Social Implication and Black Female Stereotypes

As a follow-up to our discussion on Social Implications and Black Female Stereotypes, I found this presentation that incorporated a few of the examples from our readings and talk. Please review and add your comments!

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The black female sexual stereotype, music videos and their effects on young black women’s sexual decision-making.

Also, here is the link to the bell hooks video if you would like to watch the end and incorporate the discussion into your posting. I think we stopped somewhere around 50:00 of the 1:21:12 video.

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16 thoughts on “Social Implication and Black Female Stereotypes

  1. The prezi presentation i found real interesting and really hitting all the points in why black women today are so degraded and how it started. The one thing that really stood out to me was the whole defintions of the words black and white. I never thought about it that way at all. White usually is defined as clean and sparkly while black has to do something with evil. I know there is alot of people that have never even looked at it that way. Written down in the dictionary in printed letters, the definition of our future fate. Its amazing how the english language is form and the definitions we have given to a word and how it can really have an effect on us growing.
    “It cannot be emphasized enough that film is instrumental in influencing encing the self-image of viewers as well as effective in directing, limiting, ing, and structuring viewers’ collective perceptions of diverse subgroups. Therefore, negative sexual construction of black female sexuality on screen has social implications for the human dignity of black women as well as implications for the society at large. The cost to black women in viewing ing images of themselves as forever trapped in negative filmic roles is the resulting harm done to the self-image of these women”.
    This quote from Manatu’s book hit the nail right on the head. We as people are trying to change the views of each culture yet we further display colored people in a negative way. How are we supposed to move forward when we keep taking two steps back? People may think that its just a movie and its just acting, but the images being shared with the world to different cultures about one certain culture really embedds a certain image to that culture that cannot be replaced. The human brain is crazy and what we see is what we consume and how we define society. Whether it be the news, movie, or things we see growing up, this all has an effect on our image. The negativity of black female roles is causing our future generations of young black women to think and feel a certain type of way about their own culture. With this new generation of technology we have the power to change things and project a new image of positivity.
    The Hooks video i found really interesting. The way i interpreted the whole thing was that its saying that black women and women in general are putting themselves, their bodies, on a plate for the world to admire. So for example the whole Beyonce thing, her videos can be a little proacative, yet she is doing nothing positive in my opinion to change the views of black women. I agree with the lady in the video about her having extensions to bring in the viewers, because if she rocked her dreads in the video she would not have a large fan base. Everything is about money. Its sad that black women have to fall into the steps of trying to be like the dominant group by perming their hair or bleaching their skin. They made it far enough to become a celebrity they should be able to make it far enough to change the views of black women in the media with the power they have in their hands.

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    • Theora, you made so many good points and your observations are so clear and thoughtful. Again, great selection of a quote as it relates to the presentation. The goal of the class boils down to this premise and presentation. How does what the media say about us (women and women of color) define us in society and how does it effect how we see oursleves???

      Your posts from the beginning of the semester to now have demonstrated a growth and depth of media analysis and critical thinking that is very impressive. I hope you continue to voice your opinions and use your voice as a beacon for other women. Good job!

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  2. The Prezi presentation demonstrated the historical roots of the manipulated imagery of Black women. However, it fell flat, as did Manatu’s argument, in discussing the impact of this imagery on Black sexual behavior. The Prezi presentation presents jarring statistics of STI rates for Black women and teens. However, this argument does not present a clear connection between sexual stereotyping and these statistics. It could be argued that high STI rates are the result of lacking, or inadequate, sexual health education and shaming of Black female sexual behaviors. Without a clear link, these statistics position Black women as passive ‘victims’ of their environment, rids them of their agency, and problematizes Black female sexual choices. For Manatu, the implications of Black sexual stereotypes are present in marriage and dating behaviors of Black women and men. She discusses how Black men are more likely to marry White women than a Black woman is likely to marry a White man. She also discusses how Black males are conditioned by media to prefer White women and lighter-skinned women of color. This analysis is shallow at best and heteronormative at worst. Looking at marriage rates as an indicator of social implications assumes that every meaningful relationship requires marriage and reinforces Black sexuality as only heterosexuality.

