Claudine – Love Object vs Sex Object

Consider the conversations we’ve had about romantic heroines/love object vs sexual deviants/sex objects and write about how it relates to Claudine. Which one is she more, or is she both? Claudine was portrayed as a Welfare Queen throughout the film, in your response to this post talk about how this stereotyped framed her as well. 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 created the concept of the Welfare Quees. As always, incorporate the readings from our class, plus our discussions about the above topic with the two articles into your post. Below 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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10 thoughts on “Claudine – Love Object vs Sex Object

  1. Six annoying women characters tropes in black romantic comedies by Evette Brown, claims the welfare queen to be responsible for the government’s failure to balance state and federal budgets, she gets about a thousands of dollars from federal assistance. The welfare queen isn’t married and her children are fatherless, often look upon as juvenile delinquents. Film Claudine is a prime example of a welfare queen. Played by Diahann carol, she is a mother of 6, had 4 fail relationships. She receives 30 dollars for each of her children and she works on the side off the books to makes end meet. She is stuck between begin label as a welfare queen and sex object. She cannot find love because if she does she has to report to welfare about the man and what he contribute to the family and if he makes enough than the family will lose some of its assistance. Claudine is left with either begin a lazy mother, who can’t have a boyfriend. She refers to the welfare system as her husband: “If I can’t feed my kid’s that is child neglect, if I stay home and receive welfare than I’m lazy. If I work on the side I’m cheating the system.” The scene of when the welfare worker asking her about the man that’s been coming over. Shines light between white and black women. I mean the worker was asking personal question, that she didn’t want to answer herself, when Claudine asks those same questions. I do understand that if she was getting extra money from her partner than she should report those funds. But to say she can have a male company or even go on dates without saying so is beyond extreme. It seems to me the welfare system ways a way to stop women of color to have reproduction rights. According to Norma Mantu chapter of the invisible black women she states; “Black women’s oppressive double classification as both women and black with creates a two-tier visible otherness.” Mantu states all people of color male or female, deals with an oppressive experience. There is a privilege that is given to white women, even if they come second to their husband that is not so given to women of color. Even with Claudine begin able to find love and transfer from begin a sex object to a love object the stereotype images was never left the film. Mantu quotes Yamato, “suggests that blacks in general and black women particular have been oppressed for so long, many have internalized the messages of unworthiness…” throughout the whole film the children of Claudine refer themselves as invisible, or worthless, even saying that don’t have nothing. White women are able to have a fairy tale dream of a husband and kids, in which they look as that as begin oppressive. But black women are left to be the head of the house. Moynihan Black poverty report revisited 50 years later, speaks of the black family experience. He states number of African American children are fatherless and divorce rates 2 ½ times higher than of white families. One way to look at it from the film, was when Claudine boyfriend try’s to step in a marry her, and goes to the welfare office. He ask them if he steps in a married her, they will re-budget her class to his income. If he stop working than they will budget the case to which they fit the family needs, but he can be in the house without a job. So where’s this leaves Claudine? A lose to lose situation, have a man little bit of income and even though is still wasn’t either for her and the kids plus himself, welfare still deducted money from his check. Not even leaving him enough to pay his own bills. I argue that these factors lead to the women of color to be a “welfare queen”. We don’t know about Claudine other relationship beside the one shown, but from my perspective I can see how it would be hard for a women of color to keep a man or have a healthy relationship with not begin able to fully provide for their family. Claudine boyfriend in the film said I “don’t have the money to be a daddy”. That stood out to me because in the case where once he step in he now had to be the provider for everyone. I’m not saying this could be the case for all families on welfare, but this makes it hard for women of color to be loved or have love because her man is not the bread winner. And since she is not able to have a male in the house she is left to raise her children on her own. just to be stereotype as an unfit lazy welfare queen mother.

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    • Ebony, good job with your analysis of Claudine as the “Welfare Queen” in film. The concept and stereptype of the Welfare Queen fails to address the real life challenges of poor black woman. Women like Claudine get painted into a corner and get viewed negatively if they attempt to maintain a relationship or support their family beyond the means of welfare. Your use of the reading from the book and articles shows an effort to create a lens in which we not only see Claudine but understand her. As your quote from Manatu proves, ” black women particular have been oppressed for so long, many have internalized the messages of unworthiness…” How many times did her daughter say she was worthless and nothing ??? Your comments on Claudine was great but you didnt address whether you viewed her as love object, sex object or both. There are arguments for all three possibilities, I would have like to hear your thoughts on it.

