On SAGE Insight: Revisiting the Jezebel Stereotype: The Impact of Target Race on Sexual Objectification

From Psychology of Women Quarterly


“Black women are regularly depicted in an objectifying and sexualized manner in Western media, oftentimes as Jezebels.  But do Black women experience greater objectification than White women? Using eye-tracking technology, in this article Anderson and colleagues assessed levels of objectifying gaze toward Black and White women. The researchers also examined participants’ implicit associations between Black and White women with animal, object, or human attributes. Results demonstrated that Black women were more frequently objects of an objectifying gaze than their White counterparts. Black women were also implicitly associated with both animals and objects to a greater extent, and participants fixated more often on the sexualized body parts  (e.g., the hips/waist and chest) of Black women than of White women. Results demonstrate the prevalence of the Jezebel stereotype. Although blatant instances of the dehumanization and objectification of Black people have attenuated over time, subtle and dehumanizing perceptions still exist. “

By Joel Anderson School of Psychology, Australian Catholic University, Victoria, Australia    



The overt objectification and dehumanization of Black people has a long history throughout the Western world. However, few researchers have explored whether such perceptions still persist implicitly and whether Black women are sexually objectified at an interpersonal level. We sought to address this gap by exploring whether Black women are sexually objectified to a greater extent than White women and whether target sexualization exacerbates this effect. In Study 1, using eye-tracking technology (N = 38), we provide evidence that individuals attend more often, and for longer durations, to the sexual body parts of Black women compared to White women, particularly when presented in a sexualized manner. In Studies 2a (N = 120) and 2b (N = 131), we demonstrated that Black women are implicitly associated with both animals and objects to a greater degree than White women with a Go/No-Go Association Task. We discuss the implications of such dehumanizing treatment of Black people and Black women in U.S. society. We hope that this evidence will increase awareness that objectification can happen outside the realm of conscious thought and that related interventions ought to include an ethnicity-specific component. Additional online materials for this article are available on PWQ’s website at http://pwq.sagepub.com/supplemental

Read the article in full here

Article details
Revisiting the Jezebel Stereotype
The Impact of Target Race on Sexual Objectification
Joel R. Anderson, Elise Holland, Courtney Heldreth, Scott P. Johnson
First Published August 22, 2018
DOI: 10.1177/0361684318791543
From Psychology of Women Quarterly




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