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Black Women in Reality Television Docusoaps

A New Form of Representation or Depictions as Usual?


Adria Y. Goldman and Damion Waymer

Black Women in Reality Television Docusoaps explores representations of Black women in one of the most powerful, popular forms of reality television – the docusoap. Viewers, critics, and researchers have taken issue with what they consider to be unflattering, one-dimensional representations. This book discusses images of Black women in reality television during the 2011 viewing year, when much criticism arose. These findings provide a context for a more recent examination of reality television portrayals during 2014, following many reality stars’ promises to offer new representations. The authors discuss the types of images shown, potential readings of such portrayals, and the implication of these reality television docusoap presentations. The book will be useful for courses examining topics such as popular culture; mass media and society; women’s studies; race and media; sex and gender; media studies; African American issues in mass communication; and gender, race and representation, as well as other graduate-level classes.
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Chapter 4. Reclaiming Sexuality




“You know how milk does a body good? But sex does a body good too. And if anything better, God would have kept it to himself.”

—GENEVA’S MOTHER, blood, sweat, and heels

With prevalent images like the Jezebel and Sexualized Bitch, audiences may be accustomed to a negative portrayal of Black female sexuality. In the majority of instances when in the 2011 study, the female was the minority cast member and her sexuality was framed in a less flattering light. Sex was not a theme that dominated the majority of the docusoaps’ storylines in the 2014 analysis. This alone helps communicate the message that Black women are not consumed with sex. However, sex was also not a taboo topic. In the cases where the women’s sex lives were discussed, sex was generally not framed in a negative light. This has the potential to help broaden people’s views on Black women as sexual beings.

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