Social Invisibility: Can a Black Woman’s “hoeness” be Deleted? Stereotypes, Rumors, and Titles of Shame

“Black women emerged from slavery enshrined in the consciousness of white America as “mammy” and “bad black woman.” –  Cherly Gilkes

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According to a society that has condemned black women for her erotic….no!!!!…our “hoeness” can not be deleted.  It seems as though we forget how and why these labels against our women came from in this world.  We have always been labeled as salacious, wanton, exotic women that has thrown the pussy at men for centuries….starting in Antebellum times.  These labels that have been hoisted unto us has oppressed the different generations, even now!

Black Feminist Thought points out the logic behind the negative representation of black women. She says that no system of oppression can work without “powerful ideological justification.” (1) Thus the portrayal of black women as the breeders, mammies, matriarchs, and hot girls, women with the deviant sexuality, welfare recipients and the ugly and unfeminine creatures justifies their oppression. The portrayal of black women as others is enough to justify any kind of oppression. This negative representation has caused great harm to them and presents just the one side of reality. It distorts their true image. – Patricia Hill Collins

For black women to be free sexually, there has been a price.  For the woman that has been abused mentally or physically because of her past and tends to show love through her sexual exploits are labeled damaged goods and considered a hoe.  The woman who decides to be free with her sexuality and has multiple partners is a hoe.  I can name other examples of women that fall under the “hoe” status, but you get my drift.  These stereotypes, labels, and titles continue to haunt black women and if it’s not a white man or woman saying how wanton we are or appear to be, then it’s our own black community that’s continuing the abuse of these labels.

Anita Hill represented me when she testified. All of the pathological labels and mythologies attributed to Hill revealed how society perceived me: the wanton, sexually promiscuous woman; the scorned Black woman out to get revenge; the Black woman as one who suffered from just about every psychopathic disorder known to womankind. The hearings left me feeling vulnerable. My identity as a Black woman had been denigrated, and no one came to my defense in a way that affirmed my identity. – Ella Louise Bell

African American women often combat negative stereotypes of both our gender and race.  We are targets of sexism coupled with covert and overt forms of racial discrimination.  Sometimes because of the difficulties being a black woman we latched on to less healthy relationships that expose us to risky sexual behaviors, drugs, sex for money and other factors.  I’m not saying we are perfect, but we are flawed.  But not to the point where being labeled these derogatory names should follow us every day like a monkey on our back.  I’m an autodidact and I read and understand sex and risky behaviors of black women, but we are not only fucking ourselves.  These gossiping men, classes of supposedly “prim and proper” females that throw nasty words around to the sexually liberated or misunderstood woman takes on a new form of shaming now that social media has reared it’s ugly head.

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Black women who saw no “immorality in doing what nature prompts,” who did not “foster chastity” among their own daughters, were not only responsible for their own denigration but for that of the entire race. Even the Black man’s alleged impulse to rape was the Black woman’s fault. Historically, the stereotype of the sexually potent Black male was largely based on that of the promiscuous Black female. He would have to be potent, the thinking went, to satisfy such hot-natured women. – Philip Bruce

Hot-natured?  Responsible for our own denigration of our entire race?  Seems like a lot of sexual power for black women….even during Antebellum times when we were seen as lower than black men.  Apparently, we come out of the womb and are labeled Hottentots before we know what sex is and what that experience feels like.  I’m tired of black women being bashed for wanting sex, being sexual or loving their bodies and their erotic.  To continue to blame us for being sexually harassed, raped, assaulted, and ridiculed through memes, posters, videos, and photos is draining.

The different stereotypes-Mammy, Sapphire and Jezebel-all represent a channel of shame, whether being shamed for servility (Mammy), for being an “angry black woman” (Sapphire) or a hyper-sexual seductress (Jezebel), black women are constantly facing and internalizing the shame that comes with these different perceptions of them. – Melissa V. Harris-Perry

I agree we can overdue our sexual character at times and we have a high rate of being diagnosed with STDs.  We have used sex to our advantage for additional sexual favors, likes, gifts, and more.  But we are sooooo much more than just sexual beings.  To continue to pound into us with these images of us only as Mammies, Jezebels, and Sapphires do not do us any justice.  We are literally using the same tactics from the white patriarchal system and just giving us new names.  Jezebel aka Hoes, Bitches, THOTs, and whores.  We need these racial stereotypes to go and not have them reappear each year based on the broken ego of our black men.  In order to feel protected, shouldn’t our black women and young girls be a high priority for our men….enough so that a man’s job should be to uplift and provide positive reinforcements in the lives of these women?

Black Male Exceptionalism is alive and well in this society.  We have painted our black men as “sufferers” and “targeted men” and the people that are giving them this title are white men and women and black women.  We have provided additional services for black men, even on a national level to help their “plight.”  They are becoming a protected class of humans that we are fighting for in this country. Even while we are called hoes and bitches, we are standing tall on the front-lines of overt racism that we get hit first.  Why hit us with these stereotypes that were given to us during slave times?  Why continue to parade our sexuality around knowing that it hurts us in the house and in the boardroom.  I am not blaming our black men for starting it…this was done to black women a long time ago, but to hear the complaints, bullying, and shaming from our communities….it’s disheartening.

