Shadowboxing pp 151-170 | Cite as

Fostering Alliances: Black Male Profeminisms

  • Joy James


The distinctions between black men championing black females as patriarchal protectors and black men championing feminism to challenge sexism are easy to see.1 Patriarchal politics exemplifies the protector’s stance, while profeminist advocacy explicitly disavows sexism and patriarchal privilege. As chapter 5 on black female revolutionary icons sought to demonstrate, recognizing the contributions of black progressives does not necessitate uncritical acceptance of them. In the alliances being fostered between black feminists and their male counterparts, profeminists often appear to overshadow black feminist politics and radical agency. Evident obstacles to black revolutionary feminism stem from historical sexual-racial stereotypes that thrive in popular culture and from black male demagoguery disguised as racial chivalry that usurps the voices and agency of black females. Profeminist males present an alternative. For those efforts they are sought out as allies in the “gender wars.” However, profeminists also may contribute to the diminishment of radical black feminism, and so comrades in struggle may present problematic gifts.


White Woman Black Woman Black Male Black Female Domestic Abuse 
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  1. 1.
    A version of this chapter first appeared in Tom Digby, ed., Men Doing Feminism (New York: Routledge, 1997).Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    See Susan Faludi, The Backlash Against Feminism (New York: Doubleday, 1991).Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Michael Awkward, Negotiating Difference: Race, Gender, and the Politics of Positionality (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 52.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    Alice Jardine, “Men in Feminism: Odor di Uomo or Compagnons de Route?” in Men in Feminism, eds. Mice Jardine and Paul Smith (New York: Methuen, 1987), 60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 9.
    Michele Wallace, “Negative Images: Towards a Black Feminist Cultural Criticism,” in Wallace, Invisibility Blues: from Pop to Theory (New York: Verso, 1990), 251.Google Scholar
  6. 14.
    Hortense J. Spillers, “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book,” diacritics Vol.. 17, No. 2, (Summer 1987), 65–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Daniel Patrick Moynihan, The Case for National Action: The Negro Family (Washington, D.C.: Office of Policy Planning and Research, U.S. Department of Labor, March 1965).Google Scholar
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    Jean Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness (New York: Citadel Press, 1969).Google Scholar
  9. Lewis Gordon, “Effeminacy,” in Bad Faith and Antiblack Racism (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1995). Gordon counters Eldridge Cleaver’s argument in “The Allegory of the Black Eunuchs,” in Soul on Ice (New York: Delta, 1968), 155–175, where Cleaver maintains that the white male’s prototypical role is “effeminate,” as “Brain” and “Omnipotent Administrator,” while the black male functions as hyper-masculine, or “Body” and “Supermasculine Menial.”Google Scholar
  10. 22.
    Rhona Berenstein, “White Heroines and Hearts of Darkness: Race, Gender and Disguise in 1930s Jungle Films,” Film History, No. 6 (1994), 314–39, quoted in Cedric Robinson, ‘Blaxploitation and the Misrepresentation of Liberation,’ Race and Class, Vol. 40, No. 1 (1998), 3–4.Google Scholar
  11. 34.
    Richard Delgado, “Rodrigo’s Sixth Chronicle: Intersections, Essences, and the Dilemma of Social Reform,” New York University Law Review Vol. 68, No. 639 (June 1993), 639–674,649.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., 653. Also see, Antonio Gramsci, The Prison Notebooks, eds. and translators Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith (New York: International Publishers, 1971).Google Scholar

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© James Joy 1999

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  • Joy James

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