Claudine – Romantic Heroine vs Sexual Deviant

Consider the conversations we’ve had about romantic heroines vs sex objects/ sexual deviants and write about how it relates to Claudine. I would like you to read this article, “Six Annoying Women Character Tropes in Black Romantic Comedies,” there is a section that relates to Claudine. I also added an article about The Moynihan Report that provides some background history to period the film was made. Incorporate the readings from our class, plus our discussions about the above topic with the two articles into your post. Here is a link to the film for those of you who missed the first or second half.

Warning: Before posting, write your thoughts in a word document. Please check for spelling and grammar and read it out loud to make sure your points make sense. If possible have someone read them as well, to make sure your argument/thoughts are clear. Make sure you are presenting your ideas to the best of your ability.

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23 thoughts on “Claudine – Romantic Heroine vs Sexual Deviant

  1. After watching the film, and countless back and forth, I came to the conclusion that despite the fact that the character Claudine has gained genuine love at the end of the film, she is more of a sexual deviant/ sex object than a romantic heroine/ love object.

    Even though Claudine’s primary character role is the welfare queen, I believe that on the spectrum between love object and sex object, her character lies closer to the sex object. In the beginning of the film, Claudine had sex with Rupert on their first date. This act, in my opinion, defined her character as the sex object/ sexual deviant. Black women in film often portray stereotypes associated with Black women in cinema (ex: Jezebel, the mammy, sapphire, superwoman etc.). Even though she displays characteristics of a few other stereotypes, Claudine is more closer to a sex object than a love object. The fact that she had sex with Rupert on their first date fuels into the idea that she is, if not oversexed, sexual to a degree. According to Haste “The fourth and final image of womanhood Haste (1993) identifies is woman as whore, and it is under this image that black women fall because the image of whore feeds into perception of black women as sexual temptresses through the ethos of sinfulness.” I feel that Claudine’s action fueled the image of Black women sexuality in Cinema as the sexual and sinful women.
    We also learned in class that Black women do not find love/ romance because they are not feminine. Claudine is an African American woman with a lot of children with no father/ male presence in her household (before Rupert). One can assume that the children do not have the same father, so her past is now in question. According to the article, Six Annoying Women Character Tropes in Black Romantic Comedies, “The welfare queen isn’t married, so her children are assumed to be fatherless criminals who would pull up their sagging jeans if they had positive male role models in their lives. She is everything wrong in society, according to the Moynihan Report, Clarence Thomas and Ronald Reagan.” I feel that this plays an important part in Claudine’s placement as either the love object or the sex object. The fact that she has a lot of children from different men sends a message that she either likes to sleep around (even though in the beginning of the film she clearly stated she wouldn’t have sex with just anyone) or she has had a couple of failed romances in her life (which draws back to the conclusion of Black women not capable of having love/ romance).
    Actually (after thinking about it some more) the scene where Claudine was on the bus with the other women teasing her about “getting laid” may explain why she had sex with Rupert their first night. If this was the reason (the urge to have sex), I believe this pushes Claudine even more towards the sex object and further away from the love object because she had sex with him that night purely due to desire (to fulfill her sexual urges) and not love.
    I feel that Claudine’s character is a nice and sweet lady, very different from what we usually see as the typical sex object (which may be why I am having a tough time placing her), and she even shows signs of wanting love; however, I feel that her character takes one step towards love and then backtracks three steps the opposite direction.
    So if anything Claudine cannot be defined solely as a sex object. I feel that throughout the film she starts off as a sex object and then slowly transitions into a love object (by finally marrying Rupert); however, I am on the fence because Black women in film do not find love/ romance. So this film can portray two things 1) The emergence of Black women as the romantic heroine/ love object or 2) The continuous cycle of Black women as the sex object.
    Even though she has made great strides from beginning of the movie (sleeping with Rupert) to the end (marrying Rupert), for all we know this could just be apart of that continuous cycle. Or Rupert could be one of the first men in her life to treat her as a love object, making her a romantic heroine. A lot of possible endings for Claudine but I see her somewhat more as the sex object than the love object. So to make my argument more precise, I would say Claudine wanted to be a love object but she was depicted as a sex object throughout the majority of the film.

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    • Hello Fatoumata,

      I kept thinking about you said “the scene where Claudine was on the bus with the other women teasing her about “getting laid” may explain why she had sex with Rupert their first night”. when Claudine was at Rupert’s apartment, Rupert tried to unbutton her dress she did not let him. Rupert seem more desperate to have sex with her than Claudine with him. So, maybe you are right. Maybe the other women on the bus did influenced Claudine to have sex with Rupert on the first night.

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    • Fatoumata

      Very well thought out response even though you were on the fence about what role Claudine played. I agree that it’s hard to depict Claudine as just a sex object but I think she might move more towards the romantic heroine not because of actions of her own but of Roop’s decision to final commit to her and her children. All the quotes you selected from the readings were good but I think you may have been able to find a better quote to fit your argument since Claudine does find love. Haste shows that black women never find love. Which means are there exceptions to the rule or are there films that can show blk women in multilayered portrayal.

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  2. From watching the film Claudine I recognized her character more as a Sex object/Superwomen more than a Romantic Heroine. Which is difficult to argue, because she had Rupert as a reoccurring man in her life but she had sex with him almost instantaneously. As well as having six kids from several marriages but motivated to be supported by welfare. Claudine: “Two marriages and two almost marriages.” Though she was working because welfare wasn’t even close enough to support a 7 person family, she had the intent to utilize having children as a means of profit. The Welfare Queen character it self I believe was portrayed negatively to the public , but film gave a good visual of how difficult it was keeping welfare and how desperate it made people to get on it. Claudine : Yeah? I’m one of this ignorant black female dogs who living off the tax payers money. I get 30 bucks a piece for each kid so if you think imma apologize about it.” The focus was to show the mind frame of a welfare queen, but as well as the wrong of using money from other hard working people. Her character overall even as a welfare queen was a kind and sweet person and did what she needed for her family, which embodies a superwomen. She had the job, the children, the welfare situation, but her personal life was dry an down until Rupert. Claudine from beginning to before Rupert could of possibly been the Heroine in the film, but she slightly takes the back seat for Rupert to kind of be the man figure in the household. Which was much needed, because the presence of a man in house makes a bi difference in the household. His occurrence changed he home but as characters it basically put Claudine more as the Wife/Madonna role from sex object/superwoman. Since, she had an actually stable man in her life and wasn’t going from marriage to marriage, well from what we know of based on the film. Collectively a good film as good points and shows more of doing positives then negatives in a black film.

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    • Michael, you made a good point with tying Claudine to the Superwoman as well as sex object. You suggested she is less of a Romantic Heroine probably because she is also tied to the Welfare Queen stereotype. But towards the end of the film she marries Rupert which limits or ends her dependency to the govt. in addition, she finds love which moves her from sex object to love object aka Romantic Heroine. Which is interesting is that because a love object til Rupert gets over his fear of commitment not by anything that Claudine does on her own . You made some good points but always incorporate the readings and the assigned articles, it helps build your argument.

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  3. 10/26/2015
    DRA 243/Professor Phipps
    Raifis Rodriguez
    Claudine: Romantic Heroine vs. Sexual Deviant

    After watching the film “Claudine”, I think that Claudine is both a romantic heroine and a sexual deviant. At the beginning of the film she is kind of portrayed as a sexual object. In an early scene she desperately runs to Rupert because she wanted to meet him. She has six kids. That raises many questions but as the film progresses we can see that Claudine is also a love object. She is in love with Rupert and wants to be with him only. We did not meet any other men other than Rupert in the film.
    Claudine is a very strong and admirable woman after all. And I say after all because, in my opinion, she is also very irresponsible. I do not think that she planned to have six kids. But she keeps going forward as a single mother and maybe looking for someone else to love.
    In the article “Moynihan Black Poverty Report Revisited 50 Years Later” President Barack Obama is quoted when he said “we got single moms out here. They’re heroic what they are doing. We’re so proud of them”. I agree with the president. I think that Claudine fits into the welfare queen stereotype but she is also a Jezebel and a romantic heroine. But she is more inclined to the romantic heroine. When she has a partner she really cares about the relationship and on focusing on that person only… well that’s what we see in the film. After Claudine and Rupert spent the night together (on the first day), I think Rupert helped her to become the woman she was at the end of the film.
    According to the previous article that I mentioned the film Claudine “captures the area faithfully when a social worker asks the main character Claudine if she’d been sleeping with a man”. Claudine responds angrily that she is not a nun. She needs someone and she is right about that. The way she said it was more inclined to the romantic heroine side than the jezebel side. Something that got me thinking is that I am not sure if Claudine was really looking for a “one night stand” when she met Rupert. It seems like she was just going with the flow. She was trying to see how things would come out but the problem is that most of the time only a jezebel would sleep with a men on the first date. At least that is what most people think…including me.

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    • Raifis, great observations! Claudine is both a sex object/love object. You also made some good insight as to her being a welfare queen, there is some irresponsibility on her part and Claudine takes ownership of that, which is why she is so angry when her daughter becomes pregnant. She knows how difficult it is for a single mother and how her daughter will be viewed as yet another black girl in the system. God guote from the article.In terms of you suggesting that she is a Jezebel, I wouldnt agree with you only because she is not using sex to manipulate Rupert. She likes him and wants to be with him. At best, it could be considered bad judgment that she sleep with him so quickly. Again, incorporate the readings as much as possible. I think that would help flush out your thoughts about her being more of a sex object versus Jezebel. Good job. And great feedback to Fatoumata!!!

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  4. Brittany Milan
    DRA243
    October 26, 2015

    In many films with an African American female lead, there is an argument whether that character is a romantic heroine or a sexual deviant. Most often, the answer is sexual deviant. A romantic heroine is a female character who rejects the average norm that is set fourth by society and adheres to her own ideas and morals while also searching for love. A sexual deviant is a character who has sex with multiple partners or is portrayed as a character that is solely interested in sex. In the movie “Claudine” this argument is often raised.

    In my opinion, Claudine is both a romantic heroine and a sexual deviant. I believe Claudine is a romantic heroine because she is doing whatever it takes to take care of her family, and to also pursue a love interest of hers even if society, the welfare industry, is making it difficult for her to do so. I believe she is a sexual deviant because she does have 6 children, who seem as if they have different fathers, and she is also a single parent. That aside, she does form a relationship with a man in the movie and on the first date she is seen taking a bath at his apartment and having sex with him.

    In the article “Six Annoying Women Character Tropes in Black Romantic Comedies,” by Evette Brown, there is a section that discusses Claudine and her role as a “Welfare Queen.” In this article, a Welfare Queen is described as a female who receives government assistance to provide an income for themselves while also working and receive money from outside sources but keeping a secret from the welfare company to insure they are receiving as much income from the welfare system. I do believe this depicts Claudine, but I do not think it should be viewed negatively. I believe she is doing what she needs to do in order to provide for herself and her family.

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    • Brittany, great overview of the film and of the argument that Claudine can be both Romantic Heroine and Sex object. Some quotes from the reading could have beefed up your argument and flushed out your theory about Claudine being both. Also referring to the Moynihan article could have helped expand your point about Claudine as the Welfare Queen.

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  5. Throughout most of the movie, Claudine is depicted as a sexual other in a more indirect way due to the fact that she had six children conceived during her “two marriages and two almost marriages”. The fact that she had to deal with the welfare system was, in my opinion, a way for the author to illustrate how being “other” is being systematically oppressed in society, since the reason why she is on welfare is because she has many kids, so it is as if she has to live with the consequences of her “deviant behavior”, she is simultaneously being helped and pointed-at, as well as deprived from raising her standard of life, as shown in the scenes where she has to hide appliances and other things every time the social worker came to inspect, and also lie about not having a job. Claudine shows characteristics of a superwoman by being head of household and taking care of everyone else’s needs with no time for herself, but at the same time shows herself submissive to Rupert and it was clear he had the last word on anything in their relationship which I think it’s shown when, after disappearing, he comes back and she takes him; she did not take charge and actually let herself be “rescued” by Rupert, which shows characteristics of a romantic heroine.

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    • Deborah, I love when students express ideas/theories that fall outside the obvious. That is a great connection to the “welfare queen” & the “other/deviant.” Also, excellent observations regarding how she becomes the Romantic Heroine, she does achieve love but as you noted not on her own only after she is rescued by Ruppert. Great job! For future postings, please incorporate the articles and readings, it makes your argument that more richer.

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  6. After watching the film Claudine, I am under the impression that the title character is not a sexual deviant but is in fact a Romantic Heroine. While she is clearly a welfare queen and she “is the catalyst for all negative undertakings in Black American communities” that does not necessarily make her a whore or sexual deviant. Claudine does have six children presumably with multiple different fathers at the start of the film, but she is initially presented as a maternal figure. who focuses most of her energy on providing for her children. She does is not presented as someone who “pilfers thousands of dollars from federal assistance that is then wasted on designer clothes and car rims.” As the article claims she does hide the fact that she works but only to avoid being deducted by the system, so she lies for the benefit of her family. In fact she doesn’t even fit within the Reagan created archetype of a “Welfare Queen” which is someone who is so good a gaming the system they are driving a Cadillac, essentially living the highlife off of the hard working taxpayers.

    Typically black women tend to fit into two categories when it comes to film. “Black actresses are either shown at their worst (oversexed and nagging bitch), or in other instances, presented in their opposite, but equally
    degrading role as self-sacrificing characters reminiscent of the “mammy” image.” Claudine is neither, she is a single mother, but she isn’t shown as oversexualized. Claudine isn’t shown as someone who abandons her responsibilities to go out and meet strange men. In fact the only Man she is shown to have interest in is her love interest Roop, played by James Earl Jones. She also is not a Mammy, she has flaws and her children have flaws as well. She isn’t the person who makes everything better for those around her and she isn’t completely self sacrificing. She also has some romantic desires, when she was confronted by the social worker about whether or not she was seeing someone she retorted with Am I not supposed to see a man? Am I a damn nun?” Mammy’s are typically almost asexual kind of like nuns. Claudine also doesn’t fit a superwoman role nor is she a true sapphire, she gets angry when appropriate and experiences a wide range of different emotions throughout the film.

    This is why I believe she is in fact a romantic heroine in this film. She fits this mold more than any other category; Claudine is struggling has possibly given up on love until she meets the “right man” who sweeps her off of her feet. Her and Roop go on a date, and while she does sleep with him on that first date it isn’t shown as a purely physical expression but an intimate one. Claudine and Roop then have a standard RomCom relationship, everything goes well in the beginning there are some flaws that lead to a separation, she gets heart broken but eventually they get back together thus validating her in a film sense as someone worthy of love. In fact one of the key reasons for Roop’s departure had to do with his own child support issues and wasn’t due to anything remotely close to Claudine cheating on him; which would be a prototypical relationship ending event for a Jezebel. The film is not without negative stereotypes of both black men and black women however Claudine is clearly not a sexual deviant. “Not only are they locked into the sexual roles, roles we will later see that are pilloried, and that result in punitive measures for violators within films (and in the culture, by extension)” Claudine is not a character that is locked into a sexual role in this film, she is also not punished for her sexuality, in the end she is rewarded by finding love and because of that she is a Romantic heroine.

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    • Sean, very well thought out. I would have to agree with you that Claudine is more of a Romantic heroine than sexual deviant. She may have some elements of a sex object but not enough to be considered a Jezebel she doesnt use sex like the Robin Givens character in Harlem Nights. She is more a victim of bad judgment and her circumstance than anything. But she isn’t just a love object either, there are elements of the Superwoman as well in terms of how she attempts to fix everything except her relationship. Its her son and Roop that make that relationship work. She also gives up on the possibility of love and felt from the beginning that it wouldnt really lead to anything. Good job, next please incorporate more of the readings, you also missed an opportunity to connect the other two articles on The Moynihan Report and “Six Annoying Women Character Tropes in Black Romantic Comedies,” which could have helped you expand on your thoughts on her being a welfare queen.

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  7. In the film Claudine, Claudine was portrayed as a Welfare Queen that used government benefits to support her and her family of six while still having a job without informing Public Assistance.
    Claudine gets into a relationship with a man which could have an affect on her case so she hides him as well from government until he decides to take care of her and her children. I believe that Claudine is a romantic heroine because she wanted to have an intimate relationship with a guy without assuming he was going to take care of her children or support her in exchange for sexual advances. I wouldn’t describe her as a sexual deviant because she wasn’t oversexed in the film or representing the stereotypical “jezebel” even though she had a number of kids. Radway (1984) notes that although the romantic heroine was often portrayed as spirited and independent, she was ultimately portrayed as losing herself emotionally in romance by surrendering her sexual autonomy to the hero and to marriage. When Claudine got into a relationship with Roop, she was into him even though he was intimidated by the idea of taking care of her and her six children, she respected his decisions and never forced him to want to marry her or provide for her when the Welfare finds out he’s supporting her. Besides Claudine living in poverty and having six children, she was in a relationship with a man beyond what he was capable of providing for her financially. Roop and Claudine went on several dates and eventually fell in love with each other and eventually the kids gained respect for him. She hesitated before to marrying Roof because it would effect her case but she still decided to pursue marriage with Roof because she loves him. Therefore I don’t believe Claudine is a sexual deviant, but a romantic heroine.

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    • Shaquarius, you talked about Claudine being a Welfare Queen but didnt make a direct connect it to her being a love object or sex object. For decades, the Welfare Queen was closly related to the sex object/jezebel because she was a single mother who couldnt control herself and had made children with different men. Your quote from the readings was a great connection to the film because it gives the audience the potential of seeing Claudine as a Romantic Heroine. Although, she also demonstrates aspects of a sex object more so than a sexual deviant. “Messages in film vilifies sexually liberated women while also actively setting up women as sex objects through the male Filmmakers gaze.”

