ArticlePDF Available

“Deviant” women in English Arab Media: comparing representation in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Qatar



The most common narratives regarding women in the Arab world is one of submission and victimisation, especially in the Western media. This raises the question of whether or not the Arab media are giving a more representative account of women considered to be “deviant” from their expected social gender roles. The objective of this article is to analyse, from a gender perspective, the representations of “deviant” women after the events of 9/11 in three online Arab English newspapers: Al-Jazeera English, Arab News and Iraqi News. The ultimate goal is to foment a debate regarding women agency and political activism for Feminist Arab Media Studies.
Introduction. Methodology. Online Newspapers: A Context. “Deviant” Women in Arab
News, Iraqi News and Al-Jazeera. Depiction of Women Involved in Violence. Socially-
involved Women: A Mitigated Coverage. Spaces of Feminist Confrontations. Concluding
Los relatos más comunes sobre las mujeres en el mundo árabe son de sumisión y
victimización, especialmente en los medios de comunicación occidentales. Esto lleva a
interrogarnos a saber si los medios de comunicación árabes están dando una visión
más representativa de las mujeres consideras “desviadas” de sus roles de género. El
objetivo de este artículo es analizar, desde una perspectiva de género, las
representaciones de las mujeres “desviadas”, después del 9/11, en tres periódicos
árabes en línea: Al-Jazeera, Arab News e Iraqi News. Se trata de fomentar un debate
con relación a la agencia de las mujeres y sus diversas formas de activismo político en
los Estudios Árabes Feministas de los Medios de Comunicación.
The most common narratives regarding women in the Arab world is one of submission
and victimisation, especially in the Western media. This raises the question of whether
or not the Arab media are giving a more representative account of women considered to
be “deviant” from their expected social gender roles. The objective of this article is to
analyse, from a gender perspective, the representations of “deviant” women after the
events of 9/11 in three online Arab English newspapers: Al-Jazeera English, Arab News
and Iraqi News. The ultimate goal is to foment a debate regarding women agency and
political activism for Feminist Arab Media Studies.
Palabras claves: mujeres “desviadas”, representaciones de género, Al-Jazeera, Arab
News, Iraqi News
Key words: “deviant” women, gender representations, Al-Jazeera, Arab News, Iraqi
Artículo: Recibido el 12 de febrero de 2016 y aprobado el 22 de octubre de 2016.
Ahmad Lida. Associate professor of the Development Studies Department at the
University of Afghanistan, (Afghanistan) and gender adviser to local NGOs such as
Humanitarian Assistance for the Women and Children of Afghanistan (HAWCA) and
Afghan Child Education and Care Organization (AFCECO). Correo electrónico:
Priscyll Anctil Avoine. Professor of the Humanities Department at Universidad Santo
Tomás, professor in Social Work and Philosophy at Universidad Industrial de
Santander (Colombia) and researcher for a local NGO, Corporación Descontamina,
wo r ki n g in n o n v i ol e nc e and p e a c e bu i ld i n g . Cor r e o e l ec t r ó n i c o :
"Mujeres que desvían" en los medios de
comunicación árabes de lengua inglesa: una
comparacn de las representaciones en Iraq,
Arabia Saudita y Catar
When Al-Jazeera English (AJE) chooses “Shifting gear: Saudi women defy driving
ban” as the title of an article regarding the prohibition of women driving in Saudi
Arabia, it positions itself in favour of the struggle of Saudi women but also reveals a
certain “masculinisation” of their struggle by using terms like “shifting gear” as if
the women were “defying” something apparently unfeminine for the Saudi society.
The question of Muslim/Arab women agency has been at the centre stage of
international attention since the events of 9/11, especially with regards to women.
Although these are debatable categories, it is difficult to deny the virulent
discussions, both in the media and academia that began after 9/11 and with the
invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. These events strongly shaped the idea of
Arab/Muslim women under narratives of submission and victimisation,
particularly in Western media, but also in large fringes of the academia (Brunner,
Sjoberg y Gentry, 2007).
