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Postfeminist paradoxes and cultural difference: unpacking media representations of American Muslim sportswomen Ibtihaj and Dalilah Muhammad
chapterposted on 2018-01-01, 00:00 authored by Sumaya F Samie, Kim ToffolettiKim Toffoletti
This qualitative analysis of mediated discourses produced in and by US media throughout August 2016 unpacks how postfeminist sentiments were used to frame two Muslim sportswomen who represented Team USA during the 2016 Rio Olympics: Ibtihaj and Dalilah Muhammad Findings suggest that whilst both women were positively framed in and through a range of ‘individual willpower’ and ‘empowerment’ discourses, media articulations of their individualised femininity and feminist politics also consolidated a range of established myths about the Muslim female subject, and the superiority of westernised forms of femininity. Hence, while Ibtihaj was sensationalised as a ‘hijab-wearing’ heroine, and Dalilah was depicted as an uncovered, self-assured, (athletic) ‘queen’, within these media articulations, Ibtihaj’s veiled success further corroborated notions of American neoliberal superiority, and Dalilah’s uncovered success was an emblematic celebration of the superior forms of western freedoms awaiting those who transcend religious and cultural affiliations.