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  2. Does art imitate life or life imitate art? In the case of the welfare queen it’s both. Claudine was created in 1974 where in certain inpoverished communiites welfare queens thrived. In 2016 welfare queens have changed faces but not the game. It isn’t a surprise to see a woman of color wearing the newest sneakers, a brand new handbag only to pull out an EBT card to pay for something. Although what was one called a welfare queen people now claim “simply working the system”.
    The welfare queen stereotype solidified her spot as a sexual deviant in the beginning of the movie. She was unmarried, several children and no father in sight. We all assumed she must have been a whore. As Manatu points out in the book stereotypes such as welfare queen only exist in black communities because “Black women’s oppressive double classification as both women and black creates a two tier visible otherness, making it clear that any access to social and economic rewards has not operated for black women in the way that it has for white women”. As proved in the Moynihan report african american households are twice as likely to involve divorce and a single parent household. In fifty years there has been little economic improvement especially as we see a shrinking middle class and a division between the middle class and the upper class.
    Claudine only became a woman and a Madonna once Rupert agreed to marry her. Although Claudine’s welfare benefit’s were not completely revoked we no longer viewed her as a welfare queen but someone’s wife. Once a man decided he was willing to put up with all six of her children they then became legitimate children and Claudine a woman who’s virtue had been restored. Once Claudine proved capable of finding love she was no longer viewed as a sexual deviant and we then shifted our view of her into a romantic heroine. As a woman simply searching for love.

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    • Keanda, you brought up some good points in your analysis of Claudine as the Welfare Queen. The Moynihan Report created the blueprint for not only the stereotype of the Welfare Queen but probably assisted in maintaining this mythic image of poor black women up til now. We see Rup and Claudine struggle to develop and maintain their relationship due partially to the bad policies created by the restrictions of the welfare system. Pushing the man or male in the household out of the house created another level of complixities in addition to racism, poverty, joblessness and a lack of decent housing and education. The image of the Gucci fly welfare recipient is common but rarely true and certainly not limited to black women. As you noted in your Manatu reference, black women are not only commonly referred to as welfare queens but its almost always connected to the sex object or sexual deviant. We have no other choice to see her as anything else once it is revealed that she has six children by different men and dependent on gov’t assistance. But once she is pursued by Rup, she moves from being the sex object to a valued and respectful love object. Even when Rup disappears, we assume its because of her burden of being a single mother rather than his fears and insecurity around being a father and husband. Her marriage to Rup provides Claudine with the respectability that she could never earn on her own from society. Keanda, you noted that in 50yrs there has been little economic improvement within the black community, but that is not entirely true. For the most part, we have a larger black middle class than in 1974. More black women work now than ever, more have college degrees and probably more have midlevel positions than ever before. Unfortunately, despite the progress African Americans have made, black women in particular, we are still associated with these old stereotypes. Whereas the welfare queen doesnt exist as much, the sapphire and hood rat/ghetto queen lives on in almost every urban/gansta film. As Manatu states, we need to see black women in all their glory, they must be has three dimensional as their counterparts.

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  3. I believe that in the film Claudine was portrayed as a romantic heroine. You could tell how invested she was in her partner because she was hurt when he did not show up for the father’s day party thrown for him. In the beginning it may have seem like all she wanted was sex but she slowly gained feelings towards him. The only thing that was stopping her from being fully committed to him was welfare. The article Moynihan Black Poverty quotes, “Am I not supposed to see a man?” demands the affronted Claudine. “Am I a damned nun? To which the social worker replies: “No, but if you’ve been sleeping with a man and he’s been giving you things, I’m sorry, but I have to know.” This is prominent in many people of color lives. This even happens in my life. When the social worker comes over my mom takes down pictures that include her boyfriend and she makes sure her room is locked so that the social worker would not see that he was living with us. This gives society the idea that not only can black or women of color cannot find love but they can’t have it because they need welfare to support their children. Claudine does not come off as a sexual deviant/sex object/Jezebel because she does not go around hoeing around. She stood with one person who she soon learned to love. The problem with this is that black women tend to be seen as masculine because they can’t find love. You see this in the beginning and even towards the ending of the film because Claudine explains that she had four baby fathers and she even tells her oldest daughter to no become pregnant because men just feed lies and end up leaving. Claudine believed this to be true because after her partner agreed to get married to her he disappeared. Manatu says, “Different socialization inclines both sexes towards different pursuits in love: women are expected to establish their “femininity” through love;” (2003, P.54). Claudine is just a women who wants true love but also wants her family to survive and in the end she finds someone that is willing to take care of her and her 6 kids.

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  4. Stephanie, I appreciate your personal perspective on this issue. I think the concept and stereotype of the welfare queen gets simplified as an amoral woman who doesnt want to work and cant control her sex drive. These are ideas perpetrated by a bad policy meant to punish communities of color, especially women of color. Not every women fits the one size fits everyone stereotype. As we see, Claudine knows she has to work outside of welfare in order to care for her children. She tries to protect her children, almost to a fault, against the evils of sex and the harshness of the world. She even lies to her children about her relationship with Rup in an effort to protect and manage some form of privacy and decency. And athough she has sex with him on the first date, she remain committed to him despite the changes to maintain their relationship. You are spot on with the concept of her being masculine and your Manatu quote. Claudine is masculine, not only because she is sleeping with a man outside of marriage, which is a masculine trait. But she has all these children, is the breadwinner for the family and has to act as both mother and father to her children. She only becomes respectable and femimine through the love and acceptness of Rup. When she finds love, she moves not only out of the stereotype of the sex object/deviant but also the welfare queen. She becomes respectful by the community and society as a whole.

