This clear affirmation of desire, however, is problematic in that it could be used to reinforce stereotypes about African American women's libidinousness
. Far from uniform in their treatment of sexual legitimacy, then, the classic blues reinforce, invert, and deconstruct the opposition between middle- and working-class sexualities, respectability and desire.
Gertrude is characterized by her outspoken libidinousness
throughout the play; she has just sung a snatch of lewd song and is shortly to be heard singing an obscene parody of Ophelia's last mad song in this very scene, so we can be sure that similar associations are intended to accompany the reference here to `milk'(6) (footmen, as Webster makes clear in his Character of a footman,(7) were assumed to supply sexual services to their mistresses, as the name suggested in Elizabethan slang(8)) and her reproof of her mother can be taken as an indication that she is not interpreting the use of the hobby horse in any innocent sense (the Elizabethan slang connotation of `ride' would provide the necessary connection).
These plots of course are designed to preempt white stereo-typing of black libidinousness
and laziness; but further, through the dramatization of racial conflicts as love choices or religious inner struggles, the writers link marriage to civil responsibility and privileges (p.