Throughout her lifetime Jezebel was not a particularly complicated figure. She existed mainly for the pleasure of others and had few joys in her life. Jezebel was a highly physical being in that she was understood in terms of the pleasure that her body gave to others. Though she was always understood as wanting sexual satisfaction her sexuality was the creation of others.
Jezebel was born the minute the first black female slave was raped by her white slave master. From that time until her death she existed solely to justify the ways in which white men expressed their power over black women. What passed as sex during slavery was indeed rape because the power differentials did not constitute the available agency for black women to willingly consent.
To this day much of what occurred is still considered by some a love affair. People speak of the ways in which white men occasionally openly lived with black women, or granted her and children manumission upon their deaths. One of the most famous love affair myths is what occurred between Jefferson and Sally Hemings. When someone has the power to have you legally flogged, sold away from your loved ones, or even put to death what real option is there to say no, if you have the slightest ounce of self preservation in your being? Jefferson was nothing more than an opportunistic rapist, but he will not be understood that way because the Jezebel caricature that has been used to warp black female sexuality has been employed to justify his actions.
Emancipation did not bring the end of the rapes. They continue on to this day and Jezebel forms the basis of defence for the rapist. It is believed one cannot rape a woman that is always desirous of sex. Even though rape is not about sex and is an expression of power, when it comes to black women we understand what occurred as sex.
Though sex is a natural act we have socially constructed it as dirty, and therefore what better person to express your deviance with than the one that has historically remained at the bottom of the race hierarchy. Jezebel is a construction that is uniquely applied to the black female. Though all women undergo a degree of slut shaming, the black female body can never be redeemed because it is understood that her body is meant to be available for use.
This has caused many an internal conflict when it comes to sexuality. For as long as Jezebel continued to live and breathe black women could not express a healthy and evolved sexuality. Always in the back of our minds we needed to be aware of the ways in which our desires or wishes would be used as justification to violate our bodies.
The only people that are saddened by the news of Jezebels passing are those that have become use to abusing black female bodies. With her death black women will experience a freedom they have never known; the freedom to safely express our sexuality without immediately being called licentious, and the ability to have enough autonomy over our bodies to have our consent or denial of access to our bodies recognized.
Though it is not appropriate to speak ill of the dead, you shall not be missed by me Jezebel. Rest in Peace