Islam: Latino women escape from sexualization

Posted by James, 29 Apr 08

It’s a hot summer day in West New York and Stefani Perada isn’t taking advantage of the warm day by walking in shorts and midriff-exposing halter tops as other Latinas in Hispanic neighborhoods would. Perada steps into the sun in a long jilbab, the kind of clothes worn by many Muslim women. You may think Perada is 30 or 40. She is only a 19 year old who converted to Islam like a year ago.

You may wonder … why the hell is she doing this? But, she said, “I am doing this for God, and one day I will be rewarded for what I am doing.᾿

You know what, she gets immediate results.

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Men don’t harass her as she walks down the streets. No more ‘Hey Mami, come over here?’ For once, if men are looking at her, it’s not for her body.

Perada is not alone. Most Latina women are getting tired of being called “mamacita᾿ in the streets. (In the Latino culture, men are macho and women are sex objects).The women have had it with the chauvinism of some Latino men and are now converting into Islam where they are covered up and immediately respected.

According to anecdotal evidence and a survey conducted by the Latino American Dawah Organization (LADO), whose mission is to promote Islam within the Latino community in the United States, the number of Latinos converting to Islam tilts slightly in favor of women — with 60 percent women to 40 percent men.

“The way Latin men portray women, it’s terrible,᾿ Avelar said. “You look at Spanish CDs, and you see women in bikinis on the cover.᾿ (Washington Post)

The Spanish language media also sexualizes women. But is it just them? We have to point not just one finger but all ten to our American media. Women’s bodies are used to sell almost everything … we have seen them in bikinis leaning on sports cars, holding wine glasses ….

But as one article puts it:

It’s easy to make everything so simple. Latinos disrespect their women; Muslims respect them. Latinas show off everything; Muslim women cover up completely. This simplification seems to be hard to avoid when discussing Latina converts.

Clearly, not all Latino women want to be sex kittens … not all of them want to emulate Jennifer Lopez or Christina Aguilera hence adopting a more conservative lifestyle and converting to Islam. Well, as it is stereotyping and sexualization isn’t something most women enjoy.

But, is Islam the only way to stop this sexism? And is it just Latino men that sexualize their women? Your thoughts?

10 responses to "Islam: Latino women escape from sexualization"

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  1.   fkoi says:
    Posted: 19 Jul 10

    It is sad to say but hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution has brought us to where we are now in the relations between the sexes. Woman were long considered chattel and that notion has not disappeared. Unfortunately that concept runs deep in every culture and religion. It is about power and maintaining power over women as been the male animal's quest long after they started walking upright. If Ms. Perada has found a relationship with God that she can live by and at the same time found relief from the ignorance of on-the-street harassment because of her gender, bless her. I'm not sure that other Muslim women from around the world have found the same freedom she has. I'd like to hear differently.

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  2.   PetiteChick says:
    Posted: 12 Jun 10

    I find this article to a bit one sided in the fact that again, generalization of a group or groups are taking place yet again. First off, Latino men are not the only ones in our society who acknowledge women who dress in this manner. I would imagine any man of any culture happens upon a woman who is scantily dressed would do likewise. Ya think? Yep. Secondly, outside of our Western Civilization here in the United States, other Spanish speaking nations the traditions and what is deemed typical varies. In certain areas of Spain the familiar cat call and how the women respond are entirely different and looked upon totally different than they might be here. Yes, the book is titled, "Spain Is Different." Author Helen Wattley Ames. Excellent read! Then you could always just put on some clothes, men being who and what they are and that is "visual creatures" you can then proclaim: "problem Solved."

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  3.   Smile4242 says:
    Posted: 13 Jan 10

    The men stopped harassing the women because the women converted to Islam? I have female friends in Muslim countries. Women get harassed there by the men, and the women are fully covered there, contrary to popular belief and what the powers that be want you to believe. The article sounds like propaganda to me. Men who harass women are not going to stop harassing women because the women changed religion. The men would have to change, not the women, for the harassment to stop. Now it may be true that many Latin men do not respect their women, but there are many who do, especially those who are Christian, although that is not a requirement. And I know many Muslim men who do not respect women, worse than Latin men. And I know many Muslim men who do respect women. While I understand that the ideal Christian and Muslim treats their women with respect, the reality is not everyone is an ideal Christian or Muslim, and there are a lot of them of both religions that do not respect women at all. The above article gives to many generalizations to be true. Too stereotypical. It reminds me of a Mormon women who insisted on marrying a Mormon man instead of a non-Mormon. She now realized the non-Mormon who was courting her had principles and values closer to hers than the Mormon she married. Oh, and the Mormon she married treats her like crap and does not respect her. Just because someone is in the same religion does not mean they have the same values as you, and does not mean they are respectful to women. I'm not knocking the ones who are, because there are a lot of great people out there of all religions and beliefs. But you can't realistically say all people of religion whatever are good. That is completely inaccurate.

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  4.   Renee says:
    Posted: 21 Aug 09

    Don't argue just live life...

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  5.   dan.A says:
    Posted: 14 Aug 09

    To paraphrase Dr. M.L. King---people should be judged by the contents of their brain and character, not by their clothes. The blame for sexism arises from many historical and contemporary sources: 1. misinterpetation of biblical and Quran sources 2. ancient roles of the sexes due to men's inability to have babies 3. The Clan structure, usually patriarchical 4. The advent of industrialization and advertising Many American males are brainwashed by scantily dressed women selling cars on TV and by products which are supposed to make them function better as males (Look at the Viagara and Levitra ads-pathetic, aren't they?) 5. The blatant hypocrisy of Congressmen, who mouth moral platitudes (family values) during election time, and when elected, cheat on their wives. This is not a failure of religion. It is a result of of greed on the part of sellers, and an extension of the hypocrisy evidenced by the leaders of religions who enrich themselves by promising their followers a piece of heaven in return for contributions. The Concept of Grace has been bastardized and now denotes that, if your are successful and have riches, then you must be in a state of Grace. Goodness, mercy, justice, and the Golden Rule(s) have been eliminated from many radio and tv preachers' agendas. Islam also suffers from these maladies, in that passages from Quran is either misquoted or taken out of context, just as in other religions, to serve political purposes, rather than to ensure the ideals which religions propound. We, the People, have a problem. Only we, the People can provide the solution, daily, on a one-to-one basis. We must look for samenesses, not differences, when we see others. 5. Many American women are told to use certain products (soap, perfume, clothes, etc.) to make them more "alluring" to men.

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  6.   JohnLove says:
    Posted: 20 Nov 08

    I agree with some of what Gladiola says in her statement. that women don't have to dress provokitage , showing their bodies to the public where men will take the way a woman is dress is what she has in her heart. the Bible says ,{so as a man think in his heart ,}so is he.what ever you have in your heart with finally show on the outside. in the way you dress, the way you talk to peoples.atitude,

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  7.   1rockgodess says:
    Posted: 10 Oct 08

    It said, "dress as you want to be addressed" not "convert as you want to be addresses" strangely as a woman living in this same world where most men are animals of some kind... this article story seems farfetched and outlandish....belive you me this is so not pragmatic. :-(

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  8.   Mo says:
    Posted: 30 Jul 08

    ...yes, when you dress a certain way, women must understand that its confusing to men.

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  9.   Kat says:
    Posted: 14 May 08

    I agree with the above response. I treat myself with respect and demand respect from men. Simple things make all the difference. If you dress like some video ho then men won't respect you but if dress respectfully, carry yourself with dignity, and have a good circle of friends then men will learn to respect you. I don't believe that I should have to convert to get respect. Men are dogs everywhere.

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  10.   Gladiola says:
    Posted: 02 May 08

    In response to that lady who converted into Islam. You could still get respect from men without converted into Islam, I am a black Canadian female, i do not carry myself in a way so men could be tempted by my body. I do not wear shots, t-shirts, bikinis, and very short dresses people can see my panty. I demand respect, i do not messing around. If you are selective with people you hang out with and date, you should not have that problem. She mentioned Latinos men do not respect their women and any other women for that matter, i personally think men behave this way because women let them treat them that way. Women have to know that when it comes to men, you would be treated the way you treat yourself. Let say you respect yourself, never call yourself dummy, stupid, idiot and carry yourself like a lady; men will respect you so does your co-workers, friends, and so on. I do not think i need to be converted into any religion in order to get respect from any body. I did a major at university in the World Religion, i have learned that Islam men are no better when it comes to women, they treat them like garbbage, women have no rights, they cannot even sit on the same table with their husband for supper. It's totally submission, Islam men behave this way in the name of Allah. In my studies, i have not seen it writting any where in the old Koran where Allah said to women that they should wearing the barqa, cover the whole body from head to toe, and let their husband treat them like dirt in order to go to heavan when they die. Islam men are the one that interpreted the new Koran the way they want it to be. Islam women do not have any rescourse, rights, respect from their husband, the women have to comply or they got bit up, raped or kill by their husband. These Muslim men are just fanatics, they are willing to blow themselve off killing innocent people, detroying the whole all in the name of religion.

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