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Black Women’s Oppression and Portrayal in Media Essay

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Updated: May 18th, 2021

Comparisons and contrasts between Group 2 (Black Women in the Workplace) and Group 3 (Treatment of Black Women in the Legal System)

Group 2 presentation sets off by highlighting the term ‘domestic’. While it usually is an innocuous word, society has with its bias against the black woman introduced a negative interpretation. It explores the expectations of the society placed on black women, as showing up vocabulary interpretation and in colloquial speech. The question that follows: “What happens to domestic work and the people who do it when it is converted…to a service completed by a hired and paid worker?” This is through the same connotations used such as the ‘mammy’. Even working in non-domestic occupation, Group 2 argues, for the black woman who this is not enough redemption. They experience exploitation and are held in contempt, and such terms get constructed as a kind of mask for this. As they say, give a dog a bad name and hang it.

A similar ideology gets explored in Group 3 presentation. It goes back in history, to Africa, and exposes the dubbing of African women as being over-sexed and in need of control by Christian missionaries. This encourages stereotypes at the behest of slave women and holds back the women from seeking justice. Somehow, the black women’s treatment gets explained away in vocabulary and colloquial speech.

The approach of Group 2 presentation to the oppression of the black woman is more passive, sadly reflecting on the black woman’s relegation to a domestic worker who lacks the law protection while offering little good news. This tone is less prominent for Group 3, who offers a more optimistic approach, exploring various attempts at mitigation of this situation and their successes, such as changes to the law, and extols the heroics of a few black women such as Rosa Parks in this regard.

Both groups also place the theme of unequal opportunities for equal qualifications or standing. An example is when a white woman dominates the black woman in administrative roles. While Group 2 focuses on education and pay, Group 3 chooses to rape. A black woman can only become too successful for her own good and is to blame if they get sexually violated. However, this similarity between the two groups brings into focus a disparity: a narrow view taken by Group 3, leaving out non-sexual legal hurdles black women face, spending too much time on the one issue. Group 2 beat this handicap to spread their wings far wider.

How Interlocking Oppressions Relate to the Media’s Portrayal of Black Women

Numerous interlocking oppressions faced by black women relate to the media’s portrayal of black women in many ways. The media say that lighter skin equals a higher stance than a darker one. This is best illustrated by the lightening of skin tone in adverts involving black women, including the black international women singers. This is deeply rooted in pre-World War II, American media’s depiction of beauty as necessarily white. The media also painted the black woman as either a hyper-sexual “Jezebel” with a lot of focus on her relationships with her black male counterparts. The unattractive house servant, the “Mammy” or the matriarch is also prominent in the film industry that for many years has placed black women in these inferior roles.

There is also an almost subconscious promotion of these oppressions through an overemphasis on minor differences among the black community, an internal classification that seeds distrust, driving a wedge into the fabric of the black community, the inferiority-superiority complex. Minor differences such as color, intelligence, size, sex, and hair texture get promoted in the media as determinants of where one ‘belongs’: the privileges one can expect and the oppressions ‘due’. This prepares the mind of the black woman to accept the oppression as the norm, and even black people through color to perpetuate these oppressions among them.

Another particularly powerful way in which these oppressions relate to the media is in the exposure of vulnerable adolescent black girls to images of women as sex objects whose value is on their appearance. This can limit the self-perception, attitude as we as the important appearance of the girl. This becomes worse by their comparatively high media consumption. This shows up later in their adult life as low self-esteem, dissatisfaction, and self-denial. This is the point where the oppressions have broken the barrier of insight and have become an emotional issue the black woman deals with them as an adjunct of their own failures.

There is also a very strong culture of stereotyping black women through media manipulation to prove their oppressions. Subconsciously, the black women themselves without realizing allow these stereotypes to influence their decision-making and reactions.

How Some Black Women Have Internalized the Larger Society’s Negative Messages About Who Black Women Are and How They Should Behave

According to Group 5’s presentation on Mental Health, black women do not seek help for mental health issues, choosing instead to rely on family. According to Silva de Crane and Spielberg (1981), compared to Whites, black women have negative views of mental illness, with notions such as those that depict mentally ill people as morally inferior and deserve isolation. These illustrate the fact that black women have accepted the mental illness stigmatization, and are less likely to voluntarily seeking help.

Beliefs about the causes of mental illness accepted among black women align with the stereotypes of society, such as those that paint them as lacking in willpower and having weakness of character. This also extends to other illnesses.

Group 8 explores relationship issues faced by black women. According to them, black women are more opposed to interracial relationships. This is mainly between black men and white women other than the black men. This is a paranoid stance based on interpreting it as the black woman’s rejection. This is not unselfish, since they are more ready to accept relationships between black women and white men. Perhaps this has contributed to the view of the society that they are ‘difficult’.

Taking a more liberal approach towards a more integrated society would do them better in this regard. Black women in interracial relationships are also the target for hurtful comments and harassment by other black women and this lack of self-belief does little to change the controversy surrounding interracial marriages that get titled against them. When many women do break free from this yoke of bias they still feel compelled to prove that they haven’t abandoned black culture, and go ahead to overcompensate for their choice of an interracial relationship. This will only strengthen the will of their biased society.

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IvyPanda. "Black Women's Oppression and Portrayal in Media." May 18, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/black-womens-oppression-and-portrayal-in-media/.


IvyPanda. 2021. "Black Women's Oppression and Portrayal in Media." May 18, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/black-womens-oppression-and-portrayal-in-media/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Black Women's Oppression and Portrayal in Media'. 18 May.

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