International Handbooks on Gender series
Edited by Simona Sharoni, Julia Welland, Linda Steiner and Jennifer Pedersen
Chapter 14: From woman warrior to innocent child: telling gendered news stories of women terrorists
Dan Berkowitz and Qi Ling
News reporting of terrorism has long drawn on gender-specific mythical archetypes to tell the stories of women terrorists. This chapter explores four narratives of women terrorists that journalists adapted to make sense of social life and maintain gender order: the Woman Warrior, the Innocent Child, the Terrible Mother and the Female Monster. Most often, women terrorists are portrayed in terms of their physical appearance or family connections, and as motivated by love or gender equality. The mindset of these women terrorists tends to appear as either tougher than men or as bored, naive and out of touch with reality. Such mythical archetypes have not only supported existing gender values, but have also reinforced the central-marginal geopolitical order between the West and the non-West.
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