Blackness and femininity is an oxymoron. Blackness is attributed to civil rights, maltreatment, death, confusion, power, pain, night, evil, darkness, slaves, prejudice, and a whole slew of other negative concepts. But blackness and femininity together in the same sentence feels revolutionary.
Whenever I sit down to write, I find myself scribbling compulsively about the black female condition. The urge just comes to me like a rush of hypnosis. I just have to say something about my place in society. My position in America sometimes feels like no position at all.
What I know of me is that I feel pressure to be hard and laced with bravado. Because I am black, female, and middle-class, I must have lived a childhood full of brutality and sexual atrociousness. People look at me assume that my life somehow resembles that of Celie from Alice Walker’s The Color Purple.
Reading Bell Hooks Remembered Rapture: the writer at work,I learn that I am not alone in my thinking about assumptions of the black female childhood, she writes, “…many stories of black girlhood are filled with lurid tales of sexual abuse, incest, rape by strangers, and unrelenting violence that this has come to almost to represent in the popular imagination what black girlhood is (p. 93).” This assumed mistreatment produces a flagrant toughness that decreases feelings of elegance and femininity for the black female.
In order to have some feminine visibility many black females resort to sexual prowess. Stripping and other acts of exhibitionism are desperate attempts to prove that we are women. Still there are some black women who reject full-fledged exhibitionism but turn to promiscuity as a way to confirm their femininity.
Black women who denounce all forms of blatant sexual exhibition are invisible or seen as charming maternal figures – basically modern day mammies. Mammy is a black female caretaker. Many white authors adore this black female caricature feeling compelled to write about mammy in their fictional tales and languishing memoirs that evoke feelings of nostalgia. Mammy’s roots come from caring for white people but she will willingly foster anyone with her nurturing spirit and bosom. Although mammy is feisty, loyal, and accommodating she is also asexual. While she has some admirable traits, mammy does nothing for black femininity and elegance.