Misconceptions about Arab women are coupled with an almost incapacity to
give an account of politically active women or even women implicated in violence
both in the Arab and Western media. The information we receive daily concerns
direct and symbolic violence against women, positioning them in a constant status
of victimisation. Obviously, there is still an indispensable need to denounce these
different forms of violence and address the problems of inequality among genders.
However, the path to gender equality also requires the deconstruction of gender
stereotypes that confines women to passive roles of victims. In this regard, authors
like Brunner (2007) have made some relevant critiques concerning the portrayal of
Muslim/Arab women in the Western media and academia, but few studies have
focused on the depiction of these women in Arab media.
Apart from the book of Al-Malki and Kaufer, Arab Women in Arab News: Old
Stereotypes and New Media (2012), there have been too few attempts of
understanding women's depiction in the Arab media. Articles on the topic are
“Deviant” women in English Aarab Media:
comparing representation in Iraq, Saudi Arabia
and Qatar
Ahmad Lida
Priscyll Anctil Avoine
1 Artículo de reflexión: perspectiva crítica sobre una investigación.
2 We consider AJE as an Arab-English newspaper because of its provenance, Qatar, and its high
impact in the Middle East and in promoting Arab culture and point of view. As well, we considered it
under this label as it clearly shows a strong ability to cover news from the Arab world. We do not
analyse the coverage of Al-Jazeera America in this article.
3 We use the term “Western” to qualify the hegemonic thinking and literature produced mainly in
North America and Western Europe to distinguish it from the one produced in the Muslim/Arab
world. It is by no means an attempt of dividing the academia world along the lines of a “clash of
civilization” as referred to by Huntington (1993).
concentrated on mass media like AJE or Al-
Arabiya, lacking comparative analyses with local
media channels. There has been an explosion of
the literature on the topic following the Arab
Revolts, where women used social media to
pr otest again st Arab regimes . A mor e
comprehensive approach to femininity was not
permitted; therefore, there is a need to
investigate the portrayal of Arab women (and
women in general) by Arab media as these media
still spread “[s]tereotypical images of women as
weak, docile and subservient” (Allam, 2008: 1)
and consequently, contribute to the reproduction
of gender inequality. Additionally, the depiction
of women that are acting “outside” from what
Arab societies are expecting from femininity has
almost never been addressed. It has been
recognised that Western media failed in offering a
balanced portrayal of Arab women, but it is very
difficult to measure the capacity of Arab media to
break these stereotypes (Al-Ariqi, 2009: 8) above
all, regarding “deviant” women.
Thus, the objective of this article is to
analyse and problematize, from a gender
perspective, the representations of “deviant”
women in three online Arab English newspapers
after the events of 9/11. As Terry and Urla (1995)
argue, the notion of “deviance” is largely Western
as it systematically suggests a dichotomy with
the notion of “normalcy”. However, it should be
considered that it takes “many forms in relation
to particular historical and political contexts”.
Further, based on a study of the 19 century, the
authors are also proposing that the “female
bodies are perceived to be inherently deviant in
relation to a male norm of the human body”
(1995, pp. 1 y 13). Consequently, in this article
we understand “deviant” women as the ones who
are not follo wing the acqui red ge nder
stereotypes, or normative femininity, in their
societies. The focus is on women's depiction,
who are either extensively socially involved (like
politicians and activists), who have entered a
sphere “normally” perceived as masculine
(soldiers, female suicide bombers, specific jobs)
or who are classified as being outside the sexual
norms (lesbians and transgenders).
