Our Bodies Our Lives

Representations and Reflections of the Black Female

Are Black Women Reclaiming Jezebel or Claiming Misogyny?

Are black women reclaiming Jezebel or are they internalizing the misogyny that comes with the world of Hip-Hop and R&B?

While the foundational Jezebel stereotype still forms ideas and notions of black female sexuality, some contemporary developments have been made because of popular culture. Black women are beginning to accept and become numb to the view of black female sexuality as lurid and demeaning.

We are no longer in upheaval about views of black women in the media instead we play ‘Stupid Hoe” in our car and dance in the club to Rihanna’s rendition of desperate cries for a man who demeans women and partakes in intimate partner violence.

I believe we are fueling the misogynist views of black female artists and supporting the “ideal black woman” as sexually insatiable and bitchy. While I do not believe in slut shaming, I also do not believe in promulgating the belief that black women are only good for sexually appetizing roles in the media.

Ayana Byrd says in the end of her essay “Claiming Jezebel” that she gave up hip-hop for a certain amount of time just to see if she had become numb to the music and portrayals of women, specifically black women. When she found herself entrenched into the music, after her hiatus, she went right back to her soapbox and talked to anyone who would listen about the inaccuracies white capitalist media was portraying of black women.

Due to the development and morphing of the over sexualized black female, women have placed themselves in positions that strive to be the Video Vixen. Black women are embracing a stereotype that holds a troubling history.

The socio-historical concept of the Jezebel has morphed into an accepted and degrading role that affects all black women. During slavery, the black female was under the thumb of white male oppressors but if popular culture is dissected, it is found that black women are still under an oppressed thumb.

Katy Khan writes about the view of Black women in the music media, she writes:

…black women themselves put their images in the firing line of criticism when they agree to strip their dignity and engage in lurid dances wearing thin clothes barley covering their private parts. Experienced as well as inexperienced women deliberately sign up with male artists and agree to expose their bodies… the images of black women are constantly compromised… (265)

If we studied and thought about the effects of Hip-Hop and R&B on black women and girls, would we still watch the music videos that praise misogynistic black men, fiscally support white capitalists, and objectify women of color?

In this video Nicki Minaj demonstrates the objectification of the black female body by dissecting her body parts and creating a mold of perfection according to white media. The smooth skin and perfect hair embodies that of a Barbie, while the artist is rapping about being better than the “nappy headed stupid hoe.” There is sexual objectification, body image issues, girl on girl violence, publicized misogyny, and the assimilation of black females to that of white “true womanhood.”

Pay close attention to the words of the song and answer this question, are black female artists internalizing patriarchal misogyny or reclaiming Jezebel?

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This entry was posted on February 22, 2012 by in Black Women and Their Bodies.

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