    In response to the comment above, Beyonce’s highly visible public presence does not delegate her as an ambassador for all Black women. It is not up to Beyonce, or any Black woman, to fix our representation. It is on those who make fallacious claims about Black women’s bodies to rid themselves of their racist, misogynist thinking. If Beyonce put clothes on and wore locs, racism and misogyny would not suddenly end and to think so is to deny the systematic power structure that is at the root of Black women’s false representation. (This is exactly what the panel is addressing! There is a reason why the term “imperialist white supremist capitalist patriarchal society/structure” is continually referenced in the panel’s discussion.)

    Also, the panel discussion brought up an important question that I often ask myself: what does liberated sexuality mean and look like without feeding into existing oppressive definitions of sexuality? I think that after you reach a certain consciousness of societal issues, you are free to create an ever-changing definition of what your personal sexuality looks like and can discriminate actions or imagery that you feel is harmful to that self-definition. Personally, I think that the greatest feat in the face of our imperialist white supremist capitalist patriarchal structures is happiness. And I think we can find happiness in the definitions of sexuality that we create for and by ourselves. Deconstruction of the larger, harmful imagery of sexuality will occur from a revolution within ourselves and from ceasing to mass produce (and consume) our sexualities.

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    • Ariel, its great to see you are making connections and links to the bigger issues related to gender, sexuality and heterosexism. I agree that there are areas that both the presentation as well as Manatu fail in making significant connections but in terms of beginning the discussion of linking the history of slavery, racism and black female stereotypes to images in the media and the social implications of those images is a start. We will not all get to the same place at the same time, unfortunately. Subeyda Mohamed’s comments linking black women’s sexuality, the media and the high rates of STI’s is broad but as someone who has done a lot of work and research around HIV as it relates to Black women, these images do play a role. They are not the only reason, (poverty, lack of sex education, domestic violence among of just a few)but they serve as mirrors to how young women see themselves.

      I agree with your comment about Beyonce, I think we as a community like to build and see certain people as leaders or representatives of the community and when they fail our expectations, we tear them down. We have get to the point of creating self leaders and looking a mini movements within larger movements. You made other great points, some I agree with and other not as much but I certainly think it leads to a larger discussion that is necessary at disecting and dismantling the systems that oppose and oppress.

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  3. I wasn’t here in class this day for this discussion but what I got from it is empowering to know. Black women throughout time have always been treated different whether from their own race or other races. Watching this Prezi presentation made me think and realize what African American women have gone through. They have overcome slavery, overcame being displayed because their bodies are different then those of the white folks during that time period. Hearing about how a women’s body was put on display after her death for 160years to me that’s just crazy. Hearing how because African American women had a different body structure that they should be displayed because their bodies revealed how “sexual these women were”. What I don’t get is how can a body part or just a body in general show that?
    I feel that the video did a good job with explaining how liberating women can be. I really liked the video and how it handle certain issues and how questions where answered I feel those women did a really good job with that.

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    • Alexandra, the posting is an opportunity to go a little deeper, incorporate the readings and use other resources to help you create an opinion/theory about the blog post. I’m glad that you are developing an understanding of the history of slavery and oppression of Black women and how it translates to the images of women of color in media. But, if you looked at the video that connected music videos to the abuse women experienced in the public, you will see that it happens to all women. There were women who were sexually harassed and assaulted at the Puerto Rican day parade a few years ago. But for the purpose of the class we are examining images of black female sexuality.

      What are your thoughts about the social implications of these images and how men view women, specifically black and Latina women?

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  4. Social implications are conclusions that can be drawn from the negative images and stereotypes of black women seen in film, although it is not explicitly stated. In the book, Manatu discusses many ways in which black women and society in general will interpret and behave when being bombarded with negative stereotypes of black women. First example is of black film makers who put out the image that black women exclude their families out of their lives and care more about their friendships with people who are not related to them. This sends the message that black women do not value family and lack merit. According to Manatu, such public airing of the women as having little interest in family life sends an erroneous message that beliefs held about black women have merit. The images feed into popular myths that black women lack family values, which is merely a slippery slope to arriving at faulty explanations for the social phenomena that beset many poor black women’s lives: single status and out-of-wedlock births (African American Women and Sexuality in the Cinema (Kindle Locations 2068-2070). Kindle Edition).

