Examining the Impact of Sexual Stereotyping in Black Women
Butler, Ebony 1982-
MetadataShow full item record
Among all women in the U.S., African American women are the most likely to experience denigration and sexualization (Eckert & McConnell-Ginet, 1999) due to being devalued as human beings and sexually objectified. The U.S. is plagued with a history of oppression of Black women based on their race, gender, and class. These intersecting forms of oppression have resulted in the devaluation of Black women and the promotion of negative stereotypes regarding their sexuality. The hip hop culture has been an outlet where the promotion of stereotypes of Black women has been normalized and accepted. Within this medium Black women are depicted as promiscuous, money-hungry, loud-mouthed, and manipulative individuals. Such widespread and culturally-accepted negative sexual stereotypes of Black women can have grave impacts on the way Black women view themselves and negotiate their sexual experiences. Black women with frequent exposure to the negative sexual stereotypes in the hip hop culture may internalize the negative images of themselves and develop cognitive sexual schemas based on those images. A large amount of hip hop videos depict women as having great sexual desire and as sexually uninhibited and these depictions serve as representations for how women should view themselves (Roberts 1996; Stephens and Few, 2007). Because risky sexual behavior and STIs are disproportionately prevalent among Black women, the current study explored the relations between internalized sexual stereotypes, Black women’s self-schemas and their self-reported risky sexual behavior. The study addressed two important research questions by examining two predictor variables (internalization of hip hop scripts and sexual self-views) and one outcome variable (risky sexual behavior). The internalization of hip hop scripts was assessed using the Hip Hop Explicit Racial-Sexual Stereotypes Scale (HHERSSS; Coleman et al., unpublished) and sexual self-views was assessed using the Sexual Self Schema Scale (SSSS; Andersen & Cyranwoski, 1994). The research questions were: (a) Is there a relationship between the internalization of hip hop sexual scripts and Black women’s self-views?; and (b) Is there a relationship between the internalization of sexual scripts and self-reported engagement in risky sexual behavior? Based on theory and the existing literature, the following hypotheses were formed: (a) Higher scores on the Freak, Gold Digger, and Baby Mama subscales of the HHERSSS will be related to more positive sexual self-schema scores; and (b) higher scores on the Freak, Gold Digger, and Baby Mama subscales of the HHERSSS and higher sexual self-schema scores will be related to higher risky sexual behavior scores. Results from 342 African American women who identified as consumers of the hip hop culture revealed a significant relationship between sexual scripting and sexual self-schema. However, results did not reveal significant relationships between higher hip hop sexual scripting scores and positive sexual self-schemas, as expected. Specifically, a significant relationship between women’s endorsement of the Baby Mama script and conservative sexual self-views emerged. These findings are inconsistent with the hypothesis that higher scores on the Freak, Gold Digger, and Baby Mama subscales are related to more positive sexual self-schema scores. With regard to women’s sexual behavior, analyses yielded a significant relationship between both the internalization of hip hop sexual scripts and sexual self-schemas and self-reported risky sexual behavior, which support the hypothesis that higher scores on the Freak, Gold Digger, and Baby Mama subscales and higher sexual self-schema scores are related to higher risky sexual behavior scores. Furthermore, Freak subscale scores and positive sexual self-schemas were found to significantly predict the variance in self-reported risky sexual behavior.