Hustler magazine and the
demonization of black
From the box office success of The Birth of a Nation in 1915 to the national obsession with O.J. Simpson, the image of the Black male as the spoiler of white womanhood has been a staple of media representation in this country. The demonization by the media of Black men as rapists and murderers has been well documented by scholars interested in film (Carby 1993; Guerrero 1993; Mercer 1994; Snead 1994; Wiegman 1993; Winston 1982), news (Entman 1990; Gray 1989) and rap music (Dyson 1993; Rose 1994). While this image stands in sharp contrast to the feminized 'Uncle Tom' which was popular in early Hollywood films, both images serve to define Black men as outside the 'normal' realm of (white) masculinity by constructing them as 'other' (Wiegman 1993). Although both the 'Uncle Tom' and the sexual monster continue to define the limits of Black male representation in mainstream media, it is the latter image which dominates, and, according to Mercer (1994), serves to legitimize racist practices such as mass incarceration of Black men, police brutality and right-wing government policy.
Recently, scholars have turned their attention to pornography (Cowan and Campbell 1994; Forna 1992; Mayall and Russell 1993; Mercer 1994) and specifically how the codes and conventions of this genre (re)construct the Black male body, especially the penis, as dangerous and a threat to white male power. The focus of this research tends to be poorly produced hard-core pornography movies which are relegated to the shelves of 'adult-only' stores because of their close-up shots of erect penises, ejaculation and vaginal, anal and oral penetration. What tends to be ignored in these studies is the content of the mass-produced, mass-circulated pornography magazines which, because they can be purchased in bookstores, news stands and airport terminals, have a much larger circulation.
* This essay was first published in the Journal of Violence Against Women, 4 (3), (pp.
291–307). Reprinted by permission.