Black Marriage Negotiations Video Perpetuates Stereotypes and Ignores Context

The “Black Marriage Negotiations” video has been making it’s rounds on Facebook walls and on Essence’s blog. It has grossed nearly 200,000 hits on YouTube after going viral late last week. It was created by an anonymous user at Xtranormal.com, a site that boasts, “If you can type, you can make movies.”

If only the bar wasn’t so low.  The video isn’t just bunk because it misuses the term “womanist,” a label meant to convey that black women’s emancipation cannot be achieved without black men and children also being fully equal in society. Simply stated, it’s another baseless attack on educated, professional, single, African American women who seek healthy partnerships with men.  There are so many stereotypes about black women that this video affirms without  providing any context, but perhaps the ones that sting the most are about sex and money.

Starting with the latter, it is really hard for me to believe that black women, the same women who are least likely to marry a college educated spouse want someone to “pay all of the bills… and  pay for every dinner and date we go on.” But if we provide more of a context for Black women, it’s not hard to see why some may want their male counterparts picking up the tab every now and again. Recent data compiled by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research reveal that although black men make significantly less than white men, they still make more than black women. Yes, there may be some variation among women when it comes to the dinner tab question, but I don’t think it is completely unreasonable for black women who make less than their male counterparts to expect them to pay for more during the courting process.

The sex bit is  more problematic. The black woman in this skit is framed as a woman who wants “a man who won’t bug me for sex more than four times a month… and who will never ask me to put my mouth down there…on that nasty thing in your pants.”  Again, context is important here. I recently wrote about the large sexual health study conducted at Indiana University which revealed that there was a sexual satisfaction gap between men and women. Suffice it to say that if we women are experiencing pain a third of the time and our men grossly overestimate whether they give us an orgasm, black women may not be as stoked to get busy.  While I am still on the hunt for information about whether race impacts the sexual satisfaction gap, the study reveals some things about oral sex that challenge this notion that black women are repulsed by giving oral sex to their man. In fact, women and girls ages 14 – 39 are more likely to report that they had given a man oral sex in the past month than men in that same age group reported  that they had given a woman oral sex.

I am not saying that every racial group doesn’t have their share of outliers in the bunch. But this video was a mean-spirited attempt to malign single black women who struggle to achieve balance as dating professionals. We need new ways of dialoguing about equality in marriage between men and women that don’t rely on caricatures that perpetuate stereotypes without providing a context.

Join the Conversation

  • http://feministing.com/members/toongrrl/ Jessica “Jess” Victoria Carillo

    This video is so idiotic and the voice acting is robotic.

    • http://feministing.com/members/veroniqueb/ Véronique

      These animations are done with text-to-speech conversion. They’re supposed to sound “robotic.” It’s part of the silliness. But I agree that this one is idiotic. And pointless.

  • http://feministing.com/members/turandot/ Lauren Gambier

    A friend of mine posted this video in response on facebook:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gU7ItOxr9g

    while it’s not a direct response, it is certainly a nice perspective to get for contrast

  • http://feministing.com/members/kelsy/ kelsy

    This seriously went viral??
    …Seriously????

  • steven

    I am surprised more feminist do not resonate with the conflicting and unattainable standards society sets for people, especially sexual/romantic partners.

    If this had been done on striving to obtain the unattainable and began with the conflicting goals of being both a whore/slut and a virgin/Madonna figure I think more feminist would be supportive and sympathetic.

  • http://feministing.com/members/kamakula/ Kamakula

    I think you need to watch both videos, the female perspective and male perspective ones of the same negotiation for a fuller context.

    I think you should recognize that the point is to highlight these stereotypes and foster discussion by laying them out in the open, where the person acting out a stereotype is not interrupted or forced to defend themselves, further mucking the conversation at hand. Instead, we have a pure (and maybe ugly) presentation. Which we can then address.

    If you watch the two, I think it becomes immediately obvious that the female character in the one posted here and the male character in the female perspective version are actually representations that reflect the majority of people. I think the point is to show that the negative view on both sides is overblown. When you watch, assuming you are black and have had some participation in conversations like this, you will find yourself identifying with the ”reasonable” character. And if we all identify with ”reasonable” one, then hopefully we realize that this idea that there is a such a huge gulf between black men and women in dating and relationships is really just a load of BS.