    Second example is while black filmmakers in the 1997-2000 study showed black women with professional jobs or attending college, they made sure to paint the black women as having bad attitudes and using degrading language. According to Manatu, degrading language of the type and frequency displayed by many of the women in black filmmakers’ works sends the wrong message: the implication is that even when they become educated and professionals, black women merely mimic appropriate comportment, but eventually revert to debased type because that is who they essentially are (African American Women and Sexuality in the Cinema (Kindle Locations 2080-2082). Kindle Edition). The main question for these filmmakers is why can’t black women have a good career while being a nice, approachable level headed person? Why does the black woman have to be intimidating and mean to people whenever she is a professional in most of these films? In the case of young black girls, one need consider how images of black women as simultaneously displaying professional, yet, inappropriate personal conduct can impact the sense of self for these girls.

    Third example is the images of white fairytales, such as Cinderella, that young black girls are being bombarded with. Images of Cinderella have been magnified into a cultural mainstay, where most all girls are psychologically socialized to want to be Cinderella, complete with the handsome prince, the romance, and wedding (Lieberman, 1986; Rowe, 1986). Ivy and Backlund (2000) argue that the romantic themes girls first learned from fairytales as children have likely become a “standard” for how women think relationships should be (p. 440). This can be detrimental to young black girls’ self-esteem because they do not resemble or relate to (according to society) Cinderella at all and this can form a message in their heads that in order to be treated like a princess and worthy of romantic love, then they have to possess white skin. According to Manatu, socializing young black girls to respond to an unattainable symbol not of their own likeness while offering up that symbol as the model for which to aspire seems to me more than cruel and unusual punishment (African American Women and Sexuality in the Cinema (Kindle Locations 2124-2125). Kindle Edition). And even when there was a film created with a black Cinderella for young black girls to look up to, white America had a big problem with it and felt that black Cinderella “did not resonate with their cultural vision of what the heroine should look like.” There are no iconic black heroines (on the level of white Cinderella) for young girls to relate to but society expects black girls to be accepting of this similar but unequal female socialization and white beauty symbol. All this leads to is black girls feeling confused, inadequate and like the young black girl Pecola in the film The Bluest Eye (1993).

    In the prezi presentation, I definitely see the correlation between black girls trying to emulate what they see of black women in music videos in hopes of garnishing the attention and desire of the opposite sex (black males specifically). Since they see their black male peers’ praising these women and calling them “wifey,” black girls may feel in order to get those praises and feel accepted, then they have to dress scantily clad or be promiscuous. And as a result they end up contracting STDs, being sexually abused and ending up single mothers. According to Manatu, when featured in film and music videos, the tendency is to code black women as outright hyper sexed characters, since the film medium allows for more explicit imageries (African American Women and Sexuality in the Cinema (Kindle Locations 1282-1283). Kindle Edition). When all a black woman does in music videos or films is promote sex, all they are doing is feeding into the forever long stereotype (created by whites) that black women are inferior and have insatiable sexual desires. Sarah Baartman was one of the many black women who were exploited for her “unusual large buttocks and genitals” by white weirdos who saw her as a freak show and sex object. Even after her death she was still treated as a circus freak and wasn’t given or shown any respect. Today you have black women who purposely put themselves on display to be looked at as circus freaks and all they are doing is degrading themselves and being a bad influence for the young black girls watching them.

    In the Bell Hooks video, one thing that stuck out to me was when the panel discussed whether Beyoncé would have mainstream appeal if she wore her natural hair (particularly dreads) rather than the blonde wigs/weave she usually wears. Hooks felt that she wouldn’t be accepted by white media and would have less popularity if she was shaking dreads instead of blonde hair. I’m on the fence about those comments. On one hand I agree with Hooks that she would have fewer fans if she wore her natural hair since mainstream society (and some blacks) feels that natural hair is wild, unkempt and unprofessional. From a larger sociological perspective, studies by Keith & Herring (1991), Bond & Cash (1992), and Taylor (1993) find that European racial features including skin color, nose, and hair texture are generally preferred among both minority and majority groups, perceptual outcomes being that higher social acceptance levels result. A lot of people associate straight hairstyles to be more acceptable than curly/kinky hairstyles. On the other hand, when I look at an artist like Alicia Keys for instance, who came on the scene rocking braids and other black hairstyles, there wasn’t any loud criticisms about her hair in mainstream society. Her album Songs in a Minor, was a mainstream success and her hair didn’t hinder her album sales or be the cause for why people wouldn’t like or listen to her.

