What am I supposed to believe?
There are almost too many angles about Muslim women. Those angles might be a good thing. Not the slants, mind you (although those also abound.)
Do I misperceive Muslims? Or is the news riddled with misconceptions of those who live out the Islamic faith. Is my opinion built by rumors, fear, or perhaps even listening for too long to one side of the story? If this is the case, then the problem does not end with me.
Fear is not just a shadow when dealing with cross-cultural dynamics, it is a reality. Journalists are not exempt from this alarm. Reporting an honest narrative can be risky when the people on whom you report are disliked in droves.
If I find some bold (and supposedly true reporting) how do I narrow down the information in this broad topic? I can focus on the human rights issues assaulting numerous women in Arabic countries. Or are the controversial aspects of their faith the real news story? That last question has not gone without debate; is Islam misogynistic? Also, not all Muslim live in the tension of Terrorism sweeping through the Middle East, but there is violence in this religion.
The point? All these facets can confuse me away from an opinion. It isn’t two sides of a coin, but twists in a labyrinth. Journalists (professional and citizen alike) report opposing religious views, fascinating cultures, gender equality struggles, terrorism threats, and the tender or rough hearts of a lot of women. Sorting can be time consuming, and I don’t have a lot of spare time.
Sometimes the journalism is stunning and accurate, calling attention to victories, struggles, and everyday life of these women. But in the end, a detail will be forgotten, a definition or clarification neglected. This is not an easy one for journalists to present well. Someone will be offended, but the story has to be straightened out. (Hint: this is not going to happen.)
I can knock the journalist off the pedestal, or remove them from the chopping block. But it’s my own opinion I fear. I will never be thoroughly correct. I’m one woman, with one perspective. I can choose to see broadly, but I will still develop a bias (and everyone should.) If I stop pressuring for an unobtainably pure opinion, I can continue my research.
The struggle is real, and never complete.