Maquina Lectora

Notes of a curious mind

Tag: sexism

Mugabe, Eve and the snake

Reading, in the past few days, about Robert Mugabe’s downfall and the role of his wife Grace, I can’t stop thinking the old, Christian story of Adam and Eve, where a manipulative woman seduces a man in order to do things for which he eventually pays a heavy price.

This is an extremely problematic and sexist line of reasoning. Ι am not saying that Grace Mugabe has no responsibility  and she is not to blame,  but that kind of thinking intends to clear Mugabe or any other man in a similar position, regardless of colour, race, economic and political status, of any responsibility and accountability for his own actions.

To present a man, as a simple, good and unfortunate creature, a puppet on a string, easily manipulated by a skilful and ambitious woman, is just foolish chauvinistic view.

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America, by Melissa Harris-Perry

What means to be a black woman and an American citizen?  This is the question that Melissa Harris-Perry tries to answer in Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America.

Sister Citizen is a multi-layered book about the complexities in the lives of African American women.  About what it feels like to be a citizen in America when you are a black woman, in a body that it has been racialized and gendered in a way that
produces shame, fear and distress.

There are some broad ideas in the book, particularly the notion of politics recognition and visibility of the black woman in the American society and politics. ‘Recognition’, says Harris-Perry, ‘is a useful framework because it emphasises the interconnection between individuals and groups. Individuals from disempowered social groups desire recognition for their group but also want recognition of their distinctiveness from the group.’

Taking recognition seriously means understanding the correct relations between the state and its citizens. Citizenship is membership in a community and a nation. Citizenship is bound with recognition. Harris-Perry argues, that black women in America are frequently not recognised for what they really are. Their bodies, their minds, are invisible to many whites who do not see them as individuals with distinctive talents, accomplishments, and burdens. The myth of strong black woman has formed a crooked image and contributed to the misrecognition of black women by denying them their humanity.

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Another Country. A novel by James Baldwin

Another Country is a novel about love. But it is also about much more. It is a book about racism, sexism, homophobia, religion and intolerance.  It is a book about life. It is set in the late 1950s in Greenwich Village, NY and explores the intersection of race, gender and sexuality in the United States in the mid-1950s.

It also explores what means to be an African – American in the Unites States in the 1950s, not only in physical terms, but also mentally and emotionally in the context of racial domination and white supremacy.

The main character is Rufus Scott, an African-American musician whose world has fallen apart. Although Rufus does not appear throughout the entire book, he remains one of the main characters, an absent protagonist. His life, but most of all his death, connect all the other characters, people that lack direction, who struggle for life and love. But love is not always pretty. Love can be painful. And as the characters re-examine their lives and talk endlessly about their passion and the pain – “a powerful and poignant self-examination – always on the brink of despair,” – in the end they are “holding on to a tragicomic hope…..”, they say Yes to life,  knowing though, that they will have to pay their dues.

The beauty of this book is just unbelievable, the writing itself is brilliant, sensual, painful and provocative. James Baldwin is making a direct address to the reader, the reader then has no option but to get involved in the story. Another Country is a challenging novel, both shocking and inspirational; it does not make it an easy reading.  But I am grateful to have discovered it. It repays more than one careful readings.

The War on Women by Sue Lloyd-Roberts

The War on Women is a book that shocks. After every chapter you have to pause, think what you just read, take everything in. The inhumanity of man to women, and sometimes woman to women, the misogyny, the hatred, the fear towards women, it’s just heartbreaking.

It is a book filled with compelling stories of women, of injustice and abuse in countries with different cultures as Ireland and India,  in countries as distant as Egypt and Argentina. Sue Lloyd-Roberts believed that no country could take the moral high ground when it came to human rights abuses.

Abducted women are drugged and thrown out of planes by the junta in Argentina, during the “Dirty Wars”.  Young women as young as fourteen years old are raped in Kosovo by members of an international peacekeeping force. Girls endure ‘horrible, horrible pain’ because their external female genitalia have been partially or completely removed by force (FGM).  But it is also a book that inspires, because there are women that fight back. Like Maimouna from Gambia that fled her village in Gambia so she can stop her family’s tradition role i genital ‘cutting ceremonies. Or Célhia de Lavarène, the French journalist that fights human trafficking for sexual exploitation. Women that do make a difference.

Sue Lloyd-Roberts was a  determined and pioneer journalist, she exposed so many of world’s tyrannies. She was also  courageous and fearless campaigner who gave voice to people who otherwise would not be heard.


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