Along the line of qui bono?, one might want to ask the question, who benefits from calling black women who date interracially “bed wenches?” Seriously. Ask it. Answer it.
We’re told that white men men of centuries gone by collectively held disgust and contempt of black women, but is that totally true? I’ll have to admit, some of the hidden history of these women is news for me too. But lucky for you, we have some of the most brilliant and educated black women on the planet here on BB&W, and here’s what a few commentors uncovered:
During the period of reconstruction, the “pedestal myth”, as well as the “mammy myth” truly took root. In order, to keep Black women in a place (as well as making us less desirable to White men) of servitude, we were made into sexless beast of burden. Overweight, loud, poorly groomed, uneducated ad every other “un” you can think of. Everything the “pedestal” White woman wasn’t.
Ahh but the truth is another matter entirely. Let me state a few of history’s very hidden examples and tidbits.
Quadroon balls were some of the most fashionable, desirable social activities of the social season. There were also several other levels of balls and parties, all for the purpose of young free women of color making the acquaintance of a young a White men. These events were of the highest moral order. The mother, aunt or any other maternal figure would attend with the young woman. The young men were usually escorted by their father, uncle or any other paternal figure. When a young man saw a young woman he found attractive, usually the escorting parties, would arrange a proper introduction. If sparks didn’t fly, that was okay. There were other young women, there were other young men.
I am sure many of you are familiar with the New Orleans 19th century custom of “placage”. Placage which means placement. Was an “agreed upon” (common law marriage) arrangement between young free women of color (and no, not all of these young women could passe blanc) and a young white man of usually great wealth (because they were the only men who could afford such an arrangement). When these young men “legally” married a White woman, these marriages were usually also arranged. But the placage arrangement (being that they were not legally binding) required a “love, compatibility, sexual attraction”. An agreed upon arrangement usually included housing, household staffing (usually the enslaved relatives of the young woman), financial assistance, care and education of all children. These young men understood, they didn’t have sexual relations with these young women, until all was finalized. These relationships usually lasted a lifetime an in some cases these woman did gain an inheritance after her lovers death, but this was rare.
Dueling over women folk.
Did you know all duels were fought over women of color? Did you know most of the White women were very jealous of such?
By the time of reconstruction, dueling was long outlawed. But this is when the myth of dueling for White women started.
Tigon Law (taken form Wikipedia)
True African beauty. Beautiful African woman wearing a headscarf and posing against black background
This headdress was the result of sumptuary laws passed in 1786 under the administration of Governor Esteban Rodriguez Miró. Called the tignon laws, they prescribed and enforced appropriate public dress for female gens de couleur in colonial society. At this time in Louisiana history, women of African descent vied with white women in beauty, dress and manners. Many of them had become the placées (openly kept mistresses) of white, French, and Spanish Creole men. This incurred the jealousy and anger of their wives, mothers, sisters, daughters and fiancées. One complaint was that white men pursuing flirtations or liaisons sometimes mistook upper-class white women for light-skinned women of African descent and accosted them in an improper manner.
To prevent this, Governor Miró decreed that women of African descent, slave or free, should cover their hair and heads with a knotted headdress and refrain from “excessive attention to dress” to maintain class distinctions.
Historian Virginia M. Gould notes that Miró hoped the law would control women “who had become too light skinned or who dressed too elegantly, or who, in reality, competed too freely with white women for status and thus threatened the social order.”
As you may have guessed this was meant to be a mark of inferiority. I am proud to say, those witty, smart ladies outsmarted them! Lovely colored, decorated and stylishly wrapped pieces of cloth became a mark of pride and great style. So much so, that again during reconstruction these same lovely wraps became known as wait for it, wait for it “Aunt Jimena head rags”!
I know some of these things are not anything to be proud of, but it is OUR hidden sexual history. A history that speaks of our eternal an ongoing allure, we are feminine, we are beautiful, we are sexual, we are desirable, and no one can take that from us. No one can hide this from us; I for one won’t allow it!
Don’t forget the Yellow Rose of Texas was about a mulatto woman.
are we talking about a hidden sexual history between white men and black women?
I’ll put the disclaimer in that yes rape happened between white men/black women, but sometimes I do think that there may have been some consensual relationships and love going on, though probably not the norm.
Any way though, If we’re talking about hidden sexual history, i will include a couple poems about Black women written by white men in the early 1900s/antebellum era.
it is kinda nice to have poems written about your beauty.
“To a Negro Belle,” by Adolf Wolff: https://bluemountain.princeton.edu/bluemtn/cgi-bin/bluemtn?a=d&d=bmtnaat191309-01.2.64&e=——-en-20–1–txt-txIN——-#
Zazza, fair, pompous-breasted perfect queen
A marevelous glory of black flesh thou wert
Vast sdainful seas now oscillate between
Our early loves; although by age unhurt
Time-scorning, still my faithful mind alert
Recalls the splendors of they regal mien
Thy supple body, perfumes, hot, ungirt
Reposing, hamac-lulled, slave-fanned, inert
Where towering high above palmettos green
Shaded thy nubile form from sun-thrusts keen
Can I forget they velvet-ebon skin
Thy torso, grace flexible and thine eyes
Mirage of sultry prisons ,flashing in
And out, like fulgurous lightning through dark skies?
That face, like Greece’s Phryne’s, praise defines;
For thou wert grandly black! and must be kin
To Night, whose spirit robed thee in its dyes
Ah! I adore sweets of things that were,
The red lust-loves, the deep black loves of Dream,
The music of thy fire-throat’s Afric’s purr,
Beyond the tropic’s felt
The blazing sun that gilds the zone
Waits but the triumph of thy throne
Quite round the burning belt
-Francis Saltus Saltus
Simply fascinating. Know any similar stories? Dish!