Essay On Stereotypes In Janie's Hair

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Later when Janie marries Jody Starks, we see another example of a member of the “in-group” enforcing the negative stereotypes the dominant culture has imposed upon them. Jody remembers the “other men figuratively wallowing in” Janie’s hair (55). He has her cover it up because “she was there in the store for him to look at, not those others” (55). Janie’s hair is a symbol of her sexuality and womanhood. Janie remarks that when Jody forced her to start wearing the scarf, their sexual relationship suffered. The “business of the head-rag” diminished Janie and Jodie’s sexual relationship, so that “the bed was no longer a daisy field for her and Joe to play in” (71). As a call back to the opening passage, in which Janie experiences a sexual awakening,…show more content…
Despite being used as props and blamed for their own exploitation, the heroines each manage to reclaim their sexualities from the men in their lives. After Jody’s death in Their Eyes, Janie rebels against her Nanny’s and Jody’s oppression, saying “Ah done lived by Grandma’s way, now Ah means tuh live mine” (114). Through her relationship with Tea Cake, she embraces the sexuality that has been repressed her entire life. Soon Hyo similarly reclaims her identity through her decision to no longer let Rick, or other men, take advantage of her; she shouts, “I will never, never again lay down for any man” (195). Helga also, in rejecting Axel Olsen’s offer of marriage rejects her supposed nature as a black woman. She tells him, “I’m not for sale. Not to you. Not to any white man. I don’t at all care to be owned. Even by you” (89). Although McDowell claims that women writers lash out against the stereotype of the hypersexualized female by deliberately desexualizing their characters, this is not exactly the case. Like Helga says, women’s sexuality cannot be bought or sold, only manipulated by those in power. The intersection of these three portrayals speaks to the volume of types of sexuality women possess. Rather than lash out against this stereotype, as McDowell claims, by deliberately desexualizing woman characters, these novels prove that by eliminating the dichotomy of innocence and sensuality through varied portrayals of women, you strike the stereotype at the root, blocking the male influence from contaminating the sexuality any
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