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.
I can’t with these men anymore. I just can’t. I’ve never spent a whole day FROM THE MOMENT THE SUN WENT DOWN being sexually harassed before and it left me very upset (in a fearful type of way) but now I’m just angry! And like granted, I’m a black woman, large breasts, wide hips, large butt, weaved up and weaved out (btw this type of harassment doesn’t occur when I’m wearing my natural hair BUT ITS COOL that’s a whole different topic)
It began at the liquor store. All the cashier had to do was take my ID and my debit card. But instead he wants to joke about how I look 16 (which is not flattering I prefer NOT to look like an adolescent) and continuously brush my fingers when he’s taking and giving my cards back. I’ve never felt that violated. Unwanted touching does not normally happen to me.
Then after the party I attended I get on the Blue Line (luckily it was me and a friend or I’m positive I would’ve been kidnapped not even kidding here), these men are mad because we have our coats zipped/buttoned up. They don’t talk directly TO us mind you, just to each other, loudly, ABOUT us. “They had it all out earlier now they want to be zipped up, probably got their outfits from rainbow for 50 cent, they looking mean…” blah blah blah on and on. They were just an addition to the old men who were gawking at us when we first got on.
Then we transfer to the red line. Man walks behind me “mm look at that there” grossly disgusting. My friend gets off and this man tries to make conversation with me and sell me a phone memory card, i decline kindly, he says something slick and semi creepy. I get off at my stop and these two guys nearly BOX ME IN as I try to get to my cab. “where you going” um home.. they keep moving blocking my way to my cab. I was just so done.
I do not understand your motives men. Touching inappropriately and objectifying women in public will not unlock my heart or make me unbutton my pants. You are scary and you wonder why us women are never smiling. I hear that so much “why you not smiling, you too pretty not to smile” WELL I’m not smiling because you’re talking to me and I believe that if I look mean as hell you or anyone else will decide not to speak to me. I do not like strangers. You are strange. And you are creepy and you are treating me like a piece of meat. I don’t wanna hear “well what were you wearing, oh stop being so pretty” NAW men need to stop thinking they have a right to my body.
And if you wanted to reverse the situation, turn the tables if you will, the double standard gets in the way because then you’ll be seen as “going” or “easy”. I can’t be out here telling men they’re fine and asking THEM what that mouth do. Because then I’m a hoe.
Conclusively, you men don’t know how uncomfortable you make us when you catcall from cars, or make u-turns in your cars, stop your car in the middle of the street, talk to your friends loudly ABOUT us, stare at us, touch us when we don’t want to be touched, make comments like “hey sexy, you fine”, be old and creepy and another laundry list of creeptastic shit you do. Stop.
But What’s a girl to do? BECAUSE YALL DON’T HEAR ME. OH LET ME TELL YOU. I bought mace, with Pepper Spray and Tear Gas in it, I want a stun gun and I already carry a knife. Please do not try me. PSA to the men of the world: take Drake’s advice. DONT DO IT. PLEASE DONT DO IT.
——Sincerely, A Curvaceous Black Woman Who Does Not Wish to Be Harassed