Hyper-masculinity in Terrorism

In this week’s readings, the piece that I found most interesting was Terrorist Transgressions: Exploring the Gendered Representations of the Terrorist by Sue Malvern and Gabriel Koureas. While the piece explore the myths and images of the individual terrorist, the main objective was to differentiate between the image of gender identity in terrorist groups. Before I analyzed the piece, I would like to share that I am big believer in feminism and strong advocate of combating toxic hyper masculinity in society. Thus, when I read the journal, I affected me in many ways.

First and foremost, it was surprising to me that the visual representation of a terrorist did not fully glorified in media until 9/11. There were references to highjacking of planes in the 1970’s but it was shocking to me that our perception of terrorism that not fully exist until the 21st century. More importantly, the idea that western media create an image of demasculined and effeminate to restore the faith in masculinity is outrageous. We are so consumed with male dominant power that we must cast other men as less than to exert control. Furthermore, the difference between the headlined image of Osama Bin Laden’s death in gender roles reveal an inequality amongst two powerful leaders, but one must be identified as less than on the basis of gender:

“However, the President was not presented as the main protagonist of the event. His masculinity needed to be contained, represented by his position in the corner of the image. Centre stage, however, was the military administration that executed the operation, appearing to reassert its authority and masculinity as the most important army in the world…The gesture of shock she displays not only emphasizes the enormityof what is taking place on the screen, but also re-feminizes her image. Hence, this mass-distributed image orchestrates and performs both masculinities.”


This quote clearly explained the order of hierarchy in power from greatest to least. Military (a group of men), one man, then a woman is the order. Even when a woman is often regarded as strong and as powerful as another man is played down to express the western image of masculinity. This message is further promotes the idea of patriarchy and is clearly an evidence of why feminism needs to be supported by society.


2 thoughts on “Hyper-masculinity in Terrorism

  1. I did my paper proposal on terrorist perceptions before and after 9/11 and I was also surprised to see that terrorist imagery was not really present in media until 9/11. I also read in my research about how we used the War on Terror as a form of hyper-masculinity in response to the attacks, which is interesting because it’s arguable whether the war was a good idea. And it seems like a lot of the motivation for the war was just to prove that we have the military power to declare war and intimidate other nations, which is definitely not a great reason to start a huge, lengthy war. So I agree with your viewpoints on those aspects of the War on Terror.


  2. It was interesting to see that there was not many images of terrorism before 9/11. I wrote my blog post about how its weird that it is seen as a form of hyper-masculinity. The amount of violence that is associated with terrorism is correlated with the male image in terrorism. Female terrorists are not represented in media images of terrorists and because of this we do not think they exist. Its fascinating how strong of a role the media plays in our perceptions of the world.


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