Pleasurable Blackness

  • Jennifer C. Nash


This chapter argues for the importance of developing new strategies for describing, naming, and analyzing black female sexualities that transcend familiar debates about “good” or “bad” images of black female flesh. Indeed, we urgently need new conversations that can consider the complex meanings embedded in popular images of black female bodies, and the ways in which these images open up space for black women’s play, performance, humor, and, crucially, pleasure. In this chapter, I advocate a practice of sex(uality) education that underscores how black female bodies put their sexuality to work in visual culture, in ways that might be unnerving, innovative, unsettling, exciting, arousing, troubling, or all of these at once. In so doing, I suggest we abandon our cultural preoccupation with “good” or “bad,” “feminist” or “unfeminist,” and “objectifying” or “liberating,” and instead ask: How do popular images put familiar ideas of black sexuality to work, and at times, play with or subvert those familiar ideas?


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© The Author(s) 2017

Open Access This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License, which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer C. Nash
    • 1
  1. 1.Associate Professor of African American Studies and Gender & Sexuality StudiesNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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