An Intersectional Analysis of Television Narratives of African American Women with African American Men on “the Down Low”

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Cerise L. Glenn, Assistant Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: The controversial phenomenon of “the down low” has created fear and suspicion of male sexual partners among many African American women. Being on the down low refers to men that lead seemingly heterosexual lives, yet secretly have sex with other men. Popular media have portrayed this topic more widely in more recent years and generally focus on African Americans. Two popular television shows, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and Girlfriends, have dedicated episodes centering heterosexual African American women partnered with African American men on the down low. The popular television film, Cover, features an African American woman who learns her husband secretly has affairs with other men. Black feminist thought provides an intersectional frame for analyzing the content of these portrayals of Black women in relationships with men on the down low. The analysis demonstrates that the down low associates more affluent African Americans with socially deviant behavior and issues, such as hyper-sexuality and HIV/AIDS. Further, they show newer interpretations of African American women “in love and in trouble” and that African American men often have to disguise and remain silent about their sexuality to garner acceptance into their communities.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2013
African American relationships, Down low, Television, Black feminist thought, Black masculinity, HIV/AIDS in the media

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