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Re-Imagining Black WomenA Critique of Post-Feminist and Post-Racial Melodrama in Culture and Politics$
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Nikol G. Alexander-Floyd

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781479855858

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479855858.001.0001

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Black Women, Melodrama, and Sexual Harassment

(p.178) 5 MeToo?
Re-Imagining Black Women

Nikol G. Alexander-Floyd

NYU Press

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.

Keywords:   MeToo, black women, abject, sexual harassment, rape, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Bill Cosby, respectability, whistle-blowers, sadomasochism

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