The Cult of Nineteenth-Century Black Womanhood

Donna Aza Weir-Soley

in Eroticism, Spirituality, and Resistance in Black Women’s Writings

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780813033778
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039008 | DOI:
The Cult of Nineteenth-Century Black Womanhood

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The difference/deviance model in which black women were portrayed in Europe as both grotesque and fascinating, repulsive and yet so strangely compelling that Europeans would go to great lengths to view their bodies, is reproduced in the discourse that attended nineteenth-century American slavery. Furthermore, white men did not stop at visual objectification, but went out of their way to secure sexual unions with black women through measures as extreme as violent rape and sexual coercion. Meanwhile, in addition to operating as the blueprint for patriarchal control of female sexual behavior, the cult of true womanhood relied on the equally dominant ideology of Christianity to ensure its institutionalization. Manipulated and appropriated to fit the needs of the slave system and white patriarchal privilege, Christianity's application in fulfilling the objectives of slave-based capitalism is well documented.

Keywords: black women; womanhood; rape; sexual coercion; American slavery; Europe; Christianity; white men

Chapter.  11519 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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