Thalia Massie and the Defense of White Womanhood
This chapter examines how Thalia Massie’s story of being a white woman raped by nonwhite men contributed to the formation of local identity in Hawaii by reaffirming a larger pattern of haole dominance that separated whites from nonwhites along lines of race and gender. While Honolulu was not the American South, the recent arrival of southerners to the islands via military service ensured that its racial hierarchies would apply in Hawaii as well. Thalia’s story of rape was told in the context of a pattern of white dominance imported from the continent, a history of a haole oligarchy in the islands since the late nineteenth century, and a general but unwritten rule affirming the status of whites over nonwhites throughout the United States. Locals in Hawaii defined themselves against this hegemonic sense of white privilege.
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