Self-Immolation and Sexism

Hi everyone! Sorry that my first post after a long break is a downer, but I just had to write about this.

Earlier today, this article popped up in my Google Reader. The title is “The Arab World’s Horrific New Trend: Self-immolation.” Apparently, this new trend is men self-immolating in protest of their governments. Six men have lit themselves on fire in recent weeks. This is news-worthy! It’s something important that should be commented on! This is new!

Unfortunately, it’s not. In Afghanistan alone, over 100 women self-immolated in 2010.  Several times the number of results appear when googling “self-immolation Arab” than when googling “self-immolation Arab women.” Even when adding “women” to the search, the first few results are about the “new” trend of men self-immolating. Because these are just women, right? Who cares about them! They’re just hysterical laydeez overreacting to some tiny problems, like women always do. No, until men are doing it, it’s not important!

This issue clearly illustrates that sexism still exists in the media. Self-immolation by women in Arab countries has been a known and studied problem for years, something committed by hundreds of women in response to abuse and a lack of control over their own lives, and yet the media still reports a series of six self-immolations by men as a horrific, serious, new, trend that we should be concerned about.

Just another example of women’s lives and experiences being invisible.

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