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Living at the Intersection: The Effects of Racism and Sexism on Black Rape Survivors



Empirical and clinical data indicate that Black rape survivors are blamed more and are less likely to disclose their assaults than other women. We propose that these differences are, in large part, due to how Black women are perceived and evaluated. Specifically, we link two historical images of Black women, Jezebel and Matriarch, to the contemporary experience of Black rape survivors. The paradoxical and destructive implications of these images on Black rape survivors' decisions to disclose and report their rapes are discussed. Racially sensitive intervention strategies are also provided.
Living at the Intersection:
The Effects of Racism and Sexism
on Black Rape Survivors
Roxanne Donovan
Michelle Williams
SUMMARY. Empirical and clinical data indicate that Black rape survi
vors are blamed more and are less likely to disclose their assaults than other
women. We propose that these differences are, in large part, due to how
Black women are perceived and evaluated. Specifically, we link two histori-
cal images of Black women, Jezebel and Matriarch, to the contemporary ex-
perience of Black rape survivors. The paradoxical and destructive
implications of these images on Black rape survivors’ decisions to disclose
and report their rapes are discussed. Racially sensitive intervention strategies
are also provided.
[Article copies available for a fee from The Haworth Document
Delivery Service: 1-800-HAWORTH. E-mail address:
Roxanne Donovan is currently a PhD candidate in Clinical Psychology at the University of
Connecticut. She has also received several academic awards including a University of Con
necticut Pre-Doctoral Graduate Fellowship and a citation for academic excellence from the
Connecticut General Assembly. Her research interests include perceptions of Black women
and perceived gender and ethnic differences in communication. Michelle Williams, PhD, is
Assistant Professor at the University of Connecticut with a joint appointment in the Depart
ment of Psychology and the Institute of African American Studies. Her research focuses on
ethnic identity development, multicultural psychology, domestic violence, and sexual coer
Address correspondence to: Michelle Williams, PhD, University of Connecticut, Psychol
ogy Department, 406 Babbidge Road, Unit 1020, Storrs, CT 06269-3515 (E-mail:
[Haworth co-indexing entry note]: “Living at the Intersection: The Effects of Racism and Sexism on Black
Rape Survivors.” Donovan, Roxanne, and Michelle Williams. Co-published simultaneously in Women &
Therapy (The Haworth Press, Inc.) Vol. 25, No. 3/4, 2002, pp. 95-105; and: Violence in the Lives of Black Women:
Battered, Black, and Blue (ed: Carolyn M. West) The Haworth Press, Inc., 2002, pp. 95-105. Single or multiple
copies of this article are available for a fee from The Haworth Document Delivery Service [1-800-HAWORTH,
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (EST). E-mail address:].
2002 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved. 95
<> Website: <> ©
2002 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved.]
KEYWORDS. Blacks, rape, sexual assault, counseling, self-disclosure,
Living at the intersection of race, class, and gender oppression can fur
ther complicate Black women’s rape experiences (Holzman, 1996;
McNair & Neville, 1996). As evidence, some Black women are reluctant
to disclose their sexual assaults (McNair & Neville, 1996; Washington,
2001), report the crime to the police (Feldman-Summers & Ashworth,
1981; Holzman, 1996; Wyatt, 1992), or seek counseling (Neville & Pugh,
1997). Regardless of ethnicity, women remain silent about sexual assault
for a variety of reasons. For example, victim blaming may play a role in
women’s unwillingness to come forward with traumatic accounts of vic-
timization. This may be particularly problematic for Black women be-
cause historically, and even today, their claims of rape have not been taken
seriously (Wyatt, 1992). In addition, Black feminists argue that the combi-
nation of racism and sexism has created oppressive images of Black
women, which may influence their disclosure and reporting patterns (Col-
lins, 2000; West, 2000). Accordingly, we explore the historical origins of
two stereotypical images, Jezebel and the Matriarch, and discuss how they
contribute to the marginalization of Black rape survivors. We also offer
suggestions for intervention.
Black women have a long history of sexual victimization in the United
States. In the antebellum South, they were objectified and subjected to nu
merous indignities and atrocities. Before being sold, they were stripped
naked and examined on the auction block. This exploitation was a daily
occurrence on the plantation. When federal laws prohibited the importa
tion of Africans, Black women were required to reproduce in order to replen
ish the enslaved work force. Some slave owners used various incentives to
encourage reproduction, such as increased food and clothing allotments.
