Pussy sells. Everyone knows that.

Lately, however, the objectification of women has gone to a whole new level. Women are now working in tandem with men to produce and exploit the mainstreaming of porn. They’re lining up to participate in, provide and produce porn. It feels like the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” mentality has taken over the minds (and bodies) of women.

How else do you explain the throngs of women thrilled to expose themselves in “Girls Gone Wild”? How do you explain the abundance of booty dancers and video ho’s all over MTV and BET?

Did women come to the conclusion that there is no use trying to fight male exploitation so they might as well cash in? And sometimes they’re not even getting paid. Women on the ubiquitous “Girls Gone Wild” sell themselves for trucker hats and wife beaters.

Some have termed it “Maxim Culture,” referring to the proliferation of men’s magazines that all seem to revolve around gear, gadgets and games, stupidity and sports, and, most of all, greased-up, breast-popping, bedroom-eyed “girls.”

With a reported circulation of 2.5 million, “Maxim” far outstrips traditional men’s titles like GQ and Esquire that at least make a pretense to intelligence. Maxim’s website links to “top girls” like Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson and Carmen Electra, women who make
a living off exploiting themselves as sex symbols. Maxim’s editor-in-chief is a woman and the magazine claims that one in four readers is a woman.

It’s all part of the mainstreaming of porn: Victoria’s Secret soft-core porn masquerading s TV specials, Pamela Anderson’s new sitcom on Fox, “Stacked,” in which her breasts are the stars or Paris slithering over a Bentley in the infamous Carl’s Jr. ad.

Porn is big business, at least $10 billion in the U.S. annually and $56 billion worldwide. Corporations that control the distribution channels, such as AT&T, AOL Time-Warner, Comcast, DirecTV, Hilton, VISA and American Express, get a large chunk of the profits.

It’s no coincidence that the mainstreaming of porn and hip hop are dovetailing in American culture. This intersection is the result of a complex and debilitating interplay
that is profoundly affecting society.

Hip hop artists know how to sell records and images – give white youth (mostly boys) what they want. It’s a potent concoction: stories of violence and toughness in the hood, illegal methods of getting out, and the women one acquires and uses throughout this process.

These stories sell, especially when told over a hot beat by a hustler/gangsta/rapper icon.
One of the most successful rappers to combine porn and hip hop is Snoop Dogg. He was the first mainstream rapper to do a feature length porn video in 2001 called Snoop Dogg's Doggystyle. His follow-up, “Snoop Dogg’s Hustlaz: Diary of a Pimp” was named best-selling tape of 2003. Snoop is also co-producer of “Girls Gone Wild.”

And it doesn’t get any more mainstream than Snoop. His commercial endorsements include Chrysler, Nike and T-Mobile.

These rappers are no dummies and neither are the record executives that profit off them. Rappers know what sells and they also know that they are capitalizing on stereotypes and racism.

This is what Ralph Ellison calls the “double cross.” If the racism is already occurring then why not use it to your advantage? This dynamic is at the root of marketing hip hop culture to a largely white male audience.

So have women taken their cue from hip hop’s success? Did women give up trying to convince men that they are not objects for men’s pleasure and decide they may as well take the money and booty dance all the way to the bank?

What they don’t consider though, is that the mainstreaming of porn has deep and broad-ranging implications in the hip hop scenario, and especially in men’s attitudes towards women.

Maybe the video ho feels powerful and confident in the rapper’s video, but for the average woman walking down the street and interacting with men, the reality is much more brutal and demeaning – and she’s not getting paid for it.

Similarly, with every anorexic, airbrushed atrocity on the cover of “Maxim” or “FHM” or “Playboy,” we forget what real women look like.

Women are the symbol of beauty and sex in our society, but the price of being a symbol is that you can’t speak. No woman on the cover of a magazine or towering above on a billboard has a voice. It is this silent obedience and acquiescence to the imposed standards that reinforces male power and dominance.

If Ralph Ellison is right and there is a double cross going on with race in America, there is also a double cross with gender. Race and gender play off each other in complex and insidious ways in this society. It’s easy to see, just turn to MTV or BET, or even a Monday night football game.

But has the double cross worked for rappers? Will it work for women? Ultimately the question remains: who wins in the double cross?