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Postfeminist Paradoxes and Cultural Difference: Unpacking Media Representations of American Muslim Sportswomen Ibtihaj and Dalilah Muhammad

  • Sumaya F. Samie
  • Kim ToffolettiEmail author
Chapter
Part of the New Femininities in Digital, Physical and Sporting Cultures book series (NFDPSC)

Abstract

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. While Ibtihaj was sensationalised as a “hijab-wearing” heroine, Dalilah was depicted as an uncovered, self-assured, (athletic) “queen”. Hence, while Ibtihaj’s veiled success further corroborated notions of American neoliberal superiority, Dalilah’s uncovered success was an emblematic celebration of the superior forms of Western freedoms awaiting those who transcend religious and cultural affiliations.

Keywords

Postfeminism Media Representation Muslim sportswomen Olympics 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.RichmondUSA
  2. 2.School of Humanities and Social SciencesDeakin UniversityVICAustralia

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