When Safiyya Hosein, an avid reader and comics author, began to get pissed off with how Muslim characters are represented in fictional tales, she determined to assist change the narrative.

Hosein, who’s presently finishing a examine for her PhD in Communication and Culture from York and Ryerson University, is very within the perceptions of feminine Muslim superheroes within the communities they characterize, and the way fictional representations have an effect on actual shoppers.

As an expert comics author—with a chunk within the newest Toronto Comics Anthology about two Muslim ladies that search the assistance of a genie to avoid wasting a local people centre—Hosein plans to publish a web page of her official dissertation in comedian type.

Hosein’s examine is principally centered round depictions of two Marvel Comics heroes: Dust from the X-Men collection, who wears a niqab and may flip into residing sand, and Ms. Marvel, a Muslim Pakistani-American shapeshifter. She recruited 10 members between the ages of 18 to 28, principally round Ryerson’s Toronto campus, by flyers and talks in lessons. She confirmed them a presentation in regards to the two heroes, and interviewed them about their perceptions.

Hosein mentioned that the majority of her members actually related with Ms. Marvel, who’s offered as a typical down-to-Earth teenager from New Jersey and addresses themes of id and faith.

“It offers them somebody who’s a extra constructive archetype to narrate to,” she mentioned. “For feminine Muslims, after they have a task mannequin, or someone that they’ll relate to, that is constructive for them, as a result of usually the perceptions and depictions of Muslims in mainstream media are detrimental.”

Dust, however, represents a extra tokenized Muslim id that isn’t effectively represented, Hosein mentioned—most of her members didn’t discover her relatable both. She thinks her depiction is orientalist, which reveals in the truth that her powers are straight associated to sand and deserts.

She selected to deal with Muslim ladies as a result of they’re depicted in quite a lot of tales as needing to be saved from oppression. In Dust’s comedian debut, she is saved from the Taliban by Wolverine whereas unconscious. “There was at all times a fascination with Muslim ladies in widespread tradition as oppressed,” Hosein advised me.

Hosein thinks that when creators aren’t acquainted with the group they’re writing about, it’s extra possible that that illustration can be inaccurate or stereotypical: “There’s by no means been a Muslim that is been [Dust’s] creator, and it reveals,” Hosein mentioned.

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Ms. Marvel, however, is co-created and written by Muslim ladies, which she mentioned has brought on the character to be written in a way more delicate and real looking manner. Still, Hosein factors out that although Ms. Marvel’s tales deal with stereotyping of individuals of color generally, they haven’t straight addressed the on a regular basis Islamophobia that American Muslims face. “Ms. Marvel is an American superhero on the finish of the day, so why do not we see her deal with this actuality that so many Muslims stay with and stay in worry of?” she mentioned

Hosein mentioned that the one factor that caught out to her and her two analysis assistants is how each individual they spoke to handled their Muslim id in numerous, private methods. “Islam could be very a lot not a monolithic religion,” she mentioned. So although Ms. Marvel is likely to be relatable to some, having only one well-written Muslim superhero isn’t sufficient.

If she had the possibility, Hosein would need to additional examine the illustration of Muslim males, who are sometimes depicted as violent and uncivilised—although there are some exceptions, just like the Green Lantern Simon Baz. Even in these tales of feminine Muslims being free of oppression, the underlying message is that they’re releasing themselves from oppressive males: “When you consider that, what does that say about Muslim males?” she mentioned.

“Identity is such a private factor,” Hosein mentioned. “You can belong to the identical tradition and faith, however you’d have alternative ways of seeing it.”

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This article sources info from Motherboard