However, many enslaved women were victims of forced breeding and
rape, committed by both slave owners and enslaved men. Sadly, the laws
did not protect African American women from these abuses. In fact, there
were no legal consequences for sexually assaulting Black women (Rob
erts, 1997; White, D. G., 1985).
The belief that Black women are unrapeable continues to exist. For ex
ample, in several studies, researchers asked college students to respond to
hypothetical scenarios that involved sexual assault (Varelas & Foley,
1998; Willis, 1992). When the victim was a Black woman, students were
less likely to define the incident as date rape, to believe the crime should
be reported to the police, and to hold the perpetrator accountable (Foley,
Evanic, Karnik, King, & Parks, 1995). In addition, students rated a Black
date rape victim, when compared to her White equivalent, as less truthful
and more responsible for her sexual assault (Willis, 1992). It also ap
peared that Black rape survivors were held more responsible for their vic
timization, regardless of the perpetrator’s race (Varelas & Foley, 1998).
These data suggest that Black women’s long history of sexual victimiza
tion, coupled with racial stereotypes, exacerbated their rape experiences.
Overall, Black survivors may receive less empathy, consideration, and ju-
dicial support than their White counterparts.
According to Foley and colleagues (1995), “[R]acial history and rape
myths...make African American women more vulnerable to forced sexual
encounters while simultaneously making accusations of rape more difficult
for them” (p. 15). Certainly, rape survivors of all ethnic backgrounds may
be stigmatized by rape myths, which are “attitudes and beliefs that are gen-
erally false but are widely and persistently held, and that serve to deny and
justify male sexual aggression against women” (Lonsway & Fitzgerald,
1994, p. 134). However, Black women have the added burden of oppressive
stereotypes, such as the Jezebel and Matriarch images, which serve to rein
force these rape myths. Below we will discuss the historic origins of these
images and illustrate how they influence the disclosure patterns of Black
rape survivors.
The Jezebel image is typically projected onto women who are per
ceived to be sexually promiscuous, lustful, and immoral. This stereotype
can potentially be applied to women of all ethnic backgrounds; however,
when race is considered, this image is often associated with Black women.
According to Collins (2000), Jezebel was a powerful rationalization for
Types of Violence 97
the sexual atrocities perpetrated against enslaved African women. This
image was necessary in order to justify the rape and forced breeding of
Black women. As Christensen (1988) pointed out, it is paradoxical that
“the only women to ever suffer socially sanctioned and induced sexual
abuse were branded ‘loose and immoral’ (p. 192). Because Black women
were portrayed as Jezebels, they became sexual temptresses who led men
astray, rather than victims of abuse (Collins, 2000; West, 2000).
Contemporary Jezebels are referred to as welfare queens, hoochies,
freaks, and hoodrats. Although the names have changed, the message is
the same: Black women are sexually available and sexually deviant. This
image is reinforced in the media, in the form of music videos, rap songs,
magazines, movies, and pornography (Collins, 2000). Because these im
ages are so pervasive, they get projected onto all Black women. For ex
ample, after viewing sexually seductive rap videos featuring Black
women, college students were more likely to describe Black women as
indecent, sleazy, and sluttish (Gan, Zillmann, & Mitrook, 1997). The re-
searchers concluded that the “perceived traits and conduct of a rather
small number of female Black rappers were generalized to other mem-
bers of the population, namely Black women” (p. 397).
The Jezebel image is particularly destructive for Black rape survivors.
As it did during slavery, this image continues to portray African American
victims as responsible for their assaults, no matter what the circumstances.
This reinforces rape myths, which promote the idea that a survivor’s be-
havior somehow contributed to her victimization, or that a perpetrator is
less responsible for his actions. Research has shown that women, in gen-
eral, are more likely to be blamed for their sexual assault if they were
drinking, dressed in revealing clothing, or went to a man’s apartment
(Marx, Wie, & Gross, 1996). Although Black women are susceptible to
these rape myths, they are also burdened with the additional stereotype of
Black women as promiscuous. In other words, Black women get a double
dose of rape myths, those that target all survivors and those that claim
Black women are especially deserving of sexual assault. If Black women
are perceived as inherently promiscuous, then regardless of the situation,
they are at greater risk of being blamed when they are raped. Fear of being
blamed and reinforcing the Jezebel stereotype may also hinder the likeli
hood that Black women will disclose or report their rapes.
