Jezebel, named after an evil queen in the Bible, is a loose woman who wants sex all the time. She’s gotta have it. Yet at the same time she uses sex to draw men in to get what she wants. Sometimes it is money. Sometimes it is to destroy them. Many whites read Anita Hill this way. She presented herself as a good Christian woman, but white people are not fooled by that. Hip hop videos and Halle Berry’s Oscar-winning performance in “Monster’s Ball” push this image of black women. Angela Bassett refused the part in “Monster’s Ball” for just this reason.
This image of black women is not based on the latest government findings or anything like that. Nor is it even a simple misunderstanding of what black women are like. Instead it is a sick and self-serving stereotype pushed by slave-masters that has not yet died out.
Slave-masters forced black slave women to sleep with them. Deep down they knew it was wrong, that it was a crime, even if the law allowed it (it did – black women were their property). But instead of telling the truth about themselves, they chose to tell a lie about black women. Black women had no way to call them on it and even white women believed it. It has lasted down to our time, finding new life in Hollywood, starting in the 1970s with blaxpoitation films, and later with hip hop in the 1990s.
Before the 1960s the stereotype was so strong that not a single white man in the South was ever thrown in prison for raping a black woman. Not one. And even now it is a hard thing to make stick.
Slave-masters gave the stereotype force and life because it covered their crimes, but it did not start with them.
When white men first came to black Africa they saw half-naked women! That part of Africa did not yet have a Christian idea of modest dress. But the whites of the time drew a different conclusion: that black women were loose and wanted sex even more than men did.
So did they? Was there any truth to it? From what slave accounts we have, the slave women who had sex with their masters did it almost always out of fear, not desire.
So the Jezebel thing was a lie.
But it proved to be a useful lie, one that has since taken on a life of its own and will take a long time to root out.
- The Jezebel Stereotype – goes much deeper than this post. It comes from the Jim Crow museum. Riveting stuff.
- Stereotypes about black women
- The pure white woman stereotype
- Race in America
- Jim Crow
- hip hop
- Through the ages: