It’s become a common narrative that when young Western women leave their homes to join ISIS, it’s for one of two reasons. The first is that they’re heartsick teens, drawn to the masculine allure of “jihotties.” The second is that they’ve been “groomed” into extremist ways of thinking by savvy recruiters, akin to how pedophiles slowly gain the trust of their victims online, eventually luring them to in-person meetings.
Writing in Foreign Policy this week, Simon Cottee says this narrative is wrong. Cottee, a senior lecturer in criminology at the University of Kent and the author of The Apostates: When Muslims Leave Islam, says that these explanations misrepresent women’s radicalization as too passive. Cottee writes:
“Far from being slaves to their sexual desires or victims of the predatory machinations of men, many Western women join or aspire to join the Islamic State because they want to — because the Islamic State, unlike the secular liberal democracies in which they live, makes sense to them and reflects their fundamental moral and political convictions.”
Cottee also points out studies showing how often women actively participate in the recruitment process, attempting to engage “sisters” in their fight. He notes that evidence often shows that “potential recruits actively seek out the message and the messenger (and that the decisive facilitator in radicalization is typically not an anonymous predatory online recruiter, but a trusted friend or family member).”
Read the full story at Foreign Policy.