Muslim women's new defenders: Women's rights, nationalism and Islamophobia in contemporary Australia

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Women's Studies International Forum, 2007, 30 (4), pp. 290 - 298
Issue Date:
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In recent years, Australian nationalism has been increasingly framed against a dangerous Muslim 'other'. This article offers a gendered analysis of this nationalism, arguing that a discourse of protecting women's rights has enabled Islam to be portrayed as inherently misogynistic and therefore a threat to Australia's egalitarian culture. This racialised paternalism was clearly articulated in debates surrounding the December 2005 Cronulla riots, a response to the alleged aggressive and misogynistic behaviour of 'Lebanese Muslim' males at Cronulla beach in Sydney. The article shows that such discursive acts are part of a broader history of colonial feminism that legitimated Western supremacy through arguing that colonised societies oppressed 'their women' and were thus unfit for self-governance, a logic which has also been commonplace in the recent war on terror. It concludes by exploring how Muslim women themselves can speak publicly about women's rights without fuelling further anti-Muslim racism. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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