Sunday, December 1, 2013

Networked religion: Storied Identities on Pinterest

Throughout this semester I have studied how religion is lived out through media. Specifically I have conducted a case study to answer the research question, “How Muslim women are utilizing the images on Pinterest to alter preexisting stereotypes about women within the Islamic religion”.

Muslim women have utilized the characteristic of networked religion termed as “storied identities” Campbell (2011). Campbell wrote, “Anthony Giddens (1991) argues that identity is a highly malleable form, rather than something that is fixed and simply accepted or rejected.” (p. 4) Much of the western society has created a “fixed” notion of the identity of a Muslim woman. The western perception of a Muslim woman is exactly what Muslim pinners have sought to alter. In a generalized sense, westerners tend to categorize Muslim women in three common misconceptions; one, Muslim women are forced to dress modestly and it is physically unattractive; Two, that Muslim women are oppressed and forced into the Islam faith; And finally, the mentality that Muslim women are incapable of participating in activities that non-Muslim women are. One specific example is the pin I previously analyzed of an image of three young women holding up poster boards that read, “Islam is my liberation, my source of empowerment, my equality.  So we won’t be needing any of that ‘white non-muslim-women-saving-muslim-women-from- muslim- men crap.’  Simple and straight forward, this is an example of how Muslim women are trying to collaboratively create their “true” identity while simultaneously counteracting preexisting ones. Using Pinterest as a medium, Muslim women have rejected these negative stereotypes and through their pins have attempted to re-mold their perceived identity. It is evident that Pinterest can be utilized as a tool for Muslim women to “select, assemble, and present a sense of self” (Campbell, p. 8) It is also evident that Pinterest is being used as a self-identity reconstruction tool by Muslim women, directed toward non-Muslims.

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