Circumstances Beyond Their Control: Black Women’s Perceptions of Black Manhood
- 318 Downloads
Insufficient empirical attention has been paid to Black women’s perceptions of Black male gender roles and associated masculinity. Although constructions of Black masculinity have been speculated about in popular media and literature, no known published studies have specifically investigated Black women’s perceptions of Black men or offered a conceptualization of Black masculinity informed by their voices. Because women’s perceptions of and beliefs about men affect partnership decisions, quality of relationships, childrearing decisions, health behaviors, and other aspects of personal and psychosocial well-being, the purpose of the present exploratory qualitative study was to fill the noted gap in the literature while highlighting context related to these beliefs. Participants in eight focus groups were 44 Black women, ranging in age from 18 to 91, from the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. Transcribed focus group data were coded via a qualitative data analysis software program. Thematic analysis of data revealed three main themes: (a) Strong Armed and Strong Minded, (b) Challenges with Familial and Personal Connections, and (c) Circumstances Beyond Their Control: Impact of the Black Experience. Implications for research and practice related to Black marriage, family, and parenting relationships are discussed.
KeywordsAfrican American women Gender schema Psychology of women Sex roles Culture
Research reported in the present paper was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R25MH087217. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Abrams, J. A., Maxwell, M., Pope, M., & Belgrave, F. Z. (2014). Carrying the world with the grace of a lady and the grit of a warrior: Deepening our understanding of the “strong Black woman” schema. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 38(4), 503–518. https://doi.org/10.1177/0361684314541418.
- Abrams, J. A., Javier, S. J., Maxwell, M. L., Belgrave, F. Z., & Nguyen, A. B. (2016). Distant but relative: Similarities and differences in gender role beliefs among African American and Vietnamese American women. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 22(2), 256–267. https://doi.org/10.1037/cdp0000038.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Aldridge, D. P. (1991). Focusing: Black male-female relationships. Chicago: Third World Press.Google Scholar
- Alexander, M. (2012). The new Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. New York: The New Press.Google Scholar
- Banks, R. R., & Gatlin, S. J. (2005). African American intimacy: The racial gap in marriage. Michigan Journal of Race & Law, 11, 115–671. Retrieved from http://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/mjrl11&div=12&id=&page=.Google Scholar
- Belgrave, F. Z., & Allison, K. W. (Eds.). (2013). African American psychology: From Africa to America. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.Google Scholar
- Bem, S. L. (1993). The lenses of gender: Transforming the debate on sexual inequality. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
- Bennett, N. G., Bloom, D. E., & Craig, P. H. (1989). The divergence of Black and White marriage patterns. American Journal of Sociology, 95(3), 692–722. https://doi.org/10.1086/229330.
- Bowleg, L., Teti, M., Massie, J. S., Patel, A., Malebranche, D. J., & Tschann, J. M. (2011). ‘What does it take to be a man? What is a real man?’: Ideologies of masculinity and HIV sexual risk among black heterosexual men. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 13(05), 545–559. https://doi.org/10.1080/13691058.2011.556201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Catanzarite, L., & Ortiz, V. (2002). Too few good men? Available partners and single motherhood among Latinas, African Americans, and Whites. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 24(3), 278–295. https://doi.org/10.1177/0739986302024003002.
- Chaney, C. (2009). Boys to men: How perceptions of manhood influence the romantic partnerships of Black men. Western Journal of Black Studies, 33(2), 110–122.Google Scholar
- Cherlin, A. J. (1998). Marriage and marital dissolution among Black Americans. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 29(1), 147–158. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41603552.
- Collins, P. H. (2002). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Cowdery, R. S., Scarborough, N., Knudson-Martin, C., Seshadri, G., Lewis, M. E., & Mahoney, A. R. (2009). Gendered power in cultural contexts: Part II. Middle class African American heterosexual couples with young children. Family Process, 48(1), 25–39. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1545-5300.2009.01265.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Creswell, J. W., & Poth, C. N. (2017). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.Google Scholar
- Eberhardt, J. L., Davies, P. G., Purdie-Vaughns, V. J., & Johnson, S. L. (2006). Looking deathworthy: Perceived stereotypicality of Black defendants predicts capital-sentencing outcomes. Psychological Science, 17(5), 383–386. https://ssrn.com/abstract=901453.
