Jihadi Brides and Female Volunteers: Reading the Islamic State's War to See Gender and Agency in Conflict Dynamics

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This article analyzes the hypervisibility of women in the conflict in Syria and Iraq, looking for lessons about sex, gender, and conflict. The first section discusses visibility, sex, gender, and conflict theoretically. The article then turns to discourse analysis of the representation of women in a sample of news stories. It finds that agency is removed from both female victims and female IS partisans, while it is exaggerated in women who combat IS. This corresponds with emphasis on different gendered traits for differently positioned women. After tracing these gendered representations, the article applies theories of gender and conflict to understand how women have become central to the fighting and coverage of the conflict in Syria and Iraq. It concludes that paying attention both to the empirical presence of women and to the co-constitution of gender, war, and conflict augment understanding of this war, and across conflicts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)296-311
Number of pages16
JournalConflict Management and Peace Science
Issue number3
Early online date18 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • gender
  • Islamic State
  • media
  • war
  • women
  • agency
  • political violence
  • security
  • feminist IR

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