Mothers and Monsters: Women, Gender, and Genocide

TitleMothers and Monsters: Women, Gender, and Genocide
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsSnow, James
EditorConnellan, Mary Michele, and Christiane Fröhlich
Book TitleA Gendered Lens for Genocide Prevention
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan

This chapter focuses on the ways women are framed in genocide studies as well as in media narratives of genocide. It is shown that relying on received and uncontested concepts of gender leads to seeing women only as victims of genocide. This in turn makes it difficult to see women as perpetrators of genocidal violence. When forced to acknowledge that women are sometimes perpetrators of genocides they are confined to one of two frames: either they are cast as femmes fatales, or they are constructed as monsters and sometimes mother-monsters. It must be recognized that women in fact act as perpetrators of genocide. And it must also be recognized that casting women perpetrators as either femmes fatales or monsters precludes understanding how women do act when committing genocide. There are, indeed, many cases of women perpetrating genocide. To better understand how and why women act as perpetrators, it is argued that West and Zimmerman’s framework of “doing gender” can serve to illuminate the various ways in which women do perpetrate genocides.

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