Women Suicide Bombers: Narratives of Violence

Women Suicide Bombers: Narratives of Violence

Women Suicide Bombers: Narratives of Violence

Women Suicide Bombers: Narratives of Violence

Synopsis

This book offers an evaluation of female suicide bombers through postcolonial, Third World, feminist, and human-rights framework, drawing on case studies from conflicts in Palestine, Sri Lanka, and Chechnya, among others.

Women Suicide Bombersexplores why cultural, media and political reports from various geographies present different information about and portraits of the same women suicide bombers. The majority of Western media and sovereign states engaged in wars against groups deploying bombings tend to focus on women bombers' abnormal mental conditions; their physicality-for example, their painted fingernails or their beautiful eyes; their sexualities; and the various ways in which they have been victimized by their backward Third World cultures, especially by "Islam." In contrast, propaganda produced by rebel groups deploying women bombers, cultures supporting those campaigns, and governments of those nations at war with sovereign states and Western nations tend to project women bombers as mythical heroes, in ways that supersedes the martyrdom operations of male bombers.

Many of the books published on this phenomenon have revealed interesting ways to read women bombers' subjectivities, but do not explore the phenomenon of women bombers both inside and outside of their militant activities, or against the patriarchal, Orientalist, and Western feminist cultural and theoretical frameworks that label female bombers primarily as victims of backward cultures. In contrast, this book offers a corrective lens to the existing discourse, and encourages a more balanced evaluation of women bombers in contemporary conflict.

This book will be of interest to students of terrorism, gender studies and security studies in general.

Excerpt

Women Suicide Bombers: Narratives of Violence was inspired by the number of perplexing American media reports I came across in 2002 concerning the first women bombers in Palestine. As I perused narrative after narrative, I was struck by a number of questions. First and foremost, I wondered why the notion of women- initiated bombings was suddenly so intriguing, especially since women had been imploding themselves in other suicide campaigns for decades. During the 1980s, various Lebanese groups, including Hezbollah (“Islamic Party of God”) and the SSNP/PPS (the Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party/Parti Populaire Syrien), deployed women bombers in the war against Israel. Since the 1980s, Sri Lankan Tamil women have imploded themselves for the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) to establish a separate ethnically Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka. The LTTE’s special unit dedicated to women bombers, the Black Tigresses, has executed anywhere from 30 percent to 50 percent of the LTTE’s suicide campaigns, or 30 to 40 bombs, since 1987. Throughout the 1990s, women imploded themselves for the Kurdish PKK (Partiya Karkeran Kurdistan/Kurdistan Worker’s Party) in its attempts to secure a homeland for Kurds in Turkey. PKK women successfully executed at least 11 of the PKK’s upwards of 20 suicide attacks.

I also wondered why cultural, media (print and other), and political reports (from governments and resistance groups) from various geographies presented different information about and portraits of the same women suicide bombers. The majority of Western media and sovereign states engaged in wars against groups deploying bombings (heretofore referenced as “sovereign states”) tended to focus on women bombers’ abnormal mental conditions, their physicality (for example, their painted fingernails or their beautiful eyes), their sexualities (including whether or not they had been raped or had been sexually promiscuous), and the various ways in which they had been victimized by their backward Third World cultures, especially by “Islam.” In contrast, propaganda produced by rebel groups deploying women bombers (heretofore referenced as “rebel groups”), cultures supporting those campaigns, and governments of those nations at war with Western nations and sovereign states (heretofore . . .

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