cover of book

"Baad Bitches" and Sassy Supermamas: Black Power Action Films
by Stephane Dunn
University of Illinois Press, 2008
Paper: 978-0-252-07548-3 | Cloth: 978-0-252-03340-7 | eISBN: 978-0-252-09104-9
Library of Congress Classification PN1995.9.N4D86 2008
Dewey Decimal Classification 791.43652996073


Blaxploitation action narratives as well as politically radical films like Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song typically portrayed black women as trifling "bitches" compared to the supermacho black male heroes. But starting in 1973, the emergence of "baad bitches" and "sassy supermamas" reversed the trend as self-assured, empowered, and tough black women took the lead in the films Cleopatra Jones, Coffy, and Foxy Brown.

Stephane Dunn unpacks the intersecting racial, sexual, and gender politics underlying the representations of racialized bodies, masculinities, and femininities in early 1970s black action films, with particular focus on the representation of black femininity. Recognizing a distinct moment in the history of African American representation in popular cinema, Dunn analyzes how it emerged from a radical political era influenced by the Black Power movement and feminism. Dunn also engages blaxploitation's legacy in contemporary hip-hop culture, as suggested by the music’s disturbing gender politics and the "baad bitch daughters" of Foxy Brown and Cleopatra Jones, rappers Foxy Brown and Lil' Kim.

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