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.
It is what the media sells us about others that is so harmful. Harmful because we are less likely to change our perceptions about
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.
To illustrate how this is done, take a look at this graphic of a pregnant Muslim woman,
[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