In the first of several posts, Amina at Muslimah Media Watch, examines how Western media portray activist Malala Yousafzai.
There’s something immensely telling about the stories mainstream Western media decides to promote and those that get swept under the rug. The stories that are told and ways in which they are told say as much about the storytellers as those that are the actual subjects of discussion. Mainstream media actively homogenizes Muslim women into meek, weak beings who lack the audacity and know-how to challenge patriarchal systems. That narrative – one that denies a Muslimah’s autonomy – makes it difficult, if not downright impossible, to engage with Muslim women on the basis of solidarity. Instead, the West just sells itself as the ultimate saviour, bound by a superficial chivalrous oath to protect Muslim women from those evil, evil Muslim men who must ALL be pledged to the Taliban. Read more…
Good post today over at Muslimah Media Watch:
Ramadan Mubarak everyone!
For many years now, Muslimah Media Watch has worked hard to problematize, counter, question and critique depictions of Muslim women in a variety of media outlets, as a way to provide new perspectives to looking at the “Muslim woman problem” (starting by questioning this statement).
Since Ramadan 2013 has arrived, I would like to first wish you all a wonderful and blessed month. During this month, I am hoping my fellow MMW writers will have a break from horrid portrayals of Muslim women both in many mainstream media sources and in some Muslim communities. With Muslims immersed in the spiritual and cultural practices of Ramadan and everything else that is happening in the world (from sexual attacks on female protestors in Egypt to halal nail polish and Iranian officials refusing to recognize Elham Ashgari’s swimming record), I think it is important to reconsider the ways in which we speak about Muslim women.
So, I have come up with some suggestions, along the lines of Ramadan resolutions – that I would like other people to follow.
Tip #3: Acknowledge race, culture and privilege.
It may come as a surprise, but Muslim women are not a monolithic group that can be easily lumped into one category. The mainstream media is well-known for extrapolating their assumptions on Muslim women based on countries with “bad” reputations like Iran or Saudi Arabia. Yet, we do the same within Muslim communities. We preach equality but point at other Muslim groups when there is something we do not like (female circumcision anyone?)I belong to a predominantly Arab Muslim community where black abayas and hijabs are expected, the Arabic language is praised and pushed on everyone else, and Arab standards of beauty apply. There is little acknowledgement of South Asian and African communities, and racism prevails. [light]-skinned Arab women rank first in beauty lists, followed by white converts.
We talk about racial equality in the mosque, but the reality is completely different, as explored by Amina in a recent post. So, this Ramadan we should be looking at our own biases and privileges.
Image Credit: diloz on Flickr
by Guest Contributor Alicia, originally published at Muslimah Media Watch
It had to happen sooner or later. With Barbie and now Hannah Montana merchandise dominating the tween to early teenage market in Malaysia, products for young Muslim women in hijab are starting to appear, particularly on the bookshelves. And they look very pink.
The increasing pinkness of girl’s books can be directly connected to the uninterrupted rise of a global consumerist culture that worships Hollywood celebrity culture in Malaysia; from businesses that name themselves after American cities for prestige to the local edition of Cosmopolitan magazine that represents the arbiter of modern Malaysian female sexuality. And by following the lead of Barbie and Hello Kitty manufacturers’ lucrative use of the color pink, local book publishers do the same to gain a monopoly on young female readers.
Of course pinkness would not be complete without princesses. I’d like to point out here that although princesses have long been present in Malaysia, both in reality and in legend, none looks strikingly similar to a Disney princess as the female protagonist in Azian Aiman’s Sayalah Puteri Raja! (I’m the Princess Here!). Causing the most concern for me is its depiction of princesses as celebrities and objects of female envy, as revealed on the back of the book:
Zara steps out of the car and waves to a crowd that screams her name.
“Princess Zara! Princess Zara!”
“Oh, how beautiful she is! How wonderful it would be to be just like you, your highness!”
“I want to be like Princess Zara!”
A cacophony of screams fill the already chaotic air. Is she witnessing a mass hysteria? Zara cannot hide her excitement at being the object of worship.