Th i s r e s ea r c h q u es t i o n s wo m e n
representations in the Arab world, presenting a
possibility to explore how media are particularly
shaping gender roles in society, but also how
media can “be a site for negotiating changes”
(Sakr, 2004, p. 4). Thus, the article's ultimate
goal is to raise questions on women's portrayal
within their societies and foment a debate on
their agency. In order to do so, we first present
our methodology; secondly, we address the
theoretical background; thirdly, we present the
results of our investigation on the three English
Arab media we previously selected; and finally,
we conclude with the recommendations
concerning future research on the topic.
1. Methodology
In this article we analyse three English Arab
online newspapers that are reaching a wide
audience in various countries: Arab News (based
in Saudi Arabia), AJE (based in Qatar) and Iraqi
News (based in Bahrain but covering Iraqi
territory). These newspapers have been chosen
because (1) they target an international
audience, being the voice of the Arab world for
English speakers; (2) they permit us to approach
the phenomenon in three different regions and
pursue a comparative analysis and; (3) they all
represent regions with different relationships
towards gender roles, contributing to the study
of women's place in the Arab media and
Our methodology consists of a qualitative
analysis of discourses regarding online articles
as we consider that discourses and texts in global
media are having an active influence on social
practices (Van Leeuwen, 2008) and gender
constructions. We compared these analyses with
the literature on “deviant” women, trying to
depict the intertwinement between media and
political situations. We chose our sample on the
basis of selected keywords accordingly to our
definition of “deviant” women (ex.: “female
sui c i de bom b e rs, l e sbian s , wom e n
politicians”, etc). In total, we analysed 235 online
articles in the three online media sources
published between 9/11 events to 2014: 60
articles for both Arab News and AJE and 115 for
Iraqi News. The reason why we scrutinised more
articles in Iraqi News is related to the difference
on the news coverage of this website in
comparison to the other ones. Iraqi News does
not engage in deep analysis and concentrates in
communicating facts: we needed to examine
almost double the amount of articles in order to
portray the “deviant” women representations. In
contrast, AJE and Arab News were offering more
debates on women issues and the articles were
considerably longer.
Since our methodology was based on a
keywords search, and because of space/time
limitations, we could not analyse the totality of
articles engaging on women topics: we chose to
concentrate on the analytical categories we
Ahmad Lida, Priscyll Anctil Avoine /“Deviant” women in English Aarab Media: comparing representation in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Qatar
previously selected to conduct our investigation
and we systematised the information in an Excel
table were we could carry out a cross-reading
analysis of the discourses found. We are aware of
our language limitation: we could not compare
our results with Arabic newspapers and
underscore the difference in information
processing. However, we tried to counter-balance
this by adopting a comparative analysis both
between the online newspapers and within the
investigation we carried out on the literature.
2. Online Newspapers: A Context
This section aims at briefly presenting the
historical context of the emergence of the
different online Arab-English newspapers
analysed: (1) Iraqi News, (2) Arab News and (3)
AJE. According to its web page, Iraqi News “is a
private English-language online newspaper that
covers a range of Iraqi issues, including
business, politics, security, social issues,
culture, entertainment and sport” (IN, 2014).
Iraqi News claims transparency and refuses any
link with political groups, prioritising “neutral
reporting (IN, 2014). However, the news
coverage regarding women in Iraq is still
presenting difficulties, largely due to the
ne wsp aper's co nte xt of emerge nce and
recognising the coverage difficulties in post-war
Iraq (IN, 2014).
In fact, the whole media apparatus in Iraq
has been largely influenced by the Baathist
regime of Saddam Hussein and the recent war.
With NATO's occupation since 2003, “the
country's political, social and media systems
changed dramatically” (Al-Rawi & Gunter, 2013,
p. 43). Media has been polarised based on
sectarian interests even if censorship has been
removed with the fall of the regime (Al-Rawi,
2010, p. 225). Iraqi News benefited from the
growing presence of online media, even if still
confronted w i t h p o l i t i c a l issues that
considerably affect the coverage of women
Iraqi News presents inconsistences
referring to English language editing and the
redaction of opinion columns in comparison to
AJE and Arab News. The capacity of the
newspaper to criticise hegemonic views on
women is limited, largely due to the media
situation in Iraq. While it clearly states its
intentions of objectivity in the coverage of the
Middle East issues, it mostly concentrates on
Iraq, especially regarding women's issues.
