Today I read an article that really got under my skin.
The author uses the term fetishisation in her evaluation of a recent TV show, which opens with an episode on marriage in the Muslim community. Turning to the dictionary definition of ‘fetishisation’ to fetishise something is to make it the object of a sexual fetish, or to be irrationally and excessively devoted to an object or activity. To then extend this to frame what is happening to Muslims is problematic for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the rising interest in the lives of British Muslims is an extension of the good Muslim/bad Muslim paradigm, a human response to the framing of Islam as something to be fearful of. Given the way in which Muslims are portrayed negatively in the media, surely a series such as this is a step in the right direction? To use language that carries overtones of degradation to describe what you think society is doing to Muslims is creating something that simply does not exist. The implications of this are far reaching. Using such language entrenches the mechanisms of self-victimisation and the ‘them against us’ attitude within the already unstable and troubled lands of our identities, which we have to battle on a daily basis. We don’t need to be told we’re also being fetishized and that too, by fellow Muslims.
Secondly, it’s an unfounded and baseless claim. To view one episode of a new series that focuses on providing an insight to the lives of British Muslims as ‘fetishisation’ of the normal Muslim is absurd. If this is fetishisation, please call me an extreme fetishiser of animals for watching David Attenbrough’s Planet Earth Series.
Thirdly, to say that ‘normal Muslims’ are now a fetishisation removes the value and credibility from the things that actually need us to be resisting and challenging the boundaries of. Are we seriously complaining about a TV show following the lives of British Muslim experiences? As a community, we’re gravitating towards the situation of the boy who cried wolf. We want the world to take our contributions and opinions seriously. Articles such as this prejudice and drown our contributions as a community in self-pity.
We need to get over ourselves as victims of everyone and everything.
It is unacceptable to be throwing such words around so carelessly, without giving thought to the consequences. It’s appalling and it needs to stop.