The relevance of the study is due to the growing interest to the creating the image of a Muslim woman in modern Russian-language media. The purpose of this work is to systematize and describe the "Muslim woman” characteristics image from the standpoint of linguoculturology on the material of socio-cultural issues media texts. The research materials were articles from the modern Russian-language online magazine "Muslim Woman". To establish the means of the analyzed image verbalization, a conceptual analysis of linguistic units was used; to identify the means of linguistic representation of a Muslim women image a contextual-interpretive analysis was applied; also, the method of ordering and generalization was used. The linguoculturological analysis has demonstrated the presence of a certain number of characteristics that arise in the minds of a modern readers regarding the image of a Muslim woman, which include the following: a keeper of the family hearth, a supporter for a man, a submissive and obedient wife, an all understanding mother. During the study, it was also found that in the modern Russian-speaking linguistic community, certain shifts in the analyzed image are beginning to be observed, since new characteristics of a modern Muslim woman begin to form in it: the desire to climb the career ladder, a large share of independence from men, the ability to express their thoughts. A prospect for further research is considered to be the study of the representation of the Muslim wife image in other modern Russian-language media.
On the agenda of modern media, one of the items is gender issues, which are increasingly actualized in connection with the emergence of public resonance about certain events, activities, calls for the settlement of gender equality issues. Contradictory opinions, opposing positions, opposition of words and actions - everything that makes up the modern Russian-language gender discourse, as noted by Zinovieva (2018), becomes the media subject of interest, comprehension and retransmission. In this context, it is important to understand what the picture of the displayed phenomena in the media space is, how the images of a man and a woman are presented in it. But, ahead of the presentation of the study results, it is advisable to pay attention to the role of media in reproducing the image of a woman as a whole.
The role of modern Russian-language media in the coverage of gender issues has recently become an urgent topic of scientific and publicistic discourse. The media are accused of instilling and maintaining stereotypes: a manager, a good worker is a man, a keeper of the family hearth is a woman. On the other hand, a large number of various organizations, mainly religious, accuse the media of promoting anti-religious ideology (Mandel, 2016, pp. 276-277).
It should be noted that the media cannot make people think in a certain way, but they can set the agenda, that is, topics that will become relevant and discussed. The media are also a powerful means of legitimizing certain groups of society, their views and way of life, one of which is the Russian-speaking Muslim linguistic community. But one cannot agree with the opinion of some researchers that the media should be a “tool” to achieve certain goals of gender propaganda (Murashova, 2018). Media is primarily a mediator. Mediator between the physical and virtual world, between different groups of the population. At the same time, another group of researchers notes (Mohammed & Matvienko, 2019a; Ivanischeva, 2015; Rigoni, 2013) that media texts are one of the most powerful factors that determine public opinion by, forming public understanding and beliefs regarding socio-cultural issues, such as attitudes towards Muslim women.
Mohammed and Matvienko (2019c) academic studies have shown that the current online editions of such, as the British «The Guardian», «The Daily Telegraph», «The Financial Times» quite often maintain a certain perspective on Muslim women. Thus, in foreign media texts, coverage of a Muslim woman prevails, which is associated with oppression and passivity. Muslim women are often described as inferior beings, desperate for liberation from the Muslim patriarchal culture that hinders their progress (Mohammed & Matvienko, 2019c). In this connection, the issue of analyzing and highlighting the main characteristics of a Muslim woman image in modern Russian-language media publications of sociocultural issues is actualized.
Russian linguistics has accumulated significant experience in developing the problem of the woman image creating. That’s why; Chibysheva (2005) considered the analyzed image as a basic concept of culture, embodied in the phraseology of Russian and English languages. Mukhutdinova (2006) analyzed it in French linguoculture. In turn, Mohammed and Matvienko (2019a; 2019c) studied the of a Muslim woman image in the English-speaking linguistic culture. A study by Soltys (2020) was devoted to the study of the position of women from the standpoint of sociolinguistics in the Russian-language linguistic culture, where speech behavior in the Runet was studied by demonstrating the potential of language in solving the problem of gender asymmetry. This problem was also related to Salikhova and Sabirov (2018), who studied the woman politician image in a Muslim country.
