A New Disabled South
May 30, 2023
By Rachel Bass
Viola Davis plays the Agojie general of an all-female warrior unit—it was refreshing to see another example of Black women portrayed beyond the strong Black women trope. In this role, Davis embodies the fierceness of this leader, while delivering a performance characterized by maternal softness and emotional vulnerability—traits often reserved on screen for white femininity.
Historically, for many white people, Black women were hypersexual, unnaturally asexual, or animalistic to warrant their rape and enslavement. The Black female slave was not marriage material, and her gender role was as a workhorse and machine for reproduction. Conversely, for many, white womanhood was shaped by the “Cult of True Womanhood,” which defined “true” women as pious, pure, submissive and domestic…
Ms. Magazine is a partner of the ERA Coalition and the Fund for Women’s Equality.
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