Women of Color
Background: As Kimberly Williams Crenshaw has emphasized (1993), the problems faced by white women in the media are even more prevalent and at more troubling levels when compared to women of color in the media. The theory of intersectionality looks at the multiple ways in which race, class, gender, sexuality and ability impact the agency of women in society. Crenshaw offers a stimulating analysis of a number of older films, such as Wild at Heart, and how women of color are portrayed as voodoo priestesses, monsters and the like. Patricia Hill Collins considers a similar subject of how women of color are portrayed in the media—African American women may be stereotyped as docile, domineering, irresponsible, and promiscuous, Latinas as lazy or flirty, and Native American women as inferior “squaws” or seductive princesses (1990). The Ads: All of the following ads present women of color in a disturbing light. In some we find women of color being sexualized (#s 29, 44) as a result of their ethnicity. Others portray women of color in stereotypical contexts, such as #s 9 and 10; while a number of ads connect African American women to nature (#s 19, 20). Image 26, a South African ad, is one of the most offensive ads I have seen. Ad 38 was discussed in the book Reality Bites Back (Jennifer L. Posner). Discussion Questions: (1) What cultural, political and gendered reasons can be attributed to the different portrayals of women of color in advertising? (2) Are there similar portrayals of men of color in advertising (as compared to European American men)?