The Media’s Message about Muslim Women

The Media’s Message about Muslim Women

Written by Theresa Corbin
I happened upon this blog post from Word Turtle entitled, veiled stereotypes: constructing and distorting muslim women. And of course I dropped in for a looky loo, seeing as how this is right in my wheel house. Give it a read, it truly is worth the time.
then you would be worthless

As a youth, I was first introduced to how the media instructs the populace about who they are, or (more aptly) who they should be. I came out the other side of a Seventeen magazine a crushed shell of a teenage girl. I learned from the media that a woman’s worth is in her attractiveness, and if she does not measure up (or down) she has no worth.

But as I entered college and decided on a career in journalism, I became familiar with the role the media plays and all the tricks they use, and was thankfully introduced to Jean Killbourne and her series “Killing Us Softly“. I became informed and began to heal my self worth.
I knew the detriment the media could bring about, so it was no surprise to me when I realized that I had bought another media myth that Muslim women were oppressed. The media not only tells us what to think about ourselves, it tells us what to think of others. And while it is detrimental for people to walk around with a distorted view of themselves, this is usually curable. Perceptions about oneself can and usually do change.

It is what the media sells us about others that is so harmful. Harmful because we are less likely to change our perceptions about

“Who is to blame for the war?” Nazi propaganda

those who are not in our day to day lives. The media plays a HUGE role in constructing and distorting our ideas of other human beings. Instead of recognizing each other as deeply complex and complicated people with family, history and rich inner lives; we instead take the cues from the media and form stereotypes, concluded prejudices and execute our humanity with hate. People who are other than us become tropes, less than human, and objects to do with what we wish. If there is any other greater avenue to evil, I am not aware of it.

Why the media does this is simple: It sells. The media is selling us a story of our life and times, where we (or at least the majority) are the heroes and the “other” is the villain. Hitler did this in his anti-semitic propaganda campaign very effectively. He sold the Jewish population as the enemy, and the populace bought it. Evil ensued. And even though the media tries to put the world in a box with a pretty ribbon on it, life doesn’t work like this. Evil ensues.

To illustrate how this is done, take a look at this graphic of a pregnant Muslim woman,

This image was uploaded to the Facebook page, “Stop the Islamization of America,” an open group created by right-wing authors Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer
and read how Omar, a commenter to the blog post mentioned earlier, has described so perfectly how this -and images like it- are so detrimental.

[Upon seeing the graphic] I immediately thought of the stories in the news of pregnant, Muslim women who have been attacked, including one which resulted in a miscarriage. I feel it important to comment on just how problematic the graphic is and unpack the imagery.

Graphics like this are not simply a statement of some looney person’s opinion, they invoke fear that calls the viewer to action. As Omar puts it,

[…] It invokes action by suggesting pregnancy is not a neutral state irrelevant to the general public, but instead an offensive tactic against the country requiring immediate defensive action – with the urgency highlighted by a lit wick. This poster is not only inciting violence against Muslim women, but taking it to an entirely new level by proposing that the solution to the supposed demographic threat is to attack pregnant, Muslim women.

Not only does this image incite violence against a group of people, a type of speech that is not protected under the First Amendment’s Freedom of Speech -i.e. this graphic is illegal– it dehumanizes the Muslim women. And once again as the illustrious Omar says, Read more