What’s Sex Got to do With Being a Black Man?

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What’s sexy got to do with being a black man? Sex has a lot to do with being a black man, and the most common characteristics are the different stereotypes. Being a black man is the strongest identity that I have, and it’s what the world sees me as. The most common stereotype when it comes to sex and a black man is if you’re black you have a huge penis. Another stereotype that I personally get connected to is having a lot of girls. For example, in high school I use to eat lunch at a table with all women and some random guy said to me one day, “Damn you eat lunch with all girls man you really have the girls.”  In James Dean article “Straight Men,” he states, “Race is always central in the construction of Jason’s heterosexual masculinity. He says that his black racial identity positions him with an array of racial stereotypes that convey a secure, straight identity. Whether it’s women acquaintances jokingly inferring he has a large penis, male friends insinuating he’s good at basketball, or male friends assuming that his associations with women are sexual, his black racial identity carries a sense of exaggerated masculinity and therefore heterosexuality (Straight Men).

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Why do black people have these different stereotypes tied to themselves? Is it because of race, or is there another reason?  Even today I still have stereotypes that I face and honestly these stereotypes are getting annoying. For instance, a female on campus asked me “Do you only like white girls?” I responded “No lol why?” she then went on and said “I thought all black athletes on campus only like white girls.” How would you feel if a random person came up to you and asked you some off the wall type of shit like this?

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Racial Hierarchies in Transnational Sexualities

Women who identify as members of a diaspora culture in lieu of a member of the host nation are subjects of discriminatory treatment based on race. Racial hierarchies and hierarchies surrounding the idea of virginity are constructed to control these women through their sexualities. In a few cases, immigrating has provided these women a heightened state of sexual subjectivity and freedom. For the majority, however, moving to a new area (especially for labor purposes) makes these women subject to sexual harassment and violence. Some diaspora bodies, particularly Filipina and Latina women, are historically viewed as more desirable than others, which in turn causes them to be more regulated than bodies of different racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Filipina live-in maids are viewed in a different sexual lens than their Ethiopian and Sri Lankan counterparts in Lebanon. According to Cynthia, a Lebanese madame interviewed by Hayeon Lee, “There are people who prefer a white girl… and the children aren’t afraid of them.” By “white girl,” Cynthia is referring to a Filipina woman. By equating the Filipina ethnicity to “whiteness”, these bodies are thrust upon a pedestal and are therefore more desired than many other races of women in Lebanon. In Lee’s article, a Lebanese employer known as Muhammad confirms this by saying, “In Lebanon, they say they [Filipinas] are [sexually] easy.”

The idea that Filipina women are “easy” allows the Lebanese madames and employers enforce strict rules to ensure that these bodies are controlled, thus minimizing the sexual subjectivity of these women. Lee’s article talks about how the majority of Filipina live-in maids are refused the right to go out on their days off. Madames and employers claim that this is for the safety and protection of the maid, and by extension, the entire household. They assert that they know about the tendencies of Lebanese men, and fear that, if they let their Filipina live-in maids go out on their own, they will eventually return pregnant or with an STI. This assumption is not only unfair to the Filipina employees, but it promotes stereotypes that these women are hypersexualized beings that would only desire leaving their home for the thrill of sexual promiscuity.

Hispanic women in the United States also face extremely increased risks of sexual assault. The documentary “Rape in the Fields” explains that their superiors are sexually assaulting an unprecedented number of female migrant workers. These women feel as though they are unable to report their rapes for a number of reasons. One of these reasons is due to their fear of deportation. A majority of these women are undocumented workers. If they make their presence known to American authorities, they run the risk of being sent away. A far more immediate reason almost all of these women stay silent about their rapes is that their rapists threaten to kill them if they report. Their assaulters most likely know about their illegal status and can surmise that they are likely alone in the country, and use that power to their advantage.

What is so troubling about the “Rape in the Fields” documentary is that, in my opinion, sever human rights violations are being committed, yet justice is almost never served do to the low status of these women in the United States. As members of a diaspora culture, Hispanic women have no support system to turn to in the all too likely event of sexual assault. The fact that these women are scared into silence is creating a completely counterproductive culture and further alienating them as second-class people in this country.

