Frantz Fanon

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What is the article "Who Is That Masked Woman? Or, The Role of Gender in Fanon's Black Skin, White Masks" by Gwen Bergner about?

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In this 1995 article, Bergner critiques Fanon for assuming maleness is normative, thus erasing women, and for falsely reducing Black women to objects primarily in search of male sexual partners, preferably white ones.

While Bergner credits Fanon for challenging Freud's decontextualizing of psychology from a political and historical context, which...

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In this 1995 article, Bergner critiques Fanon for assuming maleness is normative, thus erasing women, and for falsely reducing Black women to objects primarily in search of male sexual partners, preferably white ones.

While Bergner credits Fanon for challenging Freud's decontextualizing of psychology from a political and historical context, which Fanon argues places too much focus on the individual, she also shines a light on Fanon's blindness about gender. She notes that he equates Blackness with men, writing that he "takes the male as the norm."

She notes, for instance, that Fanon uses the term le noir, or "the black man," not as universal term to refer to Black people as a whole, but specifically to reference males, erasing women from the experience of Blackness he describes. For example, as Bergner notes, Fanon writes in Black Skin, White Masks that

the black experience is ambiguous, for there is not one Negro—there are many black men.

However, he says nothing about there being many Black women. Further, when Fanon does refer to women, it is in reference to men. Bergner writes,

women are considered as subjects almost exclusively in terms of their sexual relationships with men.

Bergner asserts that Fanon uses anecdotal evidence based on the utterances of a few Black women who state that they would like to be with white men and become more white as evidence that this is how all Black women feel. Bergner argues that this simply isn't true. In defining Black women in terms of their sexuality, Fanon omits the many ways that Black women are autonomous and human in their own right, replicating the dehumanization of Black people by white people by projecting women as his own form of lesser "other."

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