Monday, July 19, 2010

Madonna/ Whore Versus Jezebel/ Sapphire/ Mammy


I read a post over at Reggie's blog. He talks about women of questionable repute. Of course Reggie being Reggie he uses much stronger words to describe these women.

What it really boils down to is the good old-fashioned Madonna vs. whore. Which is basically that all women fall into either the Madonna or whore category.

To illustrate his point Reggie mentions women like Amber Rose, Kim Kardashian and the infamous Karrine Steffans. All of whom have questionable reputations by almost anyone's standards.




And although not mentioned in Reggie's post there is the Madonna. I'll use Angela Simmons to represent the Madonna part of this. She is young and beautiful and most importantly has publicly stated that she's a virgin.

Madonna vs. whore on the surface seems to be about women and their behavior. But in truth this has to do with men and them trying to control women.

Karrine Steffans: Jezebel?

The fear of being thought of as a whore has been used to control women from the beginning of humanity. Men have always helped some women become the whore in order to use them as the examples of what a woman should not be. This continues today.

But for African American women this is complicated by a competing set of sexist and racist stereotypes; Jezebel vs. Sapphire.

Jezebel, the bad-black-girl, who is depicted as alluring and seductive as she either indiscriminately mesmerizes men and lures them into her bed, or very deliberately lures into her snares those who have something of value to offer her.

Tyler Perry as Madea: Modern day Sapphire?

Sapphire, the wise-cracking, balls-crushing, emasculating woman, is usually shown with her hands on her hips and her head thrown back as she lets everyone know she is in charge.

So as you can see for Black women not only do we have to deal with Madonna vs. whore but we also have to deal with the Jezebel and Sapphire stereotype. A stereotype began by White men but kept alive by many African Americans including, unfortunately, some Black women. And of course the media.

Oprah: Modern day Mammy?


But where there is the Madonna, for Black women there was also the Mammy stereotype. The Madonna is seen as a woman of high morals who any man would consider wife material. The Mammy stereotype is a racist take on the Madonna image.

According to Freudian psychology, this complex often develops when the sufferer is raised by a cold and distant mother. Such a man will often court women with qualities of his mother, hoping to fulfill a need for intimacy unmet in childhood. Often, the wife begins to be seen as mother to the husband—a "Madonna" figure—and thus not a possible object of sexual attraction.

Mammy is first and foremost asexual, and accordingly, in this society she had to be fat. Most portrayals of Mammy depict her as an "obese African American woman, of dark complexion, with extremely large breasts and buttocks . . . ."


Now add to all of this both old and new words and phrases meant to shame women into falling in line with what men and society want.

"Throughout human history there have been hoochies, easy women, harlots, strumpets, hookers, chickens, molls, floozies, tarts, tramps, trollops, Jezebels, broads, jades, minxes, scarlets, vamps, sluts, jumpoffs, spoogies or the ever popular "hoes"."

Not so amazingly there aren't many words describing sexually promiscuous men.

My point? Men and society will create many ways to try to control women. Some old, some new. As we move into this new century I hope that women will be smarter and not let all of these feeble attempts to control us have the desired effect. Too many generations of women have been subjected to this already.

I also hope that soon we, African Americans, will stop perpetuating these stereotypes for profit. There is way too much of that going on.


9 comments:

Reggie said...

Not one gets a short on my blog Val, not even you.

In the past, I've taken men to task for the same behaviors, but in my blog I pointed out that the terms these women are called are merely labels. I know you've read my blog often enough to know, that I have no problem calling anyone out.....including myself.

When I wrote about male athletes that were boning out of control and not turning down anything but their collars, I was very direct. I don't judge these women, I just state the facts. Today's hoochies are no different from yesterdays. If they walk like a duck and they quack like a duck, it's just not sincere to pretend that they're doves. To me it really doesn't matter if they're chickens or pigeons, they're all just birds.

It's not as if it's their fault that the game exists, they're just playing.

Val said...

@Reggie

"Not one gets a short on my blog Val, not even you."

I don't get what you mean?

I hope you don't think I was attacking you or calling you out. I wasn't. I was calling out the general practice of stereotyping women as a way of controlling us.

Moanerplicity said...

Personally, I long for the day and the time when no one else defines us, but ourselves... not society, not the media, not the past and not the limited and limiting examples placed before us.

I believe that we, as black men and women, ALL have the ability to be original (free) thinkers and to live lives of pride and dignity as defined BY OURSELVES alone. Not perfect lives, but lives worthy of setting examples for the future generations.

One Love.

Reggie said...

Controlling you?!?

I don't think so Val. I refuse to allow others to control me and I doubt rather seriously if you'd allow anyone to control you. That I don't see.

But I heard the same argument when I questioned the logic of women not being allowed to sell their bodies legally.

We're gonna just have to agree to disagree on this one Val.

Citizen Ojo said...

I wonder what would happen if Oprah looked like Halle Berry or Gabby Union? And still had her show? I wonder what category she would be in?

Val said...

@Lin

I long for that day too. Hopefully we are headed in that direction.

Val said...

@Reggie

Okay.

Val said...

@CO

Actually they'd be in the same category. Initially I was going to put Tyra there as an illustration but I remembered she's not doing her sho9w anymore. It's not the looks but the actions.

Nelesc said...

This is a great post Val. Latinas have the same thing, virgen Maria or puta.

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Soldier Of Love

I've lost the use of my heart
But I'm still alive
Still looking for the life
The endless pool on the other side
It's a wild wild west
I'm doing my best

I'm at the borderline of my faith,
I'm at the hinterland of my devotion
In the frontline of this battle of mine
But I'm still alive

I'm a soldier of love.
Every day and night
I'm soldier of love
All the days of my life

I've been torn up inside (oh!)
I've been left behind (oh!)
So I ride
I have the will to survive

In the wild wild west,
Trying my hardest
Doing my best
To stay alive

I am love's soldier!

I wait for the sound
(oooh oohhh)

I know that love will come (that love will come)
Turn it all around

I'm a soldier of love (soldier of love)
Every day and night
I'm a soldier of love
All the days of my life

I am lost
But I don't doubt (oh!)
So I ride
I have the will to survive

In the wild wild west,
Trying my hardest
Doing my best
To stay alive

I am love's soldier!

I wait for the sound

I know that love will come
I know that love will come
Turn it all around

I'm a soldier of love
I'm a soldier

Still waiting for love to come
Turn it all around
(4x)

I'm a soldier of love
I'm a soldier

Still waiting for love to come
Turn it all around
(3x)

Still waiting for love to come

Miss Keri Baby!

Tracee!

Solange!

Solange!
The only interesting Knowles

un·for·get·ta·ble: Earning a permanent place in the memory; memorable: an unforgettable experience.

Alicia says...

Rest in Peace Mitrice

Rest in Peace Mitrice
Mitrice Richardson