"The promiscuity myth has roots in Southern slaveholding society, which operated by a gendered social and moral code. The Victorian ideal of true womanhood required strict adherence to a code of piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity—virtues believed to be inherent in feminine nature. Victorian social codes clearly divided public and private realms, made white men the sole authorities in their homes, and stripped married white women of their property and legal personhood. It also advanced beliefs in the essential chastity, innocence, and weakness of women. African American women’s lives and labors in the antebellum South contrasted sharply with this iconic womanhood. Black women were subjected to forced nudity during slave auctions. They often labored in fields with skirts hiked up. They were punished on plantations by being whipped in partial or total nudity. They were banned from legal marriage. The myth of black women as lascivious, seductive, and insatiable was a way of reconciling the forced public exposure and commoditization of black women’s bodies with the Victorian ideals of women’s modesty and fragility. The idea that black women were hypersexual beings created space for white moral superiority by justifying the brutality of Southern white men."
— Melissa Harris-Perry Sister Citizen; Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America (via brashblacknonbeliever)