Although Iraqi News is less interested in
add r e ssing c o mparat i ve ana l y ses w i t h
international news (as is the case with AJE and
Arab News and their alliances with news
agencies), it is a good point of departure to
understand the underlying dynamics of the
women considered “socially deviant” from the
norms in the Iraqi society.
The website home page is mainly
dominated by topics associated with men and
politics: women are rarely making the headlines
and when they are, it is mostly as victims of
violence or because they occupy certain political
positions in the government. The website in itself
is less developed than the two other online
media: English mistakes are common and the
articles are less refined and mostly descriptive,
impacting on the considerations we could make
on “deviant” women coverage. While “gender” is
an accepted and widely used concept in Arab
News and AJE, Iraqi News still conceptualises
gender under the term “sex”. Finally, there are
only five journalists that are actively reporting on
women's issues: among them, the only woman is
Layla Mohammed and she is the one that usually
deepens the analysis and furnishes more critical
For what concerns Arab News, “Saudi
Arabia's first English-language newspaper”, its
printed version was “founded in 1975 by Hisham
and Mohammed Ali Hafiz” in Jeddah (AN, 2014)
and, nowadays, its website covers a wide range of
issues and is enjoying a “growing popularity”,
presenting a Saudi Arabian perspective to
English readers as a part of an editorial politics
drawing upon various columnists. It also has a
wider regional impact than Iraqi News as it “can
be found on newsstands throughout the Middle
East” (AN, 2014). The idea of establishing Arab
News came after the brief Arab-Israeli war of
1973. Officially, Arab News is not under the
control of the government; it is a “professional
and independent” (Al-Faisal, 2010) newspaper;
however, it has always been under the
domination of the Saudi royal family. Currently,
the newspaper's owner is Turki bin Salman,
nephew of Nayef bin Abdulaziz the ex-deputy
minister who passed away in 2012 (Mouline,
Arab News reflects the policy of the
Kingdom's administration in every arena,
including conservative views on women's issues.
Sharia law has a strong and direct influence on
Saudis' lives; however Islamic regulations are
more focused on women's dress, jobs, education
and seclusion from men. Femininity and
masculinity are strictly associated with citizens'
identity and two separate societies exist in Saudi
Arabia: a male and female one. Saudi men are
responsible for their families' livelihood, are the
heads of their families, and are guardians,
drivers and take up the vast majority of senior
positions in the public and private sectors.
Women's responsibilities are still limited to
social, religious and cultural spheres.
Finally, Al-Jazeera Arabic (AJA) was
founded in 1996, and in 2006, the platform of
AJE was established to counterbalance the
hegemony of western satellite media (Al-Ariqi,
2009, p. 12; Figenschou, 2011, p. 238). AJE
claims its international orientation, “especially
from underreported regions”, counting more
than 60 bureaus worldwide and broadcasting
across 130 countries (2012), reaching “around
300 million households worldwide” (Al-Ariqi,
2009, p. 13). For this same reason, AJE
publishes international agencies articles that
generally present more stereotypes regarding
women while AJE columnists' work is well-
developed and critical, fomenting deeper debates
on different matters.
AJE is a more powerful media network
than Iraqi News or Arab News: it emerged with
the satellite media arrival in the Arab world and
it “marked a change in the flow of information
(Mellor, 2005, p. 1) in this region. The overall
strength of AJE resides in its promotion of
debates and controversies in countries where
conservative forces are still tackling civil society
empowerment. We included AJE in our analysis
for this reason: the channel can be of a strong
influence regarding issues of gender, especially
concerning women deviating from the
gendered norms of their society.
