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The Color of KinkBlack Women, BDSM, and Pornography$
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Ariane Cruz

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781479809288

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479809288.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM NYU Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.nyu.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of NYU Press Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NYSO for personal use.date: 09 December 2019

The Dark Side of Desire

The Dark Side of Desire

Racial-Sexual Alterity and the Play of Race

(p.29) 1 The Dark Side of Desire
The Color of Kink

Ariane Cruz

NYU Press

This chapter examines black women’s participation in BDSM and how these performances illustrate a complex and contradictory brokering of pain, pleasure, and power for the black female performer. I reveal BDSM as a critical site for reconsidering the entanglement of black female sexuality and violence. Within BDSM, violence becomes both a mode of pleasure and a vehicle for accessing and contesting power. The chapter begins with a brief section that frames black women practitioners of BDSM in the context of still very vigorous feminist debates surrounding sexuality, violence, and BDSM. Here, I stage the unique theoretical and practical challenges of the unspeakable pleasures aroused in racial submission and domination that BDSM presents to black women specifically. I examine race play as a particularly problematic yet powerful BDSM practice for black women, one that unveils the contradictory dynamics of racialized pleasure and power via the eroticization of racism and racial-sexual alterity. In particular, I argue that race play unsettles the dichotomies of transgression/compliance, subversion/reproduction, mind/body, and fantasy/reality that buttress BDSM. This chapter unveils performances of black female sexual domination and submission in BDSM as critical modes for and of black women’s pleasure, power, and agency.

Keywords:   BDSM, Race Play, Black Women’s Sexuality, Feminist Theory, BDSM Feminist Debates, Feminist Sexual Politics, Black Feminist Sexual Politics, Black Female Dominatrix, Racial-Sexual Alterity

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