By Aliyyah Abdur-Rahman
In opposed to the Closet, Aliyyah I. Abdur-Rahman interrogates and demanding situations cultural theorists' interpretations of sexual transgression in African American literature. She argues that, from the mid-nineteenth century throughout the 20th, black writers used depictions of erotic transgression to contest renowned theories of identification, pathology, nationwide belonging, and racial distinction in American tradition. Connecting metaphors of sexual transgression to precise historic classes, Abdur-Rahman explains how tropes reminiscent of sadomasochism and incest illuminated the psychodynamics of specific racial accidents and instructed varieties of social fix and political redress from the time of slavery, via post-Reconstruction and the civil rights and black energy pursuits, to the overdue 20th century. Abdur-Rahman brings black feminist, psychoanalytic, serious race, and poststructuralist theories to endure on literary genres from slave narratives to technological know-how fiction. reading works by means of African American writers, together with Frederick Douglass, Pauline Hopkins, Harriet Jacobs, James Baldwin, and Octavia Butler, she indicates how literary representations of transgressive sexuality expressed the longings of African americans for person and collective freedom. Abdur-Rahman contends that these representations have been basic to the improvement of African American kinds of literary expression and modes of political intervention and cultural self-fashioning.
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The violence that produced black bodies in slavery not only typiﬁed their lives under its regime but also ousted them from the domain of human and intelligible beings, of those capable of regulation and worthy of recognition in an established social schema. Strict heterosexuality in the context of monogamous marriage was reserved for members of the master class. Sexual mores and plantation sexual practices of the early nineteenth century supported the social order of slavery. ’’ While I will not go so far as to posit that ‘‘peculiar’’ in this designation connotes all that is meant by ‘‘queer’’ as it is used in the current academic and activist lexicon to refer to non-heteronormative sexuality and identity, I do think it is important to recognize the synonymity of these two terms to grasp fully what the designation ‘‘peculiar’’ reveals about the sexual arrangements and, therefore, the larger social infrastructure of the institution.
In Moynihan’s assessment, the armed forces are ‘‘the only experience open to the Negro American in which he is treated as an equal: not as a Negro equal to a white, but as one man equal to another man in a world where the category ‘Negro’ and ‘white’ do not exist. . S. military, Moynihan presents it as an alternative, if not the ultimate, well-run patriarchal household. Ferguson summarizes this maneuver succinctly: ‘‘The Moynihan Report cast racial exclusion as fundamentally feminizing. ’’∂≠ Deploying the language of paternal rule—authority, discipline, reward—Moynihan suggests that the military can counter the e√ects of infantilization resulting from excessive maternal leniency and paternal disregard in the black household.
First, widespread institutional rape necessitated matrilineal genealogies. Second, o√ending fathers were absent and did not bestow social legitimacy or a proper legacy to their o√spring. Third, brute force and sexual violence not only characterized slave life but brought it literally into being. As such, the slave was not simply the product of sexual criminality but its very incarnation. The absence and anonymity of Douglass’s father a≈rms his birth not into human community but into chattel slavery.