Undressing Jezebel: The Sexploitation of the Black Woman

Society continues to teach black women that their only escape, survival, and success is to put their body on display.

I believe the hope in moving forward and breaking the Jezebel brand on black women is found in the Gospel.  By affirming their identity in Christ, black women can learn they are not simply sexual tools made to be sexploited by the hands of selfish men.  They are beautiful women made in the image and likeness of God. They have equal value, dignity and respect, as any man or woman of any race. Their beauty and worth is defined by the God who loves them, not by the lies of a society who oppresses them.

 

I was moved to tears as I watched the Academy Award winning movie 12 Years a Slave. From beginning to end, the plot gripped my heart as I was reminded of the horrors done to blacks during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Though I was grieved watching the treatment of all the slaves, words cannot describe my feelings in regards to the treatment of the female slaves. It’s one thing to be held under your will at the oppressive hands of another for hundreds of years, it’s another degree of anguish to be held under your will and given the role of a sexual commodity generation after generation.

Though we are a few hundred years removed from slavery, there are some things that haven’t changed much – especially the degradation of the black women.

While some claim we live in a loving and accepting society that instills in everyone the same honor, respect, value and dignity, I beg to differ. Black women today are still just as subjugated and branded as Jezebels of the past.

Let me explain.

A Look into the History of Jezebel
History shows the black woman’s plight – the tale of individuals experiencing immense emotional, social, spiritual and physical abuse. Though there has been a barrage of negative stereotypes and stigmas surrounding them, it has been their portrayal as hyper-sexual Jezebels that is still corroding the progression of black women in modern society. This is something that has existed before blacks ever stepped on American soil. Dr. David Pilgrim writes:

The belief that blacks are sexually lewd predates the institution of slavery in America. European travelers to Africa found scantily clad natives. This semi nudity was misinterpreted as lewdness. White Europeans, locked into the racial ethnocentrism of the 17th century, saw African polygamy and tribal dances as proof of the African’s uncontrolled sexual lust… “The Jezebel was depicted as a black woman with an insatiable appetite for sex.”

Due to these misguided beliefs, blacks – especially black women – were given to role of a sexual tool. Sadly, though these women desperately wanted to escape and resist this nightmarish branding, they could do nothing but comply. Survival forced them to feed and appease the lustful request of their masters. Their only other fate would be imminent death.

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