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      The Dichotomy Karima/Ruby in Italian Online Newspapers: Exclusions and Inclusions of Muslim Femininity in Post-feminist Culture

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          Abstract

          This paper focuses on the representation of Karima El Mahroug, alias Ruby Rubacuori (‘Ruby Heartstealer’), in the online editions of three Italian newspapers ( Il Giornale, Repubblica, Corriere della Sera). Karima/Ruby, a young woman originally from Morocco, was placed in the media spotlight for her implication in a sexual scandal involving the ex-Prime Minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi. The analysis shows a dichotomy in the representation of the young woman: as an ‘at risk girl’ or as a ‘post-feminist sex worker’. Karima’s national and religious origins contribute to the construction of her as a vulnerable, voiceless and fragile girl, made so by a traditional and sexist culture of origin. However, as the trial proceeds, a different construction of Karima, now fully identified with the name Ruby, emerges: an agentic, determined and assertive post-feminist sex worker who knowingly employed her sexual desirability for her own personal gains. As part of this evolution, Ruby sheds her ‘otherness’, becoming not only symbolic of Italian younger generations, but of the moral degeneration of the whole country. The narrative parabola Karima/Ruby that is engendered in the newspapers sees the incorporation of the Muslim woman in post-feminist culture, as well as her naturalisation as Italian, as long as she subscribes to its specifically neoliberal gender relations. This article explores the inclusions and exclusions of post-feminist culture, by investigating the normative discourses employed to make sense of Muslim femininity.

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          Post‐feminism and popular culture

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            Empowerment/Sexism: Figuring Female Sexual Agency in Contemporary Advertising

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              Islamophobia pre- and post-September 11th, 2001.

              Although much academic research has addressed racism, religious discrimination has been largely ignored. The current study investigates levels of self-reported racial and religious discrimination in a sample of 222 British Muslims. Respondents indicate that following September 11th, 2001, levels of implicit or indirect discrimination rose by 82.6% and experiences of overt discrimination by 76.3%. Thus, the current work demonstrates that major world events may affect not only stereotypes of minority groups but also prejudice toward minorities. Results suggest that religious affiliation may be a more meaningful predictor of prejudice than race or ethnicity. General Health Questionnaire scores indicate that 35.6% of participants likely suffered mental health problems, with significant associations between problem-indicative scores and reports of experiencing a specific abusive incident of September 11th-related abuse by respondents. The dearth of empirical work pertaining to religious discrimination and its effects is a cause for concern.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                2056-6700
                Open Library of Humanities
                Open Library of Humanities
                2056-6700
                27 May 2019
                2019
                : 5
                : 1
                Affiliations
                [1 ]King’s College London, UK
                Article
                10.16995/olh.428
                Copyright: © 2019 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

                Categories
                Muslims in the media

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