Major Project: The Other Woman

Video Description

‘The Other Woman’ is a critique of Western Orientalist representations of on Arab Women. Through this visual essay, I explore the ways digital media is able to provide Arab women with a platform to represent their lives the way they live, rather than through the Orientalist lens of the West. I briefly discuss the history and context that surrounds the representation of Arab women as the oppressed ‘other’, while drawing on case studies to showcase the ways Arab women can utilise digital media to have a voice.

Reflection

After much deliberation, I decided to go against my original format (podcast) and present ‘The Other Woman’ through video. I researched different formats for exploring the subject area of my project and determined that by creating a visual narrative, I would be able to present my findings in a way that is more interesting for an audience. As one of my case studies was purely visual (the webcomic), it also made more sense to create a video and share my findings visually.

As my project required a lot of information, I was concerned there may be too much text, which could risk losing the audience’s interest. I decided to break up the text with different images and videos, while also choosing a sound piece to complement my narrative. I was very careful to be sensitive with the content I used to portray my research, bearing in mind that certain images could still come across as Orientalist to the viewer. To combat this, I decided to mainly use images from my case studies, which I was then able to add context to, removing the stigma of these women as the ‘oppressed other’ and highlighting their experience as Arab women who actively challenge both their culture and Orientalism.

I wanted to use Arabic music that didn’t risk sounding overtly orientalist, so I researched female Arabic musicians and discovered a Lebanese band, Soap Kills, who are an electric-pop duo that sing in Arabic. I sampled two of their songs throughout my video, which I felt worked to create and support the pace and tone of my project. Though I was dealing with a dense and sensitive subject, I didn’t want the tone of the project to be upsetting or confrontational, as I felt this would be redundant to a Western audience. Instead, I chose to highlight that Arab women are more diverse and varied than the West’s projection, creating a more upbeat tone.

The strength to creating a video is the ability to combine sound, footage, images and text. This keeps the content fresh and interesting, and it also forces the full attention of the audience. Through video, I was able to bring Deena Mohamed’s web comic to life and to also show Amy Roko’s videos and tweets. Through creating a video, I was able to have complete control over how the audience experiences my research by editing the music, images, text and footage to play in the format I choose. This allowed me to control what I wanted my audience to experience and how they experienced my findings.

A limitation to using a video is that it is very visual based and I needed to include text to make my argument. I tried to simplify my text to allow for its placement in a visual format, which may have limited my information and may also be hard for the audience to soak up in a video format. To amend this, as stated earlier, I made sure to include images and footage to keep the overall content interesting.

 

References:

Al Majid, A. 2015, Social media star Amy Roko on being funny and female in Saudi, Medium (originally published on AJ+ News), accessed 25/05/2014, available at: https://medium.com/aj-news/social-media-star-amy-roko-on-being-funny-and-female-in-saudi-f5a14b233baf

Ammar, M. 2013, It’s A Bird…It’s A Plane…It’s Qahera!, The Daily Beast, accessed 26/05/2015, available at: http://www.thedailybeast.com/witw/articles/2013/09/22/meet-qahera-egypt-s-hijab-wearing-comic-superheroine.html

Grigsby, H. 2015. A New Feminist Movement? Middle Eastern Hijabis as Superheroes. Aquila Style. Accessed 08/04/15, available at: http://www.aquila-style.com/focus-points/muslimlifestyle/new-feminist-movement-middle-eastern-hijabis-superheroes/93213/

Odine, M. 2013. Role of Social Media in the Empowerment of Arab Women Global Media Journal 12.22 (Spring 2013): 1-30. Accessed 06/04/15, available at: http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/docview/1355103932?pq-origsite=summon&accountid=15112&selectids=10000039,1007139,1000001,1007133,1007884,1007885,1007886,1007887,1007888,1007889,1007883,1007912,1007913,1007914,1007915,1007916,1007917,1007911,1007898,1007899,1007900,1007901,1007902,1007903,1007897

Professor Alsultany Discusses Images of Arab Women 2011, Youtube, Arab American National Museum, Mar 31, viewed 26 May 2015, accessed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8QeUG0C6Hk

Said, E 2001, ‘From Orientalism’, in V Leitch (ed.), The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, W. W. Norton, New York, pp. 1991-2012 As cited by Evelyn Alsultany: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNI8zc6r7KU

Footage used:

Roko A, 2015, skateboarding into town, 22 Apr 2015, tweet: https://twitter.com/AmyRoko/status/590548805076017152

Extrait Burqa (scene from Sex and the City 2), macerrise, Youtube, Nov 14, viewed 28/05/2015, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxjmaIqZY5M

Images:

All screenshots from Amy Roko’s Twitter feed, available at: https://twitter.com/AmyRoko

Screenshot of Amy Roko’s Vine, available at: https://vine.co/u/971873427982278656

All parts of Qahera The Superhero webcomic, accessed from: http://qaherathesuperhero.com/

Farish, Saidi, N, 2014, Pinterest, accessed 27/05/2015, available at: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/512284526336356706/

Qahera, Une Super-Herione Egyptienne, 2014, Avoir-Alire accessed 27/05/2015, available at: http://www.avoir-alire.com/qahera-une-super-heroine-egyptienne

 Roger Fenton Pasha and Bayadere, 1858, Wikipedia, CC, accessed 27/05/2015, available at: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pasha_bayadere.jpg

 Who’s afraid of twitter?!, 2011, Wale, flickr, accessed 28/05/2015, available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wale_ade/5566643928

Screenshot of Youtube clip with Asmaa Mahfouz, 2011, Iyad El-Baghdadi, Youtube, accessed 28/05/2015, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgjIgMdsEuk&feature=youtu.be

 Feminism and Feminist Tactics, 2013, stillhavetoprotest, wordpress, accessed 28/05/2015, available at: https://stillhavetoprotest.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/feminism-and-feminist-tactics/

Spread this like wildfire, 2015, Amy Roko, 19 Mar, tweet: https://twitter.com/AmyRoko/status/578287533416525825

Music

Soap Kills, Tango, Soundcloud, accessed 26/05/2015, available at: https://soundcloud.com/soapkills-official/tango-album-cheftak

Soap Kills, Galbi, Youtube, accessed 26/05/2015, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mE_KBO9QTwY

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About intersectionalalien

Hi hello people of earth/space/cyberspace, intersectional alien here. I’m still trying to figure out my place on this earth. I like intersectional feminism, feminism in popular culture, LGBTQ+, refugee rights, veganism, mental health, nihilism, travelling, unlearning institutional conditioning, good tunes and consuming and creating stories.
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