Jezebel Unhinged

Loosing the Black Female Body in Religion and Culture

Book Pages: 288 Illustrations: Published: September 2018

Author: Tamura Lomax

Subjects
African American Studies and Black Diaspora, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Religious Studies

In Jezebel Unhinged Tamura Lomax traces the use of the jezebel trope in the black church and in black popular culture, showing how it is pivotal to reinforcing men's cultural and institutional power to discipline and define black girlhood and womanhood. Drawing on writing by medieval thinkers and travelers, Enlightenment theories of race, the commodification of women's bodies under slavery, and the work of Tyler Perry and Bishop T. D. Jakes, Lomax shows how black women are written into religious and cultural history as sites of sexual deviation. She identifies a contemporary black church culture where figures such as Jakes use the jezebel stereotype to suggest a divine approval of the “lady” while condemning girls and women seen as "hos." The stereotype preserves gender hierarchy, black patriarchy, and heteronormativity in black communities, cultures, and institutions. In response, black women and girls resist, appropriate, and play with the stereotype's meanings. Healing the black church, Lomax contends, will require ceaseless refusal of the idea that sin resides in black women's bodies, thus disentangling black women and girls from the jezebel narrative's oppressive yoke.

Praise

"An amazing pick for book clubs, reading discussion groups, or faith study groups, Jezebel Unhinged offers a fresh, exciting perspective on blackness, black female bodies, African American culture, and contemporary Christian teachings." — Claire Foster, Foreword Reviews

"A book for black women who want freedom." — Mariam Williams, Women's Review of Books

"Jezebel Unhinged is an insightful text that not only bridges the gap between Black feminist studies, Black pop culture studies, and womanist thought in religion, but also brings fresh and innovative analyses to longstanding discourses about black womanhood." — Ahmad Greene-Hayes, Reading Religion

"Lomax has written a thoughtful, passionate piece, one deeply concerned about the well-being of black women and girls and, by extension, the well-being of a larger social fabric." — Nan Kathy Lin, Studies in Religion

"Lomax carefully balances the complexities of Black women’s engagement with the Black church and its demonization of Black womanhood. . . . [She] problematizes Black women’s engagement with the Black church in a manner that cannot be reduced to assumptions of their ignorance or complacency." — Brie McLemore, Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies

Jezebel Unhinged is an ambitious and provocative work that breaks new conceptual, theoretical, and political ground within black feminist studies. Creating a theoretical space that might be thought of as black feminist religious thought, it establishes Tamura Lomax as an important critical voice.” — Mark Anthony Neal, author of Looking for Leroy: Illegible Black Masculinities

“A compelling feminist brew of wit and razor-like criticism on black popular culture, black religion, and the black church. Tamura Lomax takes on topics fraught with gendered land mine of complicity, icons considered untouchable, sites deemed sacrosanct, and scenes that are undoubtedly profane.” — T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Distinguished Professor, Vanderbilt University

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Tamura Lomax is an independent scholar, CEO and founder of The Feminist Wire, and coeditor of Womanist and Black Feminist Responses to Tyler Perry's Productions.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Prolegomenon. "Hoeism or Whatever": Black Girls and the Sable Letter "B"  vii
Acknowledgments  xix
Introduction. "A Thousand Details, Anecdotes, Stories": Mining the Discourse on Black Womanhood  1
1. Black Venus and Jezebel Sluts: Writing Race, Sex, and Gender in Religion and Culture  13
2. "These Hos Ain't Loyal": White Perversions, Black Possessions  34
3. Theologizing Jezebel: Womanist Central Criticism, a Divine Intervention  59
4. "Changing the Letter": Toward a Black Feminist Study of Religion  82
5. The Black Church, the Black Lady, and Jezebel: The Cultural Production of Feminine-ism  108
6. Whose "Woman" Is This?: Reading Bishop T. D. Jakes's Woman, Thou Art Loosed!  130
7. Tyler Perry's New Revival: Black Sexual Politics, Black Popular Religion, and an American Icon  169
Epilogue. Dangerous Machinations: Black Feminists Taught Us  201
Notes  211
Bibliography  243
Index  251
 
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