Slave communities also enforced moral codes. Undiscriminating behavior could get a person run out of church; and in some communities a “loose” woman could be the subject of collective recrimination. One slave, Priscilla McCollough, explained that if a woman wasn’t acting as she should, her neighbors would adopt an African custom and “play the banjo” on her: make her a subject of a public song that warned her that she “betta change.” – Priscilla McCollough

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It hurts black women and young girls mentally and physically because just like our ancestors we are being thrown into a society that quickly wants to represent us as hypersexual beings.  I don’t feel we are doing enough for our women and girls for their own upliftment.  We are becoming politically lethargic ultimately responsible for the continuance of these stereotypes and labels.

This misrepresentation caused pervasive and egregious harm to Black women’s psyches. The whites misinterpreted the bare breast of African women as “lewdness” or “uncontrollable lust. Stereotyping Black women as lustful also was partly based on the desire to exploit Black female slaves as sexual objects and immoral breeders to justify the rape, abuse, and economic exploitation of Black women. – Paula Giddings

These labels are not complete pictures of black women in this country or world.  And it is true that these distortions and behaviors will continue to be a license to judge us, but it’s not the whole story.  So, can a black woman’s “hoeness” be deleted in 2016?  Yes, and the reason behind my answer is that we all have a story and some of us have chosen to spread our worth thin based on our family dynamics, moral compass or choices.  We are perfectly flawed and sometimes we can make small or big mistakes, but we deserve to release these oppressive knots regarding our race and sex.

Office Holtzclaw raped and sexually assaulted 13 black women and his reasoning was that they were “loose woman”, drug addicts, and women with records that no one would believe.  This white officer decided to blame the behaviors for justifying his illegal stunts on them.  When the verdict came back, you noticed our black community bashing the news outlets for not keeping it relevant in the media.  But I think our black men forget that the prioritization of black men has led to the black woman taking a subservient position in society.  These stereotypes hurt us a lot more than you think and the memes of our sexual plights, and the showcasing of our bodies in violent or demeaning ways allows others in this country to abuse us through race and sex.

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The remnants of the Black power movement turned into an ugly war of the sexes.  A series of Black thinkers turned to focusing on perceived failures of Black women and alleged victimization of Black men.  These voices called for Black women to become more subservient, with more white like femininity, and blamed Black women for the figurative castration of their sons.  Black women cried against the chauvinism, tried to understand it, and eventually excused it.  Thus, Black women retreated again into externally imposed and self-imposed cloaks of invisibility. – Kupenda, Simmons-Johnson, and Seaborn-Williams

It’s gotten to the point where we even provoke each other by going in on the jokes against black women, and shame our women because of our own moral compass.  So receiving these labels from within our black community and our sisters makes me feel as though we have retreated into our cloak of invisibility that was especially made for us….because we don’t matter.  Our words of suffering, being beaten, lied, assaulted, and harassed doesn’t mean anything to our community, because we are invisible and given labels if we decide to step out of that circle of shame.

Does black women’s “hoeness” get deleted?  Yes, because we are women that have proven through many centuries that we are more than just sex and our injuries and stories went unacknowledged and untold.  Out plight, sexuality, and oppression should not be written by white men and not by black men.  An accounting of our experience does not always reflect the unique perspective of the black woman.  Do not tell our story based on your warped sense of ego until you understand our history outside of black men.  Until you listen to understand and not be so quick to reply to these labels that crush our resolve.

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As Sojourner Truth’s message implied, “Black women had already proven their inherent strengths—both physical and psychological. They had undergone a baptism of fire and emerged intact. Therefore, their convictions concerning the rights of women were deeply rooted in experience as well as theory.”  This statement is true in 2016.  We managed to pull through in theory and experience and always will because we are fighters and survivors.  Now that’s a few labels that I wouldn’t mind attached to black women.

 

Source:

Black women and racial stereotypes: a black feminist reading of Morrison’s novels, Publication Information
Author(s): Khamsa Qasim, Mazhar Hayat and Uzma Asmat

Myths, Stereotypes, and Realities of Black Women: A Personal Reflection
Bell, Ella Louise. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science40.2 (Jun 2004): 146-159.

SISTER CITIZEN: SHAME, STEREOTYPES, AND BLACK WOMEN IN AMERICA (FOR COLORED GIRLS WHO’VE CONSIDERED POLITICS WHEN BEING STRONG ISN’T ENOUGH) Norum-Gross, Sarah Liana. Race, Gender & Class21.1/2 (2014): 362-364.

Washburn Law Journal, ARTICLE: Political Invisibility of Black Women: Still Suspect but No Suspect Class Fall, 2010, Angela Mae Kupenda, with Letitia Simmons Johnson and Ramona Seabron-Williams

When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women
on Race and Sex in America, Paula Giddings, Harper-Collins

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Saabirah says:

    Thankyou for tagging me! I wasn’t sure how to word my feelings towards black women and sex because I don’t want to slut shame but we do need to realise that were being watched and we can’t really afford to be sexy right now we need to fix all the shit in our community then let’s be as carefree as we want .

    Liked by 1 person

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