Catcalling in Mules and Men

Men at the mill making comments about Tookie Allen’s tight dress was very intriguing to me (91). Although they implied that she is inappropriate for wearing it, their comments also illustrate the infatuation with a Black woman’s body. This is reflective of a larger theme of objectification of Black women, wherein they are seen as objects of sexual pleasure or adornment rather than as individuals. For centuries, Black women were deemed as exotic and exoticized, which often led to the dehumanization of the Black female body. It also highlights the hypocrisy that Black people encountered in the past; although Black people were regularly degraded and considered ugly creatures, the same men at the mill were making comments about her curves with admiration. Additionally, Cliff Ulmer stating, “If you can’t show me nothin’ better than data, don’t bring de mess up,” insinuates that he has looked at so many beautiful Black women that he is not impressed at this point. This quote highlights the idea that many Black women have been objectified to the point that they are no longer seen as individuals, but rather as objects to be admired. Relating back to my last point, Black women were clearly hypersexualized although they were treated as less than human. This raised an interesting question: Did White men not realize the hypocrisy in their treatment of Black people? Black people were sought after, whether it be because they found Black women’s physical appearance or Black men’s physical capabilities. Overall, both quotes demonstrate the objectification of Black women, with the first highlighting the infatuation with a Black woman’s body. This emphasizes the dehumanization that Black women have been subjected to. They were often looked at as objects to be admired and objectified, exposing the hypocrisy that Black people dealt with in American society at that time.