(ThyBlackMan.com) I know that I am entering a space that few men have gone before, but I’m going to do it anyway: I will opine on the nature of women’s fashion (or lack thereof). It is Women’s History Month, which is a time for all of us, particularly Black men, to think about those wonderful ladies who have influenced our lives and our communities. But there is something that has been biting at me for a while and it is time that I finally say something. I namely speak to the trend of oversexualization that seems be pervading the attire of Black women.
I say this as a dad of two young Black women who, like many young women, are influenced by celebrities like Cardi B and Megan thee Stallion. I am aware of the ‘Sex Positive’ movement espoused by these celebrities. For much of the past two decades, sex positivity — the idea that feminism should privilege sexual pleasure and fight sexual repression — has dominated the trends of fashion and public appearance for young girls. The movement pushes young women to bare more skin, wear tighter clothes, and ultimately embrace sex and sexuality.
But let’s be real: Black women have often been oversexualized, not victims of puritanical sexual repression. While white women were paraded in the Victorian era to be pure, powdered, and well clothed, our Black female ancestors were the victims of sexual violence and branded as hypersexual Jezebels. Until the Civil War, many American Black women were the domain of slave owners who viewed their bodies as mere property.
It thus astounds me to see that in an era where Black women have achieved so much—billionaires, CEOs, Ivy League professors, athletes—we are seeing our young women slip back to a day where their value is based on their bodies and the sexual exploitation of these bodies. This movement coincides with the rise of pornography, which has no doubt subordinated women and obscured power differentials that women have with men in sexual encounters.
The decadent regression seems to mirror the ‘Reclaiming’ movement of anti-LGBT slurs. Whereas the term ‘queer’ was once used to dismiss and subvert LGBT individuals, it is now cited as an identity that is tied to pride. The same could be said about the oversexualization of Black women. Whereas hypersexuality was viewed as a sin and a racist stereotype, it is now being pushed by radical, often white, feminists as a source of feminine pride.
In many cases, racial and ethnic minorities often bear the brunt of so-called progressive social experiments. We are damned both ways. On one side, we seek to empower ourselves, particularly our young women, to make smart choices, overcome social obstacles, and take pride in our heritage. On the other, we are left with the bill of trying to emulate the well-heeled and famous who can bear it all and still have a career at the end of the day. We can and should do better.
At present, young Black women are more likely to be pregnant as a teenager, be underemployed or unemployed, and be in poverty far more than their white counterparts. We also see the power dynamics at play in the struggle for equal pay and the persistence of intimate partner violence. Most Black folks know these struggles all too well. And yet, most of us stay silent when we see our Black women self-sabotage themselves by revealing more and seeking to oversexualize themselves.
As a collective society, we must not be tempted by the mystique championed by the decadent Left and radical feminists. We must not think that the way that we present ourselves don’t come with immediate societal clapbacks. They do. Most men don’t dare to speak out. And sadly, many Black women don’t either. Thus, silence fills the air as Black women are further subjugated by their own bad choices.
It is time that we collectively stand up to this decline in our fashion choices and in our morals. It is time that Black women love themselves to the extent that their bodies—and the gawdy exposure of them—should not be a factor. Our ancestors struggled so much and fought too hard for our women to now magically decide that being sex positive is acceptable. We must do better. It is time that we do better.