The news media offer slanted coverage of Muslim countries’ treatment of women

Source: Washington Post

By Rochelle Terman

Are Muslims inherently misogynist? Many Americans seem to think so. Public opinion data reveal anxiety about whether Islam is compatible with Western values. A big part of that unease comes from the perception that Muslim societies are sexist and patriarchal. Earlier this year, liberal comedian Bill Maher called it a “fantasy” to assume Muslim refugees would be able to integrate into Western countries because they “come from very misogynistic cultures.” 

Muslim women praying.jpg

Muslim women pray upon seeing a relic believed to be hair from the beard of the prophet Muhammad during Meeraj-un-Nabi, a festival which marks the ascension of the prophet to heaven, at the Hazratbal shrine in Srinagar, Kashmir, on April 25, 2017. (Reuters/Danish Ismail)

To be sure, few people would deny that there’s sexism and gender discrimination in many Muslim societies.

But American public opinion about Muslim women’s rights may come in part from an imbalance in media portrayals. In a forthcoming study, I show that U.S. media outlets portray Muslim society as distinctly sexist and misogynist, even compared to similar non-Muslim countries with poor women’s rights records. That may feed negative stereotypes about Islam — which affects public attitudes and public policy.


3 replies

  1. Misogynism by men towards women is not exclusive to Islam. Western women have been fighting for a long time to achieve equality with men and there is still some way to go. I remember not so long ago that women could not make major purchases such as property, most such purchases were in the name of the husband. Domestic abuse still goes on, and it was considered acceptable until recent times. I was shocked when I found that beating women as a form of punishment was recommended in a book by Martin Luther, so exists in Christianity the same as it does in the Qoran. Time for universal change is well overdue.

  2. “I was shocked when I found that beating women as a form of punishment was recommended in a book by Martin Luther, so exists in Christianity the same as it does in the Qoran”. Arabic text is very rich and is subject to various interpretations. But more than the interpretations, its important to refer to the life of the Prophet of Islam, where there is not a shred of evidence that he interpreted those verses that way. On the contrary, despite some domestic issues, the Prophets conduct was impeccable, deeply respectful and most kind and loving towards his wives. That is the true interpretation of the Quran and a living proof of the fact that Islam does not condone beating up women in any form or relationship.

    • The next part of verse 34 of Chapter four states: “But those [wives] from whom you fear betrayal — [first] advise them; [then if they persist], leave them alone in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they mend their ways, seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever-Exalted.” Similar commandment is also sent for women that if they see betrayal from their husbands, they can seek separation or divorce from their husbands (Quran 4:128). However, in both cases, Allah advises men and women to try their utmost best to make the marriage work.

      In the case of 4:34, as I searched more, I found that the word translated as “to strike” is “idribuhoon” from the root word “daraabaa.” This one word in Arabic has multiple meanings and is used in the Quran many times with different meanings, such as:

      – To travel, to get out: 3:156; 4:101; 38:44; 73:20; 2:273·

      – To strike: 2:60,73; 7:160; 8:12; 20:77; 24:31; 26:63; 37:93; 47:4·

      – To beat: 8:50; 47:27·

      – To set up: 43:58; 57:13·

      – To give (examples): 14:24,45; 16:75,76,112; 18:32,45; 24:35; 30:28,58; 36:78; 39:27,29; 43:17; 59:21; 66:10,11·

      – To separate, to ignore: 43:5·

      – To condemn: 2:61·

      – To seal, to draw over: 18:11·

      – To cover: 24:31·

      – To explain: 13:17.

      See more:

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