An urgent corrective to the erasure of the female fighter from narratives on gender and power, demanding that we see women as political actors."Violence, for me, and for the women I chronicle in this book, is simply a political reality."
Though the female fighter is often seen as an anomaly, women make up nearly 30% of militant movements worldwide. Historically, these women--viewed as victims, weak-willed wives, and prey to Stockholm Syndrome--have been deeply misunderstood. Radicalizing Her
holds the female fighter up, in all her complexity, as a kind of mirror to contemporary conversations on gender, violence, and power. Centered in the Global South, the narratives at the heart of the book reveal the arrayed forces that have driven women into battle, the personal and political elements of these decisions, and the ways in which the agency of female fighters has been deeply misunderstood.
Gowrinathan spent nearly twenty years in conversation with female fighters in Sri Lanka, Eritrea, Pakistan, and Colombia. The intensity of these interactions consistently unsettled her assumptions about violence and made her look closely at how these women were positioned in relation to power--initially at home and later with empowerment-based NGO interventions. She noted in particular the tendency of contemporary political discourse to parse the world into for--and against--camps: an understanding of motivations to fight is read as condoning violence, and thus oppressive agendas are given the upper hand by the moral imperative to condemn it.
Coming at a political moment that demands an urgent re-imagining of the possibilities for women to resist, Radicalizing Her
reclaims women's roles in political struggles on the battlefield and in the streets.