Hypersexuality was more than a demeaning and false stereotype; this inaccurate portrayal was intentional. Myth advances specific economic, social, and political motives. In this case, sexual lasciviousness was a deliberate characterization that excused both profitdriven and casual sexual exploitation of black women. Emancipation did not end the social and political usefulness of this sexual stereotype. White men’s ‘‘right’’ of access to black women’s bodies was an assumption supported both by their history as legal property and by the myth of their sexual promiscuity. This myth meant that neither the law nor social convention allowed that black women might be victims in this arrangement. The rape of black women, like the lynching of black men, was both a deep personal violence and a form of community terrorism that reinforced their vulnerability and lack of self-ownership. As historian E. Frances White writes, ‘‘Virtually no legal protection was provided for women who were portrayed as loose and licentious. Under such conditions, black women—promiscuous by definition—found it nearly impossible to convince the legal establishment that men of any race should be prosecuted for sexually assaulting them. The rape of black women was simply no crime at all.’’ The mythology of black women as promiscuous was important to maintaining the profitable exploitation of slave society. In freedom, it remained important as a means of racial and gender control."
Melissa Harris-Perry Sister Citizen; Shame, Stereotypes and Black Women in America (via brashblacknonbeliever)