Posted: June 20th, 2021

Interracial Sexuality

The film The Birth of A Nation, produced in 1915, is well known for both its new and inventive ways of filming and its extremely racist views. One of the many topics covered by the movie was the idea of interracial sexuality. Interracial sexuality was not spoken of much in the time period of the movie, so it was considered to be particularly risque. The movie itself portrayed the subject as the cause of downfall for many a white man, and also the result of overly sexual black men attempting to rape “innocent” white women (Griffith 1915).

The movie portrayed a fantasy about interracial sexuality in the scenes involving Flora, a young white woman, and Gus, a black Captain in the US Army (Griffith 1915). Gus is looking for a wife, and he assumes that Flora will want to marry him despite their different races (Griffith 1915). It turns into only a fantasy for him, because she will not think of marrying him. She runs up a steep cliff to get away from him, only to fall to her death (Griffith 1915).

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One may presume that she thought he would rape her, and so she fell, or perhaps jumped, to avoid the shame of an interracial sexual encounter. Anxiety over interracial sexuality appears when another young white woman, Elsie, is almost forced into an interracial marriage by Silas Lynch, a mulatto man (Griffith 1915). He is determined to marry a white woman, and Elsie is the one that he wants (Griffith 1915). His kidnapping and near marriage to her demonstrates the fears that white people had about sexual black men coming to take their women away.
In general, The Birth of A Nation fed off of the feelings of the United States at the time of its release. It was released only fifty years after the Civil War, and tensions were extraordinarily high between white people and the freed black people. Interracial sexuality was a great fear for those who wanted the races to stay separate and unequal, and that is why the topic played a large part in The Birth of A Nation. Works Cited Griffith, D. W. The Birth of A Nation. 1915.

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