Penn Today, the journal site of the Pennsylvania university, ran an essay about “understanding” the middle east/Africa through comics panels, and what a surprise, they even made sure to cite Muslim Ms. Marvel Kamala Khan as a perfect example for both Islam and “feminism”:
Rhett presented a piece of a chapter she’s currently working on for a book looking at feminism in Marvel comics, a piece on Ms. Marvel, in particular the latest iteration of Kamala Khan, 16-year-old Muslim Pakistani-American from Jersey City, New Jersey.
While the idea of feminism doesn’t have a long history in comics, and the idea of Islamic feminism even less so, the Ms. Marvel series offers a chance to study a Muslim superhero, Rhett said.
She pointed out the hijab as a powerful symbol of self-identity tied up in women’s rights, equality, and patriarchy.
“As with any superhero, the question of the alter ego concealment is a significant one,” she said of the few Islamic superheroines. “The question is intrinsically tied to their marked and unmarked identities as Muslim. Islamic superheroes often utilize conservative Islamic dress as part of their superhero costume, and in this way the hijab, the abaya, the burqa all become tools of concealment identity, at the same time identifying these characters as Islamic.”
She pointed to Faiza Hussain from “Captain Britain,” Dust from the new “X-Men,” the main character from the ongoing web comic “Qahera,” and the “Burqa Avenger.”
Anybody who’s going to cite wearing outfits concealing and denying women an identity as a perfect role model is not only validating body-shaming, they’re disparaging femininity as we know it. They’re also embracing a form of segregation and isolation. Some “feminism” alright. And it makes no difference what the religion in focus is; I believe any religion that would promote such a sex-negative concept is doing a terrible disfavor for women. But here’s where things really get weird:
She quoted Deena Mohamed, the Egyptian illustrator behind “Qahera” on the reasons behind her work.
“She said, ‘An evening of reading the most awful, misogynistic articles and dumb Islamic websites led me to this. I’ve always kind of wanted to do a webcomic starring a badass Muslim superhero who defends women against the kind of stupid idiocy that we have to put up with every day, whilst shutting up all the white feminists who tried to co-opt the struggle,’ the quote read.”
Although this dichotomy between a Western idea of feminism and non-Western ideals of feminism is nothing new, Mohamed “very succinctly gets at the frustrations many feminists around the world feel at the co-option of the feminist effort by upper class and often white feminists, negating the voices of the vast majority of women around the world,” Rhett said.
Now that’s pretty strange the “scholar” who looked this stuff up saw nothing wrong with embracing somebody who shuns feminists on the grounds they’re white (which, I thought, is the background of a lot of the world’s Arab populace). At the same time, they ignore and obscure the real picture of Islam, where subjugation of women, forced to obey the will of a man, is advocated and allowed, certainly in countries and districts where the most extreme leaders, education and indoctrination reign supreme.
Not only can comics and graphic novels be useful for understanding the Middle East and North Africa, but they can help readers gain a “deeper richer understanding of the variation of feminism across the world,” she said.
Unfortunately, if Islam is given a pass, right down to its advocation of misogyny, antisemitism and racism, and this kind of propaganda angle applied, then there’s no genuine understanding at all. And all the while, stories tackling challenging issues like Islamic jihadism have long been banned in the mainstream even before 9-11, while stories drenched in sugar like the Muslim Ms. Marvel propaganda are fully allowed. And left-leaning bastions like Penn.U make things worse through their own propaganda writings.
Originally published here.