Us More Than Most: The Sexualization of Black Women’s Bodies

Hypersexualize – to make extremely sexual; to accentuate the sexuality of.

As individuals of all races and genders I’m sure that we have been subjected to sexualization, however we need to identify how some races suffer more than others. Black bodies have always suffered the consequences of sexualization, whether directly aimed at an individual or suffered indirectly due to the ways in which society presents the black body.

From a young age, black girls and boys are shown how their appearances will be valued over their content. Their learning comes from a white-centric society that only associates the worth of a black body with the way in which it can be used, brutalized or commodified. As an audience we are not more than aware of how the media promotes and allows the hypersexualization of the black body. Growing up, these are ideals that we are expected to accept.

We experience sexualization far too early on as both men and women, subject to stereotypes associated with our gender as well as race. Black women in particular are subjected to the ideals of a body that society deems acceptable or typical of black women – when we do or do not meet the standard of the black body as portrayed in the media, as noted by Annalycia D. Matthews ‘…black women have to choose between being ignored or being fetishized.' These standards set in the media make way for the objectification and fetishization of the black body.

As an audience, we are now more than aware of how the media promotes and allows the hypersexualization of the black body. The increased objectification of our bodies comes as a result of being presented as exotic, sexually voracious, dominant and enduring. In combination with our assumed enduring nature, it means that we are simply expected to deal with the consequences of sexualization. Listening and reading about how the black body is viewed and treated – disguised as admiration, seeing the appropriation of black bodies and its features, applying to all gender’s feeds into an unstoppable traumatic sexualization that black individuals will feel for a lifetime.

Very early on, during puberty, I experienced the ways in which men, of all races sexualize the black body, asking inappropriate questions both online and in real life about the status of my body and its features in relation to my ‘blackness’. I believe that a lot of this sexualization stems from the idea that black children are not considered as such, the adultification we experience is amplified by our race. We are viewed as much less innocent and framed as adults. Our behaviors and our bodies are further subjected to this, further afflicted by the stereotypes of black women in particular that are emphasized in the media.

I want to live in a world where we are not subject to the world’s view of us as black women, where our bodies do not come before our individuality. Where our children, our siblings and friends are also treated as such. When people begin to realise that we are more than what is shown of us, it will be a step in the right direction towards us being humanized in our dual identity as black women.

I put together my website in order to share my thoughts, encourage feminist reading as well as discuss issues that are close to my heart. A lot of the topics I touch upon or plan to touch upon, I believe are relatively absent in mainstream discussion. With reading and research at the heart of my projects, I plan to educate and inform while using writing as a form of expression.