sexualityofotherness

sexualityofotherness - The Sexuality of Otherness: Sexual...

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The Sexuality of Otherness: Sexual Stereotypes of Jews and Africans in America By Aaron Houska Sex and Religion in America 10/29/2007
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On first glance, it seems hard to compare the experience of Africans and Jews in America. To white America, blacks were seen as animals when they were brought to this country, and 400 years later, have not yet been given the chance to rise to levels of power afforded to whites because of continued institutional as well as outright racism. Jews came to this country, and while ghettoized and marginalized by society, were ap- parently seen as white enough that they were granted entry into white echelons of power relatively quickly in their history here. But both have suffered from racist sexual stereotypes that have found continued refuge in the American psyche to the present day. This has brought religious teachers from both communities to not only attempt to erase these symbols, but more importantly to develop new sexual moralities that “achieve. ..the ‘innocent ecstasy of sex without guilt” (Biale 215); ones that are able to reconcile contemporary American sexual mores with traditional teachings. And while the sources for these sexual symbols was dramatically different for Africans and Jews in this country, both have been perpetuated by deeply felt alienation from and vulnerability to the dominant culture. Coming out of the profound racism of whites in America during slavery was the conception of blacks by whites as “ugly, disgusting, and bestial,” and thus meant to be treated like animals, and “if black bodies were demeaned, black sexuality was demon- ized” (Dyson 84). The black man was cast as hyper-masculine, with sexual desires ex- tending beyond possible fulfillment, and the woman as “hot and ready to be bothered” (Dyson 84-5). Such symbols were necessary in the vast racist paradigm created during the early days of slavery and continued by some into the present to keep African Amer- icans under the control of European Americans. Dyson argues that even beyond that,
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“[whites] projected onto those same [detested] black bodies their repressed sexual yearnings” (Dyson 84). And so it was essential for black churches, as “the visible womb of black culture” (Dyson 85), to respond to these stereotypes. They began preaching a very traditional and conservative sexual morality to not only publicly counter these myths, but also perhaps to raise themselves above contemporary white Christian sexual standards of the day. With extreme racism came and extreme reaction, one which brought its own problems to African American Christian communities; the accepted
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sexualityofotherness - The Sexuality of Otherness: Sexual...

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