African American women and sexuality in the cinema / Norma Manatu ; foreword by Kwyn Bader.

by Manatu, NormaLooking glass.

Publisher: Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland, [2003]Description: xiii, 231 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm.ISBN: 9780786414314.Subject(s): African American women in motion picturesLooking glassNote: Includes biBDATAiographical references and index.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

The representation of African American women is an important issue in the overall study of how women are portrayed in film, and has received serious attention in recent years. Traditionally, "women of color," particularly African American women, have been at the margins of studies of women's on-screen depictions--or excluded altogether.

This work focuses exclusively on the sexual objectification of African American women in film from the 1980s to the early 2000s. Critics of the negative sexual imagery have long speculated that control by African American filmmakers would change how African American women are depicted. This work examines sixteen films made by males both white and black to see how the imagery might change with the race of the filmmaker. Four dimensions are given special attention: the diversity of the women's roles and relationships with men, the sexual attitudes of the African American female characters, their attitudes towards men, and their nonverbal and verbal sexual behaviors. This work also examines the role culture has played in perpetuating the images, how film influences viewers' perception of African American women and their sexuality, and how the imagery polarizes women by functioning as a regulator of their sexual behaviors based on cultural definitions of the feminine.

Includes biBDATAiographical references and index.

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

  • Acknowledgments (p. vii)
  • Foreword (p. xi)
  • Preface (p. 1)
  • 1. Introduction and Overview (p. 9)
  • 2. The Form of the Film Medium: Visual Images and Viewer Perception (p. 32)
  • 3. Love and Romance: Cultural Prescriptive for "Appropriate" Sexual Behaviors for Men and Women (p. 51)
  • 4. Cultural Impact of Film's Imaging on Black Women (p. 87)
  • 5. Similar, but Different: Films from 1986 to 1985 and 1997 to 2001 (p. 119)
  • 6. Implications of the Incongruity in Black Filmmakers' Depictions of the Black Female's Nonsexual Roles (p. 163)
  • 7. Conclusion (p. 185)
  • Epilogue (p. 201)
  • Appendix A Films in the Two Studies (p. 207)
  • Appendix B Importance of Sexual Contact Behaviors in the Films (p. 210)
  • Bibliography (p. 211)
  • Index (p. 223)

Reviews provided by Syndetics


Joining such works as Jacquelyn Kilpatrick's Celluloid Indians (CH, Mar'00) and Sheng-Mei Ma's The Deathly Embrace: Orientalism and Asian American Identity (CH, Oct'01), Manatu's volume contributes to the growing body of work within the field of multicultural scholarship in its criticisms of Hollywood's filmic depictions of nonwhite people. Manatu (John Jay College of Criminal Justice) complicates the issue by incorporating the rubric of gender. She illustrates that not only have the filmic representations of black women not improved in 20-some years of successful African American filmmaking but the representations are demonstrably worse within the films of those very directors that might have given cause for hope. Two exceptions, both directed by women, are Eve's Bayou and Daughters of the Dust, neither of which was distributed internationally and both of which faced funding and distribution problems with the US. The dilemma of representation seems largely economic, but it has far-reaching social consequences. If Manatu's arguments sometimes seem too obvious, it is perhaps only because they are long overdue. Her background research, clear prose style, and ample support make this a solid contribution to the discussion. ^BSumming Up: Essential. All film collections. J. Tharp University of Wisconsin Colleges

Author notes provided by Syndetics

Norma Manatu is an associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She lives in New York.