Terrorism (Entry, International Encyclopedia of Men and Masculinities, 2007)

Most terrorists are men, points out Morgan in The Demon Lover: On the Sexuality of Terrorism (1989). Even though the stock image of a terrorist is a man in a ski mask, considerations of terrorists as men are often ignored, and discussions of terrorism as a political strategy about masculinity are typically overlooked. Terrorism - that act most explicit in its violent aggression, most obvious in its destructive aims and most hideously spectacular in its headlines - in fact, makes men invisible. Terrorist manifestos, media representations of terrorists and current policy debates over the causes and consequences of terrorism all typically de-gender terrorism.

The connections between men, masculinity and terrorism are beginning to be examined. Scholars argue that all terrorist acts should be seen as connected, understood in a global context of shrinking economies, shifting gender roles, increased militarization, and expansive media, and defined as extreme forms of men’s violence ranging from abuse to bombings. War has traditionally been a male initiation rite and proving ground where men battle with one another over the ideals of masculinity like courage and strength. Yet, unlike traditional wars over national borders or natural resources, terrorism may be a war over the symbolic meanings of who men are, how they should behave, and what they think they deserve. These theorists claim terrorist men use hyper-aggressive and ultra-violent means to maintain the sense of entitlement and privilege that gender dominance has historically bestowed.

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