Explosive Baggage: Female Palestinian Suicide Bombers and the Rhetoric of Emotion


Patkin, Terri Toles. 2004. “Explosive Baggage: Female Palestinian Suicide Bombers and the Rhetoric of Emotion.” Women and Language 27 (2): 79–88.

Author: Terri Toles Patkin


This paper examines the rhetoric of emotion surrounding the first female Palestinian suicide bombers. The influence of gender in recruitment, training and compensation by the terrorist organization are considered within the context of the tension between gender equality and tradition in Palestinian culture. The carefully-edited discourse of the bombers themselves is juxtaposed with the discounting of those statements by friends, family and the media in an attempt to understand the motivations for engaging in terror. Media coverage, particularly in the West, appears to actively search for alternate explanations behind women's participation in terror in a way that does not seem paralleled in the coverage of male suicide bombers, whose official ideological statements appear to be taken at face value.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Media, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-State Armed Groups Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories

Year: 2004

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