Radicalizing Her: Why Women Choose Violence

Beacon. Apr. 2021. 152p. ISBN 9780807013557. $24.95. POLI SCI
In this debut, journalist Gowrinathan (director, Politics of Sexual Violence Initiative) analyzes the motivations of women resistance fighters, explaining how contemporary explorations of resistance movements omit or stereotype women. Over a ten-year period, she interviewed former resistance fighters in Sri Lanka, Colombia, and Syria in order to learn more about their motivations for participating. She finds that women are primed to join movements when they have become politically minded because of state oppression. Gowrinathan focuses her analysis on several thematic areas, including sexual violence, guns, reintegration, culture, and territory. She emphasizes women fighters’ desire to continue to exist rather than adhering to ideologies. The analysis also critically interrogates Western feminist theory, which underpins current discourse on women fighters and empowerment. However, readers unfamiliar with conflicts in Sri Lanka, Colombia, or Syria will need to obtain background information elsewhere.
VERDICT While the author compactly lays the groundwork for research on resistance movements, readers may long for more details of and resolutions for the interview subjects, as well as a broader international scope. Best suited for serious students of the nature of extremism in the modern world.
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