Tag Archives: patriarchy

Black Woman, Know Your Place: Cornel West Clings To His Privilege

By Guest Contributor Tami Winfrey Harris, cross-posted from What Tami Said

Sexism from a brown face is still sexism. Male privilege with a unique cadence and sartorial style is still male privilege. Patriarchy is still patriarchy when perpetrated by doctorate-wielding black activists. Demanding that a black woman march in lock step with your agenda or be labeled “treacherous” and “a fake and a fraud” is to further the twin demons of racism and sexism that black women battle every day. It’s disgraceful.

Cornel West on Melissa Harris-Perry in the latest issue of Diverse Issues magazine:

“I have a lot of love for the sister, but she’s a liar, and I hate lying,” says West.

Harris-Perry’s scathing critique, West says, has more to do with the fact that the Center for African American Studies unanimously voted against her when she came up for promotion from associate to full professor, adding that her work was not scholarly enough. “There’s not a lot of academic stuff with her, just a lot of Twittering,” says West, who added that her book Sister Citizen, released last year was “wild and out of control.”
“She’s become the momentary darling of liberals, but I pray for her because she’s in over her head. She’s a fake and a fraud. I was so surprised at how treacherous the sister was.”

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You Say You Want A Revolution (In a Loose Headscarf)

by Guest Contributor Mimi, originally published at Threadbared

Because this is a fashion plus politics blog, I want to post some very brief thoughts about the protests rocking Iran after what some observers are calling a fraudulent election, reinstalling President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad against his main opposition, moderate reformer Mir Hossein Mousavi. (For news about the election and protests, The New York Times’ The Lede News Blog is frequently updated. For more analysis, check out Juan Cole.)

A glance at the Western media coverage from before and after the election reveals an overwhelming visual trope — the color photograph of a young and often beautiful Iranian woman wearing a colorful headscarf, usually pinned far back from her forehead to frame a sweep of dark hair. Such an image condenses a wealth of historical references, political struggles, and aesthetic judgments, because the hijab does. As Minoo Moallem argues in her book Between Warrior Brother and Veiled Sister: Islamic Fundamentalism and the Politics of Patriarchy in Iran, both pre- and postrevolutionary discourses commemorate specific bodies –whose clothing practices play a large part— to create forms and norms of gendered citizenship, both national and transnational. What Moallem calls the civic body becomes the site of political performances in the particular contexts of modern nationalist and fundamentalist movements.

This particular image being disseminated throughout the Western press right now is no exception — we are meant to understand the looseness of the scarf, the amount of hair she shows, as political acts, manifesting a desire for Western-style democracy. But this shorthand is too simplistic, too easy. As Moallem argues, Islamic nationalism and fundamentalism are not premodern remnants but themselves “by-products of modernity.” As such, the image of the Iranian woman in her loose headscarf is not a straightforward arrow from Islamic backwardness to liberal progress, but a nuanced and multi-dimensional map of political discourse and struggle. Continue reading