When one thinks about the Middle East, the images that usually come to mind are of veiled women who are oppressed by their religion and the men in their society, denied education and do not possess basic rights. Religion gives women rights that some women in the Western world did not have until recently, such as the right to own and maintain their assets.
For Muslims, the Quran promotes equality between the man and woman, forbidding female infanticide, encouraging parents to educate theirs daughter and sons, giving women rights in the case of divorce and allowing her to divorce her husband, and providing the right for women to own and inherit property. Nonetheless, there is a separation between culture and religion as people disregard the Quranic rights and follow the socio-cultural norms.
Women in the Middle East are portrayed as uneducated, backwards, oppressed and silent. Although there are some women who can fall under these categories, this is not an accurate depiction of all the women in the Middle East. In two-thirds of Middle Eastern countries, women outnumber men in universities. Some women have career and professions such as being active political figures, university professors, business owners, teachers, or doctors.
The image of the Middle Eastern woman is limited to the importance of being a “mother” in Middle Eastern media and a “housewife” in the context of Western media. The perspectives exemplified by these technologies have greater effects not only on the world’s view of Middle Eastern women and the region but also on the individuals in these communities.
The portrayal by the media influences the mindset of many because it is a technology that is embraced and used by many and allows us to go outside our realm of familiar and into the unknown. However, the media creates a particular worldview of that only shows one side to women in the Middle East- that is the negative or oppressed image. Some Middle Eastern women to have their stories go unnoticed or not represented by the media in order to silence them and reduce their presence.
Although Middle Eastern women are shown in the light of being oppressed and submissive, this is not the only story or image to portray the women of this region. Instead, different experiences are disregarded in order to create a generalized view of the women. The media outlets are biased towards women who are Arab or from specific Arab countries, overlooking the women in non-Arab countries, focusing only on the social standing of women who are shown in drama series on television and do not show the ability of women in fields such as politics, activism, education and other professional fields. In this manner, a certain negative perception of Middle Eastern women as weak, uneducated, oppressed and silent figures in society is revealed to the world and is rendered as the only image.