Slutty by Association: Black Girls and the Burden of Sexuality

On Monday March 23rd, Little League World Series star Mo’Ne Davis was called a “slut” in a tweet sent out by Bloomsburg University first baseman Joey Casselberry.

“Disney is making a movie about Mo’Ne Davis? WHAT A JOKE. That slut got rocked by Nevada.”

The consequences of Casselberry’s comment came at him swiftly and mercilessly. In addition to social media backlash, his Twitter account was deactivated later in the week and Bloomsburg University ordered Casselberry’s removal from their baseball team. The university explained their decision stating that they were “deeply saddened” by Casselberry’s comments and ensuring that they “do not represent Bloomsburg University.”

Davis and her coach Alex Rice – who was recently named “Citizen of the Year” by The Inquirer – responded to the scandal tactfully. The two contacted Bloomsburg University President David L. Soltz asking the school to reconsider Casselberry’s dismissal. Soltz commended Davis for her “maturity” in light of the situation, but stated that the university is “standing firm” in their decision.

The sexualization of Black females is a theme so familiar it aches. It is a subtle and droning pain. Like some terrible song hopelessly stuck in my head. Numbing.

This issue needs a dissertation, not a single article. Actually, it needs a running column in every publication forever. This is a living, breathing, and layered problem.

If one good thing can come out of this incredible showing of ignorance, I hope it is the debunking of the myth that is a “post-Racial America” and encourages the country to examine its conscience and vocabulary.

Regarding Casselberry’s tweet, I do not believe that his intended message was one of targeted racism or sexism. Rather, it appears he was simply trying to voice his disapproval of Mo’Ne’s recognition as an athlete. He believes her athletic prowess is undeserving of the recent praise it has received in the press and finds the prospect of a movie deal ludicrous.

And there is nothing wrong with that.

If Casselberry had expressed his disapproval using the same language I just did, he would still be playing baseball; this never would have become a new story and this article would not exist. The cause for concern is Casselberry’s language and its implications. In order to get his tone across, Casselberry immediately defaulted to attacking Mo’Ne’s character via stereotypes of Black female sexuality. Mo’Ne is only thirteen years old. She’s barely a teenager. Casselberry had no grounds to even discuss the sexuality of someone her age.

Casselberry’s comment is merely a symptom of a larger problem. The fetishization and sexualization of Black women has been an epidemic plaguing popular culture since as early as the 18th century. Unfortunately, it appears that exotic sensuality has become so deeply entangled in the essence of Black femininity that it has extended to our children. Sexuality is a complex weight that Black women struggle to carry every day. A burden that a young girl’s mind should not be forced carry; is not meant to carry.

While I do not agree with Casselberry’s choice of words, his individual stupidity is not my concern. My concern is that this story will be misinterpreted as an isolated incident, when this is a fight Black women and girls are forced to engage in every day. It is the deeply ingrained, largely unopposed and often unaddressed ignorance underlying Casselberry’s tweet that are the real problem.

This story is just a surface stain. I hold no ill will towards Casselberry. I think the actions taken by Twitter and Bloomsburg University were appropriate. What will upset me is if society views this issue as resolved.

by Julianna Simms