Friday, February 11, 2011

Black Feminist Book Club: Punished for sex and reproduction

This year, I pledged to read more black feminist writing and I invited What Tami Said readers to join me. Right now, our Black Feminist Book Club is reading When and Where I Enter by Paula Giddings. I welcome guest submissions on the content and themes of this book.

On Wednesday, Brown Girl Speaks wrote about the notion, which Giddings refers to in her essay on Ida B. Wells' anti-lynching campaign, that black women are responsible for or to blame for black male sexuality. Yesterday, Andrea Plaid discussed how that thinking has survived and how it influenced her upbringing. Today, Renee from Womanist Musings weighs in.

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written by Renee of Womanist Musings



I think that [Brown Girl Speaks and Andrea are]  right in that we are still the keepers of male sexuality.  Purity in many ways is still seen as a way to uplift the race. We are told that to step outside of the negative stereotypes that assault Black people that we should seek to perform a very specific form of femininity.  I also believe that the church plays a role in this.  We all know that if the preacher's daughter falls pregnant this is not a good thing and she is duly shamed. Because our bodies are still the ones that bear the results of sex, we are constantly attacked for any teen pregnancies or our out-of-wedlock pregnancies.  I am very specifically thinking now of the web protest NWNW (No Wedding Now Womb) in which Black women, and Black women alone, were pushed to take complete control over reproduction to bring a halt to some of the issues that plague the Black community. There was no discussion about the fact that Black men need to put on a condom; it was all about shaming women.

Even though Black women continue to bear and raise children on their own, we are shamed for this. Told that a good woman does not get pregnant out of wedlock.  This is, to me, a sign of our commitment to shame Black women for being sexual and for having the ability to reproduce. This weight should never be the sole burden of women, but because the Black male patriarchy is dedicated to achieve its right to exploit and oppress Black women in the same manner of White supremacy, it often absolves itself of its wrongs against Black women.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Re NWNW. It is not so much about black men as it is about black women taking control of their own lives and their own destinies. Raising black children on your own is no party. Yes, black men are responsible for their own sexuality. However, if the main impact of any irresponsibility will fall mostly on you, you need to learn to take care of yourself.

it is possible to be a sexual being and not get pregnant. You are equally irresponsible if you bring children into the world that you cannot take care of. It is the children who are "Punished for sex and reproduction" .Yes, I know, there are many children who have been successfully raised by single parents. There are many more who were raised in poverty and resent the fact that they don't know their fathers, or that their fathers were not involved in their lives.

roslynholcomb said...

I wonder why it's so difficult to communicate this one tiny little point: If you've already decided to have children outside of marriage, NWNW is not about you. It's not addressed to you, it's not your message. Move on, nothing to see here. It's not about you.

NWNW is addressed to women who HAVEN'T had children. It isn't about shaming. It's about pointing out reasonable, logical points as to why it's a bad idea. And it's not addressed to men because women are the one's who are overwhelmingly impacted by having children outside of marriage. We need to make up our minds, we can't say on the one hand as it pertains to abortion: My body, my choice. But when it comes to birth control: It's my body, his choice. Sorry, nobody's going to care as much about your uterus and what comes out of it as much as you do. (And if they do, what the heck's wrong with you?) Own your body, make the decisions that are best for YOU and yours.

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