Black Women, Melodrama, and Sexual Harassment
Chapter 5 addresses the MeToo movement, examining liminality along two fronts. First, it shows how liminality positions black women as abject figures unworthy of concern in terms of sexual harassment or rape, a bitter irony given their role in resistance to rape and harassment, in the context of enslavement to the present day. Second, it assess two important case studies. The first case study centers on the explosive international drama involving accusations of rape by Nafissatou Diallo, a black female immigrant housekeeper, against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the once politically powerful head of the International Monetary Fund. The second case examines melodrama and splitting in the life of Bill Cosby. Cosby, as Dr. Huxtable on The Cosby Show, was a super minority who presented a model of middle-class patriarchal respectability. Off screen, he railed against the abject black poor whom he saw as in need of tutelage and rehabilitation to deserve public embrace. Furthermore, this chapter also explores how black cultural pathology melodrama explains Cosby’s rapaciousness as a destructive attempt at self-fathering or “père version” (Wright 2013). Finally, the chapter argues for the importance of sadomasochism as an analytic in assessing sexual harassment and demonstrates parallels between victims of harassment and rape and whistle-blowers.
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