Although the implications of the Jezebel image are clear, the Matriarch
image is subtler, but equally as damaging to Black rape survivors. This
image comes out of a 1960s government report which claimed that slavery
had destroyed Black families by reversing the roles for men and women
(Moynihan, 1965). Thus, the Matriarch image was created. She was a
super-strong, aggressive Black woman who had emasculated Black men
by taking their leadership role in the family (Collins, 2000; Moynihan,
1965). According to this report, her unwillingness to conform to tradi
tional female roles, for example, being a stay-at-home mother and wife,
resulted in lower moral values and single-parenthood. As a result, Black
women are seen as the major contributor to inner city poverty and all its
associated problems, including the poor academic performance and high
incarceration of Black youths. This image made it easier to ignore how
poverty, underfunded schools, employment discrimination, and institu
tionalized racism created these social problems (Collins, 2000).
As a form of resistance, some Black women have embraced the
strength that characterizes the Matriarch image. They have taken on the
persona of the Strong Black Woman, who is self-sufficient, independent,
and able to survive life’s difficulties without assistance. Many women
who embrace this icon also feel obligated to take on the problems of fam-
ily and community members (Romero, 2000). This resilience can be a
source of pride and an effective survival strategy; however, as noted by
Thompson (2000), this behavior can be detrimental “when there is too
much of a good thing” (p. 239). Without an appropriate balance between
self-care and care for others, many Black women develop mental and
physical health problems, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse,
high blood pressure, and obesity.
Like the Jezebel image, the Matriarch image is deeply rooted in history
and can be especially harmful for Black rape survivors. Darlene Clark
Hine (1989), an African American historian, unearthed this history and
I suggest that rape and the threat of rape influenced the development
of a culture of dissemblance among Black women. By dissemblance
I mean the behavior and attitudes of Black women that created the
appearance of openness and disclosure but actually shielded the
truth of their inner lives and selves from their oppressors. (p. 912)
In other words, Black women developed a culture of silence around sexual
assault. Although stories of victimization were passed down through the
generations as a way of preparing Black girls to protect themselves
(Wyatt, 1992), in general, Black women were reluctant to speak publicly
or privately about their assaults (McNair & Neville, 1996). Unfortunately,
Types of Violence 99
this silence makes it difficult for Black rape survivors to seek and receive
emotional support. According to researchers, “Approximately half of the
women who did not seek counseling identified what we conceptualized as
inner strength and minimization as a significant contributor to this deci
sion” (Neville & Pugh, 1997, p. 375).
Even when Black rape survivors disclose their trauma, the Matriarch
image can affect how they are perceived. If it is assumed that Black
women are inherently strong and resilient, then Black rape survivors may
be viewed as less traumatized than other victims of assault. Although not
specific to Black women, there is some evidence to indicate that perceiv
ing rape survivors as more resilient results in increased victim blame
(Donovan, 2001). Thus, Black women face a double bind. Remaining si
lent may hinder their recovery, but disclosing their rapes makes them
more susceptible to being blamed, questioned, and stereotyped at a time
when they are most in need of empathy and intervention.
Black women need a safe therapeutic environment to discuss their vic-
timization. Although some therapists receive training in this area, all ther-
apists need to be sensitive to cultural differences when counseling rape
survivors (Holzman, 1994, 1996). The following suggestions are offered:
Take a Supportive Therapeutic Stance
In general, rape survivors who considered it helpful to discuss their as
sault or had someone believe their account of the assault experienced
fewer emotional and physical health problems than survivors who did not
find their support to be healing or who received neutral reactions (Camp
bell, Ahrens, Sefl, Wasco, & Barnes, 2001). In fact, negative or hurtful re
actions can be more detrimental than receiving no support at all.
Therefore, family and friends should be instructed to be supportive in a
way that the survivor perceives to be supportive. For example, a friend
may find it healing to express revenge fantasies; however, this may not be
experienced as healing to the survivor. If support is not forthcoming, it
may be necessary to encourage the survivor to use selective disclosure.
