How women engage homegrown terrorism

From Feminist Criminology


This study aims to triangulate theories of gender and ideology, criminology, and sociology to analyze the phenomenon of women engaged in U.S. homegrown terrorism and extremist violence. It creates an empirical framework of analysis for approaching the study of minority populations within extreme deviant crimes by focusing on women who participated in U.S. domestic ideologically motivated violent crimes since 1990. It captures a picture of terrorism in the United States before and after the watershed terrorist incident of September 11, 2001. The findings of this research show that women’s involvement in terrorism differs by ideology and crime type. Similar to male terrorists, females are affected by group-level effects such as the structure of the group and methods of operation.  A critical finding for women involved in far-right extremist homicides is that relationships matter. Most of the female terrorists in this study were dating or married and often had a female friend involved in the crime. The authors conclude that future questions for exploration must continue to engage the female extremist as a keystone for understanding the problem of terrorism, wherever it is found.



U.S. Extremist Crime Database (ECDB) Study data of homicides by far-right extremists and arsons and bombings by environmental and animal rights extremists suggest that compared with men, relationships are catalysts for women’s involvement in domestic terrorism; recruitment and opportunity differ by ideology and are not always effective in victimizing their intended hate group. We suggest an inter-disciplinary approach that considers criminological principles of strain theory along with sociological emphasis on gendered social networks and the strength of weak ties.


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Article details
Alessandra L. González, Joshua D. Freilich, and Steven M. Chermak
How Women Engage Homegrown Terrorism Feminist Criminology 1557085114529809, first published on April 30, 2014 doi:10.1177/1557085114529809







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