Blogging the Theoretical


September 19, 2011 · 2 Comments

Patricia Hill Collins’ Black Feminist Thought describes how black women have been portrayed in various lights that confront the ideas of race, gender, and class oppression. Women, black women more specifically have been oppressed by the white patriarchal society and how this oppression and objectification has lead to black women’s experiences and life stories in some way to serve interest or benefit the elite white males. Throughout Black Feminist Thought, Collins discusses the oppression paradigms of race, class and gender to conceptualize domination and resistance. “Gender” comes to the forefront when Collins brings up the ideas of “controlling images”. Examples of controlling images around Black women include; “The Mammy- the maid/ housekeeper (Collins 80), the “Matriarch”- head bread winner of the household (Collins 83), the “Welfare Mother”- mother who spends too much time with her children (Collins 86), the “Jezebel”- the powerful and masculine women” (89), and the “Hootchie”- the slutty/ distasteful black women (Collins 90). All of these images are examples of gender exploitation and created in the eyes of white males. In my opinion these gendered images serve to coerce/ force black women into acting a certain way based on the image they have been associated with.
Collins expressed how through Black Feminist Thought, black women are able to look past these controlling gendered images and share experiences/ ideas with other black women to provide them with a new angle to define themselves individually, as a community and within the society. These collective powers of black women allow them to find an outlet of the gendered patriarchal society.
Nash also mentions “controlling images” in “Strange Bedfellows: Black Feminism and Anti-pornography Feminism”, which looks into the world of pornography and how black women are portrayed as objects in another “patriarchal tool” (Nash 62). Pornography as another patriarchal tool is where male power and inequality are “innocently” masqueraded as sex. Nash also talks about how even in the gendered division of pornography between mean and women; women are depicted differently even further when broken up into white women and black women. Men depict white women in porn as being “pillow- soft pussy willows” (Nash 54) and black women as “shit” (Nash 55). These male depicted views play a huge factor in how women are viewed/ seen in pornography. Nash explains “the treatment [views] of black women’s bodies in the 19th century Europe and U.S. may be the foundation upon which contemporary pornography as the representation of women’s objectification, domination, and control is based” (Nash 55); meaning to me that these gendered images of women depicted by men is what has led to the control and domination of women by men. Overall, Nash’s argument can be summed up in when Nash said: “anti-pornography feminism’s fingerprints smudge the lens through which black feminism examines sexuality, pornography, and pleasure” (Nash 52).
Based on these readings it seems apparent that gender oppression is the oldest and possibly the most fundamental oppression in history in which other oppressions could be based on, due to the interlocking system of intersectionality. Nash provides the pillars to Collins in showing a visual representation in Collins’ Ideology that black women fall outside of white female sexuality and respectability.

Categories: Blogging the Theoretical · Erika · Group Two

2 responses so far ↓

  •   jmrodr09 // Sep 19th 2011 at 6:42 pm


    Very good passage. I like the fact that you provide many details and textual evidence to support your claims, especially the claims you make about controlling images. There are also good distinctions between the genderalization made between women and men through Nash and Collins.

    There are some typos but overall everything is good. You seem to be focused on the particular point of gender oppression are that are good textual supports in your passage that support that claim. Good job!

    From Jennifer R.

  •   adtrol09 // Sep 20th 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Erika 🙂
    I really enjoyed reading your passage once again and I thought it was very clearly organized. I as well liked how you added plenty of textual support. I also enjoyed how you added Nash. Great job!

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