Before working with this population, service providers should become
aware of their own internalized rape myths and negative images of abuse
victims. Because the manifestation of oppressive images and rape myths
can be subtle, it is important that therapists and service providers do not
become complacent when relying on general therapeutic skills; otherwise,
they may re-victimize the survivor. It might be helpful for therapists to
seek additional support or, if appropriate, therapy for their own victimiza
Address Oppressive Images
Both survivors and therapists may internalize oppressive images. For
example, societal rape myths, coupled with the Jezebel image, may shape
the sexual decision-making patterns of some Black rape survivors. Spe
cifically, sexually victimized women may have multiple partners, which in
creases their risk of re-victimization, unwanted pregnancy, and sexually
transmitted diseases. These reproductive health problems should not be
attributed to Black women’s promiscuity and immorality. Instead, the
therapist should suspect a history of sexual abuse or other trauma experi-
ences (West, 2000; West, Williams, & Siegel, 2000).
Similarly, the Matriarch image can further complicate the therapy ex-
perience for Black women. Endorsing the image of the strong Black
woman can make many survivors reluctant to seek counseling (Neville &
Pugh, 1997). This image, along with the culture of silence, may make survi-
vors reluctant to disclose the abuse in the initial stages of therapy. Even when
disclosure takes place, clients may minimize their symptomatology, dis-
miss the need to focus on the sexual assault, or divert attention to other is-
sues such as child care needs, work issues, or life stressors. These issues
are pertinent and need to be addressed in order to prevent a premature ter-
mination of therapy; however, therapists should be cognizant that, even
though a safe therapeutic environment is important for all rape survivors,
the additional influence of racial stereotypes makes it a particularly salient
issue for Black rape survivors (Romero, 2000; Thompson, 2000).
If an African American man victimized the survivor, she may fear that
her disclosure will reinforce the stereotype of Black men as sexual preda
tors. She may also be fearful of turning another Black man over to an op
pressive criminal justice system. Because these fears may silence many
Black rape survivors, therapists should neither ignore nor minimize these
feelings of disloyalty or fear. Pierce-Baker (1998) candidly expressed this
dilemma when she wrote:
I felt responsible for upholding the image of the strong black man for
our young son, and for the white world with whom I had contact...I
didn’t want to confirm the white belief that all black men rape. Better
Types of Violence 101
not to talk about it...soIdkept silent about what happened to me.
(p. 64)
As a result of this situation, it may be helpful to explore how race, class,
and gender intersect to affect the disclosure patterns of Black rape survi
vors. Moreover, therapists can point out that the oppression of Black men
does not excuse the victimization of Black women (Pierce-Baker, 1998).
Encourage Social Support and Activism
For some survivors, being able to speak openly and honestly about their
rapes in the company of other Black women can be a very powerful, heal
ing experience. However, other survivors, depending on their comfort
level or racial identity, may prefer to receive support from a mixed-race
group (Taylor, 2000). Regardless of the group composition, many rape
survivors can benefit from developing a strong social support network.
Activism, for example, participating in protest actions, can empower
rape survivors. It is particularly helpful if activism takes place in a Black
feminist environment in which participants are working to eliminate race,
class, and gender oppression. This collective action makes rape a Black
community problem and reduces the culture of silence and the self-blame
rape survivors may experience. Activism also mobilizes the Black com-
munity to address and challenge the images and myths that continue to im-
pact the lives of African Americans. In addition, it is an opportunity for
Black women to work together toward a solution (White, A.M., 1999,
Black women’s experiences of rape are inextricably linked to gender
and race. Our culture’s views of Black women affect how Black rape sur
vivors are evaluated and how they respond to their trauma. For exam
ple, compared to other women, Black rape survivors are judged as less
truthful and more to blame for their rapes. Black rape survivors are also
less likely to seek supportive interventions and to disclose or report
their rapes. In this article, we have discussed how racist images of Black
women contribute to the silence and overall marginalization of Black
rape survivors. Specifically, we have looked at the influences of the
Jezebel and Matriarch images and discussed how both negatively af
fect the disclosure patterns and perceptions of Black rape survivors.
