In Their Own Words: Lanice Avery

Editor’s Note: To document the spread of “wokeness” — short-hand to describe the philosophy of intersectional oppression — The Jefferson Council has begun publishing profiles of University of Virginia faculty members in their own words. Not our words. Not our spin. Not our interpretation. Their words. — JAB 

Assistant Professor Lanice Avery has a joint appointment to the departments of Psychology and Women, Gender & Sexuality at the University of Virginia. Her research interests, she says on her university profile page, lie at “the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and media.” In her LinkedIn page, she describes herself as a “board-certified sexologist.” This semester she is teaching one course, on Black feminist theory.

In this post we highlight her work in her own words, both in writing and on video. (We have highlighted key phrases to show how her work conforms to the intersectional-oppression paradigm, commonly referred to as wokeness, that is increasingly prevalent at UVA.) From Avery’s university web profile:

She is interested in Black women’s intersectional identity development and how the negotiation of dominant gender ideologies and gendered racial stereotypes are associated with adverse psychological and sexual health outcomes…. Her work examines how exposure to gendered racism impacts Black women’s psycho-social development, and the contributing role of media (mainstream, digital, and social) use on Black women’s identity, self-esteem, victimization experiences, and mental health outcomes.

Avery has co-authored numerous articles appearing in scholarly journals. According to Google Scholar, her articles have been cited 717 times. Here follow excerpts from the abstracts of articles published since 2020 and listed on her web profile.

“Black sexual minority women’s internalized stigma and coping motivated alcohol use: The role of emotional suppression.” Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse. 2023. From the abstract:

Black sexual minority women have an increased risk for excessive alcohol use, which has been attributed to their use of alcohol to cope with oppression. Internalized stigma is suggested to be one of the most insidious byproducts of systemic oppression whereby people internalize ideologies of self-hatred. Still, research has yet to examine the association between internalized stigma and alcohol use among sexual minorities of color. This survey-based study investigated the associations between internalized homonegativity and internalized racism with coping motivated alcohol use among 330 Black sexual minority women….

“Black women’s social media use integration and social media addiction: The need to connect with Black women.” 2023. Social Media & Society. From the abstract:

Black American women are among the largest consumer groups of social media in the United States. In recent years, Black American women have curated spaces on social media platforms to authentically converse about Black womanhood and resist structural gendered racism. Still, there is a dearth of research on the subjective importance of Black American women’s social media use and risks for social media addiction. This study tested the association between social media use integration and social media addiction, and whether connectedness to Black women moderated this relationship….

“Online victimization, womanism, and body esteem among young Black women: A structural equation modeling approach.” Sex Roles. 2022. From the abstract:

… Black women’s bodies are often the target of gendered racial microaggressions and sexual victimization which can contribute to body image concerns. Still, the online victimization–body esteem link among Black women remains unexamined. This study used structural equation modeling to examine the associations between four categories of online victimization (i.e., general online victimization, online individual racial victimization, online vicarious racial victimization, online sexual victimization) and body esteem. We further examined whether womanism, an identity-based factor, moderated the relationship between online victimization and body esteem….

“The strong, silent (gender) type: The strong Black woman ideal, self-silencing, and sexual assertiveness in Black college women.” Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2022. From the abstract:

Women are socialized to endorse femininity scripts mandating that they prioritize others’ needs and engage in self-silencing behaviors. Further, Black women may also endorse the strong Black woman (SBW) ideal, by which they are expected to selflessly meet the needs of their family and community and, as such, may embrace self-silencing in their interpersonal relationships…. Findings highlight the complexities of Black women’s desire to fulfill expectations to be strong, assertive, and/or compliant and silent. Interventions to promote Black women’s sexual health should address sexual assertiveness and feminine silencing norms.

“Remixing the script? The role of culturally targeted media consumption on young Black women’s heteropatriarchal romantic relationship beliefs.” Journal of Black Psychology. (2001) From the abstract:

Black-oriented media may offer Black women an opportunity to produce and consume empowering messages that challenge heteropatriarchal relationship beliefs, but they may also foster their endorsement. Drawn by this paradox, we surveyed 597 undergraduate and graduate Black women aged 18 to 30 years to examine exposure to Black-oriented media and their association with the acceptance of heteropatriarchal relationship beliefs…. Reading more Black magazines was associated with increased acceptance of heteropatriarchal relationship beliefs. Although it has been argued that media depictions of sexually agentic and empowered Black women may help disrupt and subvert the hegemonic nature of heteropatriarchal discourses in society, our findings suggest that some Black-oriented media may instead be associated with endorsing restrictive, scripted gender norms for intraracial romantic relationships.

“Pretty hurts”: Acceptance of hegemonic feminine beauty ideals and reduced sexual well-being among Black women.” Body Image, 38,181-190. From the abstract:

Although women are expected to idealize and achieve hegemonic feminine beauty standards such as being slender and lighter skinned, few studies have examined how women’s investment in achieving these restrictive feminine appearance ideals may influence their sexual attitudes and behaviors. Even less is known about Black women. … Correlation and regression analyses showed that hegemonic beauty ideal acceptance was linked with greater sexual guilt, shame, emotional distancing, and sexual self-consciousness in addition to lower levels of sexual assertiveness and satisfaction. Findings highlight how endorsing restrictive, hegemonic standards of beauty is associated with Black women’s reduced sexual affect and sexual agency.

“Subverting the mandates of our methods: Tensions and considerations for incorporating reproductive justice frameworks into psychological science.” Journal of Social Issues. (2020) From the abstract:

Psychological science has had a long history of both being in collusion with and resisting the colonial and violent nature of White supremacy in the academy. The field of psychology has culpability in creating and maintaining dominant narratives that have served to justify the dehumanization of marginalized groups, particularly in regards to the methodologies used. Meaningfully integrating reproductive justice (RJ) frameworks into psychological science can drive the development of interventions for using empiricism in the service of justice for systemically vulnerable groups. This paper examines how RJ offers psychological science methodological interventions that interrogate, expose, and challenge hegemonic discourses and policies that have functioned to disempower systemically vulnerable groups.

In 2022 UVA Today profiled Avery in an article congratulating her for winning a $432,000 National Institutes of Health research grant. Here is the project description:

The project aims to develop an assessment tool that measures the ways that Black women negotiate expectations to perform the Strong Black Woman scheme in intimate partnerships. This measure will enable me to test the pathways through which internalizing this negative gendered-racial stereotype is linked with intimate partner victimization and help-seeking behaviors among Black women. The long-term objective of this project is to improve the health outcomes of Black IPV victims through the development of empowering, socio-culturally congruent, and trauma informed help-seeking mechanisms. I hope to use the measure and findings derived from this project to apply for an R01 in the coming years that tests whether gendered-racial identity attitude change, intra-racial social connection, and increased help-seeking will mediate the mental and sexual health sequelae of interpersonal violence.

And here Avery comments on the nature of her attachment to UVA.

James A. Bacon, publisher of the Bacon’s Rebellion blog, is executive director of The Jefferson Council. This article was published originally on the Jefferson Council blog.