It should be noted that these works in most cases have a general theoretical character or considered on the material of foreign-language sources, and therefore there is a problem as well - the lack of the researches due to the Muslim woman image on the Russian language material.
The highlighted problem involves the solution of the following tasks: 1) to analyze the theoretical premises for the study of the concept of "image" in linguoculurology; 2) to study the features of creating the image of a Muslim woman on the material of the Russian-language online magazine "Muslim Woman" (Muslim Woman).
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is to systematize and describe the characteristics of a "Muslim woman" image from the standpoint of linguoculurology based on the material of media texts of sociocultural issues.
The main research method was the descriptive one, which made it possible to systematically analyze the image of a Muslim woman in its Russian-speaking representation. The following methods were also used: conceptual analysis of linguistic units (to establish the means of verbalizing the analyzed image), contextual-interpretive analysis (to identify and analyze the means of linguistic representation of the image of a Muslim woman on the material of the Russian-language online magazine "Muslim Woman"), the method of systematization and generalization.
The Muslim Woman magazine has been published since 2009 with the support of the Muslim communities of Russia, the Islamic Culture Research Foundation, and the Foundation for the Support of Islamic Culture, Science and Education. This is the first glossy magazine on the territory of Russian Federation designed for a female audience professing Islam. The publication actively discusses issues of world politics and socially important problems. It is important that the articles’ authors in the magazine pay considerable attention to the issues of interethnic marriages and the position of Muslim women in different countries of the world where Islam is professed. The magazine focuses on positive examples.
Within the framework of this study, 6 articles from the "Muslim Woman" magazine were analyzed.
The scientific literature analysis on the issue of this study made it possible to define the concept of the "image". It is known that the "image" is at the intersection of various scientific disciplines, therefore in modern linguistics there is no single definition of this concept. Significant for the image is the ability to be a marker of the national picture of the world, to demonstrate the cultural determinants of a separate community, which gives grounds to consider the image as one that can reflect the various meanings of cultural markers of a wide range of semiotic systems, of which the linguistic one is rightfully considered to be the determining one (Bondarenko, 2017, p. 45). In linguoculturology (cultural linguistics), the concept of “image” is used, which basically covers the knowledge, thoughts, and ideas of an ordinary native speaker about a certain real or imaginary object (Bondarenko, 2017, p. 50).
In a certain way, stability is inherent in every linguistic community. So, for example, according to Mohammed and Matvienko (2019a), a Muslim woman image in modern media is characterized by purity, innocence, humility, femininity. At the same time, images in the minds of a certain linguistic community can change in accordance with the transformations of social reality and cultural ideas and norms (Khachmafova & Sereda, 2020).
In light of the above, we consider the gender image of a “Muslim woman” to be a culturally significant sociopsychological formation in the collective consciousness, which is realized in a linguistic form. The image of a Muslim woman in its linguistic representation reflects a number of its inherent characteristics, however, the image itself, according to Mohammed and Matvienko (2019c, p. 67), exists in a broad linguistic and discursive paradigm.
During the analysis "Muslim Woman" magazine media texts (Women's Magazine "Muslim Woman") it has been marked a various image of men and women: in accordance with the Koran the vast majority of the responsibility for family life carries a Muslim man, it provides financial, protects against possible threats from society, raising children in a in accordance with the commandments of the Koran, and a woman, in turn, must follow her husband everywhere, obey him, and be responsible for everyday issues. Although recently we can observe some change in the perception of Muslim women on the pages of the Muslim Woman magazine:
... The wife works, works like a horse, overcomes a powerful obstacle to advance the career ladder... "
As you can see, this passage focuses the reader's attention on the fact that in modern society Muslim women begin to occupy certain positions that were previously unavailable to them in accordance with the religious beliefs of the Muslim community. At the same time, the author of the article "Thank you for being near" Leila Natalia Bahadori notes that Muslim women are patient, purposeful and can overcome any obstacles.
