Ms Marvel

Whenever the subject of cultural representation in media is broached, there's a comment you'll almost always hear: "I don't see what difference it makes." It's a statement made by people who believe it doesn't matter whether or not there are positive representations of minorities in media, a position held largely by those who are so used to having that luxury -- to seeing their culture well represented on television, film, etc. -- on a regular basis, that they have no concept of what it's like to be on the other side. Someone saying "I don't see what difference it makes" to a member of an under represented minority is often, in a sense, being honest: they really don't see the difference, because they've never experienced it.

But there are many who take a far less apathetic position on the topic. Being a woman of color means having positive representations of fictional characters who may share a background or upbringing similar to yours is rare. And if you're a Muslim woman in a post 9/11 world, it's even rarer. With that in mind, journalist Shehryar Warraich approached several Pakistani women to get their take on the upcoming Ms. Marvel, which stars Kamala Khan, a Muslim Pakistani-American teenage girl. The reaction was largely, but not exclusively, positive.

Warraich, whose article appears on the United Press International website, is based in Lahore, Pakistan. She asked several Lahore citizens for their thoughts on the new Ms. Marvel, including Qurat Ul Ain Arif, a 22-year-old graduate student who expressed her excitement about the project: "A positive image of Pakistan will be portrayed through the character of Kamala Khan. I am sure Kamala Khan is going to represent the true picture of Muslim families living in U.S. Moreover, girls are facing the same situation which Kamala Khan's story represents." Others shared that they viewed Khan as the evolution of women's status in Pakistan. "Kamala Khan will help mothers to have faith that their daughters can play an important role, as do their sons, in building the future," said Ruby Razzaq, a Lahore journalist.

But while the reaction was mostly positive, there are some who are concerned, including Sanam Iqbal, a housewife in Lahore. "It is unrealistic for a girl to be a superhero," says Iqbal. "The dress Kamala Khan will be wearing doesn't represent our Muslim culture either.

"I can't expect that Kamala Khan is going to build our country's image. I am sure there will be a conspiracy behind this idea, either to disrespect our family values or to damage our religion."

Ms. Marvel #1 goes on sale next Wednesday, February 5th.


[Via Robot 6]

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