Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider has sat on my shelf unread for decades. Thankfully, I picked it up last night and found these much-needed words for these times:
“We can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired. For we have been socialized to respect fear more than our own needs for language and definition, and while we wait in silence for that final luxury of fearlessness, the weight of that silence will choke us.
The fact that we are here and that I speak these words is an attempt to break that silence and bridge some of those differences between us, for it is not difference which immobilizes us, but silence. And there are so many silences to be broken.
Check out my review published today by the feminist pop culture magazine Bitch. Also in its entirety below:
In 2011, The New York Times described reporter Kim Barker’s war memoir, The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as “hilarious and harrowing, witty and illuminating” and wrote that Barker “depicts herself as sort of a Tina Fey character.” Within weeks, Fey bought the book’s film rights. Fey wanted to play a strong character who excelled in a male-dominated field, to show that women can back each other in the workplace, and dedicate the work to her father, a veteran and journalist, who passed away last year. The result isWhiskey Tango Foxtrot.
The film’s trailers present the movie as a comedy a la Sisters, and although it has been dubbed a “feminist comedy,” it’s more of a dramedy with a little rom-com thrown in. While the film accomplishes Fey’s aforementioned goals, in doing so it champions a white, middle-class American feminism that sees Western women as free and other women, in this case Afghan women, as oppressed. This Orientalist storyline is not only problematic and unoriginal, it’s also dangerous as it continues to be used to justify U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places throughout South, Central and West Asia. (more…)
To hear me interviewed about the article on the podcast Popaganda, click here.
I look at how Jeannie, from the 1960s sitcom I Dream of Jeannie, started off as an over-the-top Arab stereotype, but over the show’s five-year run was forced to assimilate due to pressure from network executives who wanted her to be more “likeable,” i.e. American. I also break down how Orientalism helped ratings and why, even though Jeannie calls Tony “Master,” she can be read as a feminist, transgressive character.