I don’t see how the multitude of jokes concerning multiple wives relates in any way to Western…
Tad Blarney

Tad, when comparing two cultures that are so different, it’s easy to focus on the aspects that seem so disparate and hard to sometimes identify where there might be similarities. But we are first and foremost each human and then secondarily a product of our cultures. If you strip away the cultural differences you can see where we respond in the same way. While their women don’t enjoy the same level of freedoms that Western women do, it really hasn’t been all that long since women here couldn’t vote, go to college, etc. So, American women resorted to their feminine wiles — and sometimes thinly veiled threats — to get their way with their mates, which you can also see going on in the memes here. And just like Catholics who struggle to give up their favorite foods at Lent, some of these artists struggle with temptation during fasts.

Like anyone who moves to a new place (even between similar cultures such as Western Europe and the US, or sometimes even city to nearby suburb or one state to the next), the memes show that Muslims struggle with cultural dissonance and misperceptions. And like any group that doesn’t sit at the top of the social hierarchy — Muslims, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Buddhists, Jews, etc. — they have to deal with racism and the resulting view that “they’re all alike.” While the vast majority of Muslims in the US have never committed a crime, the majority of Americans fear them; this response is fueled by the media and satirized (lamented) in the memes. Similarly, black men in America are too frequently painted as all being unemployed drug addicts who don’t support their children; Hispanics are all lawn care workers and maids who can’t learn English, etc., etc. Obviously this is no more true for one group than it is for the next.

Traditional Muslim and Western cultures may be about as far apart as two cultures can get, and it really is hard to imagine how we can bridge such a big divide. But the author shows how the Muslim American community is slowly evolving and has adopted varying levels of Westernization. If we’re all to share this increasingly global world, it might behoove each of us to keep our minds open as well.

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