Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman Essay - Critical Context

Michele Wallace

Critical Context

When Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman appeared in print, Wallace was twenty-six years old and unprepared for the resulting onslaught of criticism. While some members of the African American community supported her work, many others were openly hostile. Wallace was accused of causing a division in the African American community that would aid whites, of being a dupe of white feminists who only wanted to exploit her, and of weakening the African American community. The sharp criticism gave Wallace a nervous breakdown.

In subsequent years, Wallace’s work became recognized as pathbreaking and enormously significant. Feminist scholars built on her discussion of African American sexual politics, though there remained comparatively few works on African American feminism. However, Wallace’s hope that African American women would design their own liberation has not been fully realized, nor has the dream of cohesive African American political action.