It is also worth noting that the phrase “to advance the career ladder” demonstrates that Muslim women, like any other women in the modern world, have the right and the opportunity to occupy certain positions and build their careers, thereby the author of the article is trying to show the ordinary man in the street, that in the modern Islamic world prejudices about the limited rights of women have long been absent.
In this context, we note that the researcher Ponuzhdaev notes the trend of leveling role of Muslim women in the historical process, in connection with which the researcher is convinced that today's world requires a revision of the Muslim perception of the womenimage with current socio-cultural processes. So, the author notes that a positive feature of the Russian-speaking Muslim linguistic culture is the presence of a full-fledged feminine principle, which suggests that the fair gender has certain responsibilities, both to the family and to the Almighty (Ponuzhdaev, 2016, p. 273).
It should be noted that the gender characteristics of a Muslim woman image, taking into account their essence and the period of functioning in the language, can be divided into traditional, new and updated.
The traditional characteristics of a Muslim woman image are subordinated to the historically established cultural ideas of the Muslim Russian-speaking linguistic community about the social norms of behavior and the purpose of men and women in society, taking into account the Quranic dogmas. These include the nominative thekeeper of the family hearth. This nominative can be demonstrated by the following example of an article in the online magazine "Muslim Woman" by an unknown author "How to become an ideal wife: 10 tips":
The woman –is keeper of the family hearth .
New characteristics of a Muslim woman image arose in the language relatively recently under the influence of the conditions of the globalizing world and are based on the modern realities of the Russian-speaking Muslim linguistic community life. Demonstrating some traditional stereotypes through the use of certain sememes, they simultaneously form new, more relevant ideas about the "feminine" and "muscular" in the Russian-speaking Muslim linguistic culture. For example, in the article "Myths of married life or what is a Muslim woman crying about?" we can observe confirmation of this thesis:
... A woman in Islam is a woman, a wife, a mother, and not an impersonal slave …
Through the use of homogeneous members of the sentence (woman, wife, mother), the author manages to create a real image of a Muslim woman, impart emotionality and expressiveness to the description, and demonstrates a positive attitude towards the image of a woman in the modern Islamic world.
The actualized characteristics of a Muslim woman image are those that previously belonged to the traditional, but in the conditions of the modern Russian-language media discourse development have acquired a different meaning. In this context, through the prism of the prevailing stereotypical clichés, the image of a Muslim woman is perceived today as the keeper of the family hearth, which in the Muslim tradition characterizes the destiny of a woman mainly in the private family sphere, as well as the image of a breadwinner in relation to her husband:
... A man, being the head of the family ... must provide ... everything necessary and create ... all conditions for the implementation of the Islamic way of life.
A woman should ... try to fulfill her duties to her husband ... preserve the honor and dignity of the family. …
As you can see, the author of the article "The Role of the Family in Islam", on the one hand, reproduces the conservative characteristics of a Muslim woman with a characteristic attachment of a woman exclusively to the private sphere (family, home), and on the other hand, implants a model of female identification on the readers. That is, the main semantic load of this image is the absolutization of female reproductive and everyday functions, and not the assertion of its “matriarchal” social dominant. Through the use of epithets and symbolic phrases, the author demonstrates the main purpose of a Muslim woman - to keep the family hearth and pass on the basic family values to her children.
