Handbook on Gender and War
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Handbook on Gender and War

Edited by Simona Sharoni, Julia Welland, Linda Steiner and Jennifer Pedersen

Gender and war are in many ways inextricably linked, and this path-breaking Handbook systematically examines the major issues surrounding this relationship. Each of its four sections covers a distinct phase of war: gender and opposition to war; gender and the conduct of war; gender and the impact of war; and gender and the aftermath of war. Original contributions from an international group of leading experts make use of a range of historical and contemporary examples to interrogate the multi-faceted connection between gender and war.
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Chapter 7: Gender and terrorism

Caron E. Gentry


This chapter articulates how the gendered and raced notions embedded within the ‘Westphalian narrative’ inhibit our ability to understand terrorism and political violence. The Westphalian narrative makes the (Western) state a masculine exemplar, embodying rationality, autonomy and legitimate violence in opposition to the feminized, irrational and illegitimate non-state politically violent groups. Within the war on terrorism, this gendered hierarchy intersects with race in neo-Orientalism, further delegitimizing the identity of those associated with radical Islam and, convolutedly, all of Islam. This gendered and raced binary of legitimacy and illegitimacy filters further down in Terrorism Studies’ discursive constructions of terrorist organizations. Terrorism Studies’ language argues that terrorists should be seen as rational and thus credible actors (even if their violence is extranormative and illegitimate), yet the discourse reveals the limits of this imbued rationality. Finally, this impacts how we perceive the individuals who employ political violence. Thus, how terrorism is perceived is dependent upon the gender hierarchy implicit in the Westphalian system.

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