Islam: Latino women escape from sexualization
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?
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