An Affront to the West’s Public Sexualization of Women

“He said, ‘You f**-ing terrorist,’”… “‘You deserve to die.’” …‘You’d better take that scarf off your head before I rip it off.’” ( [August 2, 2018])


With the trend of anti-Muslim hysteria going on these days, especially in the West, it is quite striking that it is modestly attired Muslim women who have received the brunt of anti-Muslim hate assaults and incidents – where the perpetrators have been by far mostly men (1). Why is this? The reason may be far deeper than they (the visibly looking Muslim women) being symbols of terrorism which the mass media helps to misconvey. Let us not think that these lost souls who verbally and physically assault these Muslim women are that naïve – we would be giving them too much credit (2). The reason seems to be an existential one. You see, a lot of the West thrives on the public objectification of women, this is more than apparent, where women’s bodies are used in advertisements, movies and the public sphere, beauty myth on women’s physiological and physical health, etc. (3) Desirous men love this about the West (instead of them opting for sexual restraint in both mind and body where Islam offers a purposeful prescription [4]) – it gives them free reign on public objectification of women, which enables the play in mind and/or action — and it is against this that the modest woman, in both attitude and attire, becomes an existential threat.


  1. “Anti-Muslim hate is clearly gendered. Muslim women are more likely to be attacked than men in most settings. The largest proportion of perpetrators are white males. This means that the largest proportion  of  incidents  involves  Muslim  women,  usually  wearing  Islamic  garments,  facing attacks from white men.” (The Geography of Anti-Muslim Hatred, Tell MAMA Annual Report 2015 [])


  1. “On one Friday night in the spring of our junior year, my friend and I were taking a late walk when a couple of white fraternity brothers shouted out of their car, “Take that shit back to India.” I’ll admit, this time the words hurt a little more, mainly because neither of us is from India. All joking aside, it did hurt that these Wesleyan fraternity brothers – who we’ve sat in semester-long seven-student seminars with – felt that it was their right to openly and publically shame us for acting different, all because we choose to dress in a way that does not allow them to see us the way they want to.” (–By-Zainab-Khan.htm)


  1. “In study after study, findings have indicated that women more often than men are portrayed in a sexual manner (e.g., dressed in revealing clothing, with bodily postures or facial expressions that imply sexual readiness) and are objectified (e.g., used as a decorative object, or as body parts rather than a whole person). In addition, a narrow (and unrealistic) standard of physical beauty is heavily emphasized. These are the models of femininity presented for young girls to study and emulate.” (APA Task Force [2010], “Executive Summary”, in APA Task Force, Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association)


  1. In Islam, men and women work together for the protection of themselves, each other, and society. Along with women, men must abide by public modesty standards, tellingly the Qur’an commands modesty to the men first before it commands the women. Islam rationally acknowledges the nature of the human being, and being that the goal of the Muslim is attaining and sustaining God-consciousness Islam provides a practical solution to foster it – the control of one’s desires to get at that higher state of Reason/mind, where using Reason to know oneself and God is put at a premium by the Qur’an for both men and women.


Further notes & references:

The public objectification of women also affects women objectifying other women explaining why some women have been perpetrators of taunting and assaulting modestly attired Muslim women. “Women objectifying women could take the form of “gender policing,” comments/suggestions, glances, and other behaviors that communicate the belief and prescriptive attitudes that women should conform to sexually objectified ideals.” (Szymanski, D. M., L. B. Moffitt, and E. R. Carr. “Sexual Objectification of Women: Advances to Theory and Research:.” The Counseling Psychologist 39, no. 1 [2011]: 6-38. Accessed October 16, 2014.)

“It was the colonialist’s frenzy to unveil the [Muslim] woman. In this battle, the occupier was bent on unveiling…because there is in it the will to bring this woman within his reach, to make her a possible object of possession.  This woman, who sees without being seen, frustrates the colonizer. By abjuring Western standards of liberation, she asserts an identity, and even power, of her own, thus refusing to acknowledge the validity of, and inherent power in, her colonizer’s unveiling, subjugation and rape of her own culture.”  – Frantz Fanon (philosopher & psychoanalyst of colonization), 1959






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *