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We at Muslimah Media Watch seem to get asked a lot, “Well, what would make you happy?”
Personally, being a young idealist, part-time cynic, and a lady who is just plain uppity, complaining is what really makes me happy. And when it comes to the portrayals of Muslim women in worldwide media, there is no shortage of happiness.
But while a great side effect of our complaining would be change, change often comes slowly. Our main aim is to point out what is right and wrong with media portrayals of Muslim women—because if it’s not seen as “broken,” then no one will see any need to “fix it.” The first step is awareness of a problem; after this will come strategies to solve the problem, enshallah.
That being said, what would make me happy?
Obviously, I’d be thrilled if stereotypes (such as those of exoticism, danger, repression, etc.) would finally just die out. I’d like to see Muslim women represented as we are: people of different viewpoints, races, levels of practice, sexualities, nationalities, abilities, etc. Muslim women are just like any other people: all different. I want to see us define ourselves without worrying about becoming pigeonholed about being “this” or “that” type of Muslim or woman. I want to see us speak for ourselves without facing backlash or unfair appropriation from our communities, societies, and governments (both Muslim and non-Muslim). I’d like images of Muslim women to be contextualized instead of becoming cultural shorthand for things like “religion” or “conservative” or “security threat.”
Dear readers, what would you like to see when you see Muslim women in the media? What would make you happy?