Race, Class, & Queer Issues in 'Orange is the New Black'
In These Times recently published an article in which the author, Yasmin Nair, stated that while Netflix's 'Orange is the New Black' gets "an 'A' on queer issues", it gets "a 'C' on race and an 'F' on class". While I agree it's important to contemplate and critique the portrayal of queer issues, race, and class in media, there are several points that the author states as fact which in reality rely on her personal interpretation of what is shown on screen.
In full disclosure, I am (as the main character in the show states) a white lady with blonde hair. I'm sure that colored my interpretation of the show, and I in no way claim that my perspective is the right one.
The first point that Nair makes is that 'Orange is the New Black' (OITNB) ensures that white women's nudity is "artfully covered" so that their "placement in the hierarchy of voyeurism" is made clear. To make her point she references a few key scenes; the first being the scene in the chapel where Morello and Nichols are having sex. Nair, rightfully, points out that Morello's breasts remain artfully covered throughout the scene in an unrealistic way. There is also a scene where Chapman gets out of the shower and her breasts are only briefly flashed before they are hidden by a towel (viewers will remember this as the "TV titties" scene). Nair states that in contrast women of color are shown naked fairly often--breasts and all. She sees this as a way to eroticize women of color, while the white women "preserve their putative modesty".
It certainly is true that eroticization of women of color in mainstream media is a major problem. However, I don't think that the examples Nair has given support her argument.