Black Female Archetypes

Church Lady

This woman is usually portrayed in elegant yet simple clothing. She is portrayed as gentle, wise, generous. She is usually elderly. She is usually present in the media to offer advice or matriarchal comfort to other characters.

The groveling lover

In rap songs, I hear a lot of smack from the men about female characters who desperately need them. This girl doesn’t have much of a sexual identity of her own. She is usually portrayed as blowing up the male characters’ phone. When she is allowed to express her sexuality, it is through serving the man and/or dancing for him upon his request. If she is not dancing for the man, she is at home blowing up his phone or waiting on him to come home from the club. This seems to be a fantasy the men have created.

The matriarch

This sticks out as the most widely represented black woman today. Due to Tyler Perry’s Madea and her fame, this heavy set stereotypical contradiction seems to have captivated audiences. The matriarch is powerful and autonomous, yet her character is defined by her fiery will to love and protect her own.

The ghetto girl

This girl is usually portrayed as loud, promiscuous, self-centered, and materialistic. Her outfits include shirts that reveal the belly button and short skirts or shorts. Although she is portrayed as uneducated and lower class, she is also portrayed as proud.

The baby mama

This woman is always portrayed in a negative light. She is loud, needy, and almost always a gold digger. She is viewed as pathetic because she does not have a husband, but has several children. Instead of being an independent mother, she remains in the man’s life as a nagging presence and a drain on his bank account.

The educated woman

This woman is either in college or is already a career woman. Obviously, the most famous examples of these types of women are Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama. These women are superbly classy, and are often desexualized from the way they dress in public to what they say in public. This archetype, however, filters down to our very streets in Savannah. She can be a college graduate or a girl in college. If she has a lap top, she adheres to the archetype. If she dresses modestly, she adheres to the archetype. If she has a car with a parking decal for a business or school, she adheres to the archetype.

The athlete

This woman is often characterized as butch, though her archetype claims straight athletes as well. This woman is awed for her superior athletic ability, usually in basketball or sprinting. She is seen in sweats or a sports uniform. This archetype comes from my own experience in middle school and high school. I was always intimidated by the black athletes I went up against because of what I had seen on television (not to mention most of them were actually really fast). On film, this woman is defined wholly by her athleticism and is desexualized.

The r&b queen

This archetype will refer to any woman who has been succesful in the music business, due in part to her curvacious body. Although Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, and Rihanna are all talented, a large part of their fame in front of the camera is due to their being sex objects.

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