The talk considers the politics of Black women engaging in forms of hustling, hypersexuality, and sex work. Centring the question of how Black women interrogate and rework damaging archetypes like the ‘Hoe’, this talk theorizes from below, focusing on multiply marginalized Black cis and femme women involved in stigmatized and criminalized forms of erotic engagement, relation, and survival. Heaux Theory seeks to interrogate not only how ‘Hoes’ put hypersexuality to work via illicit eroticism, but also how they innovate theoretical interventions in gender and sex that are essential in rethinking the racialized, gendered, and sexual impact of neoliberal structures of economic inequality on Black working-class women’s lives. How does Heaux Theory ask contemporary movements for social justice to respond to the material and psychic needs of the most vulnerable on the ground? What can we learn about the strategies, alliances, aspirations, and freedom dreams — the critical Black feminist work — of Black sex workers and others left outside of normative institutions about the stakes of erotic imagination and self-making?
Mireille Miller-Young is associate professor of Feminist Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara. The Advancing Equity Through Research Fellow at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Studies at Harvard University in 2019–2020, Miller-Young is currently a Visiting Fellow at ICI Berlin. Miller-Young’s widely acclaimed book, A Taste for Brown Sugar: Black Women in Pornography (2014) was awarded the Sara A. Whaley Prize for Best Book on Women and Labor by the National Women’s Studies Association and the John Hope Franklin Prize for Best Book by the American Studies Association. Miller-Young’s research has been published in Ethnopornography, Porn Archives, Queer Sex Work, GLQ, Sexualities, and Meridians. She has contributed essays to The New York Times, The Washington Post, Ms. Magazine, Coming Out Like a Porn Star, and $pread, a sex worker magazine, and she has shared her expertise in interviews with NPR, PRI, Netflix’s History or Swear Words with Nicolas Cage, and a variety of podcasts. With Constance Penley, Celine Parreñas Shimizu, and Tristan Taormino, she is an editor of The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure (2013).
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© Image credit: MF Akynos