Serena, Black Cis-Female Sexiness, and Heterosexism

You saw the picture.

What did you do with the imagery? Where did you catalogue it in your spectrum of attractiveness? How does your race, gender, and sexual orientation impact said cataloguing?

Narratives of Serena’s “manliness” are not missed on cis Black women who have rarely been described as or aligned with the US feminine beauty ideal: White, slim, blond, big-breasted, petite. Did she do the hell out of that split? Yes. But, even in the beauty and flexibility of it, it rings of “Ain’t I a Woman?” Because Serena is strong, athletic, and dark, her simple standing would not have been enough to receive a resounding “Yes” to that question by some audiences.

Even if some of her physical features do reflect what we call masculine in the US, and even if I am stretching my hamstrings as I type this, I hate that she is seen as sexy, rather than pretty or beautiful. Sexiness can be fun, but it is the most objectified of the attractiveness spectrum. It is the usual designation for women who look like Serena, if we are to call them attractive at all. And it troubles me that she has to counterbalance some of her perceived masculine traits to be appreciated by heterosexual male gazes.

I don’t think she gives a damn though, dope as she is. And, that is why I appreciate Serena.

, by : Dr. Candice Nicole

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