Thursday, March 25, 2010
Race, Gender, and Unwanted Touch
Allison Keye's essay on National Public Radio, "Keep Your Hands Off the Hair," is about the frequent and strange compulsion of others to touch her hair. An African American who does not chemically straighten her hair, Keyes seeks to understand and explain the relationship of a 400-years-old racialized history of assumed permission to her recoil. The essay does not discuss the aspect of gender as another assumption of free access to her body, but it surely exists and is germane to our discussions in class. I am particularly reminded of Diego de Landa's detailed description of Mayan women's bathing and beauty rituals in his Account of Things in Yucatan. What connections do you make?