All Articles Tagged "african american women media"
The new “Hail to the V” ad campaign from Summer’s Eve is the latest in a recent string of ads that stereotype blacks, particularly black women, in the most disturbing of ways. The campaign is comprised of three different ads, each depicting a woman’s vagina — talking as a vertical “mouthing” hand. That sounds bad enough, but what makes the “Hail to the V” campaign disgusting is how the race and culture of each lady part of color is made aggressively clear. While the white hand gets to talk in an educated voice about wholesome things like going to the gym, the black hand talks about weaves and hitting the club — and the Latina hand? She derides her owner’s tacky leopard thong in a string of Spanish-laced saucy talk. Really Summer’s Eve?
Truly, this level of racial stereotyping has to be seen to be believed. Exhibit A — The black vagina squawks:
From the “neck swivel” of the black vajayjay’s wrist, to the use of non-existent urban slang made up by ad agency executives who likely have never watched an episode of “Girlfriends,” this travesty of communication packs a whopper of black female cooning. Why didn’t they throw in a reference to waiting in line for your welfare check and keeping your “V” fresh after chasing down your baby daddy? I bet that’s already in the works for the follow-up.
Exhibit B — Oh those fiery Latinas!
I truly could not believe my ears when I heard this accent. Having lived in New York City for 16 years, and knowing many Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Mexicans and Peruvians personally, I have never heard anyone talk like this. This is a Latina accent on crystal meth. And you have to wonder why. If this ad was meant to appeal to Latinas, why not depict said woman’s Latina vagina talking in a realistic way? (Okay, I know that doesn’t make any sense, but you have to work with me in this absurd context.)
Over the last few years there has been a continuous backlash against the notion of a Strong Black Woman (SBW). A number of blog posts, articles and books calling for the death of the Strong Black Woman. Most of it has been in response to the media putting black women under a microscope pointing out our so-called issues. If we have not been scrutinized about our inability to get married, keep savings beyond five dollars, and other lifestyle choices, then we are ostracized for being loud, obnoxious and overall drama queens.
Even though the media had contributed to the objectification of the black woman and her strength, the real hostile response has come from within the black community itself. Both men and women believe that the trademark of a SBW is nothing more than a well-crafted myth—that as long as black women keep up this false notion of strength, we somehow cosign on all the abuse, ingratitude, exploitation, and under-appreciation we receive from the rest of society.
But why should black women have to denounce their attribute of strength just to fight against oppression or to reject unfair attacks and characterizations to her individuality?
When people generally think of strength, they tend to think of physical strength and strong personalities, which is typically attributed to men. However, strength can also mean being mentally and emotionally strong too. Yet, regardless of the definition, being strong doesn’t make a woman any less feminine.
Can black women be bitter at times? Sure, but who in the black community isn’t bitter at times? During the days of slavery, the black woman had to work long and hard in the fields alongside her black brothers, or play the “mammy” to white kids or be the “massa’s” sex toy. After slavery, she, just like black men, had to bury her pain in order to take care of the home and children—mostly by herself. In various civil rights and black pride movements, she had to totally disregard her own needs for the greater good of the community. Even today, she has to balance the demands placed on her between pursuing her education, building her career and taking care of her family. Ultimately, it’s the SBW that must sacrifice her own needs and desires to fulfill the needs of other individuals.
Though there is a great emotional and physical cost to being a SBW, we also have a great ability to move on and forward, despite all the setbacks and challenges. Do black women need a support system and to set boundaries from time to time? Sure, but I also don’t think we need to reject displaying our strength. Like any other woman on the planet, black women should understand that her strength is also the embodiment of femininity. It’s not the term (Strong Black Woman) that needs to change, but how we further subjugate the experience of black women that should be modified.
As a black woman, I find it particularly odd that my lifestyle choices, finances and other habits are, all of the sudden, under the suspicious glare of the mainstream media spotlight.
If the media isn’t speculating on why as many as 70 percent of us are supposedly single, than it’s citing erroneous research on the various reasons we might not be able to get a man, including: our likelihood to catch an incurable STD, or our over-reliance on Jesus or why we are either undesirable or unlikely to date or marry outside of our race.
Just last week the media decided to pull the curtains aside again in its relentless quest to demystify the black women with a study, courtesy of NYU’s Women of Color Policy Network, which suggested that Black and Latino single mothers are more likely to have a median wealth value of next to zero.
Okay, now I am official depressed.
Call me naive, but I had no idea that we were such a mystery to the rest of America. Hell, we’ve been here, pretty much since the inception of this country, yet you would think that by all of the coverage that we just stepped off an alien ship from the planet Negrotopia (side note: if we are from the planet Negrotopia, how can I purchase a ticket back to the home planet?)
Nevertheless, after years of close examination of Black music, Black hair, Black dress and Black men, now the attention is squarely on the sistahs and we are sure getting a beating.
I think what bothers me, along with many other black women that are sick of the unwanted attention, about this newfound obsession is that it takes Black women and our “issues” out of context and places us on the defensive, to either explain or justify what’s behind the numbers. Although the numbers do not lie, it can be twisted to manufacture a reality, which is not typical, reflective or relevant to many women of color.
Moreover, this lack of balanced perspective within the mainstream media is both destructive and disruptive in its ability to promote hate towards -as well as self-hatred among – women of color. Lord knows I have had my share of useless and tense debates with many Black brothas and sistahs on the various reasons behind why 70 percent of the successful (whatever that means) black women are single.
In a piece for The Guardian UK, Petrine Archer-Straw, author of the book NegroPhilia: Avant-Garde Paris and Black Culture in the 1920s, suggested that black folks in general have historically been the objects of affection or derision in the Western culture and that much of this exploration of difference is done in such a way that best reflects white people rather than their eroticized subjects.
I am inclined to agree with that explanation, as it is clear that all this media attention has little to do with the root, which are the agendas and policies of western culture, of our “issues” rather than the symptoms.
Going back to the study on black single mothers and wealth, or lack thereof, what’s most interesting is that the study’s authors are actually interested in meaningful analysis of both the causes and the policies behind the numbers.
Among the report’s many findings is that over the last 20 years, social support for single mothers have declined significantly and programs such as The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, as well as various cuts in social programs to low income families, have made it impossible for single mothers to become economically secure.
Additionally, among all single mothers, African-American and Latino women have the highest unemployment rate at 11.7 percent and are likely (62 percent) to be over-represented in retail or service industries, which pay lower wages, have fewer benefits and are the first to go during times of company downsizing.
Ironically and most surprisingly, that bit of information is missing from many of the new reports on the study, which tells me that sometimes, it pays to read beyond the headlines.