Finally, it should be noted that the relevance of oppressive images for
individual Black women will be influenced by their racial identity, cul
tural affiliation, access to support, and comfort with traditional interven
tions. As such, it is recommended that research be undertaken to evaluate
how these images interact with other variables to impact Black rape survi
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... Established during the persecution of Africans, the portrayal of Black women as intrinsically resilient and strong was important for individual and communal survival (Geyton et al. 2022;West et al. 2016). Presently, through the SBWA, Black women are seen by others and often view themselves as being equipped (often more than other racial groups or genders) to endure a greater number of stressors on their own (Donovan and Williams 2002;Etowa et al. 2007;Etowa et al. 2017;Nicolaidis et al. 2010). Among these obstacles are poverty, instances of racism and discrimination, raising children in a single-parent household, sickness, and the passing of friends and family (Etowa et al. 2007). ...
... Black women with histories of CSA may also experience specific difficulties receiving the full benefits of therapy when it is accessed. Black women with histories of CSA exhibit low self-compassion/empathy, low levels of patience with emotions, and low actual or perceived social support (Donovan and Williams 2002;Neville et al. 2004;Sigurvinsdottir and Ullman, 2015). Therefore, these women may struggle with typical therapeutic practices such as identifying and tolerating difficult emotions and finding empathy for themselves. ...
... Mental health professionals who are aware of the influence of SBWA on satisfaction with therapy and satisfaction with the therapist may be better able to assess/anticipate, validate, and disrupt client behaviors, such as minimization of emotions, that can lead to poor outcomes or early termination. That is, Black female clients who adhere to this archetype may be ambivalent toward treatment as they may have the desire to appear strong and deal with their struggles independently (Anglin 2006;Donovan and Williams 2002;Etowa et al. 2007). Should the client express this ambivalence and/ or apprehension toward therapy, the practitioner should validate these feelings while also providing encouragement. ...
The Strong Black Woman archetype (SBWA) describes a cultural pattern where Black women are expected to and present as physically and mentally strong, regardless of past and ongoing stressors. The SBWA has served the historical purpose of aiding survival for Black women throughout years of racial and gender oppression. However, the practice has also been associated with adverse mental health and with behaviors, such as self-silencing, that could impede therapeutic process. The purpose of this empirical study was to investigate the relationships between adherence to the SBWA and therapeutic outcomes (i.e., satisfaction with therapy, satisfaction with therapist, perceptions of one's global improvement in therapy) among Black women with childhood sexual abuse histories-a subpopulation at increased need for mental health treatment and who may be susceptible to high levels of adherence to the SBWA. Black adult female participants (N = 103) completed an online survey including a demographic questionnaire, an assessment of SBWA endorsement, and treatment outcomes from their current or most recent therapy experience. Three hierarchical linear regressions were conducted with SBWA as the independent variable and (i) satisfaction with therapist, (ii) satisfaction with therapy, and (iii) global improvement as the dependent variables. Consistent with our hypotheses, we found that SBWA inversely predicted satisfaction with therapy and the therapist. While the relationship between SBWA and global improvement was statistically significant, the finding was not practically significant. Still, our study findings suggest that higher levels of SBWA predict less favorable therapy outcomes. Future research directions and clinical implications are discussed.
... Unlike middle-class White girls, many Black girls do not enjoy the luxury of experiencing childhood as a child and as a result are thrust into the throes of adulthood at an early age . Sexual violence towards Black female bodies has persisted ever since the arrival of slaves to the shores of the now USA where White men justified the raping of Black slaves by characterizing them as a Jezebel with insatiable appetites for sex (Butler, 2015;Donovan & Williams, 2002;Hill-Collins, 1990;Taylor, 1999). As a society, we cannot sever this history from the present because the two are inextricably linked. ...
... At best, anti-trafficking statutes in the USA appear to be a patchwork of good intentions. Despite the good intentions, many anti-trafficking laws do not protect Black girls from sex trafficking as illustrated in the case of Paige (Donovan & Williams, 2002). The sentence of Paige strongly maintains that Black girls are unrapable and un-trafficable and that their victimization will result in criminalization when they resist their victimization (Donovan & Williams, 2002). ...
... Despite the good intentions, many anti-trafficking laws do not protect Black girls from sex trafficking as illustrated in the case of Paige (Donovan & Williams, 2002). The sentence of Paige strongly maintains that Black girls are unrapable and un-trafficable and that their victimization will result in criminalization when they resist their victimization (Donovan & Williams, 2002). The juvenile justice system simply does not meet the needs of trafficked girls, especially Black girls (Reed et al., 2021). ...
