Journal Article — Islamophobia and Sexism: Muslim Women in the Western Mass Media — by Laura Navarro




This paper reflects on the role of mass media in the social reproduction of one form of racism: Islamophobia. Firstly, the article focus on the dominant representations of “Muslim women” in the western media in general and in Spanish media in particular, in order to highlight the specific characteristics of the image of the female Muslim “other” and, likewise, in order to analyse— from a gender perspective—the symbolic mechanisms legitimising certain Islamophobic thoughts and practices. To this end, the author gathers the results of many researches which prove how dominant representations transmitted in the hegemonic media discourse in Spain reinforce today many stereotypes about Muslim women in general and migrant Muslim women particularly. In the second part, the article looks specifically at the treatment of l’affaire du voile (“the veil affair”) by the French media. Through the analysis of the origin and social implications of this law and its media treatment, the author tries to demonstrate how the defence of “women’s rights” was instrumentalised in the public debate and how claims identifying the racist aspects of the law were ignored by the majority of media and politicians, in spite of the fact that this law affected mainly the Muslim community—thus fuelling division and discrimination. In short, these issues reflect specially on the mechanics behind the “interlinking” of sexism and racism, from a material standpoint and, above all, from a discursive and symbolic point of view.

Recommended Citation

Navarro, Laura. 2010. “Islamophobia and Sexism: Muslim Women in the Western Mass Media.” Pp. 95-114 in Islam: From Phobia to Understanding (Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge: Volume VIII, Issue 2, 2010.) Belmont, MA: Okcir Press (an imprint of Ahead Publishing House).

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