Petition for Recognition, Media Project by Jasmine Hayden

Posted on May 27, 2014 by

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For my media project I produced a mock up of a scene that would be in potential play production including, the director’s and playwright’s notes.

Synopsis:

The play is based off of a series of individuals who are petitioning to a board for a national day of recognition of his or her’s chosen topic. The topics proposed vary from Recognition of Trees to Recognition of Hambugers and, each fighting for their own validity. The people petitioning are very passionate about their proposal, regardless of how ridiculous it sounds. This creates a comical relief for the political aspect of the play. The board grows more wary throughout the play and reacts very differently to each proposal. This specific scene is of a young American Muslim woman who is petitioning for there to be a national day of Recognition of American Muslim Women. Her argument is based off of the media she has been researching over the past few months. She has a powerpoint with valid arguments for her claim but ends up going off on her own heated rampage and completely disregarding her prepared presentation. The playwright goes more into depth of her analysis in the provided note.

Director’s note:

This monologue is intended to be a Western Muslim Woman’s response to the media that she has recently encountered. As she moves through her responses she points out elements that stick out to her as well as elements that could contribute to the sources bias or influence. At first she expresses her disdain toward ignorant representations of her Muslim identity, then she takes us through the journey she undergoes while researching the media representations of Muslim women in the West. The character is very sassy, sarcastic, and impulsive. She ends the monologue in exasperation as well as embarrassment  after her passionate outbreak which was obviously not in her index cards or powerpoint slides. The character’s unprofessionalism  may work against her ultimate goal of having the day of recognition but she gets her point across and definitely leaves an impression on the board.

Monologue:

(Standing in front board with powerpoint and index cards in hand)

At the beginning of my research I was really set off. I read things from people like incredibly biased and assumingly ignorant, Canada Free Press writer Fred Dardick. (Puts down index cards) Apparently I oppose freedom and advocate for violence. No wonder.. no wonder.. no wonder.. Every time I read that stupid phrase again I want to punch the screen in. Can he broaden the vocabulary a bit? I think it’s interesting though that his so called “data” is not only extremely outdated but seems to be pulled out of a hat. I better watch out because the Quran tells my brother and father they can murder me for any type of dishonor! I mean obviously he knows what he’s talking about because he is a practicing Muslim who understands every intricacy in interpreting the Quran. WHAT BULLSHIT. Sorry if I’m a little blunt but he sure as hell doesn’t mind making ridiculous accusations so why should I hold back, right? Oh no Dardick am I going to be killed now for all the dishonor I’ve just unleashed? Maybe you should try learning how to spell the word before you write an entire article criticizing it! God his whole argument was so outdated and offensive I can’t believe people get paid for this. At least the comments section was raging!

Thankfully, things went all uphill from there. (Tries to find her place in index cards)  Another source The Guardian, at least acknowledges that there is movement and that it’s getting bigger every day, but I knew that wasn’t going to be enough blow you over. This one actually had real people for references though!

As I kept going, I was actually pleasantly surprised to find an exceptional amount of work that directly opposed Dardick’s standpoint. Not only were these from more credible in that the information was taken from Muslim women in the West, but they had solid evidence. Perspective is important people!

(Continues to glance down at her notes) Huffington Post says to hell with previous misrepresentations of us! They don’t know our lives, they don’t know who we are! We are making progress and we are individuals outside of our Muslim religion! We are scholars, businesswomen, advisors, leaders, activists, and authors. Time says WOMEN are leading MEN in prayer! Take that patriarchy! If Time isn’t influential, I don’t know what is. Time says we’re persistent, and the ‘antidote to patriarchal expressions of Islam’. And I say hell yeah! We’re working in national security, public diplomacy, foreign policy, politics! Muslim feminism is a thing people!! WE HAVE A MUSLIM WOMAN RUNNING FOR PROGRESS DAMNIT! We are wearing our hijabs on the red carpet! There’s ample proof that we have moved on from the clichés of oppression!

The important thing here folks is that you need to get with the program. Even frontpagemag says its no longer the thing to assume we don’t want to wear hijabs. We are empowered by our religion not hindered by it! Csmonitor shows we know how to represent! Our talents are shining through and our attire just accents them with some Muslim flair!

Go on youtube! There are videos of empowered Muslim women who are taking a stand! Who are making a difference! Does that seem like sitting idly by while our ‘patriarchal Quran dictates our lives’?! I think not! We deserve a day!

Um.. (gathers herself and realizes she probably blew it) we deserve a day. Thank you for listening to my presentation board I really hope you take my proposal into consideration when you’re making decisions in regards to the national day..

 

Playwright’s Note:

This piece is based off the analyzing of ten media sources on the issue of Muslim Women’s battle against oppression within the Western context. The majority of articles (8 out of 10) found within recent media provide arguments against the commonly misinformed assumption that Western Muslim women are oppressed by the ideals set forth within their religion. Where as some sources such as Ummid, and Canadafreepress, claim that Muslim women are oppressed by their religion, the majority argues that such women are gaining more and more equality. Canadafreepress’ writer, Fred Dardick, is biased toward the topic as is evident through his opinionated commentary throughout the article. The main theme of this article revolves around the argument that the majority of American Muslims are radical extremists, so it is important to note that he is addressing a completely different topic but does still contribute to the issue at hand. Towards the end he states that women are doing nothing to stand up against the brutality that their religion condones. There is obviously a negative impression of the Muslim American community and his perspective casts it as the “bad guys”. Throughout this piece there are a lot of implications with no actual evidence so it is difficult to find this article incredibly reliable but it is important to include that these perspectives are still held by some.

