Stereotypes of Black Women Throughout History

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Decoding the Black Woman
Lazy. Promiscuous. Matronly. Angry. These words, which stem from many stereotypes, are typically attributed to black women. Stereotypes, an oversimplified standardized conception or image of a person or group, have negatively burden black women throughout the years. Frequently, stereotypes arise from something that is true, but are usually manipulated and exaggerated. The stereotypes of black women change to suit the political circumstances of certain time periods. The stereotypes of black women during slavery were used as justification for mistreatment of women and sometimes as a counter attack on anti-slavery critiques. A “mammy” is a typically overweight, spiritual, and matronly woman who takes care of white children and tends to household duties. In addition, the “mammy,” a variation on the word mother, is obedient to white authority and a faithful servant to her master. She is consumed with the needs and desires of her master and his family. Furthermore, she has a great relationship with the family and disdain for her own. The “mammy” is usually dressed with an apron and headscarf and seen as grossly unattractive to counteract claims of sexual relations between slave women and white men. During slavery, whites used the “mammy” stereotype to prove to anti-slavery critiques that women were happy about being slaves. Although black women were desexualized in the media, there’s evidence that masters frequently sexually abused slave women. White men justified their sexual exploitation of black women by preaching that black women were naturally “sexual savages”. This ideology gave birth to the “Jezebel” stereotype for black women. Jezebel, considered by many to be the most evil woman of the Bible, was the wife of King Ahab. She used her sex appeal to control and manipulate men. From this biblical story, the term “Jezebel” represents lustful, promiscuous, impure women with large sexual appetites. White men capitalized on the “Jezebel”...
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