    I think the problem is since people are so used to seeing Beyoncé with blonde hair that it may be difficult for some people to accept/embrace her with her natural tresses.

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    • Jasmine, you made some very good points and used great examples to demonstrate your point. My only comment to your posting is that I would have liked for you to note that the issue with the black filmmakers are that they were all, if not mostly men. The reason that this is important is that the black male filmmakers basically created similar stereotypes of black women as the white male filmmakers.

      I do agree with you in regards to your comments about bell hooks and Beyonce. I think there have been a lot of unuseful criticism as well as praise regarding her position as a role model.

      Your use of Manatu’s quotes are excellent, as well as your comments about the Prezi presentation.

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      • I was referring to black male filmmakers with the “black filmmakers” phrase. I should have stated it specifically though. Thank you for the feedback professor .

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  5. According the presentation The black female sexual stereotype, music videos and their effects on young black women’s sexual decision-making, a Black woman by the name of Sarah Baartman was discovered by a British doctor William Dunlop who displayed Baartman because she had unusually large buttocks and genitals. In the early 1800s Europeans were obsessed with their own superiority, and with proving that others, particularly blacks, were inferior and oversexed. Baartman was displayed around Europe and she even had her own show and when people began to get tired of her show, she was forced to turn to prostitution. The racist beliefs of Baartman who became an object of leering and abuse was paraded around Europe for exhibition so that the Europeans could see her “abnormal and primitive” body parts. It would then stereotype other African women and consider Baartman’s body as evidence of African women and would become the basis of Western thinking and dictate its treatment of the Black female body. According to scholarship on this subject–by the end of the nineteenth century European experts in academic fields ranging from anthropology to psychology began to “scientifically” conclude and perpetuate that the black female body embodied the notion of uncontrolled sexuality. Black women were compared to the Jezebel stereotype because black women were loose, untrustworthy, freaks, gold diggers, divas, and baby mamas.

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  6. Again Juan, you are giving an overview of what we already know and can read as oppose to providing your opinion or an argument about a perspecitve on the posting. In addition, you didnt incorporate any of the reading so you aren’t making any connections to the blog.

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  7. The prezi presentation gets deep into making others understand where the negative images about African-American women came from. It is unfortunate that a woman had to get treated how Sarah Baartman did. Her figure was used as an example and it was not for the correct reasons. After viewing the prezi presentation, the points on why African-American women are so tainted in today’s society were made clear and how it all got started. Something that I truly thought was eye opening was the very first slide of the prezi presentation. A line from the quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said is what caught my attention because it described what black is and what white is. The one thing that really stood out to me was the whole definitions of the words black and white. I never knew that it could actually get so deep like that. White is usually defined as something that is neat and bright while black in the other hand always has something to do with something bad and gloomy or any other negative image. It is amazing and unfortunate at the same time how the English language has formed and how the definitions that people have gave the word (black) and how it can have an impact on people as they grow. In the book, Manatu says, “But the case of black women has been altogether a murky one. For one thing, since in a patriarchal society women are generally viewed as second-class persons, black women were at a disadvantage during slavery, for back then, they were viewed as even more ”nonwomen” than they are today. For another, because they were black women, no social order existed under that institution to protect them from sexual exploitation. And shrouded in secrecy as the act was, invisibility allowed blame to be attributed to black women, who then were perceived as “initiators” of their own sexual abuse by white men.” (pg. 80). As humans, we make an attempt to change the images of many cultures but continue to describe colored people in a negative way. There is no way of improving if we keep putting these people down by degrading them how we do. Many may believe that a movie is just a movie and that it is only acting but, the negative images that are shared with society and the world about a certain race can embed a permanent image that may never be replaced. What we see is what we automatically assume and based on that is how society is defined. In today’s society, the negative images of black female roles are causing young and future generations of black females to think wrong about themselves and about their own race. This brings nothing positive at all. I think all this can change with all the technology that exists today. Many positive trends can go viral and that can be the beginning of something great for society and cultures.

