What if I want to be a Jezebel?

In Kimberly Springer’s Queering Black Female Heterosexuality, she discusses ways for black women to be able to embrace their sexuality. She talks of how in black culture, black girls can be coined “fast” with just a slightly long look at a male. On page 77, she talks of how the phrase “Oooh, that girl know she fas’!” is only used for black girls.

She also goes on to discuss the silence that happens among black some when it comes to sexuality. In the American culture, black women are considered either sexual or asexual as she discusses on page 78. These extremes are used with the figures mammies and jezebels. The are both from the post-Civil War south. Jezebel is the term used for black women as “morally loose,” especially during this post-Civil War time when white men were having sex with black women. Springer says “White men claim sexual weakness being tempted by black devil women.” This can be compared to Emory during the times of Yun Ch’i-ho. Yun wrote in his diary of the white men having sex with black women prostitutes. How he described the culture, white male students were doing this with hardly any repercussions. It is hardly possible that administrators knew nothing of the males’ activities, so the reasoning that Springer brings up when it comes to sex with black women stands strong here.

On page 79, Springer explains how this is a very large reason why men were not convicted of rape of black women hardly at all until after the 1960s. Black females have help their hypersexuality characteristics by relation to white males. This is also the case for asexuality. The example that I never thought of is Queen Latifah in her roles like Bringing Down the House and Last Holiday, where to the white community, she is know as a a prude, quiet, nurturing black woman.

For solutions to these perceptions of black women, Springer gives seven points. When looking at them, i had some problems with them and had to play devil’s advocate/

1) “Come out as black women who enjoy sex and find it pleasurable.” With this point, I had problems with Springer saying that al women needed to come out in this way. Some black women find their sexual life very personal and do not feel the need to show the world how comfortable they are with their sexuality. Where would the line be drawn for those that decide to express their sexuality? Could it be shown at all in the workplace without giving off the wrong idea?

2) “Protest the stereotypes of black female sexuality that do not reflect our experience.” In the melting pot of America, regardless of being the same race, their is no real “our” that can represent all American black women. Living in America allows us to have the freedom of our own ideas and not having to form to a status quo. I am afraid that by using Springer’s second point there would not be a general consensus that could be made for all black women.

3) “All all black women-across class, sexual orientation, and physical ability-to express what we enjoy.” With this point, I believe there is no room for generality, which is a very good thing. Every woman should be able to express what makes them happy.

4) “Know the difference between making love and fucking.” Why does there have to be a difference? Who says that these two terms must be completely divided? For many women, these two words could be completely interchangeable, and making it a goal for all women to decipher between them seems unfair.

5) “Know what it is to play with sexuality.”

6) “Know that our bodies are our own-our bodies do not belong to the church, the state, our parents, our lovers, our husbands, and certainly not BET.” This statement seems to make black women go against what may be their foundation for how they live their life. I believe this is particularly true for religious black women. To have religious black women go against something that could possibly be in their religion for the sake of taking ownership of their body could unnecessarily complicate their mindset. I believe there is a difference between owning one’s body and mindset regardless of cultural perceptions and taking a stand against everything including what you may hold dear.

1 thought on “What if I want to be a Jezebel?

  1. Simoneh: Remember to proofread before you post. There were a few needless typos/misspells that didn’t need to make it into your post.

    In your post you say:

    On page 79, Springer explains how this is a very large reason why men were not convicted of rape of black women hardly at all until after the 1960s. Black females have help their hypersexuality characteristics by relation to white males. This is also the case for asexuality. The example that I never thought of is Queen Latifah in her roles like Bringing Down the House and Last Holiday, where to the white community, she is know as a a prude, quiet, nurturing black woman.

    I am guessing in the first line when you say “men” you mean “white men”? And what do you mean when you say “Black females have help their hypersexuality characteristics by relation to white males”?

    And I think the case of Queen Latifah is tricky. I think early on when she was seen as a rapper and maybe a tv/film actress and because he is a heavier woman, she often got cast in what one may call a modern day mammy role. I wonder though, now that she is a Covergirl model/spokeswoman and shown to be more sparkly and feminine if the roles she has been offered have changed.

    You make a lot of interesting points in this post and I like that you are almost “in conversation” with Dr. Springer. Let me know if you would like to talk more about your thoughts off line.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.