So I watched Bridget Jones’s Baby for the sake of understanding the plot of a white woman trying to figure out who her baby’s father is… And LOL, no surprises here! It’s white privilege fried in satire per the usual with white romantic comedies.
The storyline only works as comedy because Bridget Jones is a middle- to upper-class white woman dealing with her mystery baby-daddy situation. We see her as this everyday 40-something white woman — who isn’t the ideal white woman but still a thinner, able bodied, regular degular schmegular white woman to everyone who’s not a white woman — deal with the trials and tribulations of being insecure, clumsy, witty with a side of basic while navigating love, sex and romance.
In the third installment, Bridget has sex with her ex, Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth), and a new guy who’s seemingly a one-night stand (Patrick Dempsey). She discovers she had been using old expired condoms and that she’s gaining weight as the movie progresses. Surprise: she’s pregnant. The rest of the plot becomes about determining who the baby’s father is and how to handle the situation due to the fact that she’s getting older and wants to keep the child.
As we know, we see white women centered in all things reproductive justice and glorified as saints when it comes to their choices around having children. Hence the reason why Teen Mom is literally all white girls and on season six. But I’m sleep. Due to the fact that white women and white girls are constantly always framed as innocent, intelligent and worthy human beings, it allows for the demonization of everyone who’s not a white girl/woman navigating pregnancy, reproductive justice and abortion access.
Black girls are read as hos, baby mamas and “fast” the moment they’re born. Black girls are suspended when they’re sexually assaulted. More than half of Black girls, femmes, and women have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Yet we still only revere, protect and center white girls and women. Especially in media.
When Don Lemon announced on CNN that 72 percent of Black children are born out of wedlock (because he’s a coon), no one batted an eye at the antiblack misogyny behind that statement. But when Kim Kardashian gets pregnant by and engaged to Kanye West while she’s still married to Kris Humphries, no one cares. When Sandra Bullock adopted a black son (I have questions) to raise him alone as a single mother, no one questioned her ability to provide and support him. When Teen Mom dedicates six seasons to white girls having children, some by multiple men, everyone’s quiet.
So when Bridget Jones’s Baby was released, I was disgusted. In what world would this plot work for Black women, femmes or girls? It never would. Even if the circumstances were the same and it was a single 40-something upper-class Black woman who wanted to have kids. She would still be seen as a ho, and therefore disposable rather than quirky and cute. Black women, femmes and girls aren’t offered romantic comedies about everyday situations with romance, sex, pregnancy and relationships. We’re told that these one-time plot lines are our only narratives, and the only thing we’re destined to achieve in our limited trajectory. Our dehumanization is the world’s white satire.
The use of the word coon or coonin among Blacks has a double history. 1. through the trauma of being dehumanized through black caricatures and minstrels. 2. Calling out Black folks who give validation to those white narratives and aren’t for the liberation. When white people use it, I agree that it is a slur. When Black folks use it, I feel it is a way of us expressing our pain, anger and frustration at the person we’re calling out.
Ashleigh Shackelford is a Black queer, nonbinary fat femme writer, artist, and cultural producer. Ashleigh is a contributing writer at Wear Your Voice Magazine and For Harriet. Read more at BlackFatFemme.com. Support my emotional and intellectual labor by donating to: PayPal.me/AshleightheLion.