Invisible Man

Stereotypes and Exploitation of Women in Invisible Man

In Invisible Man, the trope of invisibility functions as a criticism of racist American society, but it also encompasses the novel's subtext of gender erasure. Both black and white females throughout the novel are underdeveloped and virtually invisible, constructed along a spectrum that replicates the classic duality in stereotypes of women---mother/Madonna or whore/seductress. The most notable white women represent the tabooed white female and are portrayed as highly sexualized and obsessed with the sexual stereotypes of black men. Black women are also seen as extremely sexual creatures, but those who are not overtly sexual automatically fall into the category of the nurturing mother figure. In the novel, both black and white women are blatantly stereotyped and are exploited and used by men who seek to further their own interests and desires.

The white women that appear in the novel represent the taboo of the white female for black men, symbolized especially by Mr. Norton's daughter, Hubert's wife, Emma, the sophisticated hostess at the Chthonian, and the Naked Blonde. The novel's most notable white women are highly sexualized and are used by the novel's men by means of that sexuality. These women,...

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