The objective of Al-Jazeera is to give voice
to the marginalised, and above all, to the “global
South” as it tries to counterweight the flow of
information from the North (Figenschou, 2011,
pp. 249-50). This is precisely interesting in our
investigation since we aim to portray these
women that are falling outside the “acceptability”
of their gender in their society: AJE was expected
to answer these necessities as the network's
“motto 'the view and the counter view' opened the
door for their often controversial views to be
aired” (Al-Ariqi, 2009, p. 14) and therefore, to
have an within Arabic societies. existence
3. “Deviant” Women in Arab News, Iraqi News
and Al-Jazeera
The media are a reflection of social and historical
conditions that shape political contexts and,
since 9/11, the high level of “orientalisation” of
the Muslim/Arab female body in the West has
been largely criticised, as they are represented as
weak and victims of patriarchy (Al-Malki &
Kaufer, 2009, p. 113-14). It seems that these
misperceptions on women are also prominent in
the Arab world as the focus is also on their
bodies instead of emphasizing “stories about
their professional abilities or expertise
(Rahbani, 2010, p. 9). Contrarily, some stipulate
that media like AJE are challenging these
misrepresentations by favouring a growing
number of women with access to Internet and
online debates regarding gender issues by
confronting the usual emphasis on women's
bodies (Warf y Vincent, 2009, p. 89; Obeidat,
2002, p. 1).
Generally, in opposition to their male
counterparts, women are still portrayed as
victims; the stories of violence prevail over the
stories of women empowerment, professional
successes (Rahbani, 2010, p. 12) or even, of
women's implication in scenarios of violence.
Globally, media tend to perpetuate these
stereotyped views on women, preventing us from
a deeper examination of women's social
engagement, mostly portraying them as “deviant”
from their assigned gender roles or completely
making them invisible.
There is an intrinsic problem when
addressing “deviant” women: it is a slippery field
as we risk legitimising uncommon practices for
women and being accused of supporting their
violence, for example in the case of women
engaged in terrorism or armed forces. Even
Feminist Theory has had difficulties in
integrating controversial experiences of women
“deviating” from the gender norms (West, 2005,
p. 2).
In this article, we adopted a gender
perspective: we consider it is a necessary tool to
overcome the daily gender dichotomies that
inhabit us as human beings and researchers in
the social science field (Forastelli, 2007, p. 52).
From a theoretical perspective, we align with
Bu tler a s w e c onsider t hat gender is
performative: it is therefore not bounded by a
stable identity, “rather it is an identity tenuously
constituted in time an identity instituted
through a stylized repetition of acts” (Butler,
1988, p. 519). It allows us to go deeper in the
contemplation of Arab media representations of
“deviant” women: they are not intrinsically
“deviant”, but society has come to attribute them
a “deviant” function as through iteration, we
learn what it is to be a normal woman. Each
Ahmad Lida, Priscyll Anctil Avoine /“Deviant” women in English Aarab Media: comparing representation in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Qatar
society establishes, through repetition of acts,
what the acceptable gender categories are and
what falls outside the norms. It reflects the
complexity of analysing “deviant” women but
also of considering the power of the frames and
the importance of the language as a builder of
meaning (Ahall, 2011, pp. 15-16). Truly, both in
the West and in the Arab world, media are
powerful entities that frame what we understand
as “normal” or “deviant”: the different means of
getting information shape our vision of gender
subordination but also of contemporary violence
as society, which has definitely failed in
explaining women's engagement in violence
(Sjoberg y Gentry, 2007). The following section
aims at analysing the depiction made by the
selected Arab media with regards to “deviant”
women in their societies and in global politics.
