Why have black women been ‘mute’ about their sexuality? What has prevented them from expressing their feelings about this important subject within their own families and with each other? In this provocative documentary, filmmaker Mya B. explores the reasons for sexual silence in the black community. She also aims to destroy misconceptions about black women and reveal the truth about their sexuality.
Experts from the medical, academic, cultural, and religious communities weigh in on this “forbidden” topic, but more importantly, everyday women express uncensored views about what black female sexuality means to them. Fifteen black women—from all ages, backgrounds, and professions—speak out for the very first time about their sexual wants, needs, and desires. They share all-too common stories of hushed households where the subject of sex was never brought up – unless they were simply told: Don’t do it. Save yourself for the right man.
The filmmaker also examines the distorted depictions of black women—through film, media, popular culture, and marketing – which have contributed to their repression. Black women have been portrayed as shame-filled stoics or branded as sexual freaks – the video ‘ho in the age of misogynist hip-hop. Among those interviewed are two music video directors who address the impact of stereotyping black females.
This collection of film clips, personal accounts, and expert insights takes us on a journey throughout American history, exposing skeletons that lie deep in the bedroom – as the filmmaker addresses the continued violence and exploitation perpetrated on black women. In this call for action, Mya B. wants to see all black women liberated from their bonds, so that they can embrace their sexuality without fear or shame.
WARNING: Contains explicit language and graphic images. Material is not suitable for high school use.
Silence: In Search of Black Female Sexuality (2004)
Duration: 74 minutes
Directed by Mya Baker
Where to Rent/Buy
- Vimeo from $3.99
- WINNER BEST DOCUMENTARY AWARD: Reel Sisters Film Festival
- WINNER TELLY AWARD FOR PRODUCER - 2004
- WINNER BEST DOCUMENTARY AWARD: Urban Media Makers Film Festival
The film work you have done is Fe-Nominal, liberating, and truth, uncoated, unwatered down, unfiltered... "
— Stacey R. Tolbert, Poet
"Well done and on track. Very important documentary and 'we' need the information mainstream. "
— Karen F. Sanders
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
"This is a very daring film. "
— N'Daw- Spech, Co-founder and Director
AFRICAN DIASPORA FILM FESTIVAL (ADFF)
"Combining attitudinal voice over with a rundown of offensive racial and sexual stereotypes in historical advertisements, cartoons and film, filmmaker Mya Baker's gritty Silence aims to liberate black women from a historical legacy of fear and shame that continues to persist among many women when the topic turns to sex. The stakes are certainly high enough: according to the film, one in 160 black women is infected with HIV, and African-American women comprise 60% of all newly reported AIDS cases among women. In addition to the challenging visual material, the film includes compelling interviews with 15 black women of different ages from the Chicago area (who discuss a number of sex-related themes, including when-or whether-their parents discussed sex with them, their individual sexual desires, and the role of religion in sex); professionals from the academic, cultural, and medical communities; and people from the streets of New York City. Analyzing the myths and stereotypes of black women, more elaborate discussions here revolve around how the traditional church's concept of sin helps perpetuate silence and ignorance of sex... A raw but urgent empowerment video, this is recommended. Aud: C, P."
— A. Cantu
VIDEO LIBRARIAN - September/October 2005
"I want to thank Mya B. for the work she has done. It is a long time coming. Just today, I had a conversation with my 14-yr. old daughter and soon to be 11-yr. old son about what they think casual sex is. I try to keep the dialogue open so that they will feel comfortable about their sexuality. This is something that I was never able to discuss openly at home at their age. I don't think that sex is love but you can express love through sexual intercourse. The silence in our community is killing us in more way than we know. "
"Your film provides an interesting and gritty glimpse into the role that many outside influences - family, community, society, religion and the media - play in defining the black women's view of sex."
— Cara Liebenson, Senior Program Associate