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  5. I think that Claudine is portrayed as a romantic heroin welfare queen. She might have a little sexual deviance in her, or rather what society has said is sexually deviant, by sleeping with this guy she is seeing on the first date or by having so many kids by different men. I would still say that she meets more of the romantic heroin character, she wants to find love and she wants her children to have the male/father figure around in their lives. Claudine falls in love with this man and in the end its seems that they do end up getting married and will go on to live this happy life together as a family.
    The Moynihan Report describes exactly what Claudine is; Claudine is definitely someone who is trying to cheat the system by having a job and still trying to get as much money as she can from government, she has 6 kids fathered by several different men and for a long time she has been single. I would also say that she also meets a few of the characters that Evette Brown talks about in Six Annoying Women Character Tropes in Black Romantic Comedies, The Welfare queen, the Strong black woman, and I would also say little bit of the Sapphire. Claudine is this strong black woman that is supporting all her kids by herself, even though she is getting help from the government she also has a job and is really doing the best she can. She gets a little sapphire in her when she starts defending herself to the social worker or when she gets angry with her boyfriend.
    Claudine is not really given the chance to be anything but a welfare queen though. Manatu talks about how black women were just never given the same opportunities as say most white women are, she even uses the word subordinates in the chapter saying that the black women were always working for or under the white women. Claudine was forced to work for a white woman family under the table and also had to bend to the will of her white social worker.

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    • Liv, you made some good points connecting with Manatu and even Moynihan with the concept of the Welfare Queen to Claudine but didnt really present an analysis on what it means to be a Welfare Queen. Or why the concept of the Welfare Queen is problematic for Black women. Certainly, there are women black, brown and white who have taken advantage of the welfare system but black women have been historically painted as a poster child for this stereotype. In some ways, Claudine goes beyond the stereotype. She knows she cant survive on just welfare and works to create additional income to support her large family knowing she could lose gov’t support. Despite having several children, she attempts to maintain some form of family structure with her kids. And lastly, she works to have and maintain a relationship despite all the odds being against her, placing her closer to being a love object and romantic heroine and further from being a sexual deviant with 6 kids from 4 different fathers. She is painted into a corner with very little room to get out of it. As you so accurately noted from the readings, “black women were just never given the same opportunities as say most white women.” Therefore, she makes lemonade from lemons. But how to we move from these stereotypes in film. As Manatu states, “As a group, black women have not fared well in media…..” Later she states, “black women who made valuable contributions to society, yet we fail to see.” What we need to see are those images of not only black women, but all women, who are able to move from the Welfare Queen to the Superwoman who also finds love!

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  6. Romantic comedies are meant to as the genre suggests give us the romance that we all secretly love while also making us laugh. Romantic comedies have gone on for so long, yet for as long as they have been around whenever a black specifically a black women actor plays a role in these films she is secluded to what Evette Brown states in her “Six Annoying Women Character Tropes in Black Romantic Comedies” article the same six annoying stereotypes. Although the representation of black women in film is to be applauded form there is much more to the black women, more faucets we carry as complex human beings than what Hollywood chooses to portray.
    These stereotypes are not developed by accident or because of its “accuracy” rather it is devaluation process of black women to ensure that there is a “dual split between black and white women” (Manatu, p 107) on screen and any other media outlet. Even with taking care of children, which if viewed with a sexist lens as a positive attribute of women there seems to always be a way to negate that behavior when associated with black women. In the film, Claudine the main character Claudine is the prototype of a welfare queen. Instead of being hauled for taking care and well I may add of her six children all by herself, she gets toted as the grubby welfare queen whom the government needs to save.
    In terms of whether Claudine is either the heroine/love object or the sexual deviant/sex object, I think she falls into both but more so the latter. I say she falls into more of the sexual deviant/sex object because although she does get married in the end it was not in the most conventional way and there were still issues surrounding that ordeal in that why is it that she has to get married to be awarded. Why is she not awarded for being a single mom why does that seem to be the end goal and the main plot that goes through trial and tribulations? This whole welfare queen stereotype though wholly meant for black women, maintains the invisible myth that women need men. As Manatu points out if white women could get over their fear of black women taking their jobs, “they can confront the challenges many now face with black women – gender and class discriminations” (Manatu, p 112). With this awareness that these stereotypes along with other systematically disparaging methods towards black women are rooted within sexism as much as is it racism real progress can be made.

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    • Istou, you made a great observation in regard to Claudine and the burden of the Welfare Queen despite her best to maintain and manage her family under the woest possible circumstances. I agree with you that Claudine falls in between being both love and sex object. I can go back and forth as to whether she is more of one or the other. I would like to see because of her relationship with Roop, she falls more towards the love object but only through the gaze and love of a man does she get as close to the femininity and respectablilty that would be offered or connected to a white woman. As we know from the readings, black women are rarely, if never experience love the same way white women do. When we meet Claudine she are forced to only see her as a unwed mother, sexual deviant welfare queen who can only experience respectability through the love of her man. So, even when Roop abandons her, she still only becomes whole when takes her and her children as his own.

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