Marilyn Yarbrough with Crystal Bennett
Excerpted from Marilyn Yarbrough with Crystal Bennett, Cassandra and the "Sistahs": the Peculiar Treatment of African American Women in the Myth of Women as Liars Journal of Gender, Race and Justice 626-657, 634-655 (Spring 2000)(254 footnotes omitted) In addition to the negative stereotypes scholars associate with all women who complain about sexual harassment and other types of sexual abuse, there are three common stereotypes ascribed particularly to African American women. First, Mammy, everyone's favorite aunt or grandmother, sometimes referred to as "Aunt Jemima," is ready to soothe everyone's hurt, envelop them in her always ample bosom, and wipe away their tears. She is often even more nurturing to her white charges than to her own children. Next, there is 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. Finally, 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. Besides the three common stereotypes listed above, there are other, more contemporary ones. According to Professor Ammons, the "matriarch" symbolizes the black mother in her home. The matriarch is the mammy gone bad, a failed mammy, because she has spent too much time away from home, has not properly supervised her children, is overly aggressive, and emasculates the men in her life. The matriarch was the centerpiece of the Moynihan Report of the mid-1960's. Professor Ammons goes on to describe the "welfare queen": [w]hile the problem with the matriarch is that she is too aggressive, the welfare mother is not aggressive enough. She shuns work and passes bad values onto her children. Unlike the breeder slave woman who was most valuable when she bore...
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