Breaking the masculine looking glass : women as co-founders, nurturers, and executors of extremism in New Zealand : a thesis presented in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters in Defence and Security, Massey University, New Zealand

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Massey University
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The world of extremist violence is not wholly masculine despite presenting as such. Women are just as capable as men of embracing toxic ideologies, organized hate, and committing acts of violence. Yet when it comes to women's active presence in violent extremism (VE) and Extremism/Terrorism (E&T), general skepticism about women’s agency and free will means that any discussion will be focused on men. Focusing on the NZ environment post 9/11, this thesis presents insight into how women can, and do, participate in extreme ideologies, specifically in contemporary Islamic (IE) and Right-Wing extremism (RWE). It aims to advance conceptual foundations applicable to the NZ counter-terrorism (CT) environment and enhance public and government agency understandings. This thesis will show that the predisposition to gender profile women erases them as potential extremists (violent and non-violent) which has ramifications for national security. This erasure happens in two ways. Firstly, gendered norms and narratives that infantize or sexualize these women inspire security, legal and political responses to do the same. Secondly, it leads security frameworks to focus on men and disregard the women in their lives. Continuing to underestimate women means the more extensive and complex picture of extremism in NZ remains missing. Women's IE or RWE ideological adherence and involvement are not purely domiciliary. Framing it as such deprecates women’s contribution as actively committed co-creators of a euro supreme nation or a militant Islamic caliphate. This thesis confirms that extreme male hegemonic movements have long drawn diverse female recruits, and NZ women are not the exception. If NZ refuses to treat these women now or in the future with the same seriousness as their male counterparts, gender cynicism obscures potential national security threats. NZ needs to update its future-focused CT infrastructure to remove definitional silos and gender-blind spots because VE and E&T are ongoing global and local phenomena.
extremism, violent extremism, terrorism, ideology, jihadi, Islamic extremism, right-wing extremism, women, female, western, New Zealand, gender, feminism, anti-feminism, misogyny