Gendered Geographies of Islamophobia in the San Francisco Bay Area

Miss Rhonda Itaoui1

1Western Sydney University, Parramatta, Australia,

2UC Berkeley, Berkeley, United States of America


Increasing political and social hostilities in the United States have led to contested negotiations of public spaces by racialized Muslim men and women. This paper explores the lived experiences of Islamophobia reported by Muslim men and women in the San Francisco Bay Area, California by examining the gendered spatialities of these experiences. Drawing upon an online survey and a series of face-to-face interviews from 2016 to 2018, the case study finds that the frequency, nature of, and places where Islamophobia is experienced are differentiated by gender. Visibly Muslim women wearing a hijab are most likely to experience Islamophobia. Interviews further illustrate that Muslim women face Islamophobia in various public spheres, particularly on public transport. Muslim men on the other hand, though reporting lower levels of Islamophobia in the survey, claim to experience higher rates of Islamophobia in airport spaces.

Through examining intersections between race and gender, the paper argues Islamophobia is indeed gendered and spatialized. The particular vulnerability of Muslim women to everyday instances of Islamophobia in the public sphere, points to the way in which Islamophobia further undermines the ability for women to enjoy the ‘gendered right to the city’ in everyday spaces.


Rhonda Itaoui is a PhD candidate and researcher at Western Sydney University with the Challenging Racism Project. Her research examines the impact of Islamophobia on the spatial mobility of young Muslims in the San Francisco Bay Area and Sydney. Rhonda is also a Research Fellow with the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley, working on documenting, and challenging Islamophobia across the globe. Her interdisciplinary research and teaching interests are centred in cultural and social geography focussing on race, diversity and belonging in urban spaces.

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