It is dangerous to have a single version of femininity, and it is impossible to have a universal definition of empowerment for women. The U.S. media disregards this by its often narrow, Western-based depiction of female empowerment. The negative depictions of Middle Eastern citizens in the news result in a general rise in Islamophobia; many of the “hate attacks” have targeted women, who are more easily identifiable as Muslim if they chose to wear a hijab or the niqab. Recently, Middle Eastern activists have used comic strips to protest stereotypes while identifying with a critical eye the challenges that women face in their individual countries.
Read the full commentary in the Oct. 24, 2014, edition of the Baker Institute Blog.
By Kimberly Rightor, intern, Woman and Human Rights in the Middle East Program