Oooh, Baby, Put it On: Ripping up Veil Fetish Art

by Racialicious special correspondent Fatemeh Fakhraie, originally published at Muslimah Media Watch

The original view of Middle Eastern/Muslim women was that of a lazily sensual harem woman reclining on a couch. Most recently, it has morphed into a cowed housewife bullied by her religion and the men in her life. From these icons arises a newer image of Muslim women: one that combines the two.

I’ll term this genre “veil fetish art,” because every featured woman has most or all of her face and hair covered. Although the woman herself is the main focus, the veil acts as a sexual catalyst: it brands the woman as forbidden, despite the fact that you may be able to see most of her naked body. So even though she’s exposed, the veil reminds you that she’s “forbidden fruit,” and pushes the viewer to want her even more.

So did I find these pictures while uploading porn? Nope. All I did was run a Google search for phrases like “Muslim women,” “burka,” and “veil,” and several not-safe-for-work results came up (FYI: moderate safe-search was on). The majority of these results came up within the first five pages. If you click on the pictures to find where they’re showcased, you’ll usually be taken to websites geared toward Islamophobic and xenophobic world views that fly under the flag of “anti-terrorism.” Or Islamophobic discussion threads. Or porn sites (sorry, no links for those).

Though it’s a possibility, these women are most likely not Middle Eastern or Muslim. It’s more likely that they’re white and/or western models with some spray-tans. The only thing that signifies their cultural or religious affiliation is a veil, which works in two ways: to brand the woman as a Middle Eastern/Muslim woman, and to arouse the viewer.

It’s something like an updated version of the French-Algerian colonialist postcards produced in the mid-nineteenth century. The primary difference is that the Orientalist postcards centered on domesticity, docility, and an exotic locale, aiming to showcase naïve young Algerian girls with their breasts exposed.

But the subjects of veil fetish art are neither girls nor innocent, and it doesn’t matter where they are: these women are hot under that niqab, and they want you to know it. They are positioned in pin-up posture: coy, curvy, and enticing. Or, they’re in a Maxim-style stance: they stare you down while your eyes roam over their partially-obscured form. Continue reading

links for 2008-01-29

Page Skimming – Articles of Interest from the End of 2007/Early 2008

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson

Colorlines Magazine
November/December 2007 Issue
www.colorlines.com

Colorlines

This entire issue of Colorlines is worth a full, thorough read, but here are a few of the articles that caught my eye:

Wasting Away in Margaritaville (p. 10)

Exploring the construction of mega-casino, Margaritaville (a $700 million dollar joint venture between Harrah Casino and Jimmy Buffet), the article points out how the people living and working in East Biloxi have been shut out of the city planning dialogue.

Q & A: Etan Thomas (p. 16)

A refreshing peek into the mind of an athlete who embraces speaking out about social and political political issues.

Inner Peace (p. 48)

Article Tagline: “As more Americans take to the mat, Black teachers use yoga to uplift their community.”

Bomb Magazine
Winter 2008 Issue
www.bombsite.com

Bomb

This entire issue focuses on discussing the contemporary art scene in Brazil. Not to be missed: Adelia Prado’s poems “Opus Dei” and “The Dictator in Prison”; the excerpt from the new novel Jonas, by Patricia Melo; the interview with Bernardo Carvalho, in which he says “There is nothing further from posing than art. On the contrary, literature is the affirmation of truth.”

Glamour Magazine
January 2008 Issue
www.glamour.com

Glamour

3 Condi Surprises (p. 29)

Condoleeza Rice wants to run for Governor of California, and may possibly run for Vice President in the future. I have no words.

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Continue reading

links for 2008-01-28

links for 2008-01-26

Taking on Class and Race – The Candidates on Poverty

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson

Ask yourselves: what is your candidate going to do with the rising class gap in America? How do they propose to fix the problems (housing, retirement problems, education, wages) that contribute to the ever widening class divide?

Pathways Magazine, a Stanford University based publication dedicated to exploring poverty, inequality, and social policy, recently provided takes from the three major democratic front runners on their plans to alleviate poverty in America. (Hat tip to the Education and Class blog.)

While I encourage everyone to take the time to read the full publication (all 34 pages), I have provided a summary of the candidates’ stances below.

I have bolded the items that caught my interest in each plan. Please keep in mind that this is a quickie “Cliff’s Notes” style version of the candidates’ main points. Please refer to the magazine for the actual text.

John Edwards – “Building One America”
(p. 9 – 10; PDF p. 11-12)

1. Building a “working society” – one that emphasizes the inherent value of work
2. Create 1 million Stepping Stone jobs
3. Raise the minimum raise to $9.50 by 2012
4. Support the unionization of labor
5. Proposes a dollar for dollar savings match on individual savings accounts (called Get Ahead Accounts) – the match is capped at $500 a year.
6. Add 1 Million more housing vouchers of the next five years
7. Cutting back on HUD based initiatives and reducing HUD’s role in managing communities

8. Create more affordable housing initiatives
9. Add a contract to all housing vouchers to encourage recipients to work towards financial independence
10. Creating Second Chance Schools – the purpose is to provide education for those who have dropped out but want to come back to high school.
11. Create the “Great Promise” initiative – Early education targeting 4 year olds
12. College For Everyone – the 1st year of state college is free, as long as students will work part time and promise to stay out of trouble
13. Cut the marriage penalty for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
14. Expand the EITC to include low income single earners

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Kelly Hu: Do Your Own Thing

by guest contributor Jennifer Fang, originally published at Reappropriate

While in Las Vegas, this weekend, I had the opportunity to interview actress Kelly Hu. This is that interview. Many thanks to Cate Park, of Asian Pacific Americans for Progress, for setting up this interview, and of course to Hu herself for agreeing to do it.

Whether portraying a deadly mutant assassin or a sensual Egyptian queen, Kelly Hu appears to be a larger-than-life character: the quintessential warrior woman. For those of us who aren’t part of the film industry, it’s easy to blur the line between reality and this entertaining fiction. I admit – when I first heard that I might have the opportunity to meet Hu during my trip to Las Vegas this weekend, part of me wondered whether she would be anything like the intimidating characters we are familiar with on-screen. Would she attempt to canvass in the chilly Nevada weather wearing the scant costume of The Scorpion King fame? Would an inappropriate remark cause her to metamorphose into the terrifying martial artist that had X2’s Wolverine shivering in his overly-tight X-Men britches? Should I be checking for mutant claws?

It only took a few minutes of chatting with Hu for me to put those silly fantasies to rest. In direct contrast to the emotionally severe women she has played in her most well-known roles, Hu is warm, open, and clearly impassioned.

According to her IMDB entry, Hu is a fourth-generation Asian American of Chinese-Filipino-Hawaiian and English identity. Originally from Hawaii, Hu made a name for herself in Hollywood in the late 80’s and early 90’s as one of a limited number of female Asian American actors consistently finding roles. “There weren’t many [Asian American actresses] to choose from,” Hu notes, listing Tamilyn Tomita, Rosalind Chao and Tia Carrere among her competitors at the time. With so few actors competing for the same roles, “it was easier to get noticed.” Hu also cites her “cross-over look” as one of the reasons for her success: “I could [also] go for roles not specifically written for Asian Americans”.

With that success, Hu has ventured into political activism. In 2004, Hu recorded a PSA, still available for download at LeastLikely.com, about Asian American voter participation. And in a recent YouTube clip, Hu (along with several other notable Asian American faces) vocally supports Senator Barack Obama’s candidacy for the presidency.

I asked Hu: why Obama?

Continue reading