Thursday, January 10, 2008

Giving 'em what they want.

Judging by the number of comments, it is clear, the people have spoken, and they want cuckold news from this blog! Okay, fine.

So, here's the site of an independent film entitled The Cuckold, recently shot in Buffalo, New York. I've talked about Buffalo before: it's one of those rust belt cities that seems to be waiting on a miracle. The architecture there is amazing- the legacy from its glory days as an economic capital of the United States. It's been in decline since Bethlehem Steel ceased production in Buffalo (Lackawana specifically) between 1977-1983. The economic effects can be seen in the trailer for this film.

Apparently, the film deals with another bewildering aspect of the cuckold scene: its racially-specific fantasies. As a writer to Savage Love puts it, "White men watching black men fuck their wives or girlfriends is one of America’s biggest secrets." Well, at the very least, it was never dealt with on Friends.

Not being terribly inclined towards humiliation myself, that part of cuckolding confuses me more than anything else about it. I understand people wanting to experiment with other partners, but not really why they would want to be demeaned and denied sexual pleasure themselves. Where's the fun in that? And, for some cuckolds, the man who their wife humiliates them with needs to be black and better endowed than them. It perhaps goes without saying that the couples in the cuckold scene seem to be overwhelmingly white.

I've said before that white guilt creates traps black men in a fantasy role as much as white racism does. That certainly seems to be the case with cuckold fantasies about black studs taking white wives- the "black bulls" are asked to play a role straight out of Mandingo. Actually, a controversial article in Details Magazine actually detailed "Mandingo Parties". It's an uncomfortable fantasy, which is probably part of the sizzle for some people. However, it's also clearly seen as a fantasy and, in some ways, seems to be more egalitarian than the sort of involuntary racial role playing that is often mandated in the larger society. Here, people enter into the scenarios willingly, and there seems to be some idea of "righting" an unequal order by celebrating black superiority.

I don't want to argue that these people are racist. Honestly, I don't think sexual fantasies are ever politically correct. But I do think there's a link between white suburban kids fantasizing about cartoony gangstas shooting each other and their suburban fathers fantasizing about cartoony black studs fucking their wives. They play off the same taboos and mysteries about other races. They both take place in an alternate black reality created by white dreams of freedoms that are not permitted in bourgeois society. Unfortunately, the realm of black possibility is often totally circumscribed by white fantasy. If whites ever really understood black experience, they would lose their make-believe studs and gangstas.

Another unspoken legacy of racism (among many) is that white people, as far as I can tell, desperately want to be closer to blacks, while remaining completely unable to do so. There's too much pain and too little understanding there for it to happen in any meaningful way. Racial cuckolding plays off white fears about black males, while allowing some sort of connection to take place. But, like most connection between the races, it's fictional; it implicitly dehumanizes the participants and degrades the connection. But, strangely enough, it does so openly and purposefully, and this dehumanization is also probably why it's arousing.

Let me repeat myself: sexual fantasies are never politically correct, and I don't believe that racial cuckolding is an embodiment of racism. I do think it's an embodiment of racial taboo. I also think that it's fairly symbolic of most interactions between blacks and whites in America- defined as much by fantasy as by the realities that are never openly dealt with.

What say you?


Hiromi said... could argue on one level that the black stud in the cuckold fantasy involves just one stereotyped stock character among many -- the stern nanny, Lolita, naughty nurses or teachers or secretaries or whatever, and the, uh, forceful stranger. But even though the examples I listed are based on gender stereotypes, for me, the stereotype of the Black Buck is more...icky. It seems to come from a more virulent history. I mean, black people were put on display on the auction block and in other venues -- the Hottentot Venus comes to mind. The whole thing kind of makes me queasy, just as stereotypes of submissive Asian females makes me queasy. Racial stereotypes simply make me uncomfortable based on my personal experience. For some reason, I've always felt that I had more control in battling gender bias than racial bias. But no, I wouldn't call the fantasies "racist" per se.

Rufus said...

It's definitely a gray area, isn't it? Do racial fetishes eroticize people or reduce them to props? I mean, I'm sure you've met white men who lust after asian women. One one hand, it seems no different than prefering redheads over brunettes. On the other hand, it's not just aesthetic- there's a stereotype there of the submissive Asian woman. Racial stereotypes are certainly uncomfortable, but I think maybe it's the ick factor that makes them so arousing for some people. They're taboo and therefore hot. I'm just guessing though. I'm personally attracted to a multicultural rainbow of ass.

I'm also amazed at how oblivious people in fetish communities are to most aspects of their own fetishes. I've now read any number of cuckolded husbands arguing that they don't see why people think there's something homoerotic about them eating another man's semen from their wife's vagina for sexual pleasure. It's hard not think "really? you don't see that?"

But it's the same with all fetishes. It's like people with fetishes can't get outside of them and look at them with any sort of objectivity. I'm guessing that couples who are into "Mandingos" don't really understand why that seems a bit exploitive. John Waters has also pointed out that fetish communities never seem to have a sense of humor about their fetishes.

Oh well. Whatever floats your boat, eh?

Holly said...

Hiromi - re: the white women desiring black men thing, I'm not sure it's even necessary to know about the history on that to have a thing about it. I believe people are naturally inclined to broaden the gene pool, and in an age of lots and lots of non-reproductive sex, it's not entirely a surprise to think that people will still want to get freaky with healthy-looking people of blatantly Other gene pools. That said, I'm sure LOTS of people dig it for the exploitive factor; this is not different from black men wanting to nail white women as a status factor.

Rufus - I'm going to estimate that this all comes down on the Nurture side of a nature/nurture conversation. While I believe many people are subject to fetishes outside their control (the having, not the acting-on) I think a lot of these sexual behaviors are, in fact, learned.

I know there was distinctly an episode where suddenly it seemed like all my friends were discovering that everyone had a dungeon set up in the basement, and started having parties around that. Not surprising that a group of friends who discover that they all want to have X "deviant" sexual activity begin to do that as a group. We are, after all, social creatures.

Also, that totally WAS an episode of FRIENDS, in the 6th season, when Ross and Rachel hooked up through Craig's List with Tyrone (played by Ving Rhames) for a kinky switcheroo. Hijinks ensued. It was an episode most notable for bringing the hook-up venue of Craig's List into the public eye.

Rufus said...

See, I remembered The Simpsons coming close to this with the episode in which Marge cuckolded Homer with Duffman...