Thanks to this side conversation started by the lovely and talented Toni M where she asked
What comes first? The Mammie or her sister/evil split personality facet, the woman known as Sapphire?
Well, she didn’t exactly phrase the question like that, but, you get the picture. My response, which can be read here, was a surmise based on things I learned during the noble and necessary Women’s Studies classes taken during undergrad.
I drew the likelihood that within our popular culture timeline, Mammy came first. I say this because her position as a subservient ‘slave’ is much comforting and relevant to the history of those that whom created her than would her being a sexually and aggressive character.
Until…wait. Here is where we backtrack to that Women’s Studies class and our reading of a book called Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women by Susan Faludi.
In this book, Faludi does a historical break down of women’s place in pop culture and what these types of stereotypical presence in media mean to the self determination of women.
She questions the implications of the dialogue of women’s interest having been manufactured, financed and under the direction of White men without a thought of the consequences of the types of images these controlling forces promote on women and girls. Her strongest case, in particular, belonged to the motive Fatal Attraction and the several edits that were made to the lead female character in order that she appear less and less stable.
Glenn Close’s character Alex Forrest did not start out as a psychotic woman of lose morals, but who else but a crazy woman has affairs with married men. Her killing by the ‘noble’ and innocent wife and the lack of culpability for the male all reinforce that ‘boys will be boys’ and that its up to the women to uphold all that is decent in marriage.
It seems that men have always been suspicious of White women, or rather, I’d say, women in general. This nervousness in regard to the opposite sex has caused men to create these systems in which women are no longer feared. By controlling, and vilifying women, men found a way to silence and reduce the power of the big bad woman.
While on the pedestal of purity, White women came to be valued by society as the ‘highest form of decency’, White women became the poster child for all things good and pure, this dialogue is a very telling one if you have any knowledge of Madonna Whore.
Once placed on this pedestal by men, she lost her ability to be a full human being, to experience life, sex, emotions, anger and many other things that one would need in order to properly express their human experience.
She becomes a victim to male expectations that are wrapped into maternal frustration and experience as well as sexual. Men are attracted to those who remind them of their mother, whether she is just like her, or the total opposite. The mother plays a role in a male’s perception of females in general.
This superwoman heroine, created to be a measuring stick for all that represent the potential of White women was cherished, protected, fought for.
But since the Devil always needs an advocate it became the Black woman who would represent all that is evil. The aggressive, lour mouth, uncontrollable Sapphire will not be tamed.
She doesn’t want your man’s penis, she’s as big and as bad as any male could ever be, she’s strong enough to work in the fields along side the Black man.
If you look closely enough, you’ll see that she was created as a focal point of fear, her mere existence immaculate these White males. He fears her beyond sexual presence (could this disconnect also be fear of Mandingo?)
Intimidated phallus strikes again!
He learned to control his mother, but what about the OTHER woman??? On the hierarchy of relevancy, the White man benefits more by re-creating his ‘mother’ into a suitable domestic for his children and a nonthreatening domestic.
The Black woman, on the other hand, can be no more than what White Patriarchy allows her to be, the angry anti-White woman.
PS…if you ever need to delve deeper in the WTF version of my writing, I am planning on discussing the frequency in which White males happily work out their mother issues with Big, Black expensive Dominatrix. That’s a discussion for another time, and another place. #NSWF