Friday, August 29, 2008

Feministing, Zane and Black Female Sexuality


What a difference a day makes.

I touched a cord yesterday writing about Zane and Black female
sexuality. Ann at Feministing wrote a piece the content of
a new book endorsed by Zane and linked to my piece.

On the Feministing post there was a commenter, who I presume to
be a man, who asked a question about Feminism from the perspective
of Black/Non-white women. He wrote,

Black/Non-white Feminists in this thread:
I think I have a decent grasp on the difficulty in white culture for white women (to white women in here, I'm not saying that I have experienced it or that I perfectly understand it - just that I'm able to empathise) - but when race comes into it - I have no idea what you go through.

I've a question for you though: how would you say that race plays into your feminism. In your culture what would you say is different coming from men of the same race as you (or men of other races - but when it comes to relationships)....


My reaction was its fresh that he was curious but that he should read.
Black Feminist Thought by Pat Hill Collins is a great start.
I am also thinking of starting a Feminism and Hip Hop study group
and his comment reminded me that people are curious. However,
just because they are curious and care, that doesn't mean they
are willing to do the work. Just peep the 100 Visionary widgets on the

When I read this I thought, to ask us, on a message board, how it is to
presumes that we can answer a big @ssed question in a small
@ssed space in a little bit of time.
Oodles have been written about
the topic
and similar to when we want to learn about any other
subject be it Spanish, Psychics
or the electoral process, we pick up a book.

I was surprised at the lack of understanding of Patriarchy that the women
in the comments had. For instance there seem to be surprise
at the fact that such work could be marketed to Black women. Two commenter's
spoke writing,
...I am also disheartened by the fact that this filth is targeted at black women. I have a feeling that black women generally (but not all, of course) would be more susceptible to these ideas. There seems to be an a fairly strong sentiment among many black women that they need to stand by "their" men, as though they are disgracing themselves and their heritage by dating outside of their race....
-Awakened Desires,

This is the kind of literature that is marketed to the Black community? No wonder there is an growing trend of internalized racism and adoption of oppression especially with Black females. At one point they are told that their sexuality is not only taboo but also animalistic and dangerous and now they have moved into full-on exploitation and submission because men command it.
But it just goes to show that unless you have
theory to understand and interpret what you see, while you may end
up being pro-woman, you will more than likely not to have a
historical or politcal context and or lens to filter your views.

Think about it yesterday, I went from Capitalism to Slavery to Video
Vixens to Zane all based on the bodies and sexuality of Black
women. Thats some trillness. No?

But that comes from reading Pat Collins, Marx, Corporations,
Joan Morgan and watching Nelly and David Banner.

On my blog another commenter posted that Zane is just filling a niche.
He writes,
While I do recognize that many women of color do not have a sexual identity in mass media or their own voice, I don't think that really applies to Zane's success. She came at a time when there were not too many popular black erotica, specifically written by women. She's just filling a niche.
Historical context matters. Sex is the most searched word on the internet.
And Porn is the largest industry on the internet.

To say that Zane is just filling a niche indicates that I may have lost you
somewhere between capitalism and the video vixens. Bear with me.

Black women were brought here to be enslaved as workers and to give birth
to more workers.

Capitalism is very clear about its property goal, which is to make the most
money off of all of its property.

Why sell it for $10 when you can sell it for $20

This is why The Projects in Clinton Hill have been converted to Co ops.
This is why Frisco is trying to figure out how to build Condos in Hunters Point.
This is why we have Indiana Jones 8 and Rocky 10.
This is why Black women were brought here. To work for free and give birth
to more people who would work for free.

The enslavement of Black women turned on the myth that we
were hypersexual breeders who couldn't get enough.

The Black community has responded with an asexual view of Black women.

However, Hip hop has blown that idea out the water with half naked women
jiggling on Bet every 5 seconds. But guess what, they are called video ho's.
If we are sexual, we will be called Ho's.

This is an incredibly repressive way to live. Zane isn't just filling a niche
she is allowing Black women to do something that they seemingly have NOT
be able to do which is see their sexual selves and not be called ho's for doing it.

Word to Erykah Badu.

I know this gender work is hard ya'll but look, I am on a mission. I think
we are in the middle of a transformation.


the prisoner's wife said...

girl...there must be something in the air.

i am presently arguing with this man about his misguided notions surruounding Black feminism and his need to link Black women who are Hillary supports, to some evil agenda of "self-hating Black feminist." it's tiring & he makes me itch. lol. am i wrong or does dude have a problem?

the prisoner's wife said...

BTW: John McCain played the gender card to try to get the Hillary votes to his side. But who is this lady (Sarah Palin? What are your thoughts of him busting out the token woman?

M.Dot. said...

I went to your boys site.

Before I would even begin to engage in a convi with him I would ask him to "define Black feminist".

But thats just me.

Vee (Scratch) said...

While I can say I read Morgan's "Chickenhead coming .. ." and some bell hooks* books, you're absolutely right, doing the work is totally different. I'm a work in progress, still learning and growing.

I didn't miss your point at all concerning the history of black women sexuality. I only read one or two of Zane's work and I simply think she just offers sex. If her books were written by another author, male or non-black author it would simply be viewed as simple erotica. I just don't think she writes well. I do think that there are a number of writers and artist that helped young women embrace and define their sexual identity for themselves. I'll offer quick popular examples like Beverly Johnson, Naomi Campbell, and Meshelle Ndegeocello. Just my 2-cents. (And a strong argument can be made for and against Tyra Banks.)

I've heard Lil Kim is a sexually empowering figure and some sisters hailed Halle Berry's role in Monster's Ball as an example of a strong empowering black sexual icon. While I don't agree with those two examples, people will latch on to who or what strengthen and reclaim their sexual identity. I get and understand that. And I've heard many women embrace words like bitch and ho without the negative connotation or shame. Similar to how some folks redefine the N-word to identify themselves.

*I need to re-read those jewels.

Model Minority said...

(And a strong argument can be made for and against Tyra Banks.)


HAD THE pictures on my wall.
Wanted to be like her.

Hot B-Girl. Feel me?

imilar to how some folks redefine the N-word to identify themselves.
Dude...I read this dude this week, just on Wikipedia, Filth put me on to him, named Lewis R Gordon. This negro defines our use of the N-gga as Black Anti-Black Racism.

That ish BLEW MY HEAD Up.

Glad you hanging in there with me.
I am glad that you responded.

Vee (Scratch) said...

While I have some gripes against Tyra (particularly the show), I do think she has more great qualities that will help and empower young women.

Thanks for the welcome. I'm reading to learn and share.

Model Minority said...

Oh...don't get me started on the show.....That Shit is Patriarchal reinforcement 101.

As long as we stay caught up in teaching our girls that their number one asset is their beauty and their vagina's, we FAIL.

What are some of the qualities that she has that may help and empower women?

aimay said...

I worked briefly at Karibu Books, the now-defunct black owned bookstore chain. It was really depressing to watch women walk past the bell hooks books, the books on money management, and purchase the latest Zane trash. She probably sold better than any other author. It was sad to watch.

btw... that "Chickenhead" book sucked. Poorly written, poorly thought-out.

Anonymous said...

Why start a 'hip hop' study? There are many people of color that are from many other countries that may be in part or fully 'Black' and they might not related to 'hip hop' either. You're already reducing the size of people that feel that they might relate to you or your point of view. A man from Brazil, Portugal, Cuba, Africa, Middle east, Panama, Venezuela living in a Westernized country or just a bi-racial or multi-racial guy from America might have some interest in what you're talking about. They don't all listen or care for 'hip hop' either.

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