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104 reviews vations, continues to be univocally Ashkenazi and Eurocentric, denying Israel's Easterness. The next time I buy a ticket for Tel Aviv in Europe, I know I still need to stand in the "Europe" line. TED SWEDENBURG Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman, by Michelle Wallace. London and New York: Verso, 1991. $15.95 (paper). Invisibility Blues: From Pop to Theory, by Michelle Wallace. London and New York: Verso 1991. $15.95 (paper). It has been nearly ten years since Barbara Smith protested against Black women's being slighted by mainstream scholarship in her essay "Toward a Black Feminist Criticism, " and since she asserted that Black women in particular merit special attention because they have traditionally been subsumed by both Black men and white culture. Defining Black women's absence from theoretical studies of literature and culture an "invisibility" of specific kind. Smith elaborates : Black women's existence, experience, and culture and the brutally complex systems of oppression which shape these are in the "real world" of white and/or male consciousness beneath consideration, invisible, unknown. This invisibility, which goes beyond anything that either Black men or white women experience and tell about in their writing, is one reason it is so difficult ... to know where to start. It seems overwhelming to break such a massive silence (But Some of Us Are Brave, 157). Black women's "invisibility" has long been the main stimulus for black feminist criticism, and it has served this function in Wallace's works as well. In fact, it can be said to be the mainstay to which Wallace returns throughout her essays, and does so in interesting ways. In Black Macho, originally published in 1979, Wallace situates Black women in the context of the black liberation movement, the civil unrest of the sixties and early seventies, and the sexual revolution that brought white, middle-class women to new awareness. Wallace describes all of the above as being oppressive to Black women when she examines the black revolutionary male identity as representing male and white female privilege: Black men and white women paired off, and Black women became undesirables. Wallace questions the effects of black nationalist and white feminist politics on Black women's identity, both social and sexual. "The Myth of the Superwoman," the second section of the book, is thus only secondarily about Black women themselves, because it is primarily a reaction to the more unsettling (for Wallace) phenomenon of Black men's preference of white women over Black women. Nonetheless, the analysis does pose some important questions, such as: how does the Black woman come to view herself as a result of feeling (hetero-)sexually undesirable? What are the political and social implications of Black women's sexual displacement for black culture in whole? In addressing these questions, Wallace points to the Moynihan report on Blacks (Department of Labor, 1965) as the central text on which much of the race controversy was based. Wallace makes the argument that this text reviews 105 informed most progressive discussions concerning Black culture and Black women's position within it, and it perpetuated the "myth" of black sexism, since that text was itself both racist and sexist. The political basis of Black liberation, Wallace argues, was complicitous with the Black male ego's oppression of Black women. Furthermore, Wallace argues, the white sexist and racist myth concerning Black gender was an important ingredient in Black men's challenge to white domination. It was as if self-command for the Black male could only be gained at Black women's expense, so misdirected was their anger. Wallace offers the example of the Black Panthers' adopting a self-righteous and self-serving kind of patriarchy in which women either knew or were told what their place was in Black culture. Panther women remain a remarkable example of the extent to which women's rights have been sacrificed in the name of male-defined "progressive" causes, bell hooks was to make more of this gender inequity among the Panthers in her own highly controversial Ain't I a Woman?, published two years after Black Macho. In Wallace's configuration, white culture theorized and defined the Black...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 104-108
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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