Stereotypical representations of Black women have endured throughout various forms of media for decades, with one of the most recent platforms being reality television programming. The theory of encoding and decoding posit dominant stereotypes are key in television encoding. Using critical discourse analysis, this paper demonstrates that the dominant ideologies in the eleventh season of The Real Housewives of Atlanta are social class norms and negative depictions of Black women. I present evidence that RHOA continues to reinforce upper-class ideologies while perpetuating the Jezebel, Sapphire and the Strong Black woman stereotypes. I also identify a correlation with the strong Black woman and the Sapphire stereotype which ultimately calls for more attention to mental health support to Black women who are faced with very difficult situations and have never learnt healthy ways of expressing emotion. With Black women being the highest consumers of Black reality television, the constant hypersexualization, hyperaggression, and self-sacrificing representations of Black women often endorses stereotypes consistent with these representations while upper middle-class ideologies often lead to the implicit denials of social injustices that are as a result of class distinctions.
Enyinnaya, Joy C.
"“I live a model life, now I’m ready to be a top wife”: Stereotypical Representations of Black Women in Reality Television,"
Wagadu: A Journal of Transnational Women's & Gender Studies: Vol. 23:
1, Article 17.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.cortland.edu/wagadu/vol23/iss1/17