Even as feminism has become increasingly central to our ideas about institutions, relationships, and everyday life, the term used to diagnose the problem—“patriarchy”—is used so loosely that it has lost its meaning. In Vexy Thing Imani Perry resurrects patriarchy as a target of critique, recentering it to contemporary discussions of feminism through a social and literary analysis of cultural artifacts from the Enlightenment to the present. Drawing on a rich array of sources—from nineteenth-century slavery court cases and historical vignettes to writings by Toni Morrison and Audre Lorde and art by Kara Walker and Wangechi Mutu—Perry shows how the figure of the patriarch emerged as part and parcel of modernity, the nation-state, the Industrial Revolution, and globalization. She also outlines how digital media and technology, neoliberalism, and the security state continue to prop up patriarchy. By exploring the past and present of patriarchy in the world we have inherited and are building for the future, Perry exposes its mechanisms of domination as a necessary precursor to dismantling it.
Imani Perry is Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University and author of Prophets of the Hood: Politics and Poetics in Hip Hop, also published by Duke University Press, and More Beautiful and More Terrible: The Embrace and Transcendence of Racial Inequality in the United States.
Simone White is the author of Dear Angel of Death, Of Being Dispersed, House of Envy of All the World and the chapbooks Unrest and Dolly (with Kim Thomas). Her poetry and prose have been featured in The New York Times Book Review, Harper's Magazine, BOMB Magazine, Chicago Review, and Harriet: The Blog. In 2017, she received the Whiting Award for poetry. Prior to joining the faculty at Penn, she was Program Director at The Poetry Project and visiting faculty at The New School, Eugene Lang College and the Iowa Writers' Workshop.