Troubling pleasure(s) : black girl sexual pleasure and danger in contemporary black women’s film and performance




Burgess, Lea

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This report analyzes performances of black girl pleasure and danger in contemporary film and literature to discuss the complexities of place based sexual desires and sexual danger facing black girls. This analysis focuses on the household space as a critical social context for mining black girl sexuality and sexual violence. Using a Black Performance Studies theoretical framework, this essay focuses on the influence of social geography and place as well as the ‘structures of feeling’ that traffic in the liminal space of childhood pleasure-making, black girlhood, and the erotics of the household. To do so, I have compiled close readings of the films Eve’s Bayou (1997) by Kasi Lemmons and Bronx Gothic (2017) by Okwui Okpokwasili alongside the novels Bluest Eye (1970) by Toni Morrison and Thereafter Johnnie (1991) by Carolivia Herron to draw out the complexities of erotic being for black girls living within various US social contexts. Ultimately, I offer the theoretical position that in answer to black feminist desires for language on the topic of black women’s sexual worlds, performances on black girl pleasure present a cultural archive on the distinct possibilities for pleasure as well as sexual danger


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