Review of “The Last Taboo”

Even though Anita Hill had not been the only black person to testify against Clarence Thomas, the temperament of the situation forces a mandate on gender.  The fact that she reported a sexual discourse was the biggest issue, considering the fact that sex was noted as being the last taboo.  This had also brought forth the notion of what was appropriate for both sexes at that particular period of time.  Also, in discussing the sexual harassment, she put a halt on the rise of power of Clarence Thomas, and that was at the time, unacceptable for the behavior of a woman.

Sexuality was something that was considered to be taboo in the black community.  It was just one of those things that you were not supposed to talk about.  It was a painful topic to discuss, mostly for religious reasons.  It was more than just the silence that made it taboo.  It was the negative connotation that it had on black women.  Black women were noted as being sexual human beings, while white women were said to have no sexual desires whatsoever.  In the view of certain ideologies, black women were considered deviant, impure and immoral.

There was this obscene notion that black men raped because black women were “morally obtuse”, “openly licentious”, and “immoral”.

Black women were viewed as the dualistic opposition to their upper class, pure, moral white sisters.  It was the white woman’s qualities that were profoundly absent from black women that made white women irresistible.

The status of black women continued to denigrate.  A South African woman, Sara Bartmann had an extraordinary big butt, which drew much attention to society.  She was displayed for five years all the way up until her death. After her death an autopsy was performed and her organs were studied and then compared with that of an orangutan.  This was a way of dehumanizing black women, getting in to the notion that black women were untamed and uncivilized.  Bartmann became the social image of how to view black women at that time.   By nineteenth century sexual difference had become a basis of the ideology around race.

In the late nineteenth century, the binaries came into play as far as how women were viewed.  Good women, most likely white women, were said to have no sexual desires or erotic feelings.  Those who had inappropriate urges wee recommended to consult a physician.  Economically lower class women fell into the “bad” column, those associated with the inappropriate behaviors.  In discussing prostitution, women were said to be more drawn to casual sex than men, and using Bartmann as an icon for African women at that time, it was a representation of female eroticism and immorality.

Disease was said to come from women and their irrevocable thirst for sexual desire.  Syphilis was notes as “sexual sin”.  It was seen as a disease that would affect groups that were classifies as licentious and deviant.

In terms of sexuality, I no longer feel as though sex is taboo.  In some ways the black community silences sexuality, but it is more so silenced within the church.  I think that sex is actually exploited and is viewed from a more prevailing aspect.  The media portrays sex as being something positive, common and accepted amongst society, whereas it used to be something forbidden.  Sex sales, so it is in fact ubiquitous. Sex is portrayed everywhere.  Even though people may not recognize the sexual aspect in certain things, it is there.  Baby dolls are created now with private parts that used to be nonexistent.  So in a way, sex is being promoted because clearly babies do not come from a stork.  Children are being exposed to sex at a very young age and even parents feel obligated to educate their children on sex earlier.  Parents always question when is too soon, but what was necessarily too soon decades ago has shifted.  Because everyone is doing it, sex has to be addressed.  We can no longer restrict it because more and more people will be uneducated.

In terms of religious purposes however, one is to abstain from sex until marriage.  Fornication has a negative connotation in the church community, but is condoned in society and more so the black community.  White women are still considered to be pure.  In an instance where a white woman is sexually active with a black male, it had to be rape.  When a black woman is sexually active, it is not stated, because it is considered the norm.  Only when something depicts the norm is it looked down upon.

I think the church had a more impact on the community decades ago than it does now.  Marriage now is not as common as it was year ago, so people are more liable to have sex out of marriage.  There are few people getting married and more and more people getting divorced and having sex.  So because everyone is having sex, it is more condoned and accepted.






About sydneybrown

Literary courses at Spelman College ask us students to "acquire skills in the critical reading and analysis of diverse forms of literature from fiction and drama to poetry, autobiography and historical texts." This blog will furnish you with thoughts concerning various readings assigned by Dr. Sherman in the First Year Composition class SENG 103-09 at Spelman College. Engage in active learning...
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