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Depicting the Veil
Transnational Sexism and the War on Terror
This powerful book exposes how gendered Orientalism is wielded to justify Western imperialism.
Over the last ten years, Western governments and mainstream media have utilized concepts of white masculine supremacy and feminine helplessness, juxtaposed with Orientalist images depicting women of color as mysterious, sinister, and dangerous, to support war. Oscillating between Mrs Anthrax, female suicide bomber and tragic, helpless victim, representations of 'brown women' have spawned both rescue narratives and terrorist alerts.
Examining media and pop culture from Sex and the City 2 to Vanity Fair and Time magazine, Robin Riley uses transnational feminist analysis to reveal how this kind of transnational sexism towards Muslim women in general and Afghan and Iraqi women in particular has led to a new form of gender imperialism.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
'Riley frames her analysis of the ways Western media depict the "veil" around the valuable concept of transnational sexism, which diffuses into American politics and popular culture racist and sexist stereotypes about Muslim women. This unquestioned "knowledge" has helped to sustain support for brutal US imperialist wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.' Eric Hooglund, editor of Middle East Critique
'Robin Riley is going to make a lot of us uncomfortable. That's the good news! Her careful investigation of the myriad ways in which US media have constructed diverse Iraqi and Afghan women reveals how we ourselves, especially readers and viewers in North America, can become complicit in transnational sexism.'
Cynthia Enloe, author of Nimo's War, Emma's War: Making Feminist Sense of the Iraq War
'Robin Riley dissects the transnational sexism that structures transnational Orientalism with its global militarism. In this process she unveils the Western mind and exposes the possibility of a de-racialized future for women in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is an important read for anyone who seeks to inhibit the use of misogyny for imperial purposes and wishes to keep the next US war from happening.'
Zillah Eisenstein, Distinguished Scholar in Residence, Ithaca College