Date of Award

1-1-2009

Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Harvey Starr

Abstract

The numbers of female suicide bombers are becoming legion, and their exploits are becoming legend. Consequently, terrorist groups and the media can no longer afford to ignore the advantages of adding female leads in their narratives and newscasts. This dissertation seeks to reveal trends in news coverage of suicide bombers. Specifically, it examines how much gender really does matter when the media reports on these violent actors.

A content analysis of news frames within Western newspaper articles revealed journalists do apply frames differently depending on the gender of the suicide bomber. Reporters focus disproportionately more attention on female bombers than their male counterparts, and they do so in very stereotypical and sometimes sexist ways. Male bombers also face a certain degree of sexist branding from the media. Ultimately, by typecasting female suicide bombers through their looks, motivations, personalities and family connections, journalists reinforce their femininity rather than the full impact of their transgressions.

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