From jahiliyya to Muhammed to fatwa chaos

“Women are the complementing halves of men,” said the Prophet Muhammed, who believed that a woman’s role as a daughter, wife and mother doesn’t presuppose her absence from the public sphere. The quest for strict gender segregation in many Muslim societies today is led by religious hardliners who view women only as a source of temptation, and who see no virtue in dignified male-female interaction. The Orientalists are often blamed for their sexualized depiction of Eastern women (especially in their portraits of harems), but some religious clerics go as far as to portray women as a source of temptation.

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The media giveth (and taketh away)

The depiction of women in the media has been the topic of countless articles; deliberators have filled many pages of text since the first person flipped on their television set and saw June Cleaver vacuuming in pearls. Some take the stance that there has been a drastic change since then, that we have come a long way with powerful characters such as Xena and MacKenzie Allen, the first woman president of the United States from the television show, Commander in Chief. Others conclude that with prime-time hits like The Bachelor, we’ve only moved backwards. Susan J. Douglas, author of Enlightened Sexism – The Seductive Message that Feminism’s Work is Done, posits a third opinion that is wrapped in the concept of enlightened sexism.

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