ConceptsregardingBlack women are among our most maligned prejudices. The two most popular stereotypes are:
1. They are eerily strong with the capacity to overcome anything. This myth is derived from slavery; wherein Blackwomen were raped by White slave masters. Moreover, theystood by silently as their children were sold off, and they were expected to take care of their family and work in the fields and/or“big house” (the chief residence of the slave owner and his family). For a woman to endure such hardship, the superwoman label seems fitting.But what is theactualtruthbehind the Superwoman myth?
Although Black women have a history of “carrying on”despitecircumstances thatmay have destroyed or pushed the average woman to the brink of insanity, expertsconcede they are not superwomen who can handle every crisis that comes their way.Melba Wilsonsuggestedthat thisis one myth,that may eventually become the Black woman’salbatross, carefully noting that “the real strength of Black women has been mythicized [sic]. If a woman has internalized the myth, she will feel that ‘this is my cross to bear. I’m going to shove it under the rug.’ For the Black woman the myth of her strength becomes another burden, another oppression that may be internalized.”This is the primary reasonmany in the Black community feel that sexual abuse is just another issuewomen of colorcan overcome, but that is nottrue.
In light of this observation, experts say the time for silence is over. When a woman whether she’s six or 96, is sexually abused, she must not bear this burden alone, nor should she be afraid of breaking some barbaric code that has proved detrimental in terms ofBlack womanhood. Instead, incest victims should discuss the “hurt, pain, confusion, guilt, anger and memories.”
In so doing, this gives the victim the opportunity to heal mentally and physically.Moreover, if more women speak out, it will stamp out the erroneous and dangerously misguided myth that “Incest is a White folks problem.”As long as thismythpersists, the longer the silence, and the longer the silence, the more invisible victims of abuse become.
Myth: Black women are sensual creatures, eager to pounce on a penis at the drop of a hat.Other widely publicized myths include: They are extremely aggressive when it comes to love making. They experience sex at an earlier age than women of other races.They know how to please a man and can move their bodies unlike any other woman on earth.
Reality: Studies reveal that contrary to how Black women are portrayed in books and films, they are no more erotic than other females, nor do they enjoy sex more. Nor do they have a monopoly on pleasing men. As for experiencing sex at an early age, there is some authenticity in that statement, but it’snot what you think.
In slavery, girls as young as 11 were raped by masters and overseers, andused for breeding purposes as soon as they reached “maturity”. However, because females were viewed primarily as “baby makers” with little social value, from this misconception,the myth was born that “Black women were sexually immoral. Not surprisingly, thismyth resulted in the belief that Black women are promiscuous and incapable of being raped. Such misconceptions deter many women from calling the police to report sexual abuse, for fear they will not be believed or subjected to questioning they would prefer not to deal with.Sadly, this is the norm rather than the exception says Diana Gay Cutchin, who works for the Office of Health Promotion in Richmond, Virginia.
Cutchin who conducts an annual program on Why Black Women Don’t Report Rape concedes: “In cases ofsexual abuse women of color are more likely to turn to their church or family for support.” As to why they don’t contact the police, Cutchinmaintains “the mistrust (which is certainly justified) of the criminal justice system is also a factor.”
As a woman who was repeatedly groped by an older male cousin when I was 9, I would like to weigh in on this issue, and say that in discussing fear of the police Black women must throw caution to the wind and seekhelpas needed.Likewise, women shouldnot cower in fear, based on a barbaric and senseless myth, that isas influentialas warm beer.