If you are an intelligent, professional , single or “spoken for” black woman, chances are, you have at some point been referred to as “intimidating”. Whether it was the reason for the surprisingly negative performance review you received at work, the excuse your non-brown co-workers gave for not befriending you right away or the ever popular (and my personal fav – NOT!) unequivocal reason that you are still single. No matter the specifics of the justification for the label, it all speaks to the same stereotypical impression that black women are somehow more intimidating than any other group of women. Even our first lady Michelle Obama could not escape the intimidation label during our President’s campaign for office. Surely you remember the ridiculous caricature of her on the cover of The New Yorker as a gun toting, afro wearing, finger pointing, super black panther from the 70’s. If that’s not enough, then surely you have heard the whisperings from some black men about the reason they choose to date women of other races.
A sociologist might argue that the association between black women and intimidation stems from the deliberate attempt to reverse the roles of black men and women during slavery. A time when black men were emasculated and black women were stripped of their feminine characteristics in the eyes of the masters and later in films, a la’ Hattie McDaniel in “Gone With the Wind”. Clearly we are far from the days of slavery yet this perception of black women as intimidating continues to perpetuate itself be it in pop culture, politics, music, movies or any other facet of life. Could it be that where there is smoke, there is fire? Are black women really intimidating or is everyone else super sensitive? Share your story of “intimidation” and let us know what you think.