April 27, 2010

Food for thought

On the heels of reading bell hooks' Black Looks: Race and Representation, I came across this speech by Theresa Rebeck.
I have been told so many times over the years that theaters and foundations are interested in “diversity” but that doesn’t mean women.
At the time, I couldn't figure out why I winced when I read that. Then I remembered something I'd read in "The Oppositional Gaze" in Black Looks:
Feminist film theory rooted in an ahistorical psychoanalytic framework that privileges sexual difference actively suppresses recognition of race, reenacting and mirroring the erasure of black womanhood [. . . ] many feminist film critics continue to structure their discourse as though it speaks about "women" when in actuality it speaks only about white women.
To be fair, Rebeck herself outright states that she was not deliberately pushing a feminist agenda, so critiquing her comment along the lines of a theory she plainly says she isn't pursuing would be problematic to say the least. However, I do find her comment illuminating simply because of the things I've been addressing with intersectionality.

Native Star comments that:
I would throw into the discussion that as dismal as these stats are for ‘women’, what happens when we address the silence of women of color?
While we are often expected to root for team womanhood in unison, far too often the diversity of what it means to walk this planet as a woman is lost when all are expected to gather and worship beneath the great white tent.
I have no firmly held opinions on the matter, only my own observations from what life has taught me so far. Without turning this into a thesis project, the idea I'm considering is that the commonplace association of Blackness with masculinity and femininity with Whiteness almost guarantees the erasure of Black women from the mainstream theatrical landscape unless cultural gatekeepers actively resist that tendency through learning more intersectionality.

I'm not sure I can really investigate this more fully. To be honest, I hope someone else can see where it goes.

1 comment:

  1. Think I'd agree. Don't have much time to expand on it (before I fall asleep in the aftermath of our 'Boozy Disney' film night) but would consider Woolf's 'A Room of One's Own' to a be a pretty good example.