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The name Jezebel has long been associated with promiscuous and manipulative women since Biblical times. The name is now often associated with Black women and girls. In this paper, the author (1) explored the impact of the Jezebel stereotype on Black girls’ sexual victimization, (2) discussed the impact of adverse childhood experiences, and (3) examined how carceral public systems harm Black girls and make them vulnerable to being sex trafficked. The carceral public systems discussed in this paper include educational settings and child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Recommendations to redress race and racism, classism, and sexism in these three settings are offered.
... Over the past two decades, scholars have begun paying more attention to how racialization and gender intersect to influence how we see ourselves and others (Cole, 2009;Collins, 2000;Crenshaw, 1994). Research suggests that Black females have higher levels of individual resilience across the lifespan compared to lower levels of resilience among males (Donovan & Williams, 2002;Ferreira et al., 2019). The Strong Black Woman (SBW) stereotype reflects the popular notion that Black women are self-sufficient, independent, and able to survive life's difficulties without assistance. ...
... The literature suggests that passive coping strategies are more likely to negatively impact mental health compared to more active coping strategies (Polanco-Roman et al., 2016). From a biological perspective, gender has been identified as a factor in coping and resilience styles (Donovan & Williams, 2002;Ferreira et al., 2019) with Black females being more likely to use active coping techniques compared to Black males (Polanco-Roman et al., 2016). Interestingly, 85.49% of the study participants reported their gender as female, providing more support for research highlighting the resilience of Black females. ...
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, students around the world are experiencing a number of mental health challenges due to fear, isolation, death of loved ones, loss of jobs, virtual learning, political and civil unrest, and perceived loss of control. Many of the challenges experienced had the potential to affect academic success and career choice decisions. Three hundred thirty-two HBCU students participated in the 2021 Healthy Minds Survey to provide data regarding their personal, social, and mental health concerns. This research focused not only on the challenges these students experienced but also their coping strategies, resource utilization and their level of resilience as assessed via Brief Resilience Scale. Despite experiencing anxiety, depression, suicidal ideations, financial and food insecurity, and political and civil unrest, a significant number of students exhibited normal to high levels of resilience and 45% were experiencing positive mental health. Ten variables were examined to determine which factors might influence student’s ability to “bounce back.” Three variables related to social support were found to have a statistically significant impact on resilience levels. Implications for future research are explored.
... The stereotypical association of male violence and rape with black men is prevalent, as black men are seen with unusually large penises that damage women's' bodies (Dines 1998(Dines , 2006. As such, who to accuse of rape and other forms of male violence is often stereotypical onto the black man (Foley et al. 1995;Donovan and Williams 2002;George and Martinez 2002). Popular culture is to blame for these types of stereotypes. ...
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As a radical feminist myself, I see how male violence the cause and effect of male dominance towards women is. Radical feminism makes us think about how men abuse, use and exploit women bodies. The goal of radical feminism is to end the patriarchy’s gender-based system but it also recognizes the issues of hierarchy in human life in terms of dominance. All forms of feminism must be intersectional.
... Ellie's strategy of intensive investment in respectable femininity highlights how gender accountability hinges not only on women's actions, but also on how those actions are perceived by women's audiences (West and Zimmerman 1987). In North America, extant research suggests that Black women are more likely than white women to be perceived as blameworthy victims of gender-based violent crime (see, for example, Donovan and Williams 2002). Investing in femininity in this context may thus be a method for pre-empting a negative gendered assessment and halting the losses such an assessment could provoke. ...
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Drawing on focus group and interview data, this paper examines how race and social class intersect with gender to inform Canadian women’s responses to police-produced gendered crime-prevention messaging. I position women’s enactments of institutionally endorsed crime-prevention strategies as a resource for the successful achievement of femininity, and I consider how intersecting social statuses shape how women do crime prevention. Focus group dialogue reveals three orientations to police crime-prevention messaging: resentment, pragmatism and gratitude. Across orientations, women strategically enact state imperatives to meet their own agentic ends. By identifying crime prevention as a resource for achieving femininity and highlighting racialized and classed dimensions in women’s gender performances, this research enriches extant literature on crime prevention and femininities.
