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Talk with You Like a WomanAfrican American Women, Justice, and Reform in New York, 1890-1935$
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Cheryl D. Hicks

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834244

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807882320_hicks

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A Rather Bright and Good-Looking Colored Girl

A Rather Bright and Good-Looking Colored Girl

Black Women's Sexuality, “Harmful Intimacy,” and Attempts to Regulate Desire, I917–I928

(p.204) 7 A Rather Bright and Good-Looking Colored Girl
Talk with You Like a Woman

Cheryl D. Hicks

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter focuses on the ways in which working-class black women constructed their own narratives and the kinds of details they chose to reveal about their sexual experiences. In early-twentieth-century New York, a moral panic about working-class female sexuality shaped the agenda of urban reformers and the criminal justice system. Local and state officials' racialized conceptions of women's sexual behavior influenced the dynamics of reform in black communities as well as the tenor of Bedford's institutional policies. While black women enjoyed a greater range of choices regarding the conduct of their social lives, they faced more restrictive treatment by public officials and higher expectations from their community. The stories of black women offer a window into how they remembered and decided to describe past sexual encounters.

Keywords:   working-class black women, sexual experiences, moral panic, working-class female sexuality, urban reformers

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