate in such scenes.

Again, everything all boils down to the idea that there is an affinity and downright obsession/fetishization of black bodies but not black people.

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