... Black women being labelled as "sexually-unrestrained" is not newsome scholars argue that these tropes have influenced U.S. public health policy since the 17 th century (Maurer, 2000). These stereotypes are hypothesized to have historically emerged as a means to justify enslavement, sexual violence, and rape (Donovan & Williams, 2002). Stereotypes pervade classical scholarship as well, infamously in E. Franklin Frazier's 1949 conclusion that Black women are strong and independent, place little value on marriage, engage freely in sexual activity, and have no notion of "male supremacy" (cited in Dill, 1979). ...
The relationship between the psychosocial experience of fertility and its biological basis in women is under-researched and undertheorized. In order to create standard assessments informed by both the mental and the physical states of female fertility, qualitative work is necessary to augment our biological knowledge and provide an ethnographic lens on how women contextualize fertility outside of a biomedicine. Here, I introduce the concept of transitory fertility, a term I use to describe moments of perceived variability in fertility status among women. It is a concept currently unrecognized in biomedicine. Women who may be physically able to conceive naturally experience emotions similar to ‘infertile’ women when trying to become pregnant. Qualitative evidence of the ideas surrounding the female body and fertility is presented from the perspective of women in the low-wealth neighborhood of Cobbs Creek, West Philadelphia in partnership with Sayre Health Center (SHC). Cobbs Creek is a medically underserved area currently composed of 73% African Americans. In 2017, 35.0% of SHC service area population was below the federal poverty line compared to 13.5% of Pennsylvania. Over 6 months, semi-structured interviews were conducted virtually with women. Preliminary analyses illuminate the limits of biomedical constructs to contend with shame and anxiety surrounding fertility. Further, the stress associated with fertility struggles may contribute to reduced ability to conceive in women. The creation of a scale to measure transitory fertility will allow for the study of the relationship between women’s perceptions of fertility, their biological fertility, and their ability to become pregnant.
Existing research has identified various reasons most sexual assault victims do not seek help. There remains a need, however, to highlight Black women’s experiences to better understand and adequately meet their needs when they seek help. This project extends existing bodies of knowledge by centering Black women, situating their experiences within a Black feminist framework, and evaluating their experiences as they seek help to understand factors that shape their reporting decisions. Findings suggest that as Black women seek medical help, they consider culture-specific and real rape factors during the police reporting decision. Key findings, implications, and policy recommendations are discussed.
Although extant research highlights the detrimental effects of the Superwoman Schema (SWS) on Black women’s physical and psychological well-being, researchers have yet to examine the implications of SWS endorsement on Black women’s sexual attitudes and behaviors. As a culturally salient racialized gender schema that reifies Black women’s supposed superhuman emotional and physical strength, to what extent does endorsement of the SWS contribute to Black women’s reported sexual assertiveness and satisfaction? In the present work, 406 Black women completed an online survey measuring their endorsement of the SWS, as well as their sexual assertiveness and sexual satisfaction. SWS dimensions moderated the association between sexual assertiveness and sexual satisfaction. Findings from the present study highlight the importance of considering culturally salient racialized gender schemas when examining Black women’s sexual attitudes and behaviors.
Background: Sexual violence (SV) is prevalent among US college athletes, but formal reports are rare. Little is known about adaptations to institution-level reporting policies and procedures that could facilitate reporting. Methods: We conducted a discrete choice experiment (DCE) survey with 1004 student-athletes at ten Division I NCAA member institutions to examine how attributes of the reporting system influence the decision to formally report SV to their institution. Changes in utility values were estimated using multinomial logistic regression and mixed multinomial logistic regression. Importance scores were compared to understand student-athlete preferences. Results: In order of relative importance, the two attributes most preferred by student-athletes were higher probabilities of students perpetrating SV being found in violation of code of conduct policies (relative importance score = 33), and the availability of substance use amnesty policies (relative importance score = 24). Student-athletes with prior SV experiences were more likely to opt out of formally reporting in the DCE paired choice, had lower estimated utility values for all attributes, and had less between-person heterogeneity. While anonymous reporting and survivor-initiated investigations were preferred by student-athletes on average, there was considerable valuation heterogeneity between student-athletes (sizeable deviations from mean estimated utilities). These two attributes also varied in relative importance; anonymous reporting had higher relative importance after interacting levels with prior SV experiences and competitive status, but lower relative importance after interacting levels with whether a student-athlete played on men's or women's sports teams. Conclusions: Changes to reporting policies and procedures (e.g., transparency about SV reporting outcomes, implementing substance use amnesty policies) may be promising institution-level interventions to increase formal reporting of SV among student-athletes. More research is needed to understand preference heterogeneity between students and generalize these findings to broader student populations.
