Mireille Miller-Young's Heartbreak and Lola's Lament

Mireille Miller-Young is an Associate Professor of feminist studies at the University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB).  Recently charged with robbery and assault against Thrin Short, a 16-year-old Christian demonstrator in the UCSB “Free Speech Zone,” Miller-Young justified her violence against the teenager -- who was peacefully urging mothers not to kill their unborn children -- as the moral act of a conscientious objector against a terrorist.

This cockeyed characterization seemed like the expression of a functional psychosis.  And how could that professor, without a single notable publication, survive the “publish or perish” rigors of academia --  with tenure? The following excerpt from Miller-Young’s soon-to-be-published magnum opus, A Taste for Brown Sugar: Black Women. Sex Work and Pornography, holds the answers.

As I pushed through the shouting throng to get a better view, one young [black] woman leaned over the display table, spread her legs wide, and, rhythmically worked her shapely thighs and butt to the music. As she began to stroke her nearly exposed genitals, a dozen men with cameras pushed forward to get a close-up.… I remember seeing the beads of sweat across her brow and her hair weave sticking damply to her shoulders as she danced.  That’s when I heard the cruel comment of the man next to me, a well-known white director of all-white extreme hardcore.”

The cruel comment? He observed that the 'rhythmically working and stroking woman' was “a skank.” The idea that it was cruel to apply that term constitutes another functional psychosis on Miller-Young’s part. The comment wasn't merely justified, it was an understatement.

A Taste for Brown Sugar was Miller-Young’s doctoral dissertation.  For years, she has been preparing that oral history “research,” at taxpayer expense, for publication.  She summarizes her work: “Conducting oral histories with current and veteran black adult film actresses active since the 1980s I investigate what forces invite black women to this arena of sex work and how the women theorize their own engagement with the field.”

Her implicit advocacy of pornography work for black women is based on her view that black female sexuality is a front in the permanent battle against racism, and that the hustling of black pornography actresses makes them civil rights heroes. Her need to safeguard the slutty as freedom fighting is based on highflown absurdities such as, “Thinking historically, we can say that U.S. slavery defined the very nature of desire for, use of, and pleasure in black women’s sexuality… black women’s bodies remain defined by the exploitations of hegemonic, heteropatriarchal capital… They use the seductive power of brown sugar to intervene in representation, to recuperate their subjectivities, and to make a living… in the porn industry’s complex sexual economy… black women grapple with a hierarchal system shaped by racial and gender difference and discrimination.… Like countless enslaved women who fought in ways big and small against slavery’s tyranny, black sex workers in porn enact forms of antiracist and antisexist counterinsurgency.”

Underprivileged black women, wake up! You can fight racial discrimination by selling closeups of your genitals at top scale!

One of Miller-Young’s favorite counterinsurgents is Lola Lane, a heroine with XXX-large hindquarters.  Lola’s lament:

“You know, I’ve been booked for shoots,” said Lola Lane, “and they think I’m white over the phone, (because there’s another Lola) and they say ‘Oh you’re the black girl.  We can’t shoot you,’ or, ‘Your butt is too big.’ So it can hurt your feelings.” … For Lola, the obvious privileging of white femininity was heartbreaking.

And then there’s the aggrieved Lacey:

At the time of her contract, Lacey was one of only a handful of black “contract girls” in hardcore, headlining films such as I Love Lacey.  “I’ve talked to [black] girls who’ve gotten $300-400 to do a scene.  I’m like $300 is all you got? I won’t even leave my house for $300.” 

Miller-Young sees no purpose in protecting teenage girls.  With no expression of concern, she reports that Lacey started working in pornography at 18. What procedures pornographers use to have teenagers prove their age is not mentioned, nor is there any reason it would be.  Based on her thesis that pornography actresses are working in the vanguard of civil rights, it is unclear why Miller-Young would think it necessary for girls to be 18 before they are literally down for the struggle.  It is reasonable to ask, “Why shouldn’t a 10- or 12-year-old black girl take on this mantle to advance racial equality? Why not her own daughter?”

Let’s not ignore the articulate and plucky Candace Nicole:

Candice Nicole described how she attempted to stick up for herself and demand representation on a video box cover. “I was having a conversation with a company owner.  I said ‘F*ck ya’ll! You done shot me about twenty to thirty times and you won’t put me on a box cover!

Miller-Young keeps her admiring eyes on Spantaneus Xstasy’s prize of oversized breasts:

Over a period of years, she had five surgeries to reach a size 55FF bust. Ms.  Xstasy on her expansive achievement: “To have a normal or small frame and have these huge hooters, that’s what I wanted.  Not so big that they would just take me up in the air, but I wanted them to be abnormally big.”

And this new Rosa Parks, Sasha Brabuster, will go the back of the bus for nobody:

Sasha asserted that exceptional performance skills, including a nearly double-jointed flexibility and stamina, make her more valuable in some ways than many of the women trying to break into the mainstream.

A folie à deux is a mental disorder shared by two parties.  These people typically behave in much worse ways than they would as single misbehavers.  The folie à deux formed between Miller-Young and UCSB has enabled a pornography fan to impersonate a professor. Having committed an associate professorship and tenure to an unpublished “scholar” who stares up women’s crotches at pornography conventions, UCSB is all in to justify her pseudo-intellectuality.  With UCSB a willing coconspirator, Miller-Young has leveraged a plum professorship to launder her grubby lasciviousness into respectability.  (On the other hand, you have to hand it to her – talk about recuperating the subjectivity of self-agency in the space of a counter-fetishistic sexual economy that heartbreakingly undervalues female African-American butts!)  The logical terminus of this self-aggrandizing faux-freedom fighting is violence against an imaginary terrorist-oppressor, which Miller-Young committed on March 4.

A Taste for Brown Sugar is an intellectual and moral disgrace to the University of California.  And it is about to become a disgrace to its publisher, Duke University Press.