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  8. Ralph, you made some good comments and observations! Your use of the quote from Manatu was very good. I have two concerns, one was your use of the word “colored,” I wasn’t sure if that was you using the word or you were quoting Manatu. “Colored” is an extremely outdated term used to describe African Americans towards the end of the 60’s and 70’s. More recently, its generally used to describe various races, “people of color.” My other concern is that with your observations, it would have been great for you to use films, even ones from the class, as examples of the social implications of these images we see of black women in the media.

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  9. The prezi presentation is an overview of much of what discussed in Manatu’s book as well as what’s been discussed in class. This presentation covers many of the stereotypes that exist to label and box black women. As has been mentioned this is not a comprehensive and holistic viewpoint of the institutionalized & systematic –ism that exist and fuel or are the root of most if not all of the stereotypes. Both the book as well as the prezi presentation paint a really bleak picture of what it means to be a black woman (or in some cases a woman of color). To discuss some of the gaps visible in these pieces LGBTQ+ folk are basically bypassed. As Ariel mentioned these viewpoints have a very heternormative perspective. As a psychology major with a focus on human services I am hyper aware of the many different possible mental health effects that are connected to this negativity surround labels and social categories. Studies have continuously shown the variety of consequences that black women, LGBTQ+ people, and other marginalized social groups. Researchers like Dr.Kevin Nadal & David Rivera looking at microagressions. Dr. Derald Wing Sue defines microaggression as kinds of the everyday insults, indignities, and demeaning messages sent to people of different marginalized populations by perhaps well-intentioned people who are unaware of the hidden messages being sent by them,
    (http://www.apa.org/monitor/2009/02/microaggression.aspx).These consequences and mental health effects that are connected to stereotypes are not spoken of. The systematic issues are spoken about but again the implications are not reviewed and analyzed. It gets very depressing to sit and read/listen to a discussion or a piece of literature on this topic without talking about the resiliency necessary for black women (and sometimes women of color). The lack of resources and how the system sets up women of color is also not discussed. As I listen to bell hooks and to the constant rhetoric about this ‘white supremacist capitalist imperialist patriarchy’ I wondered what bell hooks would say about Manatu’s book because bell hooks narrative is constantly about love self care and compassion forgiveness and accountability with less focus on the constant negativity. In regards to the gap I see again a discussion that I feel would be productive would be about survival in this “white supremacist imperialist capitalist patriarchy” because it seems more important to me to look at what could be done to counteract things such as lack of possible resources, the possible gaps in education, and other things that step from these systemic issues. As well as true and transparent and inclusive of black women who are not cis or heterosexual identifying as well as deconstructing colorism and decolonizing beauty standards. Otherwise that’s as superficial as it could get.

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    • Monica, this topic would have made a great final presentation. We spent the entire semester learning and understanding what these stereotypes are and what they mean but didnt spend as much time looking at the social implications and consequences of these images. There is barely any acknowledgement about these stereotypes much less the consequences these images have on society on a whole. I was hoping more of your classmates selected the contrast assignment so we could look at a particular stereotype and see the counter of that image. Fortunately, more women filmmakers, particularly women of color, are making films that present more holistic and well rounded depictions of black and women of color. Black female filmmakers like Julie Dash, Ava Duvernay and Gina Bythewood understand and depict the oppression and microaggression women of color experience in the media and in the “real” world. Films like “Beyond the Lights” attempt to dismantle the long standing stereotype of the Jezebel and truly turns the sex object to a romantic heroine on her own terms. Women filmmakers making films for women by women, without the embracing the same baggage as male filmmakers, is not the only solution but its a start.

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  10. Discrimination is when people are usually being critical towards the person due to their sex, gender and certain characteristics that they might not fit. It’s cruel how people think that you need to look a certain way have a this image in order for you to fit in. How can you judge someone and say black is ugly and is not as beautiful. Who are we to judge someone because based on the color. Why does it matter if you white, doesn’t make it better or any less. They put in a category a women who is of skin color that there supposed to look a certain way. Images where taken from volume 2 to demonstrate the history of mammals. It can’t get any worst than that.

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