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Post-9/11 Representations of Arab Men by Arab American Women Writers

Affirmation and Resistance

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Marta Bosch-Vilarrubias

Post-9/11 Representations of Arab Men by Arab American Women Writers: Affirmation and Resistance examines the portrayals of Arab masculinities in novels published after September 11, 2001, by women of Arab descent in the United States. The book provides a historical account of the mainstream representations of Arab masculinities in the United States, using them as a contrast to the realities experienced by Arab men in the American diaspora. Considering the construction of male and female Arab American identities, this book illustrates the role of feminism in Arab American literature written by women and its influence on women’s depictions of Arab men. Through an analysis of representative works by Diana Abu-Jaber, Laila Halaby, and Randa Jarrar, among others, this volume demonstrates how Arab American women’s anti-racist and anti-sexist struggles inform their nuanced portrayals of Arab men. This book will be essential for professors and students of ethnic American literatures in general and Arab American studies in particular, as well as for those interested in women’s studies and masculinity studies.
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Chapter Three: Arab American Feminisms and Arab American Women Writers

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  CHAPTER THREE

Arab American Feminisms and Arab American Women Writers

 

[F]eminism—a social movement of and for women—discovered the nonbeing of woman: the paradox of a being that is at once captive and absent in discourse, constantly spoken of but of itself inaudible or inexpressible, invisible yet constituted as the object and the guarantee of vision; a being whose existence and specificity are simultaneously asserted and denied, negated and controlled…a feminist theory must start from and centrally engage that very paradox. (Teresa De Lauretis 115)

Teresa De Lauretis, in her article “Eccentric Subjects,” explains that feminism is based on the antithetical notion of women as both invisible and hypervisible, perceived as objects of the male gaze rather than vocal subjects. Arab American women are at a particularly conflicting position regarding this paradox. Previously invisible, they have come to the forefront in the imaginary of post-9/11 America, being viewed as victims of Arab patriarchy and sexism, while at the same time being concealed in discourses against Arab and Muslim discrimination in the United States.1 Arab American women writers have been contesting these victimizing and/or invisibilizing discourses by forwarding their feminist concerns in their writings.2 In fact, Arab American women have been published more than men in the last decades (especially after 9/11), and it has been argued that a voice has been given to them as perceived victims of Arab/Muslim patriarchy (Elia 2006: 158). Thus, Arab...

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