The African continent is often looked down upon by the Western world and in consequence, stereotypes that would seem outrageous if applied to any other group of people are accepted as common knowledge when they pertain to Africans. Female South Africans or South African girls are particularly vulnerable to these prejudicial views, and indeed there are up to 10 stereotypes of South African girls that aren’t always true which illustrate this point. These stereotypes are outlined in the paragraphs that follow.
10 Stereotypes About South African Girls You’ve Probably Never Heard of
The Doting Young Wife
First, and among the most prolific in Western minds, is the doting young wife. Generally good looking, slender, from a poor family and lacking in formal education, this girl is wedded to traditional mores and consequently accepts the role of homemaker without protest. She will marry a rich man and cater to his every whim so that she can use the money that she has married into to better her family’s impoverished circumstances. If she has to be one among many wives, then so be it but is that really what is obtainable, not exactly.
The Resentful First Wife
A related stereotype is that of the first wife. She is normally older, and her weight and age have prompted her husband to take on a younger and prettier wife to satisfy his needs. This causes the first wife to become resentful, and she starts to pursue schemes that will get rid of her younger rival so that she may have the uncontested attention of her husband.
The Bush Girls
Then, of course, there are the so-called ‘bush girls.’ These are women who live in tribal villages and wander around semi-naked. They wear elaborate necklaces, have ear/lip piercings, speak little or no English, possess little education of any kind and are the mothers of several children. They are often depicted as carrying large bundles of wood on their head back to their huts. Oftentimes, they share the same husband with other bush girls.
The Gold Digger
Even those African girls who immigrate to Western countries or have descended from immigrants cannot escape the taint of prejudice. While the stereotypes that they suffer are different to those that native African women endure, they are no less unfair and inaccurate. One of the most prevalent is that of the gold-digger, the black woman who is only interested in how much money a prospective husband makes.
The Predator To White Men
Another is the predatory black female who seeks out white men that have low self-esteem as they will be easier to exploit. This is a rather odd prejudice in that it is normally held by black men who are unlucky in love and rationalize their own lack of success with women by asserting that black women prefer being able to dominate a ‘weak’ white man rather than submit to a ‘strong’ black man. The very terms ‘weak’, ‘strong’, ‘dominate’ and ‘submit’ should give a clue to the mentality of the person who holds such views, as does the complementary (and racist) view of white men in general as weaker than black men.
The Old Southern Mammy
An old, historical prejudice that still finds favor in certain quarters is that of the old Southern mammy. Usually plump and a domestic servant, this female is usually devoted to pleasing her masters/employers and is fiercely proud. This stereotype was more prevalent in colonial America and the early days of the US, though it has persisted in one form or another.
The Nymphomaniac/The Seductress
Another colonial stereotype, and one which has had harrowing consequences, is that of the nymphomaniac. This is a woman who cannot get enough sex, in contrast to the ‘pure’ white women. Such a notion has rationalized the rape of many female slaves in colonial America, and also fed a second stereotype: that of the seductress who uses her feminine wiles to seduce her slave master and to obtain preferential treatment.
The Sassy Black Woman/The Angry Black Woman
A far more assertive figure is the sassy black woman, who is loud, colorful and often very cheerful, though formidable when riled. She has no fear of speaking her mind, and is a generally humorous person. This stereotype is still dominant in many television programmes, but as it is a ‘positive’ stereotype, there is very little protest against it. A more negative and much more pervasive portrayal is the classic ‘angry black woman’, where a bad tempered and physically violent female is featured.
The point about all of these prejudices, though, is that they are flawed in their common assumption: that such traits are typical of African women and girls. There are a number of reasons why some women can exhibit these traits, and to say that a single trait encapsulates a girl’s entire personality is reductionist and ridiculous in equal measure.
Furthermore, such traits are not confined to black women. There are plenty of white and Asian women who are only interested in a man’s money, plenty more who have not had the advantage of an education to take any road other than marrying into wealth to get ahead, and to say that older women being jealous of younger women is a situation unique only to black women betrays a very sheltered upbringing. Race, in other words, does not answer all of these questions: there are far more complex factors at work.