Resisting Orientalist/Islamophobic Feminisms

(Re)Framing the politics of difference

Authored by: Fatima Zahrae Chrifi Alaoui , Shadee Abdi

The Routledge Handbook of Gender and Communication

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138329188
eBook ISBN: 9780429448317
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9780429448317-22

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Abstract

The relationship between “Muslim,” “Arab,” and “Feminism” that has been deemed antonymic is currently a contested zone due to the resurgence of the popular Orientalist and Islamophobic stereotypical racial discourses on Arab and Muslim subjectivities. The liberal deployment of a rhetoric that conflates Arab and Muslim womanhood with victimization also positions a mainstream “American” feminist as the feminist subject par excellence. In this essay, we first cover the literature on Orientalist/Islamophobic feminism that has “shaped” Arab and Muslim feminism as oxymoronic and nonexistent, emphasizing the events of 9/11. Second, we draw on theories of women of color to demonstrate how they forged an inclusive visibility for Arab and Muslim feminism. Third, we theorize Muslim feminism as a movement that embarks on new spaces to understand the multiplicity and specificity of subjectivities within Muslim and Arab communities (rethinking feminism). Ultimately, we argue Muslim feminists create a middle space “in between” the binaries to produce alternate discourses to challenge and disrupt the knowledge, the representation, and the discourse associated with them.

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