The Color of Kink

Black Women, BDSM, and Pornography

320 pages

14 halftones

October, 2016

ISBN: 9781479827466



Add to Cart Available: 9/2/2016

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Ariane Cruz is Assistant Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Pennsylvania State University.

All books by Ariane Cruz

Winner of the MLA's 2016 Alan Bray Prize for Best Book in GLBTQ Studies                                                                                                                 
How BDSM can be used as a metaphor for black female sexuality.                                                                                                                                                                                                             The Color of Kink explores black women's representations and performances within American pornography and BDSM (bondage and discipline, domination and submission, and sadism and masochism) from the 1930s to the present, revealing the ways in which they illustrate a complex and contradictory negotiation of pain, pleasure, and power for black women.             

Based on personal interviews conducted with pornography performers, producers, and professional dominatrices, visual and textual analysis, and extensive archival research, Ariane Cruz reveals BDSM and pornography as critical sites from which to rethink the formative links between Black female sexuality and violence.  She explores how violence becomes not just a vehicle of pleasure but also a mode of accessing and contesting power.  Drawing on feminist and queer theory, critical race theory, and media studies, Cruz argues that BDSM is a productive space from which to consider the complexity and diverseness of black women's sexual practice and the mutability of black female sexuality. Illuminating the cross-pollination of black sexuality and BDSM, The Color of Kink makes a unique contribution to the growing scholarship on racialized sexuality.


  • The Color of Kink breaks entirely new ground in the study of pornography and sexual cultures. Prioritizing the depathologization of black female sexuality and kink cultural practices, this book is a refreshing breakthrough in black feminist and queer theories of sex. Ariane Cruz offers usable theories that unleash the imagination and lubricate the way we think about black sexual politics.”

    —Mireille Miller-Young, author of A Taste for Brown Sugar: Black Women in Pornography

  • “An exciting contribution to sexuality studies and a much-needed corrective to how we think about BDSM. With beautiful and sharp analysis, Ariane Cruz draws from a dazzling array of sources to parse out the pleasures of abjection that make BDSM an apt metaphor for thinking through black female sexuality. A wonderful, provocative book.”

    —Amber Jamilla Musser, author of Sensational Flesh: Race, Power, and Masochism