BODY AUTONOMY MATTERS
“No Exceptions” Bill is One of the Most Disrespectful Blows to Black Women
America’s legacy of misogynoir deprives Black women of agency
Black women’s bodies are often seen as a commodity in America. But, this dynamic isn’t due to chance. Nor did the Jezebel or Sapphire stereotypes pop up overnight. For hundreds of years, White men openly raped enslaved Black women, sometimes in front of their husbands or other family members. Stereotypes became a tool to justify the mistreatment and dehumanization of Black women. As long as people fed into the lie that Black women were promiscuous, White men could convince the public to turn a blind eye to their abuse.
America has never reckoned with the violence perpetrated against Black women, which is why it was kind of disturbing to see the New York Post published an opinion piece on “Why More Black women Should Consider Marrying White Men.” To be clear, folks should marry whoever they want, as long as that person makes them happy, but the history of White men forcing themselves on Black women in this country taints the conversation about pressuring Black women to date outside their race.
Also, when it comes to the debate over the “right to choose,” it’s clear that Black women have endured the most forfeiture of that right. For instance, Former President Thomas Jefferson’s forced himself on 14-year old Sally Hemmings, and she had four children while enslaved. But, Sally’s case wasn’t rare. To put it into perspective, Dorothy Roberts wrote in The 1619 Project that even “though a majority of the more than 12 million enslaved people who arrived in the Americas were men, enslaved women contributed more to the gene pool,” and “enslaved women were often raped by White men and forced to bear their children.” Black women did not have the legal right to say “no,” and the story of 14-year old Ceilia shows the consequences for rejecting a White man’s advances would be death by hanging.
The same white men who professed a fanatical concern for white women’s purity and safety held tightly to the social and legal view of Black women as promiscuous, lacking virtue, and without the right to refuse the lust of any white man — Reconstruction in America