- Erchull, M. J., Liss, M., Axelson, S. J., Staebell, S. E., & Askari, S. F. (2010). Well... she wants it more: Perceptions of social norms about desires for marriage and children and anticipated chore participation. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 34(2), 253–260. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-6402.2010.01566.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Flores, T., (2014). ‘New Jim Crow’: Single Black female. Retrieved from http://Black.jconline.com/story/opinion/columnists/2014/10/13/new-jim-crow-marriage-Black-women/17217909/.
- Ford, K. A. (2011). Doing fake masculinity, being real men: Present and future constructions of self among Black college men. Symbolic Interaction, 34(1), 38–62. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/si.2011.34.1.38.
- Hughes, J. (2014). What Black parents tell their sons about the police. Retrieved from http://gawker.com/what-Black-parents-tell-their-sons-about-the-police-1624412625.
- Jones, M. C., & Shorter-Gooden, K. (2003). Shifting: The double lives of Black women in America. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
- Kitzinger, J., & Barbour, R. (Eds.). (1999). Developing focus group research: Politics, theory and practice. London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Lima, A. C., Davis, T. L., Hilyard, K., Jeffries, W. L., & Muilenburg, J. L. (2017). Individual, interpersonal, and sociostructural factors influencing partner nonmonogamy acceptance among young African American women. Sex Roles. Advanced online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-017-0811-6.
- Martin, J. A., Hamilton, B. E., Osterman, M. J. K., Driscoll, A. K., & Mathews, T. J. (2017). Births: Final data for 2015. National Vital Statistics Reports, 66(1), 1–69. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr66/nvsr66_01.pdf.PubMedGoogle Scholar
- McMahon, J. M., & Kahn, K. B. (2017). When sexism leads to racism: Threat, protecting women, and racial bias. Sex Roles. Advanced online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-017-0828-x.
- Mincey, K., Alfonso, M., Hackney, A., & Luque, J. (2015). The influence of masculinity on coping in undergraduate Black men. The Journal of Men’s Studies, 23(3), 315–330. https://doi.org/10.1177/1060826515605022.
- O’Connor, M. K. (2001). Using qualitative research in practice evaluation. In A. R. Roberts & G. J. Greene (Eds.), Social workers’ desk reference (pp. 775–778). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Parks, S. (2010). Fierce angels: The strong Black woman in American life and culture. Toronto: Random House of Canada.Google Scholar
- Peck, S. C., Brodish, A. B., Malanchuk, O., Banerjee, M., & Eccles, J. S. (2014). Racial/ethnic socialization and identity development in Black families: The role of parent and youth reports. Developmental Psychology, 50(7), 1897–1909. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0036800.
- Raley, R. K., Sweeney, M. M., & Wondra, D. (2015). The growing racial and ethnic divide in U.S. marriage patterns. The Future of Children / Center for the Future of Children, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, 25(2), 89–109. https://doi.org/10.1353/foc.2015.0014.CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Reid, J. (2014). Single and living fab: Jacque Reid on how the ‘angry Black woman’ stereotype harms our relationships. The Grio. Retrieved from http://thegrio.com/2014/02/06/single-and-living-fab-jacque-reid-on-how-the-angry-Black-woman-stereotype-harms-our-relationships/-54302878.
- Sharp, E. A., & Ispa, J. M. (2009). Inner-city single Black mothers’ gender-related childrearing expectations and goals. Sex Roles, 60(9–10), 656–668. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-008-9567-3.
- Simons, R. L., Simons, L. G., Lei, M. K., & Landor, A. M. (2012). Relational schemas, hostile romantic relationships, and beliefs about marriage among young African American adults. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 29(1), 77–101. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407511406897.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Staples, R., & Johnson, L. B. (1993). Black families at the crossroads: Challenges and prospects. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
- Vohs, K. D., & Finkel, E. J. (Eds.). (2006). Self and relationships: Connecting intrapersonal and interpersonal processes. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- West, C. (2012). Mammy, Jezebel, sapphire, and their homegirls: Developing an “oppositional gaze” toward the images of Black women. In J. C. Chrisler, C. Golden, & P. D. Rozee (Eds.), Lectures on the psychology of women (4th ed., pp. 286–299). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.Google Scholar