The Portrayal of Female Terrorists in the Media: Similar Framing Patterns in the News Coverage of Women in Politics and in Terrorism

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Abstract:

Although women have been among the leaders and followers of terrorist organizations throughout the history of modern terrorism, the mass media typically depict women terrorists as interlopers in an utterly male domain. A comparison of the framing patterns in the news about women in politics and the entrenched stereotypes in the coverage of female terrorists demonstrates similarities in the depiction of these legitimate (women in politics) and illegitimate political actors (women in terrorism). Just like the managers of election campaigns are cognizant of the electorate's stereotypical gender perceptions, terrorist organizations know about and exploit cultural gender clich├ęs that are reinforced by the media. The argument here is that the implementation of anti- and counterterrorist policies must not be influenced by the mass-mediated images of female terrorists because they do not reflect reality.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10576100500180352

Affiliations: Department of Political Science, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2005

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