Ethnicity and racial hierarchy play an important role in determining the sexual subjectivity of women identifying with a diaspora culture. Because Filipina women are viewed as the “white” alternative to some other ethnic communities within Lebanon, they are often characterized both as the “best” type of live-in maid, yet also the most sexually promiscuous (and thus, a liability). The label of a liability allows Lebanese employers to enforce harsh restrictions on the activities of their Filipina maids, which in turn lessens the prospects of mobility within their communities. In a similar manner, the sexual subjectivity of Hispanic women, especially agricultural migrant workers, is almost non existent. The American legal system’s complete oversight of sexual assault among Hispanic women as created an extremely hostile work environment where their bodies are only viewed for pleasure.

What can the American legal system do, if anything to protect the rights of Hispanic women? How can Filipina women in Lebanon be seen as equal in the eyes of the patriarchal country?

Racial Hierarchies and the Roles of Women

We have recently learned about the Filipina women’s roles in Lebanon and also the Lebanese diaspora. Many of these women are treated very unfairly and seen as a minority. The women who identify as members of a diaspora culture in lieu of a member of the host nation are subjects of discriminatory treatment based on race. Some diaspora bodies are historically viewed as more desirable than others, which in turn causes them to be more regulated than bodies of different racial and ethnic backgrounds.

The main hierarchies viewed in Lee’s article are the live-in maids and domestic workers. Though Filipina women are seen at the lower end of the spectrum, Lee states that they are also viewed as “smarter, more educated and more professional” than other women who are living in Lebanon. There are many perceptions taken on the Filipina women. They are generally well liked because of their beauty, which has increased their confidence regarding their sexuality; however, any man who is involved in a relationship with a Filipina is looked down on as a loser because no matter what her appearance may be, she will always be known as a maid. Therefore, many of these women are in relationships with migrant men, who are also alone in their country. This concept is sad because these women are beautiful and are hard workers, but they are not accepted in their communities due to social hierarchy.

There are not only women who identify with the diaspora in non-host nations, but also those who identify in a host-society as well. Lebanese women who have left Lebanon find themselves alienated by their homeland. Abdelhady states that Abeer was considered an “outsider” in Lebanon due to homosexuality. It is remarkable that though Abeer knew she did not fit in in her homeland, she did not want to change. She was proud of her sexuality and has found a way to get involved with social issues in New York. During a time when an individual would try to change the way he/she lived, Abeer took her sexuality into her own hands and chose not to change for anyone because that was who she wanted to be.

Though “whiteness” seems to play a racial signifier these days, when it comes to Lebanese culture it does not. It has created the way that individuals view each other in society. I think that whiteness has a ring of normality and freedom too it. For example, the heterosexual white male is the most dominant individual in our society. However, even though these women may have identified as white, they were not free. They were judged no matter how they looked or what their actions were. I think that today whiteness is a separator, though it should not be. It is not a good thing. In today’s society, if a teenage white male or female identify as anything other than heterosexual, there is a large chance that they will be bullied. Whiteness means something in some aspects; however, not when it comes to events that are not dealing with racism. I don’t believe that’s how this world should be. The lebanese should not have a reputation due to their culture just like discrimination in the United States shouldn’t exist.

In certain cases, many women identify as diaspora, which leaves them as a minority. I believe that these women are capable of many great things, like Abeer, who chooses to strive for a change to prevent other women to feel the way she did. I think that certain women will always be regulated differently due to ethnicity because that is how our society is formed. However, there are women who want change, so there is always hope.

Asian Guys and Sex

It’s interesting to analyze how our minds work in regards to sexuality and race.  As we have seen with sexuality, society loves to group people into binaries and categorize them based on their perceived stereotypes.  Hetersexual folk go on one end of the spectrum, gays go on the other side, and bi-sexuals are cast out because it’s too difficult to categorize them easily.  After learning about this societal impulse it was no surprize to me when I read about racial stereotypes involving Asian males, in Travis Kong’s, “Sexualizing Asian Male Bodies”. Continue reading

What’s Sex Got to do With…Race?

Individuals with a non-normative gender or sexual identity, as well as a race which is constrained by society in different ways, experience this matrix of identity in a very different way than the rest of society. This concept is called refracted identity, and refers to individuals who have more than one socially stigmatized identity, which then affects how they are able to maneuver and function in the world.

Continue reading