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More attention has recently focused on the psychological experiences of women survivors of sexual assault. However, little work has examined the experiences of African American women survivors, particularly with regard to the impact of race and class on survivors' experiences. We address these limitations by presenting a sociohistorical analysis of African American women's rape experiences. This analysis considers the relationship between sexual and economic oppression in African American women's lives. Second, we discuss the influences of these sociohistorical factors on African American women's post-assault experiences. Finally, recommendations for therapy With African American women survivors are provided.
This article reviews the literature on how race, ethnic-ity, and class influence a woman's vulnerability to rape, the meaning and impact of the rape, and the response of family, of community, and of social institutions. Based on the literature and on the author's experience as a therapist and rape crisis counselor, recommendations for culturally appropriate counseling and psychotherapy are dis-cussed. [Article copies available from The Haworth Document Delivery Ser-vice: The dominant culture of the United States has aptly been de-scribed as a rape culture, one that supports a high incidence of rape in many ways (Bourque, 1989; Buchwald, Fletcher, & Roth, 1993; Holzman, 1994; Warshaw & Parrot, 1991; Weis & Borges, 1973). Rape or the threat of rape is thus a reality in the life of every woman in this country. However, within that commonality, race, ethnicity, Clare G. Holzman, PhD, is a clinical psychologist in independent practice in New York City and supervises volunteer counselors at the Westside Community Office of the Victim Services Agency. Earlier versions of this article were presented at the Advanced Feminist Ther-apy Institute, Cambridge, MA, October 30, 1993, and at the 19th Annual Confer-ence of the Association for Women in Psychology, Oakland, CA, March 4, 1994. This paper is dedicated to the women of New York Women Against Rape (NYWAR), who, from 1973 to 1990, developed the analysis of the politics of rape and the interlocking of oppressions that shaped my thinking on these issues, who taught me how to work with survivors of sexual assault, and who challenged me to examine my own racism, ethnocentrism, classism, and heterosexism.
More attention has recently focused on the psychological experiences of women survivors of sexual assault. However, little work has examined the experiences of African American women survivors, particularly with regard to the impact of race and class on survivors' experiences. We address these limitations by presenting a socio-historical analysis of African American women's rape experiences. This analysis considers the relationship between sexual and economic oppression in African American women's lives. Second, we discuss the influences of these socio-historical factors on African American women's post-assault experiences. Finally, recommendations for therapy with African American women survivors are provided.
Perceptions of and reactions to date rape affect whether women will report their victimizations and whether authorities will prosecute the accused. The current research examines the effects of race of assailant (Black or White) and victim (Black or White) and gender (male orfemale) of subjects on perceptions of a date rape. The 75 subjects read a scenario describing a date that ended with forced sexual intercourse. The subjects responded to a series of questions about the interaction. It was hypothesized that (a) a forced sexual encounter would be perceived as less serious when the victim was a Black woman than if she were a White woman, (b)forced sexual activity between a Black male and a Whitefemale would be more likely to be considered date rape and a crime than would the same activity between a same-race couple or between a White male and a Blackfemale; (c)females would be more likely than males to define the forced sexual encounter as a crime, and females would be more in favor of prosecuting the perpetrator The second hypothesis was not supported. The other hypotheses were strongly supported. It is suggested that society be educated to replace stereotypes about date rape with accurate information. Otherwise, women-particularly Black women-will continue to be reluctant to report sexual assaults, cases of rape will be difficult to prosecute, and the assailants will continue to victimize others.
This article reviews the literature on how race, ethnicity, and class influence a woman's vulnerability to rape, the meaning and impact of the rape, and the response of family, of community, and of social institutions. Based on the literature and on the author's experience as a therapist and rape crisis counselor, recommendations for culturally appropriate counseling and psychotherapy are discussed.