The Sexualisation of Black Women in The Media: Isn’t It Time for a Change? by Ms. Cheryl Diane Parkinson

Women get a raw deal—I’ve always thought so. In this patriarchal society, we are treated as lesser and when you are treated as lesser, often with it comes ‘other’. I consider myself a feminist. How can I be a woman and not be a feminist? Being a black woman and a feminist isn’t about hating men, or hating white people—it’s about equality and freedom. It always has been.

In today’s world we have the likes of Rihanna, Beyonce and Nicki Minaj and others on our television screens, perpetuating what I can only see as the sexualisation of black women. Women are viewed through the ‘male gaze’ and are seemingly promoting this hypersexualized image themselves. This creates a revolving door for the black woman. These images that are portrayed in the media perpetuates the ideology of inferiority as well as fetishism and sexist objectification from which the black woman cannot escape. The young watch these portrayals of black women and emulate them, replicating them and the cycle continues. But are there two sides to the story? One would argue, more than two, there is a myriad of perceptions surrounding this controversial issue.

Women have long been used, exploited for financial gain. This contempt for women, it can be argued stems from biblical Eve. She is blamed for being tempted by the devil, tempting man with the forbidden fruit and has been accused of being a temptress of men ever since – there is a contempt for women regardless of colour differences, but black women have had others ideals on their bodies imposed on them for centuries. Sexualisation on black women is, it can be argued, a continuation of the slavery mindset.

Sexuality was placed upon their bodies first by the slave owners, then by the colonialists and now popular media. Whereas before there was a legalised ownership of black bodies through the system of slavery, now the very notion of exploitation and ownership of these bodies is explained away.

Biblical Eve offering the forbidden fruit to Adam

Continue reading “The Sexualisation of Black Women in The Media: Isn’t It Time for a Change? by Ms. Cheryl Diane Parkinson”

Black Girl Down | Virgil Saunders

Families keep secrets, and the ones in mine follow the women. The men pass in and out of my grandma’s stories like ghosts, never quite touching the ground. My mother has buried the hard parts of her childhood, distorting the timeline of abandonment and death.

What’s more, my own secrets, and those of my blood’s past generations are colored by who we are.

Black, female; for these irreversible characteristics, we suffer silently the side effects of our hidden truths: depression, anxiety, etc. These maladies fester inside of us, as we tell ourselves that we must hide our suffering and stay strong.

I did not grow up in a segregated neighborhood as my aunts and grandmothers did. But when my parents moved us from a mostly black county to one where we were solidly a minority, my insecurities blossomed. From the white bodies around me, I found unique material for self-criticism. I was not just fat and weird. I had the wrong hair, the wrong proportions. Continue reading “Black Girl Down | Virgil Saunders”

No Postage Necessary | Margaret Young

I began submitting to literary magazines when I was in graduate school. I’d published a professional article or two, gotten some poems into college publications, but it didn’t occur to me to aim bigger until I went to a meeting that some of the second-year fiction writers got going.  My program’s fiction writers tended to be more worldly, more openly ambitious than the poets. They gathered in a lounge on campus, sat in a circle of couches and chairs, and one by one announced which pieces they were sending and where. Often they brought the actual envelopes—this was back when everything was print on paper—stiff manila packets holding their stories, cover letters, and return postage. Sometimes after each person took his or her turn we’d all head out together to the nearest mailbox, watch the writer slide it in and close the metal door, the sounds of hope that sequence of thump, creak, clank.

I was skeptical at first. Wasn’t it a little premature of them? Really, The New Yorker? But before long I got caught up in the spirit of things. It was a good habit to develop, to see your work as a potentially published thing. It was what writers were supposed to do. So I began, first with batches of poems, and then with portions of the essay collection I was writing for my thesis. I went to the library, bookstores, read and copied down addresses. The first ones rejected me, of course, but I kept trying. My first acceptance disappointed me because I didn’t care for the zine’s rough layout, the grainy photo they’d stuck on the page with my poem. Later I got excited when I made it into a hip political journal, even after they cut the last stanza to make my piece fit their cynical stance. But mostly I just felt grateful for the ones that made it anywhere, and unfazed by the corresponding mountain of rejections. For a while I’d tape the little slips onto my study wall to mark my progress, but eventually I tossed them out. Continue reading “No Postage Necessary | Margaret Young”

What Our Editors Read This Week (6/3)

An Open Letter To The Writers Speaking Out Against Trump by Daniel José Older in Electric Lit

Because this line, “American history, despite periods of nativism and bigotry, has from the first been a grand experiment in bringing people of different backgrounds together, not pitting them against one another,” from the Writers Against Trump statement is not only empirically false, it’s a continuation of the ongoing legacy of sanitized lies America has shoved down its own throat since its creation;

Let’s Talk: What is Easy and What is True? in Gay YA by Adriana L

It’s not necessarily a failure of imagination on the part of authors, but on the part of readers and reviewers. What is popular, what is recommended ten thousand times over, is just the tip of the iceberg. We can’t see queer rep as a quota to be met with one best-selling book here and there, but we must keep searching for the queer YA that bridges the gap between these two extremes, that occupies that middle ground of fluctuating emotions that so many experience on a daily basis. We cannot perpetuate the idea that a queer character’s validity boils down to whether their identity is a source of suffering or a source of adversity that can be easily overcome.


Continue reading “What Our Editors Read This Week (6/3)”