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  8. The notion that Claudine is a sex object is immediately limited by the fact that that she’s married to Rupert at the end of the film and also because in the film he is the only man we see her with. More than that she has six kids from two marriages and two “almost” marriages. There is a commitment system to this woman while she is with someone that the sex object normally doesn’t get. When she is with a man he tends to commit or in her case “almost” commit. It’s not as if she has kids and doesn’t know who the fathers are. An example being Dashiki from Don’t Be A Menace. Though the father’s are not present in her children’s life that is also not of her own accord but of theirs. A conversation that is had during Claudine’s and Rupert’s first “date”. When bringing up that that date when we look closer at it, it is something that is bringing claudine closer to the sex object thought process. But the incremental difference is that during their first sexual experience she isn’t the one who is initiating or attempting to engage him into it. The situation sort of stems because she fell asleep in the tub while getting ready for the date that they wee supposed to go on. Claudine actively pursues love and commitment to Rupert even after he disappears for a while and accepts him when he’s back, marries him and the implication is that they raise the kids together. Because of that Claudine, in my eyes is a romantic heroine more than she is a sex object.

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    • Josh- Manatu state, “the deviant “other” ideology served to fuel the negative stereotype of black women as “oversexed,” which, in U.S. culture, has lasted up to the present day with little questioning from audiences.” So although, Claudine is not a classic sex object/sexual deviant, the early part of her relationship with Rup and her many baby daddies puts into question her sexual choices. In addition, the role of welfare queen adds to the stereotype of the “other.” On the other end, she does show elements of the love object but doesn’t go as far as being a romantic heroine in the traditional cinematic portrayal.

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  9. Claudine can be seen as a sexual deviant/sex object in the film. She has 5 children, who’s fathers are not in their lives, and she’s relies on welfare to take care of her kids financially. It seems as if she lets her sexuality gets her caught up in situations that she is not prepared for. According to the attached article above, the welfare queens are the reason the federal and state budgets are failing to balance because they are using the money to buy “designer clothes and car rims”. Manatu says that “the oversexed deviant black women” is the reason why black females are portrayed as so in films. Claudine at the same time is not 100% dependent on welfare because she has a job on the side that shows she’s more determined to make some more money rather than sit at home and wait for a check every month.

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    • Jenai, although you are correct that Claudine is a sex object/sexual deviant you doing a partai; anaylsis of her character. She is also a love object even it its only through the male gaze. Rupp falls for her and realizes his feelings for her. I’m not sure if your quote of the reading is a direct quote or that it accurately describes Claudine which is what makes Claudine so interesting as a character. She is not just one thing. You could view her as the Welfare Queen but as you noted she works hard to provide for her family. You can view her as a social/sexual deviant but she is more than that. Also, add more quotes because its a great way to connect the readings to the film.

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  10. Claudine is presented to us in two ways, as a woman who is struggling to maintain her family of give children afloat and at the same time as a woman who is trying to cheat the system by receiving support by the government and maintaining a job, and at the same time seeing a man on the side. No matter what she does she is criticized and scrutinized for her actions. She finds intimacy and a romance that begins with Rupert. She feels a strong set of emotions. Yet we also see Claudine as a woman who is a deviant by her trying to seek the best way to cheat and not get caught by the social worker. Not so much so as a sexual deviant but as someone who in the past did have children all coming from different fathers. She tries her best to not set herself in the same path that she was going through in the past but even her children tell her to not come back home pregnant with another baby for them to have to all grow up and deal with.
    Although I do not see her past life personally asa defining moment for us as an audience to automatically call her a sexual deviant or as a sex object. Sure, her past has caused her to be in the predicament that she is in, but she doesn’t necessarily use her sexual agency to cause Rupert to fall for her or do favors for her. It is more a matter of real romance between two adults whom wish to have a family together that should be the primary focal point of the audience and not as Claudine being seen so much so as welfare queen.

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    • Larry, you made some good points but you have a lot of spelling and grammatical errors that makes it heard to read your post. I would have loved to see you link the readings to your post. For example, Manatu states “Black women have never had the benefit to be feminine but confined to work and sexuality,” which defines Claudine as a character.

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  11. In one of the articles they state the issues found in the movie Claudine and how a lot black women get categorized as this type of imagine such as the article stated which was. ‘ The welfare queen is the catalyst for all negative undertakings in Black American communities. She’s responsible for the government’s failure to balance state and federal budgets since she pilfers thousands of dollars from federal assistance that is then wasted on designer clothes and car rims.”
    This is the typical miss representation that they have about certain black women and how they end up blaming it on them responsible for using up the government services… Claudia is not sexual deviation but more on the romantic side, she seeks to find a man who can love her and accept her as she is..

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  12. Good points and a nice use of a quote from the readings, although not very specific. Would have like to see you expand your thoughts around Claudine as to whether you see her as a love or sex object or evern both.

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