Stereotypes of Black American Women Related to Sexuality and Motherhood

Stereotypes of Black American Women Related to Sexuality and Motherhood Intersectionality theorists and researchers suggest the importance of examining unique stereotypes associated with intersecting group identities. We focus on the unique stereotypes of Black women in the United States related to sexuality and motherhood. In an online experimental study, 435 undergraduates from a Northeastern U.S. university were randomly assigned to one of the four conditions in which they viewed a photograph and read a description of a target young woman. The target’s race (Black vs. White) and pregnancy status (pregnant vs. no pregnancy information) were varied. A Black female target (pregnant or not) was perceived more negatively on items related to historically rooted societal stereotypes about sexual activity, sexual risk, motherhood status, and socioeconomic status than was a White female target, but there were no differences on items unrelated to societal stereotypes. A Black target described as pregnant was also perceived as more likely to be a single mother and to need public assistance than was a White target who was described as pregnant. Current findings, along with evidence that societal stereotypes have damaging effects, underscore the importance of diversifying images of Black women and increasing awareness of how stereotypes affect perceptions of Black women. Findings also highlight the value of research employing intersectionality to understand stereotypes. Online slides for instructors who want to use this article for teaching are available on PWQ's website at http://pwq.sagepub.com/supplemental http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Psychology of Women Quarterly SAGE

Stereotypes of Black American Women Related to Sexuality and Motherhood

Psychology of Women Quarterly, Volume 40 (3): 14 – Sep 1, 2016

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Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
© The Author(s) 2016
ISSN
0361-6843
eISSN
1471-6402
D.O.I.
10.1177/0361684315627459
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Intersectionality theorists and researchers suggest the importance of examining unique stereotypes associated with intersecting group identities. We focus on the unique stereotypes of Black women in the United States related to sexuality and motherhood. In an online experimental study, 435 undergraduates from a Northeastern U.S. university were randomly assigned to one of the four conditions in which they viewed a photograph and read a description of a target young woman. The target’s race (Black vs. White) and pregnancy status (pregnant vs. no pregnancy information) were varied. A Black female target (pregnant or not) was perceived more negatively on items related to historically rooted societal stereotypes about sexual activity, sexual risk, motherhood status, and socioeconomic status than was a White female target, but there were no differences on items unrelated to societal stereotypes. A Black target described as pregnant was also perceived as more likely to be a single mother and to need public assistance than was a White target who was described as pregnant. Current findings, along with evidence that societal stereotypes have damaging effects, underscore the importance of diversifying images of Black women and increasing awareness of how stereotypes affect perceptions of Black women. Findings also highlight the value of research employing intersectionality to understand stereotypes. Online slides for instructors who want to use this article for teaching are available on PWQ's website at http://pwq.sagepub.com/supplemental

Journal

Psychology of Women QuarterlySAGE

Published: Sep 1, 2016

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