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Constructing Radical Black Female Subjectivities: Survival Pimping in Austin Clarke’s The Polished Hoe

By Jennifer Thorington Springer


This essay seeks to add to progressive scholarship that probes the ways in which black women create safe spaces to unapologetically accept their sexuality and the sexual agency that evolves as a result while simultaneously acknowledging the fluidity of feminine identities. In what follows, the author begin by describing the implications of what bell hooks calls "radical black subjectivity" for the sexual agency that may be secured by women who participate in sex work. Second, she examines how Clarke's protagonists, Ma and Mary, evolve and emerge as sexual agents rather than mere victims in their quest for personhood. Their reinvention of self surpasses personal subjectivity and serves as a testament to the struggles of women like themselves who resist from the margins, validating such experiences as worthy of scholarly critique. The third part of the essay challenges the simplistic and troubling idea that women who participate in sex work are merely objects -- objectified by men or self-objectified

Topics: black women, sex work, radical subjectivity
Publisher: Project Muse
Year: 2015
DOI identifier: 10.5250/fronjwomestud.36.2.0169
OAI identifier:
Provided by: IUPUIScholarWorks

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