Malala Yousafzai and the Misrepresentation of Muslim Women in the West: Part 2

White Saviours, White Feminists, and Brown Women’s Voices

The figure of the ‘white saviour’ is predominantly discussed in the field of film studies, but finds its footing firmly in reality. This commonly used trope presents itself in the form of a “white messianic character [saving] a lower- or working-class, usually urban or isolated, non-white character from a sad fate” (Hughey, The White Saviour Film). From the very start of colonisation, it had been the view of white men that it was their duty to ‘save’ people of colour from their ‘savage’ existence, mainly doing so by converting them to Christianity, taking control of their lands, and exploiting their resources. Rudyard Kipling’s 1899 poem entitled ‘The White Man’s Burden’ encapsulates the attitude of racial superiority that fuelled and justified the colonisation of vast continents and the awful treatment of their people: