Jezebel Stereotype


Jezebel Stereotype

by David Pilgrim

Perhaps she remembers her great-great grandmother who wnated to protest but only rolled her eyes and willed herself not to scream when the white man mounther from behind
                    -- Andrea Williams

The portrayal of Black women as lascivious by nature is an enduring stereotype. The descriptive words associated with this stereotype are singular in their focus: seductive, alluring, worldly, beguiling, tempting, and lewd. Historically, White women as category, were portrayed as models of self-respect, self-control, and modesty - even sexual purity, but Black women were often portrayed as innately promiscuous, even predatory. This depiction of Black women is signified by the name Jezebel.

K. Sue Jewell, a contemporary sociologist, conceptualized the Jezebel as tragic mulatto - "thin lips, long straight hair, slender nose, thin figure and fair complexion." This conceptualization to too narrow. It is true that the "tragic mulatto" and "Jezebel" share the reputation of being secually seductive, and both are antithetical to the desexualized "Mammy" caricature; nevertheless, it is a mistake to assume that only, or even mainly, fair-complexioned Black women were sexually objectifed by the larger American society. From the early 1630s to the present, Black American women of all shades have been portrayed as hypersexual "bad-black-girls".

Jewell's conceptualization is based on a kernel of historical truth. Many of the slavery-era Blacks sold into prostitution were mulattoes. Also, freeborn light-skinned Black women sometimes became the willing concubines of wealth White southerners. This system, called placage, involved a formal arrangement for the White suitor/customer to financially support the Black woman and her children in exchange for thr White suitor/customer to financially support the Black woman and her children in exchange for her long-term sexual services. The White men often met the Black women at "Quadroon Balls," a genteel sex market.

The belief that Blacks are sexually lewd predates the institution of slavery in American. European travelers to Africa found scantily clad natives. This semis nudity was misinterpreted as lewdness. White Europeans, locked into the racial ethnocentrism of the 17th century, saw Africa polygamy and tribal dances as proof of the African's uncontrolled sexual lust. Europeans were fascinated by African sexuality. William Bosman described the Black women on the coast of Guinea as "fiery" and "warm" and "so much hotter than the men". William Smith described African women as "hot constitution'd Ladies" who "are continually contriving stratagems how to gain a lover." The genesis of anti-Balck sexual arch types emerged from the writings of these and other Eruopeans: the Black male as brute and potential rapist; the Black woman, as Jezebel whore.

The English colonists accepted the Elizabethan image of "the lusty Moor," and used this and similar stereotypes to justify enslaving Blacks. In part, this was accomplished by arguing that Blacks were subhumans: intellectually inferior, culturally stundted, morally underdeveloped, and animal-like sexually. Whites used racist and sexit ideologies to argue that they alone were civilized and rational, whereas Blacks, and other people of color, were barbaric and deserved to be subjugated. ...

Full article

Here are two contemporary examples of this at the 2011 Brit Awards

Rihanna was asked to tone down her performance, so I dont know what the original act would have been liked aside from more raunchy. The song has been banned in a few countries, so ignore the youtube-o-meter.

Adele is the 'white angel' here...never mind they are different genres, they both got awards and I assume this is a big show at least in UK/Europe and the contrasting message is blazingly red clear.

2011 - BRIT Awards Performance - RihannaDQ

Adele - ''Someone Like You''DQ

- M -

Excellent read, someone told me once that there is no comfort in a corrupt world and the more i read, the more i understand and see, the less impressed i am with what has been passed on as entertainment. Good post Makini

This article resonated with me and I began thinking about the Jezebel character and this led me to think of the mammy and tom character mentioned in the article, maybe i missed it but i wasn't sure that the article described what they we. so a quick search in google produced several stereotypical black characters, many of which are still portrayed in movies that i have been to, laughed at and recommended that friends check out...hmmmm 



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