The Spaces Between review: a political porn about people of color with white partners

Porn is the per­fect place to become polit­i­cal. It’s a place where mon­ey, sex, media, and ethics converge.

Pink and White Productions direc­tor Shine Louise Houston

Wait, what? Political commentary and porn?

Post-coital snuggling for porn performers Andre Shakti and Nikki Darling

The Spaces Between is a short queer porn film on PinkLabel.TV, direct­ed by and star­ring Andre Shakti and Nikki Darling. It show­cas­es snip­pets of what racial ten­sions mean for peo­ple of col­or with white part­ners in today’s polit­i­cal climate.

The pro­duc­tion is 8 min­utes long (exclud­ing Andre and Sebastian’s post-credit attempts at heli­copter­ing their phal­lus­es) and “seeks to… present them in a way that both speaks to the adult indus­try and to those who patron­ize and con­sume it.”

I was curi­ous about how the per­form­ers would por­tray such a com­plex top­ic in under 10 min­utes. The for­mat is pret­ty sim­ple: sexy scenes between the two char­ac­ters, jux­ta­posed with dia­logue and racist microag­gres­sions that Nikki’s char­ac­ter hears via her well-meaning white partner.

Incorporating both sets of interactions: strife and intimacy

Andre Shakti fingering Nikki Darling

Throughout the prob­lem­at­ic things that Andre’s char­ac­ter says, many POC will give res­o­nant nods and sigh, “yup, sounds about white.” Some white view­ers will be thrilled to learn some­thing, and oth­ers will, as intend­ed, be made uncomfortable.

With the explic­it sex­u­al­i­ty includ­ed, it’s more nuanced. There are plen­ty of, say, Buzzfeed lists of microag­gres­sions that POC reg­u­lar­ly hear, and their salty, unim­pressed response .gifs.

But inter­ra­cial rela­tion­ships with white part­ners are (hope­ful­ly) not all salt. A white per­son can have phys­i­cal inti­ma­cy with some­one of a dif­fer­ent race, relate to their queer­ness, love them… and still at times be insen­si­tive and a shit­ty ally.

Checking blind spots in someone’s understanding of privilege

Nikki Darling isn't impressed

Part of the issue is obliv­i­ous­ness to the expe­ri­ences of peo­ple in less priv­i­leged groups. Heck, to real­ize that you have priv­i­lege, you’d have to be aware: 1.) that your expe­ri­ences aren’t uni­ver­sal, and 2.) of the bias­es and assump­tions you have.

The one biggest thing any­one can do to check their blind spots is to lis­ten to peo­ple with dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ences. Andre said:

My num­ber one pri­or­i­ty became shut­ting up and LISTENING to my POC part­ners. In addi­tion to hold­ing space for cul­tur­al, famil­ial, and his­tor­i­cal trau­ma, I also became privy to a lot of past trau­ma they’d endured from oth­er white partners.

The Spaces Between ends with a quote from queer Latinx writer Gabrielle Rivera’s “Non-Guide on Dealing with Microaggressions from Your White Partner.” I won’t say which part of it is quot­ed because the entire (non-)guide is fan­tas­tic. Rivera artic­u­lates thoughts on the top­ic so much bet­ter than I could.

Everyone can learn to do better

Nikki Darling's character opening a gift from Andre Shakti's character's mom

You know that say­ing that good peo­ple do bad things some­times? Most of us read­i­ly accept that we fuck up some­times, but it does­n’t mean that we as humans are whol­ly malev­o­lent or inad­e­quate. We fuck up, we learn, we look back and cringe, and we move on.

In the con­text of race, that goes for peo­ple with any form of priv­i­lege, whether they’re aware of it or not. Everyone fucks up some­times due to their gaps in under­stand­ing. Everyone, includ­ing peo­ple who mean well, and cer­tain­ly those with­in the queer community.

The impor­tant thing is to learn when we fuck up. When called out for say­ing some­thing racist or oth­er­wise prob­lem­at­ic, instead of being defen­sive or dis­mis­sive, lis­ten. Don’t just lis­ten to respond, but lis­ten to understand.

If you’re a POC dat­ing a white per­son, The Spaces Between is one of many good places to start a con­ver­sa­tion about race. If you’re a white per­son, ally­ship with a POC part­ner isn’t a badge you wear to make your­self look woke; it’s a con­scious effort nev­er to stop learn­ing and loving.

Disclaimer

I received access to watch The Spaces Between on PinkLabel.TV in exchange for my hon­est opin­ion. All views expressed are entire­ly my own. If you want to see more posts like this, you can sup­port me by buy­ing fem­i­nist porn or sex toys through my links.

4 Responses

  1. Trix says:

    This is so thought-provoking…thank you!

  2. Kalliopeia says:

    I real­ly dig the con­cept, but the 8 min­utes thing real­ly shocked me. It seems like it’d be hard to go into the top­ic in depth in that time, rather than just a porny PSA sort of vibe. (To be fair, I’d like PSAs a lot more if there was more queer sex in them.)

  3. Clara says:

    Woah you real­ly went in
    This made me real curi­ous and it kin­da sucks that I don’t think about fem­i­nist porn as much. Thanks for the post!

  1. June 5, 2018

    […]     In the past, call­ing in has been my default. This is no longer true. From now on, if I don’t know and trust the per­son, I will not bring the prob­lem to them. I want peo­ple to be account­able, but I don’t want to be hurt for being hurt. I relied on call­ing in because I believe in peo­ple. I don’t want to give up on them. I don’t want to con­demn any­one to an igno­rant exis­tence, label some­one a lost cause. Everyone can always do better. […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.