The "magnificent blonde" with the yellow hair of a kewpie doll" is simultaneously a symbol of the oppression of the young black men in the group—she becomes the tool of their sexual humiliation and possible punishment, if they dare to return her gaze. She is also an object of the white men's sexual exploitation—the white male spectators place her in the ring to arouse their own lust and to arouse that of the young black men while also forbidding the young men from expressing that lust.
In this scene, Ellison luridly illustrates the sexual hegemony of white men—that is, the way in which they ensured their own sexual dominance through the violent control of black male sexuality and exerted control over white female sexuality through the promise of racial privilege.
The blonde is a caricature of femininity, with her heavily made-up face, and, as a blonde, an exemplary form of white womanhood. In the era in which Invisible Man was published (1952), the most celebrated Hollywood...
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