This is my final manifesto written for my Feminist Frameworks class. Enjoy!
Shake That Ass Ho’:
A Black Women’s Media Exploitation Manifesto
We acknowledge that we exist in a society that only finds us relevant when our bodies are on display.
We call for an end to the exploitation and objectification of our black sisters in the media. Just because we are no longer in chains does not mean we are no longer enslaved. For five-hundred years we have been victims of this oppression. No longer. This is a call to action for women of color to take control of the images representing us in the media.
We believe that the media’s hypersexualization of the black female body is a direct result of the historical mistreatment and preconceived notions surrounding black femininity. From the moment Sarah Baartman was taken from the shores of South Africa, black female sexuality has been exploited, sometimes at the hands of our own brothers.
We believe that the media’s hypersexualization of the black female body is a direct result of the media’s depiction of black masculinity. Our society has successfully emasculated our black men throughout the centuries. Now the media bombards them with exaggerated images of what masculinity should look like. This is a reconstruction phase. Our black brothers have grown to believe that to be masculine is to be “gangster”, to be violent, to possess, use and control women with to be desired objects such as cars, the promise of jewelry, expensive clothes and money. In your own exploitation you are subsequently exploiting us. Wake up!
We believe that the hypersexualization of the black female body is not the extent to which the media goes to exploit women. The development and perpetuation of various controlling images in the media continue to exploit our sisters. The image of the welfare mother has permeated our society, depicting our black sisters as lazy and incapable of caring for their children. When in actuality, statistics show that whites are the largest consumers of government aid. Another image, that of the Matriarch, the all too aggressive, all too strong black woman. Incapable of receiving a man’s love, running him away with her willful independence, resulting in her depiction as the welfare mother with no husband, and no father to care for her children.
We believe that this hypersexualization of the black female body has validated men’s usage of the word “Ho” and other offensive language used to define black women’s sexuality. It has contributed to the harassment and violence faced by not only black women, but women everywhere, as a result of male’s illusionary entitlement to women’s bodies.
We demand all music genres cease and desist the use of scantily clad black women in their music videos, whose only purpose is to be present, “shake that ass” and be subjected to the verbal abuse of misogynistic song lyrics.
We demand an end to the association of ‘’ho’’ with black sexuality without knowledge of where this type of hypersexualization of the black body originated.
We demand an alternative image of black womanhood and sexuality than that which currently exists and is perpetuated through mediated images. In this aspect we also demand alternative image of beauty apart from the European aesthetic.
We demand an end to our sisters depiction as gold-diggers, LOUD BLACK BITCHES, and catty, jealous conniving beings.
We demand that our black brothers play a larger part in freeing us from our current captivity. We also demand that our black brothers stop aiding in our exploitation by a society that also fails to see value in their image.
We demand an end to the exploitation of lesbianism for male benefit and viewing pleasure. The experience of true love in our lesbian sister’s relationships is discounted when these hypersexual images cater to male boyhood fantasies.
We demand an end to the male entitlement to black women’s bodies that has resulted from the media’s long time exploitation. This entitlement that results in so many cases of sexual violence committed against women everywhere.
This is for all women. Today it is us. Tomorrow it is you. Tomorrow it is you or you. As long as our society remains grounded in patriarchy, racism and classism, sexism will never cease. Today, we say enough.
Poor Black women’s welfare eligibility meant that many chose to stay home and care for their children, thus emulating White middle-class mothers. But because these stay-at-home moms were African American and did not work for pay, they were deemed to be “lazy”. Ironically gaining rights introduced a new set of controlling images.
Patricia Hill Collins Black Sexual Politics
At its core, the image of the welfare mother constitutes a class-specific, controlling image developed for poor, working class Black women who make use of social welfare benefits to which they are entitled by law. As long as poor Black women were denied social welfare benefits, there was no need for this stereotype. But when U.S Black women gained more political power and demanded equity in access to state services, the need arose for this controlling image.
Patricia Hill Collins