By Misha Euceph
WASHINGTON— Muslim American women are more afraid, less assimilated and dislike President Donald Trump’s policies more than Muslim American men, in large part because they are more easily identified as Muslim, according to a recent Pew Research Center study.
While 70 percent of Muslim American men are “completely proud to be American,” only 62 percent of Muslim American women feel the same, the Pew 2017 Survey of U.S. Muslims found. In addition, While 68 percent of Muslim men say “they have a lot in common” with most Americans, only 52 percent of Muslim women find such common ground.
There’s a “clear distinction between Muslim women and Muslim men,” Zareena Grewal, associate professor of American and religious studies at Yale University, said after reviewing the study.
Fewer Muslim men report having all or mostly Muslim friends than Muslim women. The same trend applies to marriage, with more Muslim American men marrying outside of Islam, 16 percent, than Muslim American women, only 10 percent of whom report having a non-Muslim spouse.
Experts who consulted on the Pew study said that the appearance of Muslim women factors into the differing opinions.
“On the issue of gender and Muslim women, 50 percent of American women are distinctive in terms of their dress. They are encountering discrimination in their daily lives,” said Princeton University Professor of Politics Amaney Jamal.
Grewal agreed that Muslim women are more likely to be visibly identified as Muslim than men, making them more likely to be the objects of “societal discrimination.” According to the survey, significantly fewer Muslim men –27 percent— say there is something recognizable about their appearance.
The role of appearance becomes more obvious when looking at the responses of Muslim women who “always/usually wear hijab” compared with those who wear hijab less often. Eighty-two percent of Muslim women who wear hijab say there is something recognizably Muslim about their appearance compared with 25 percent of women who don’t wear hijab but feel similarly.
The contrast in the attitudes of Muslim women to men extends to politics and discrimination.
“The report rightfully focuses on the sense of being under attack that exists within the American Muslim community,” said Ihsan Baghdi, associate professor of Islamic studies at the University of Kentucky. “Muslims have never had such a high sense of danger as they do now.”
Three of four American Muslims believe they are discriminated against and 50 percent believe it has become hard to be Muslim in the U.S. But the response to Islamophobia is more extreme in women than in Muslim American men.
Muslim men are less worried and angry about Trump than Muslim women, 76 percent of whom say that Trump worries them. Almost 70 percent of Muslim women think that media coverage of Muslims is unfair while fewer Muslim men – 52 percent — think that is the case. More Muslim women think that people act as if they are suspicious of them compared with Muslim men.
“When we think about Islamophobia through a gendered lens, it’s not surprising that Muslim women report differently than men,” she said. “When we think about discrimination in general, it’s not applied evenly. We know sociologically that women experience more discrimination than men.”