Muslim Women in Popular Culture

Eliz Ozden

Popular Culture

Mirror Essay


it is an indisputable fact that there is extreme gender discrimination in regards to Muslim women. Women are judged, persecuted, cast out and punished due to their gender and the way they choose to dress and act. Discrimination against women exists all over the world. Western media depicts islamic women as oppressed secondary citizens who are hidden behind a veil; terrified creatures with no future and prospects..  These women are voiceless, victims of a life they are born into. These media reports are done by the uninformed, mostly biased media outlets who want to sell their papers by using sensationalism. The mistreatment of islamic women by their counterparts is not a result of religious teachings, but rather is a result of male dominated societies.


Thanks to Prophet Mohammed and his teachings, since its beginnings islam has afforded women equal rights in all areas of life, those rights whom western women fought so hard to gain at the turn of the 20th century were given to muslim women 1400 years ago. They were looked upon as precious beings to be cherished and taken care of. Hijab, the veil was not seen as a restriction but a form to give poise and respect, something that Western media tends to keep out of their depictions of these women. The veil is not seen as a form of oppression, restriction but a choice, to pay respects to Allah.  It is worn as a form of preventative tool to protect women from being perceived as sex objects and an object of lust and desire..Quran states that” woman stands on equal footing with man.”


Before Mohammed’s teachings women were seen as the property of their husbands, mere possessions…who had no rights. With islam, children were told to respect their mothers if they wanted to walk the path of salvation. Women had rights to inherit, spiritually advance themselves, and a right to education. Law makers often sought out women’s advice in law making, while men were commanded to take care of their women both emotionally and financially.


in the early years of islam women took parts in all all aspects of life. They were soldiers, educators, homemakers. merchants, and healers. Women in turkey- a predominantly islamic country were given the the right to vote at the beginning of the 20th century, ahead of most westernized countries. History books are embellished with the proud achievements and legacies of islamic women.


The Biased, uninformed western news media, continues to try and portray islamic women as being oppressed, mindless victimized objects, unable to progress or to make decisions about their own lives, bodies doomed from birth, to a life of misery. The media instills an intense fear and provides inaccurate misinformation to already uninformed western minds causing havoc, hatred and discontent. Due to false/ inaccurate media reports islamic women face grave acts of discrimination/racism on a daily basis.. These reports have given a way to intense cultural misconceptions and misrepresentations.


I personally was raised in a Muslim home and chose for own personal reasons, to not continue the religion into my adult life. However, because I was able to grow up with people of that religion, I was able to see the different bias they received over time, that was indisputably harbored from hatred, and lack of knowledge. I don’t think there is anything wrong with people believing in something, and choosing to be concealed or revealed, because at the end of the day it is nobody’s business but their own. There was a statement made by a few friends of mine who happen to be muslim girls, and they said, “The nuns have been covering their hair for years, and that isn’t taboo, so why is our life choice.?”


Before we judge, we must understand that basing our judgement on false information, misconception and bias, leads to a world that will never change. We have to learn and understand individuals who are different from us. Learn about the essence of their religion, their cultural, historical, economical backgrounds. their struggle for freedom and equality, their historical victories. We must understand that to be covered up- is not a forced obligation but a choice. a spiritual choice, a bond between a god and women- a way to show their devotion to their creator, regardless if we believe in it or not. We must know that in any male dominated society western or not, the struggle for women is the same if not identical, and focusing on stereotypes, sensationalized journalism of an islamophobic media will only make us regress as human beings and deter us from finding out the truths, attaining bountiful personal knowledge, enrichment and stop us toward striving for a better world, where people have open minds,  live in harmony, regardless of age, sex, religion and color. journalists must study, acquaint themselves fully with the nature, complexities and history of the societies these women come from before writing truly informed  and accurate pieces on them. they must symphatize and be respectful of  the constant struggles of islamic women are trying to better/enrich themselves to the best of their capabilities.





Navarro, Laura. “WISE – Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality.” Representations in the Media. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2014.


Ghitis, Frida, and The Opinions Expressed in This Commentary Are Solely Those of Frida Ghitis. “Don’t Tell Muslim Women What to Wear.” CNN. Cable News Network, 04 Nov. 2013. Web. 08 Mar. 2014.


Greene, Richard Allen. “No Burqa Required: Muslim World Weighs in on Women’s Dress.” CNN. Cable News Network, 10 Jan. 2014. Web. 08 Mar. 2014.