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Women Spring: Reclaiming Resistance as the Ultimate Other

Abstract

Arab women are often marginalized in the minds of the West as oppressed by Arab, Muslim men. The language used to represent these women is often that of victimhood, stripping the women of the possibility of self-determination and agency. This article looks at a total of six articles and their commentary from Al Jazeera, Fox News, and Huffington Post to analyze how the language used in news articles both reproduce and challenge these stereotypes. The articles are specific to events related to the Arab Spring and women’s involvement in it. The commentary proves to be the true representation of Western knowledge production about Arab women as it ignores the elements of empowerment echoed in the articles, and focuses solely on the elements of Arab women’s passivity and Arab men’s brutality. I make the argument that this discourse is produced and reproduced in order to sustain a sentiment of Western superiority over the “brutal”, “oppressive” East. First, I discuss the absence real discussion about women in this conversation about women, and how it quickly turns to men and the East/West divide. Arab women become collateral damage in the bigger war and quest of the West to confirm its’ moral high ground above Arab Muslim men and their culture. I then discuss how some Arab women are taking control and subverting these images through a call to violence and a call for equal rights.

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