Muslim Women’s Representation in American Newspapers

Studying the newspaper representation of Muslim women in America is not a new trend. Several feminism campaigns have been seeking to criticize the potential media sexism against these women in society since the 1960s and 1970s. The cycle has persisted, and there has been little change. Presently, most Muslim women appear to be underrepresented in most media and feel less respected. On 3 December 2020, one local newspaper indicates, “Not yet time for lifting the Veil.” That is a prime example of how Muslim women’s pictures have been depicted in America’s local newspapers. It is apparent, according to the news headlines, that Muslim women are not well-liberated. The newspaper editors also tended to view these Muslim women as a poor and marginalized community. The papers conveyed that Muslim women are less hard-working, uneducated, and unable to fulfill their duties as autonomous society members. As a result, the paper aims to explore how the American newspapers have presented Muslim women. Finally, the paper will provide the right recommendations on what the newspaper editors and managers should do to promote equality in the present American community.

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Underrepresentation and Demeaning of the Muslim Women

According to the most recent research studies, it has been noted with much concern that the American newspapers have underrepresented and demeaned these people for a long time. Through qualitative textual analysis of most magazines and newspapers, it was accepted that Muslim women were less presented. In most cases, they were regarded as weak members of society with minor roles compared to their Christian counterparts (Abdelhadi 3). According to Lalami’s “I’m a Muslim and Arab American. Will I Ever Be an Equal Citizen?” the Muslim women thrived in a culture of hostility and failed to achieve a prosperous life due to cultural stereotyping (p. 3). Lalami aimed to provide the previous outlook on women’s images, their historical, and present lives (p. 5). The images and messages printed in the New York Times and the Guardian were inconsistent, contradictory, and had misogynic notions about Muslim women (Lalami 5). In some circumstances, these women were presented as hypersexual, sadist, and ruthlessly aggressive society members. Therefore, this analysis portrayed Muslim women as unequal and less fortunate members of society than their male counterparts.

Scholars continue to accept that the newspaper demonization and underrepresentation of Muslim women started before the 11/9 bombings. Track records indicate that the deliberate mythmaking and stereotyping of Muslim women started a long time ago (Mogahed 2). In his work, “Islamophobia and Media portrayal of Muslim women,” Terman accepted that London Times rarely depicted these women in their dailies (p.2). Subsequently, Medie and Kang argue that stereotyping Arab women in the media were successful. They noted that, despite having over three and a half a million Arab women in America, the New York Times has insisted on representing only five minor groups (Fadel 2). The study further indicated that the media has continued to show these Muslim women as weak, uneducated, and sexual objects. Such a presentation indicates racial and cultural construction based on inferiority, immorality, and threat. In other words, Muslim women are the highly despised group in the newspapers exhibition across America.

In most cases, the New York Times has used various images such as covered faces in a veil to demonstrate the traditionally oppressed society members. Consequently, Trump’s administration has continued to depict Muslim women as fanatic and passively burdened American community members (Al Subhi 90). At all costs, the previous governments’ administration has worked through magazines, national news, and websites to show that Muslim women are less reasonable people in American society compared to their Christian counterparts. These administrations have failed to promote gender equality and racial inclusion of all members of the community. As a result, several active groups have continued to call for the need to change to help every member present America.

Contextual analysis of the various sources of newspapers has revealed that Muslim women’s oppression directly relates to women’s gender studies in many ways. First, the above examination continued to showcase that a high level of racial and gender disparity exists among Americans. Second, acknowledge that the American government, through their media, has disregarded not only Muslim women but also Arab women as a whole (Terman 495). The underrepresentation and deeming of women is a clear indication that Muslim women have been discriminated against and suffered in the news editors’ hands. The various newspapers have represented Muslim women as oppressed and vulnerable persons of the community. From all perspectives of representation, newspapers have successfully communicated how Muslim women are unequal to the rest of the Americans.

Solution

Despite the continuous stereotyping and underrepresentation of Muslim women in the American newspapers, the entire picture is not gloomy. A positive change is slowly coexisting side by side with the challenge. Presently, there are many feminist campaigns with the media fraternity that call for Muslim women’s representation (Islam and Asadullah 12). Consequently, Muslim women constantly campaign against their underrepresentation on social media sites. They are geared at achieving a well-liberated society where every member is included in social, cultural, and political movements. Therefore, the right approach should be devised to help these women achieve equal representation in American newspapers. Besides, the call is geared towards helping Muslim women achieve equality, respect, and dignity, which they deserve like any other American citizen.

