One of the primary components of satire is perhaps a little bit of blasphemy, or at least a healthy degree of ridicule, directed at those things we hold sacred. Whether it’s the family, politicians, religion, culture, etc., much good satire illuminates the more farcical elements of those things that we consider so urgently serious and plays them for laughs.
Race and sexuality, as well as the intersection between the two, is one of those things that we’ve come to consider with urgent seriousness. We probably should. A history of miscegenation laws and lynching in the United States, and here in Canada the consistent targeting of Aboriginal women for rape and violence, just to name two examples, invites scholars as well as us laymen to consider the oppressive tactics used to associate race with particular characteristics and traits that have over time been employed to fuel both denigration and fantasy.
One doesn’t need to look any further than the world of pornography to see the way in which we’ve loaded certain traits onto race, creating a billion dollar industry based on fetishes stemming from race. In a sense, a significant portion of the industry is built upon stereotyping, employing it to craft fantasy and in many cases generalize and denigrate one’s sexuality and race at the same time. In a reflection on race in the porn industry, Wendi Muse writes,
For the most part, however, despite the inclusion of porn uploaded from other parts of the world, racism was rampant in terms of stereotyping and essentialization. In accounting for the hundreds of hung black stallions, bored and docile white MILFs, barely legal, small-chested Asian “girls,” and desperate, sex-hungry Latinas longing for citizenship, I couldn’t help but wonder: if we rid ourselves of race, would porn like this exist? What would we even call racism at that point?
Such are the fusions of race and sexuality that we have consumed, enjoyed, and in many cases internalized, perhaps coming to believe such things about ourselves and in a culture so drenched in these images and ideas, not necessarily limited to hardcore pornography, this becomes the lens through which we view others, reducing individuals to their assigned stereotypes. The consequences are certainly serious and a more serious dialogue concerning racial and sexual stereotypes is not at all a bad thing.
These same notions of race and sexuality are the objects of interest for Dany Laferrière’s wonderfully titled “How to Make Love to a Negro Without Getting Tired.” The novel finds its satirical prowess in taking up the question of race and sexuality and pushing it to its absurd and comical consequences.