Gender perspectives on terrorism

Friday June 21, 12.45 - 14.15

Session 5, Auditorium 3, Eilert Sundt building

Chair: Lyndsey Harris

Paper Presenters:

  • Miriam Wijkman: Female terrorists: A systematic literature review on research methods and perpetrator characteristics
  • Lourme Nadège: The visibility of the fictional radicalized woman
  • Yannick Veilleux-Lepage and Ayse Lokmanoglu: Hatred, She Wrote: An Analysis of the Extreme Right and Islamic State Women’s Only Forum
  • Brian Leblanc and Tali Walters: Incel: A Modern Threat


Female terrorists: A systematic literature review on research methods and perpetrator characteristics

Miriam Wijkman, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The majority of the studies on terrorism still focus on male perpetrators while female engagement in terrorism is recognized as having increased in many forms.  This increase is reflected in the amount of studies that have been published the last decades but the quality of this research varies greatly. Firstly, this review focuses on the research methods that were used: to what extent was original, empirical material used, and on what kind of samples are the studies based. Secondly, perpetrator characteristics like ideology, the role of the woman in the terrorism network and network composition are analysed. This systematic review is conducted based on two strategies: searches of online full-text platforms (APA PsycInfo, Socio Abstracts, ASSIA , Web of Knowledge, and manual research of bibliographies of published studies. These databases were chosen on their broad collection of literature in social and behavioral sciences, political science and criminal justice. The search period was January 2000 to December 2018. Prior to 2000, publications on female terrorism were published only once or twice every two years so therefore this year was used as a starting point. This review ends with (methodological) recommendations for further studies on female terrorists.

The visibility of the fictional radicalized woman

Lourme Nadège, Department of Art and Media Studies, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

In our edge of globalized interconnected world, the mediated visibility of terrorism has both increased and been transformed while the propagation, availability and variety of different terrorism-related data have gowned. These changes have contributed to build narratives about terrorism and shape meaning about its victims, perpetrators and witnesses.

When extremist groups professionally use cinematic technology, modes of production and aesthetic codes to spread their radical message, to examine the mediated visibility of terrorism that fiction films provide and how they can untie polarized understanding about terrorism, become an unavoidable task.

This presentation approaches the visibility of one phenomenon engendered by terrorism, the radicalization of women, through three fiction films: The Attack (2012, Doueiri), Les Cowboys (2015, Bidegain) and Road to Istanbul (2016, Bouchareb). It explores the role of different kinds of visual mediation that the films remediate in order to (re)present the female radicalized protagonists between absence and presence, visibility and invisibility. Finally, it takes a closer look at the way these fictions compel the spectator to reconfigure new comprehensions of the phenomenon of contemporary radicalization.

Hatred, She Wrote: An Analysis of the Extreme Right and Islamic State Women’s Only Forum

Yannick Veilleux-Lepage, Ph.D & Ayse Lokmanoglu, Transcultural Conflict and Violence Initiative, Georgia State University

Historically, both extreme right and jihadi-Salafist movements have been characterized by sexism and misogyny (Cook 2005; Scrivens et al. 2018). Nonetheless, counter-intuitively, women are seemingly becoming more engaged in these movements, particularly within online forums (Blee 2017; Lahoud 2018; Winter 2018. This is occurring despite women being targeted by the misogyny (sexual slavery, gendered violence, etc.).

In order to explore how gender and sexual politics are played out in everyday practice within these movements, both in terms of the framing of women, and women’s actions within them, this paper analyses the content of two women’s only forums: “Women’s Forum on” and “Women Dawah,” a Turkish language pro-ISIS channel on their encrypted network, Telegram. Moreover, this research uncovers how women negotiate the apparent contradiction between their engagement with, and the misogyny within, the movement. The Stormfront data was retroactively collected, whilst the collection of original data from Women Dawah occurred in real-time over a period of one year. This cross-ideological and multi-linguistic thematic analysis suggests that the safety of online spaces enables women to be more active, expand their roles beyond the previously limited tasks assumed by men, and to redefine themselves and their identity within these different movements.

Incel: A Modern Threat

Brian Leblanc, Becker College, and Tali K. Walters

“The first of our kind has struck fear into the hearts of America. His cries have been heard, even by the President. This is only the beginning … Soon, more of our brothers will take up arms to become martyrs to this revolution.”  Not from ISIS or al Queda, this quote was posted by a self-identified “Incel,” referring to the “Incel Rebellion.”  The Incel community, a fringe group of sexually frustrated men who see no hope of establishing a romantic relationship with women, have turned to violence to right perceived wrongs. Made up of socially challenged men, communicating in an online echo chamber, members of this community promote a violent misogynistic world view, and appear to be responsible for recent mass murders in the US.  We will describe characteristics of Incel members, examine online posts of self-identified Incels, bring together case studies, documents, and existing research, and lay out current understanding of the Incel movement and threats this radical subculture poses. The study informs law enforcement and mental health professionals of the threat posed by the Incel ideology, assists in the identification and intervention in the radicalization process, and provides a basis of understanding to conduct further research on this phenomenon.          

Published Apr. 23, 2019 1:21 PM - Last modified June 12, 2019 10:38 AM