Sources such as Huffington Post, Eastern Echo, YouTube and The Guardian focus more on disclaiming previous assumptions made on Western Muslim women. These claim that Muslim women are figures of advocacy and leadership and that they have moved on from the inaccurate cliché’s that so many seem to still believe. Where few sources claim women are forced to wear headscarves and are completely controlled by their religion, the majorities oppose these assumptions. There is a general consensus among recent media that previous media portray these women as misleadingly oppressed. These sources utilize research based off of statistics, interviews, and first hand perspectives, which all contribute toward their credibility. One of the major sources of bias throughout these sources is the fact that most of the articles specifically addressing Muslim American Women use these women’s own words used as evidence. This could be seen as a bias as there aren’t as many sources from other perspectives on the issue so these women could presumably want to reflect their identity in a positive manner. They all generally aim to break generalizations made on this particular population. They maintain facts throughout but often use opinion to solidify their standpoints which can also be a contributor toward bias.

The majority of the media coverage on this issue, it is contended that we are in the midst of a Muslim feminist movement. Influential sources such as The Guardian, Huffington Post, and Time highlight Muslim Women’s recognition as a community of empowered individuals. Huffington Post writer, Jennifer Zobar, has a personal connection that is not filtered when she says, “How sad that the media has done such a wretched job of portraying us. That it is heartbreakingly rare for us to see accurate portrayals of our lives. The Guardian claims “Islamic feminism is not a new thing.” Time notes “Muslim Feminism is being taken seriously by Western Muslims as the antidote to patriarchal expressions of Islam.” These sources do have far more coverage than their counterparts and standout by not only their prominence, but also their reputations. Proclamations that these women are progressively moving towards equality despite the religious values they still acclaim themselves to are far more prevalent. These media sources are few of the many that have similar perspectives and arguments toward the issue. Sources such Frontpagemag, Al Aribiya, and Time, focus on addressing the fact that Western Muslim Women are now recognized as empowered women while sources such as Csmonitor, Al Arabiya, and youtube.com, focus on demonstrating this proof through Western Muslim women’s accomplishments.

Csmonitor has quotes such as “Wow there’s a hijabi on The Oscars’ stage! Represent!” and “Hijabi love! Beautiful Muslim woman representing at The Oscars!” Al- Arabiya states, “Cheryl Sudduth is making history; she is the second Muslim woman to run for Congress in the United States. All women, Muslim women too, must be represented at levels of equity and diversity as they are part of the American society.” These sources are heavily influenced by previous media sources to which media now feels the need to refute. The overall tones of these articles are far more professional and provide solid evidence of women’s progress through facts within societal, economical and political matters through pictures, videos, and women’s testimonials. These sources do not make claims for or against Muslim Women’s Progress as previous sources did, but simply state what actions have been taking place and how the world has been responding to them. The general attitude toward the issue from these sources is genuine and positive while remaining mostly neutral.

Some of these sources had different objectives to their writing, such as Time’s A New Muslim Renaissance is Here, and frontpagemag’s The Brunei Moment but they still managed to include interesting commentary on the issue at hand. Frontpage mag states that American feminists have “had it beaten into their heads that they have no right to presume that Muslim women don’t want to wear hijabs or be second-class citizens.” This source mainly discusses other matters regarding Islam but intertwines this statement into its argument. From this article’s perspective it is also clear that its political agenda may be a source of bias. This is true with many other articles as well. These alternative agendas could definitely have influenced the article’s overall standpoint, mainly from cause of societal and political intricacies. There are several articles that come from different perspectives which can be representative of  the  influence of their political agendas. Most, however, are objectively aiming to prove a point. Even though there may alternative motives at work, it is important that these sources do fulfill their intention of countering previous media’s output while presenting valid perspectives that were previously unaccounted for.

Sources:

http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/6263 – April 23, 2014

http://www.ummid.com/news/2014/May/07.05.2014/attack-on-muslim-women.html – May 7, 2014

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-zobair/muslim-women-are-the-new-_b_4676624.html -January 28, 2014

http://www.easternecho.com/article/2014/05/american-muslims-are-still-american -May  4, 2014

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/15/british-muslim-women-find-feminist-voice – March 15, 2014

http://time.com/65094/look-out-for-the-new-muslim-renaissance/ -April 16, 2014

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/variety/2014/01/28/Defiant-Muslim-woman-on-trial-in-Britain-refuses-to-remove-niqab.html -January 28th, 2014

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/profiles/2014/05/09/Muslim-woman-running-for-U-S-Congress.html -May 8, 2014

http://www.frontpagemag.com/2014/dgreenfield/the-brunei-moment/ – May 9, 2014

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3srV1Dc1D4 February 1, 2014, (Muslim Women in New York Celebrate the Hijab)

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