At the same time, a Muslim man next to the "homemaker" is usually portrayed as the "breadwinner" and shepherd of his family. Consequently, the image of the breadwinner is also identified with the concept of "married man", that is, again, a man who cannot fully function without a woman:
... a man is a shepherd in relation to his loved ones and is responsible for them …
From the above excerpt from the article " 16 Tips for Husband and Wife for a Happy Marriage", it can be seen that the image of a man-earner is verbalized through the use of the lexemes "man", "shepherd", "responsible" and creates in in the readers’ minds the idea of a man as strong, unshakable. At the same time, it can be noted that, although in the above example a man is endowed with certain features, nevertheless, without a Muslim woman he will not be a fully-fledged unit in society, since it is a woman who is the supporter for a man, and only in the unity of a man and women will have a full-fledged and healthy family, and, accordingly, a healthy society as a whole. Thus, an image of a Muslim woman interconnected with the image of a Muslim man, which presupposes not only an unrequited companion of a man in life, but also, again, a keeper of the hearth, who is assigned certain family responsibilities.
It is worth noting that in the modern Russian-speaking Muslim linguistic culture, the status of men and women, including their rights, is in full accordance with those social and material responsibilities that are assigned to them in accordance with the commandments of the Quran. And these responsibilities best reflect the psychological and social traits inherent in Muslim men and women:
... if the husband does not like some character traits in his wife ... he must be content with some other character trait that is more pleasant to him ...
... a woman is a weak and unprotected person, and the shaitan approaches her when she goes outside ...
In the above excerpt of the article "The attitude of Muslim men to women" the author draws attention to the fact that it is stupid to demand complete and absolute equality between a man and a woman, because their very nature contradicts this, which differs both at the psychophysiological level and at the level of mentality. Moreover, even between members of the same gender, equality, as such, is absent, and this is not considered something surprising.
At the same time, in the text of the article “Thank you for being near " we can observe some shift in the description of a Muslim woman, as a result of which there is a transformation of the gender roles of Muslim men and women:
... She always made purchases herself! And he wanted to do it with her, to make joint decisions...
As you can see in the above example from the article “Thank you for being around”, the image of a Muslim woman is not presented in the usual context like the keeper of the family hearth, but more feminized, when a Muslim woman becomes independent of male thinking and wallet. Thus, acquiring material independence, a Muslim woman needs a man, first of all, not as a breadwinner, but as a friend and partner and mentor.
So, after analyzing the characteristics of the "Muslim woman “image from the lingouculturology standpoint recorded in Russian media texts in the online magazine "Muslim woman", we can highlight its following characteristics: she should precept the Koran, the keeper of the family hearth, continuer of the mankind, obedient and faithful wife, sympathetic mother, support of her husband. Also, it was determined that new ones are beginning to be added to the main characteristics of a modern Muslim woman, namely: she has the right to share her opinion, strives to make a career, a strong, proud, independent woman.
The traditional characteristics of a Muslim woman image have been formed over the centuries, have been entrenched in the minds of more than one generation of speakers and continue to influence today's worldview. In this aspect, the role of a Muslim woman tends to be in a purely private sphere (family, household chores, children). Linguistic manifestations of the linguistic representation of a Muslim woman image in modern Russian-language media texts are due to social differences between Muslim women and men in accordance with the religious concepts of the Russian-speaking Muslim linguistic culture.
Also, we note that the results of the analysis proved certain shifts in the perception of a modern Muslim woman, since new characteristics begin to form in this image - the ability to climb the career ladder, a greater share of independence from men than it was, for example, 50 years ago, the ability to express her own opinion. Thus, in the image of a Muslim woman, “masculine” signs begin to take hold: strong, proud, independent, confident, and courageous.
We consider a prospect for further research to study a Muslim wife image in other modern media.
This paper has been supported by the RUDN University Strategic Academic Leadership Program.
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01 September 2021
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The Russian language, methods of teaching, Russian language studies, Russian linguistic culture, Russian literature
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Hassan Mergani, S. H., & Elena Nikolaevna, S. (2021). A Muslim Woman Image In Mediatexts Of Sociocultural Problematics: A Linguoculturological Aspect. In V. M. Shaklein (Ed.), The Russian Language in Modern Scientific and Educational Environment, vol 115. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 207-214). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2021.09.23