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

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