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article imageWhat’s the Woman’s Take on Terrorism?

By Carol Forsloff     May 17, 2009 in Politics
When a woman straps on a bomb and goes out into a crowded marketplace with the intention of blowing herself up along with innocent others, we wonder how she could do this. It turns out that terrorists might count on our bias to help achieve their aims.
We consider a woman who blows herself up and kills others an aberration. After all, a woman is considered gentle, protective, nurturing, kind, loving and incapable because of her gender to do anything so aggressive as to intentionally kill others in some terrible way. We see women who do this as outside the norm. Terrorists quite likely know that bias exists, which makes the female terrorist of particular consequence in achieving certain aims. Women are those who nurture and care for others, so it is outside of what most people consider the norm for women to attack others in an aggressive way. This is how research explains what most people think but challenges it as it enhances the terrorist’s activities.
Anita Singh, a University political science student, is examining the issue of women terrorists. This follows the fact that Pakistan had its first female suicide bomber in December of last year. She underlines that women terrorists are not a new phenomena and reminds us of groups like Chechnya’s Black Widows and Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers that have been prominent for aggressive acts.
Singh’s contention is that both sexes can be terrorists, but the motivations are different. Emotional as opposed to political explanations are given concerning women terrorism, explaining it as a response to a family member being killed or the compromise of their honor. She considers this not a cogent explanation and says:
“As a woman doing a PhD in political science, I find that kind of interpretation a bit insulting."
She explains women’s involvement in terms of the fact that terrorist organizations have found biased and faulty explanations about terrorism regarding gender to be useful in their organization. She also observes that women terrorists have political motivations themselves and believes that the specifics of their roles needs to be studied and understood in order to combat terrorism and the continuing pattern of women blowing themselves up and doing similar aggressive acts. Singh intends to focus centrally on Pakistan for her research.
Despite study that reveals that primate males are more aggressive than their female counterparts, women have been involved as combatants in wars throughout history, according to documentation about war. Women were combatants in the Soviet army during World War II. Ludmilla Pavrechenko was said to have killed more than 300 German soldiers. Native American women would accompany their men on attacks, giving them logistical information and support. David Adams reports there is no doubt women can be as physically aggressive as men. He reminds his readers women have participated as combatants in all wars in which the United States has had major involvement, including the War of 1812 with Lucy Brewer, Sarah Borginis in the Mexican War, and Sarah Edwards during the Civil War. Women have fought alongside men in Ireland, Sri Lanka, Germany and Israel, so it is not as unusual as folks might think for women to be physically confrontational and put themselves in harm’s way in order to help win a war.
Janice Crouse, on a site calling itself right wing in politics, confronting the activities of an organization called Code Pink that aggressively challenges war by being somewhat hypocritical in assuring people of their femininity, yet using aggressive words and behaviors that are oppositional to their arguments. She says this: “Code Pink members "talk out of both sides of their mouths."
"They emphasize their femininity but advocate policies that are very aggressive and more often associated with men," she said.
"They cloak it all in a soft pink covering, when underneath they are hard as nails," she said. "They advocate for the most radical of leftist positions," such as impeachment of the president. “
During the last US Presidential election, the world saw a female Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, shown frequently holding a gun and supporting Second Amendment rights. She is a mother and was shown in pictures to be attractive and feminine in many of her behaviors. Could someone like Palin, physically unafraid to carry a weapon, be somewhere else, at a certain and place, carrying apparatus to unleash biological attack? Present research by Singh hypothesizes that to be entirely possible and when we consider those who might begin a major world conflagration, we might consider both male and female candidates in our suspicions.
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