Many scholars argue that the image of Arabs in Hollywood has always been tainted by prejudice and stereotyping. However, little attention is paid to women's representation in general or the influence of 9/11 on that representation. This paper compares portrayals of Arab women in popular Hollywood films before and after 9/11. A purposive sample of 76 Arab female characters from 40 popular Hollywood films is used to conduct a content analysis, comparing portrayals in films released before and after 9/11. Popular Hollywood films are defined as films with at least 50,000 reviews that score seven or more on the International Movie Database (IMDB). The results show that Arab women’s representation lacks diversity and Arab women remain unidentified in Hollywood films. Arab women’s portrayal shifts from one of the magical or sexualized characters to one of the violent terrorists. Despite the overall increase in the amount of violence depicted after 9/11, there is a shift in favor of the portrayal of Arab women, with more depicted as good or pure after 9/11. Finally, the results show that the morality of Arab female characters improves, with more characters depicted as evaluating options and making their own decisions.
Eissa, Eiman A.; Guta, Hala A.; and Hassan, Rana S.
"Representations of Arab Women in Hollywood Pre- and Post- 9/11,"
Journal of International Women's Studies: Vol. 24:
5, Article 21.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol24/iss5/21