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RACE, RELIGION, AND LATE DEMOCRACY: Chadors, Feminists, Terror: The Racial Politics of U.S. Media Representations of the 1979 Iranian Women's Movement

SYLVIA CHAN-MALIK

Annals, Vol.637 pp.112-184, 2011 [Periódico revisado por pares]

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  • Título:
    RACE, RELIGION, AND LATE DEMOCRACY: Chadors, Feminists, Terror: The Racial Politics of U.S. Media Representations of the 1979 Iranian Women's Movement
  • Autor: SYLVIA CHAN-MALIK
  • Assuntos: Characterizations; Fundamentalist; Antidemocratic; Transparency; Similarities; Prodemocracy; Continually; Surrounding; Immediately; Imperialist; Criminal Law & Procedure
  • É parte de: Annals, Vol.637 pp.112-184, 2011
  • Descrição: ... Thus, while the context of a global orientalist narrative as tied to the trajectory of Euro-American imperialism was, and is, certainly a crucial framework in understanding how those such as Mahmoody have constructed their images of a free United States versus a barbarous Islam, it is also important to understand that current conceptions of Islam and the Middle East emanating from the United States must be seen through a decidedly racialized orientalist lens--to be called racial orientalism here--in which transnational logics of orientalism and imperiality are also understood as always working in relation with domestic neocolonial legacies of white supremacy, anti-black racism, and anti-immigrant xenophobia. ... White American feminists took up the cause of the women of Iran en masse in 1979, staging protests against Khomeini, rallying against the veil, and ultimately viewing the events in Tehran as, in the words of Ms. magazine, "the beginning of a new unity . . . for international feminism" (Kelber 1979, 96). ... Every article provided a definition of the chador--"a black wraparound garment" (Powers 1979); a "full-length cloak" (Randal 1979c); "the head-to-toe veil orthodox Islamic custom dictates" ( San Francisco Chronicle 1979b); "a shapeless, full-length Moslem veil" ( Chicago Tribune Wire Service 1979b); "the traditional head-to-toe covering of Moslem women" (Jaynes 1979a)--and often offered stark orientalist oppositions between "the medieval principles of old Islam" ( San Francisco Chronicle 1979a) and the modern female protestors dressed in "tight jeans or Western dresses" ( San Francisco Chronicle 1979b), "skirts and jeans" (Ibrahim 1979), and "blue jeans and jackets" (Randal 1979c). ... The discourse of the veil had long been an expression of the West's orientalization of Islam, the main idea of which was that "Islam was innately and immutably oppressive to women, that the veil and segregation epitomized that oppression, and that these customs were the fundamental reasons for the general and comprehensive backwardness of Islamic societies" (Ahmed 1992, 152). ... Thus, it seemed that in the eyes of the American media, the protesting women of Iran looked, thought, and acted a great deal like American women circa 1979--in particular, those white, educated, middle-class, and unmistakably "defiant" second-wave feminists currently involved in their own "battle of the sexes"--for example, Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, and Kate Millett--who had spearheaded the feminist movement and sexual revolution in the United States throughout the late 1960s and into the 1970s. ... In fact, the Iranian women featured in the TV coverage and newspaper photos filling the streets of Tehran could almost be mistaken for those American women who had marched in equality drives and "Women Power" protests throughout the earlier part of the decade--protests that had fueled a "revolution in the status of women" (as a New York Times 1970 editorial called it) by advancing the tenets of second-wave "equal rights" feminism (gender equality in all spheres, abortion rights, and female autonomy)--save for the occasional woman in a chador or bearded mullah at the edges of each image's frame. ... "Iran Expulsion Terrifying, Says Kate Millett," read the headline on the second page of the Los Angeles Times on March 19, in an item that quoted Millett as telling the Associated Press that she "had never been so terrified in my life," and that the experiences of the last 24 hours, during which she had been deported from Tehran to Paris, "had made her understand the true meaning of human rights" (Pabst 1979). ... This discursive transfer of Islam's significance from the realm of black domestic politics onto the global stage was further buffered by the fact that the feminism deployed by the national media during its coverage of the women's protests in Iran was also conspicuously "un-raced," a white, middle-class feminism untouched by the ferocious internecine debates about issues of race, class, and sexuality that had been spurred on by the writings, theory, activism, and direct challenges of African American, third-world, and postcolonial feminists critiquing the racism, classism, and homophobia of mainstream second-wave white feminism at the time.
  • Idioma: Inglês

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