Media Diversified

Tackling the lack of diversity in UK media and the ubiquity of whiteness
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Body Narratives sparks a debate on Muslim feminism

by Huma Munshi

As a Muslim woman, a space to share my story and talk about my feminism is scarce and (therefore) precious. I was reminded how important these spaces are to me as I attended the launch of the Body Narratives exhibition, A Different Mirror. A discussion with some of the organisers inspired this column.

The media focuses on Muslim women for all the wrong reasons. The so-called anti-terrorism strategy, Prevent, launched under New Labour and continued by the Tory-led coalition government, has recently encouraged Muslim women to speak out about Muslim men who may be considering going to Syria to engage in the armed struggle. This focus adds to the narrative of Muslim people as terrorists and jihadists, both one-dimensional and stigmatising. It is in this landscape that the notion of Muslim feminism is much maligned.

The disparity between what my feminism is and the media perception of Muslim women is vast. My feminism is empowering and enabling; it provides a structural analysis of the impact of patriarchy; it is at the intersection of being a Muslim cisgender woman of colour with complex mental health needs. However, given the dominant media portrayal of what Muslim women supposedly are, and what are preconceptions must therefore be, it is no wonder some people see being Muslim and a feminist a coupling too unlikely to be believable.
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Body Narratives sparks a debate on Muslim feminism

by Huma Munshi

As a Muslim woman, a space to share my story and talk about my feminism is scarce and (therefore) precious. I was reminded how important these spaces are to me as I attended the launch of the Body Narratives exhibition, A Different Mirror. A discussion with some of the organisers inspired this column.

The media focuses on Muslim women for all the wrong reasons. The so-called anti-terrorism strategy, Prevent, launched under New Labour and continued by the Tory-led coalition government, has recently encouraged Muslim women to speak out about Muslim men who may be considering going to Syria to engage in the armed struggle. This focus adds to the narrative of Muslim people as terrorists and jihadists, both one-dimensional and stigmatising. It is in this landscape that the notion of Muslim feminism is much maligned.

The disparity between what my feminism is and the media perception of Muslim women is vast. My feminism is empowering and enabling; it provides a structural analysis of the impact of patriarchy; it is at the intersection of being a Muslim cisgender woman of colour with complex mental health needs. However, given the dominant media portrayal of what Muslim women supposedly are, and what are preconceptions must therefore be, it is no wonder some people see being Muslim and a feminist a coupling too unlikely to be believable.

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