Critical Mass of Badass: “Badass Muslimahs”

Critical Mass of Badass: “Badass Muslimahs” November 23, 2010

A recent addition to the thousands of Tumblrs intended mostly for the edification of their own creators, Badass Muslimahs began as a project in mid-October 2010. The site’s creator, Sara, has little besides a small blurb to describe her Tumblr’s purpose—but then, words are not really the currency of Tumblr. (Founded in 2007, the microblogging site has taken off since the beginning of 2009 and is now arguably the hottest and most accessible blogging portal available). “Badass Muslimahs,” as Sara explains, is “not an attempt at ‘breaking stereotypes’ or trying to enlighten people.” Instead, it’s her way of “countering all the nonsense”—the “sensationalist, exoticized, demeaning portrayals of Muslim women seen all throughout the media…” Sara, it seems, just wants to pay homage to some badass Muslimahs.

But as an addition to the growing chain of Tumblrs that reflect the diversity of Muslims, “Badass Muslimahs” is, in fact, a big deal. Tumblrs like “Pictures of Muslims Wearing Things” and “Covered Muslim Women Everyday, Everywhere” have garnered media attention because they actively respond to assumptions about Muslim women. But “Badass Muslimahs” is explicitly not an activist site. Sara clearly says she’s not there to educate the ignorant masses—but, inasmuch as the Tumblr exists, it is activist in nature. “Badass Muslimahs” is significant as another perspective changing the way Muslim women are portrayed. Its value inheres in its single voice, as does the value of any blog or media form that adds to the discussion.

On “Badass Muslimahs,” photos are posted sporadically and with varying amounts of commentary. Some of them make more sense than others, but then, the point is not really to make anything digestible for an audience. Some of the photos are of Sara, or of her friends, and some are sourced from other Tumblrs. Then there’s Umm Kulthoum, whom Sara calls “the ultimate Muslim diva,” and Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, who plays Division I basketball for the University of Memphis while keeping her hair and body covered.

There’s something charming about the potential of Tumblr—as with Twitter and Facebook and blogs in general—to revitalize the discussion because it’s done almost lazily, with photos from other people, few words, and a considerable amount of user-generated response. It’s rapid, quick, and it provides a counterweight to the images of mainstream media outlets. The more, the merrier!

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