Sex Roles

, Volume 79, Issue 3–4, pp 151–162 | Cite as

Circumstances Beyond Their Control: Black Women’s Perceptions of Black Manhood

  • Jasmine A. AbramsEmail author
  • Morgan L. Maxwell
  • Faye Z. Belgrave
Original Article


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.


African 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.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jasmine A. Abrams
    • 1
    Email author
  • Morgan L. Maxwell
    • 2
  • Faye Z. Belgrave
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Maryland, Baltimore CountyBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health Behavior and Policy, School of MedicineVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA

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