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Beyond the "Oppressed Veiled Muslim Woman": Breaking Barriers, Bridging Differences and Creating Dialogues

By Nadia Lastiani Hasan


Since the last couple of decades, the subjects of Islam, the Muslim community and especially the Muslim women has been one of the most debatable issues of our times. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the way the Western media represents Muslim women. It has been known that the media perpetuates historical, cultural imaginaries that form part of the Western collective memory. When it comes to writing about Muslim women, for example, it seems that the media in the West keeps targeting on the way they dress, the veil in particular. In fact, the identity of Muslim women has merely been reduced to this specific dressing code for the Western media. Moreover, in the common Western imagination, the act of veiling has long been confused with the lack of agency and oppression in the Muslim world. \ud As a result, it seems that the media helps produce the knowledge of the Muslim women as the oppressed ‘other’, which, more often than not, this treatment will lead to distorted conclusions, stereotypes and misperceptions of these women. As a result, irresponsible generalizations of Muslim women tend to be made, while multi-dimensional realities remain hidden and testimonies and actors are selective. That being the reason, this makes it hard to think about the Muslim world without setting up an ‘us’ and ‘them’ binary relationship, and ignoring the diversities of women in different parts of the Muslim world. \ud In this case, this thesis aims at problematizing and exposing the power dynamics that lie behind the production of the discourse of otherness—especially of the ‘oppressed veiled Muslim woman’—that may be apparent within the Western world through not only media culture but also within feminist scholarly practices

Topics: Letteren, postcoloniality, Third World feminism, Muslim feminism
Year: 2007
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