Mainstream Western Media: Let Go of the Headscarf!

-By Yasmina Mrabet
Connection Point Manager

When it comes to Arab and Muslim women, the mainstream Western media has exaggerated and in many cases completely fabricated a slew of ideas that lie at two extreme ends of a spectrum. At one end, women are exoticized and depicted as submissive sexual servants in so-called ‘harems.’ At the other end (more popular these days), women are essentialized and depicted as silent, oppressed, supporters of terrorism and shrouded in black. Jack Shaheen, the author of Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People, examined the negative portrayal of Arabs in the Hollywood film industry. He first found that Arabs are associated simultaneously with Islam, and that Arab women are humiliated, demonized, and eroticized. In Hollywood films, Shaheen explains, Arab women never speak, they never work, and they are never recognized for achievements. One element Shaheen highlights is the importance of clothing in Hollywood films, and how it is manipulated as a cultural symbol.

It really makes you think … when it comes to how the mainstream Western media covers women and issues impacting women from Arab and Muslim societies … how much of that coverage is focused on one item of clothing: the headscarf. There are countless articles and news stories incessantly making statements about the headscarf, defining the headscarf, describing the headscarf, questioning the headscarf … the hijab, the veil, the burqa, the headscarf, the headscarf, the headscarf...Read full article by Yasmina Mrabet

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Tags: Arab, Mainstream, Media, Muslim, New, Social, Western, cultural, discourse, headscarf, More…media, symbols, violence, women

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