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The best solution to the challenge is to train and educate the various media and newspaper groups on promoting gender and racial equality among society members. The approach will help these news editors articulate nationality and love among the Americans (Childs and Hughes 283). The newspaper columnist and editors will advertise the idea of hybrid and adaptation of the various cultures which promote equality in America. Research studies indicate that better training services will provide the writers, editors, and managers of the different newspaper groups to understand a united American’s power where every member feels valued. The knowledge will act as a powerful transformation mechanism to encourage an inclusive society where everyone is respected.

As a scholar, the ultimate role in the process will be to sensitize the various media groups’ members on the need for Muslim women’s positive presence in their newspapers. Even though the entire process may take an extended period, people need to be patient to achieve the objectives. Thus, dedicating more than three years would be more appropriate to help these members achieve the goal. During this time, every stakeholder should be provided with the opportunity to champion the call for these vulnerable women’s inclusivity in society. Every newspaper employee should work together with Muslim women to ensure that equal representation is effectively achieved. In terms of resources, the training will require financial support from all interested groups to facilitate the newspaper media groups’ sensitization. The above approach will ensure that all vulnerable and oppressed members of society are provided with equal growth and development opportunities.

The best headquarter for the training and education group would be in New York City. It is through this city where the main operation often takes place. The process should operate within the most reasonable and possible reach for most of the sector’s key players. Consequently, the best staff to train news editors should be well-educated people on gender studies. They will use the most appropriate theories to enlighten the media groups on the positive effects of racial and gender equality in society. The training will enlighten the managers, editors, and other news reporters on the positive nature of promoting equality among women.

In conclusion, the presentation of Muslim women in America has faced several challenges over the past years. These members have been persecuted, deemed, and ridiculed based on their race and culture. As a result, newspapers have covered little concerning their achievement and growth in American society. Nevertheless, there is still hope of change in the newspaper presentation of Muslim women. The training and education on how to equally present the Muslim women in the newspapers will help the media groups to understand the power of inclusivity and gender equality in the community. Furthermore, every member of the newspaper editing team should be encouraged to participate in the training to gain better results.

Works Cited

Abdelhadi, Eman. “Religiosity and Muslim Women’s Employment in the United States.” Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, vol. 3, 2017. Sage Journals.

Al Subhi, Ahlam Khalfan, and Amy Erica Smith. “Electing Women to New Arab Assemblies: The Roles of Gender Ideology, Islam, and Tribalism in Oman.” International Political Science Review, vol. 40, no. 1, 2019, pp. 90-107. Sage Journals.

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Childs, Sarah, and Melanie Hughes. “Which Men?” How an Intersectional Perspective on Men And Masculinities Helps Explain Women’s Political Underrepresentation.” Politics & Gender, vol. 14, no. 2, 2018, pp. 282-287. Cambridge Core.

Fadel, Leila. “How Muslims, Often Misunderstood, Are Thriving in America.” National Geographic, 2018. Web.

Islam, Kazi Md. Mukitul, and M. Niaz Asadullah. “Gender stereotypes and education: A comparative content analysis of Malaysian, Indonesian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi school textbooks.” PloS one, vol. 13, no. 1, 2018, pp. 1-16. PloS One.

Lalami, Laila. “I’m a Muslim and Arab American. Will I Ever Be an Equal Citizen?” The New York Times, 2020, Web.

Medie, Peace A., and Alice J. Kang. “Power, Knowledge and the Politics of Gender in the Global South.” European Journal of Politics and Gender, vol. 1, no. 1, 2018, pp. 37-53. Web.

Mogahed, Dalia. “American Muslim Women Don’t Need You to Save Them from Islam. They Need Your Respect.” USA Today, 2018, Web.

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Terman, Rochelle. “Islamophobia and Media Portrayals of Muslim Women: A Computational Text Analysis of US News Coverage.” International Studies Quarterly, vol. 61, no. 3, 2017, pp. 489–502.

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