by Guest Contributor M. Dot, originally published at Model Minority
Zane sells because her fiction allows Black women to be sexual in a culture that refuses to acknowledge that we are sexual, a culture that calls us hos if are so inclined to be sexual, talk about sex, or even look like we are human and have a sexual appetite.
When was the last time you saw a Black woman have a love interest and sex in a movie?
Or a tv show?
Yesterday, I was doing all this reading of Hortense Spillers, Tricia Rose and Hegel (whom I struggle with tremendously), as I am developing an outline for a writing sample.
When instantly, Zane’s popularity clicked for me.
Professor Spillers essay titled, Intercises: A Small Drama of Words discusses, the position of Black women’s sexuality in American culture.
Our sexuality remains an unarticulated nuance in various forms of public discourse as though we are figments of the great invisible empire of womankind.
If I attempted to lay hold to any fictional text-discursively rendered experience of Black women, by themselves- I encounter a disturbing silence that acquires paradox, the status of contradiction.
Granted, the essay was published in 1984, so there has been some work published on Black women and sexuality such as Naked, Traps, Black Sexual Politics and Longing to Tell: Black women talk about Sex and Intimacy and I would imagine many others.
However, this profound silence still rings out loud in light of the presence of aspiring video vixens in rap videos, the desire of our little girls to be video vixens and our culture’s obsession with pimps and strip club culture in general.
This silence is deafeningly loud in the light of the fact that Black women were brought to the United States specifically to perform as laborers and to produce, via sex, more laborers.
As enslaved Africans residing in America, we held a very particular status, we were the Capital that Produced Capital, with capital being productive property.
This brings me back to why Zane sells. Zane sells because the women have sex in those books. They have affairs, they have sex with their husbands, some are lesbians, and dare I say it, some have sex with other women.
Speaking of sex with other women, I was very intrigued when I learned while researching this post that Zane’s latest title, Purple Panties, was being boycotted because it is about lesbian erotic fiction and it features two clearly Black women on the cover.
Welcome to the world of heterosexism.
Think about it like this.
If Black women aren’t allowed to have sex, then TWO most definitely are forbidden from doing so.
Even in the face of this boycott, Zane’s work stands a testament to the fact that erotic fiction, written by Black women, and arguably some Black men, is the place where we have found that we can have sex and not just simply produce capital or be called hos.
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