Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Montana Fishbourne is Not her Father's Possession

When news first broke that Montana had decided to do porn, to launch her self to stardom, I didn't believe for many reasons that this was a very wise plan. Black women are very fetishized in porn and it is extremely hard to get a cross over career. Originally when I wrote about this, I mentioned the various awards her father has won and suggested that it was ridiculous that he would have been unable to help her with her career.  I didn't for one moment consider the nature of their relationship.  Just because they are father and daughter, does not mean that they are close.  It was an absolute assumption on my part, that this is something he would have been willing to do. Just as Hollywood is littered with celebrity kids who have turned into stars in their own right, it is also filled with celebrities who have been rotten parents to their kids.  I am not suggesting that Laurence Fishbourne was a terrible parent, I am simply clarifying the fact that none of us know the real dynamics of their relationship.

What I have seen is the assertion that Montana has done something terrible to her father by choosing to star in porn.  Montana didn't take anyone's body to do her business. The only way we can believe that she has done something to her father, is if we accept the notion that daughters are their fathers property until they marry.  This is a very archaic idea and it is based in sexism.  The fact that the conversation would have been framed very differently had Montana been male, speaks loudly about the role of women's bodies in this society. Laurence may not like, or even approve of what his daughter has chosen to do, but she did not do anything to him.

The racism that we face as a community, has in no way stopped the sexism and slut shaming that we face as Black women.  There has been very little support of Montana in both the feminist and Black community.  I have read piece after piece talking about what an upstanding man Laurence is, with little acknowledgment of the agency that it took for Montana to choose this career path. Porn is not something that I could ever do, but supporting women, means acknowledging that some will choose to make decisions that don't necessarily agree with my moral code. It means refraining from slut shaming, with the understanding that such an approach hurts all women.

Porn is not an industry that is going anywhere and so as women's advocates, we need to find a way to support the women that make this choice willingly, as well a those that are forced into this position.  Porn can be very objectifying, but there are several women that are now engaged in creating woman positive porn and there are several female porn stars that have turned their work into legitimate empires.  Perhaps, the goal should be to work within the industry, rather than shaming those that choose to participate.    Creating a dividing line between women only serves to benefit patriarchy.

I know that for many in the Black community, purity is seen as uplifting the race, but this is nothing more than using racism, to justify the control of Black female bodies.  The moment that we treat a sexual situation differently based in gender, we are supporting the control and reduction of Black women.  Equality between the races should never equal the right of Black men to have ownership over our bodies and our lives -- no matter how dear they are to us.