We compare our lives to the stories we know.
-excerpt from contribution statement
Heteronormative media limits the understanding of black female sexual expression and the expansion of non-conformist sexual knowledge….Design stimulates the senses to communicate ideas of equality between races, genders, and sexualities…This thesis investigates the perception of black female sexuality in media, i.e. social media and streaming service television, and its influence on the black female ideal, or stereotype. To create a more inclusive understanding of the female sexuality of millenial black women, there has to be a sense of urgency created to produce agency.
In the early 20th century, black women within media were seen as over-sexualized beings, i.e., Dorothy Dandridge and Eartha Kitt, or completely nonsexual “Mammies” like Hattie McDaniel in Gone With the Wind. To understand streaming services and social media's influence on sexuality, looking back at traditional television and print media is necessary to see the evolution of black female sexual representation…. Streaming services and social media work to expand the intersectionality of black millennial female sexuality. Social media has become the limited visual of the black ideal and the verbal connotations that continue the sexualized cycle, but also an expansion of black female identity and sexual expression. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube give black sex positive advocates, intellectuals, and the sexual spectrum, i.e., Whoreible Decisions, Ask Harriet, and Jouelzy, a space to create content that is absent from mainstream television and print media. Consequently, those same influencers are still exposed to narrow-minded views of what black sexuality is through the comments of their viewers and social media trolls. This thesis will allow people to see how design can impact how people understand silence within the black community, sexuality and perceptions of black women.