Shapeshifters: Black Girls and the Choreography of Citizenship
Sex, Gender, and Scripted Bodies
Chapter 4 investigates how sexuality and gender organize the lives of low-income young Black women by describing the ways in which ideas regarding normative and deviant sexuality and appropriate and dysfunctional gendered expressions circulate in the shelter. The intersection of class and sexuality is central to the narrative analysis in this chapter. The chapter argues that assumptions regarding young Black women’s sexual agency regulates the nature of the informal and formal protections they are afforded and whether they are perceived as productive citizens or as socially destructive agents. The young women profiled in the chapter provide an alternative view of the benefits and unintended perils of sex positivism for Black girls. The author also exposes the networks grounded in love and communality that shelter residents develop to care for and protect one another that are distinctly familial, even if they are not seen as such within normative social institutions.