McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
African American, Black, Men, Masculinity, Sexuality, Hypersexuality, Narrative Research, Autoethnography
Black masculinity and sexuality are common topics across areas of philosophy, psychology, cultural studies and others. Yet, these topics are dedicated to the racial narrative of hypersexual Black male, the sexual objectification of Black men, and their presumed promiscuity. While such topics are important, there is little qualitative research that looks at the complexity and emotionality of African American men’s sexual experiences. Using the theoretical research on black masculinity and sexuality as its backdrop, this dissertation explores how heterosexual, African American men experience their sexuality. The study incorporates narrative inquiry and in-depth, semi-structured interviews to gather stories of five African American men. This study also uses an autoethnography from the researcher to answer the research question and extensively consider how his experiences as a Black man influence the project. All provided narratives are analyzed through a narrative performance analysis and an interactional analysis.
The results illustrate the multifaceted, complex, and conflicted experiences of sexuality. Namely, the participants' experiences are framed through the historical, social, cultural, and personal constructions of blackness. Likewise, the results highlight the depth of these experiences, demonstrating the sexuality extended beyond sexual intercourse and pertained to how the participants understood and their relationships to others.
This dissertation highlights five important themes that are apparent in the participants’ stories. First, the participants experience a sense of exhaustion after being constantly filtered through a racial narrative of hypersexuality. The men indicate different moments when problematic, reductive, and objectifying interpretations restrict their sense of self. Second, the participants’ stories highlight an alienating and dehumanizing sense of fragmentation in predominantly White spaces. Third, The participants note experiences of anxiety and vigilance because they were uncertain of how people saw them. Fourth, the participants state that people sexually objectify and reduce them to their penises which also highlights a loss of their bodies and inner lives. Fifth, participants attempt to use their insights into their experiences to regain a sense of agency and strengthen their self-confidence. While this often includes a reification of some racialized stereotypes, they attempt to define sexuality on their own terms though success varied between them.
Young, S. (2018). The Myth of Promiscuity: Examining Black Male Sexual Narratives and Sexual Identity (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/1461