What are the “acceptable” gender behaviours in
the Arab world for women and what is the
emerging role of Arab online media on the
More than giving answers, our research
wishes to interrogate the representations of
“deviant” women as to open different venues of
discussion on the topic in the Arab world, offering
us insight on how the Internet is changing our
societies as the “newer technology is beginning to
affect social and gender relations” (Loubna, 2006:
51), but also the different geographies and socio-
political landscapes of the Arab world. The
regions concerned by the media selected surely
vary widely for the situation of human rights,
especially on women's issues: while Iraq has been
marked by a recent war, Saudi Arabia still faces
conservatism regarding the development of civil
society, while Qatar affronts similar challenges
but definitely tries to give it a progressive turn.
Though women coverage is neither static nor
uniform, we propose a comparative analysis of
the image projected by the three media on
“deviant” and socially engaged women. During our
analysis, we could trace three different trends
which are exposed in the three next part of this
section: (1) the important place allocated to
women involved in violence; (2) the depiction of
socially-involved women and (3) some spaces of
feminist confrontations with regards to
4.1 Depiction of Women Involved in
Iraqi News coverage on women involved in
violence is marked by two tendencies. First,
there is an explicit portrayal of women as victims
of violence: with the keywords “violent women”,
all the results were related to violence against
women, enhancing the victim narrative. This is
not a trend particular to this newspaper; as
Gámez Fuentes and Núñez Puente express, the
victim of gender violence appears as an image of
consumerism in most media nowadays (2013,
148). Second, and representative of the armed
conflict context, Iraqi News focuses largely on
female suicide bombers (FSB): there was only
one descriptive article related to a woman
teacher that caused the death of a student (Amin,
The keyword search of FSB gave us six
pages of results, which means much more than
usual for this website while with “male suicide
bombers” we obtained merely one page of
results. This might signify, on the one hand, that
there is a need to “name” women's violence and
deviance or, on the other hand that men's
violence has been normalized through long-term
socially internalized patterns while women's
violence is seen as an aberration, as a sign that
war has come to its paroxysm.
Even though Sjoberg and Gentry (2007)
are mostly focusing on the representation of
“deviant” women in Western media, their
analyses are substantial for the depiction of FSB
in Iraqi News. These two authors expose how
women's violence attracts more attention than
men's violence and how we usually resort to all
sorts of narratives in order to explain women's
violence as it does not fit into any of our gender
conceptions of what a woman should and should
not do (Sjoberg & Gentry, 2007, pp. 2-5). In an
attempt to explain female terrorism, Iraqi News
also reproduces these gender stereotypes and,
does not investigate the root causes of women's
violence, merely repeating the information
provided by generals or officials, generally over
quoting them.
While not limited to Iraqi News, we found a
tendency of reifying Iraqi women under the
banner of victims. As Gentry maintains, the
common perception of Iraqi women is one of
“a poli tica l vic tims of e xplo ita tion and
manipulation” (2011, p. 187) and Iraqi News
presents some examples of these misconceptions
on women agency. The article by Layla
Mohammed is an example: she interviewed a FSB
called Rania, presenting one of the most complete
texts on the topic. She portrays Rania as a victim
of patriarchy, and more specifically a victim of her
10-year senior husband. While Mohammed is the
only author trying to portray women's violence,
she does it in a way the reader can only deduce
that Rania is a mere victim of a society that
produces violent and controlling men: “a 20-year-
old dark-skinned woman, has always dreamed of
becoming a physician, but instead she ended up
as the first female suicide bomber in Diala […]”
(2008). Another article follows the widow
narrative elaborated by Sjoberg and Gentry
(2007) and victimises women as it assumes that
there is an eminent danger for widows to become
terrorists or prostitutes, once more reiterating
victimhood and gender stereotypes.
We also found the motherhood narrative
identified by Ahall (2011, p. 42): as motherhood
is “something we do not question” as we conceive
the female body as the bearer of life, it is difficult
to conceive it as a life taker as is the case with
FSB. Iraqi News makes no exception within the
global media and frequently associated the
horror of suicide attacks with the incoherence of
a mother committing the deed. In one particular
article, the reference to motherhood is connected
to what is socially accepted for a woman in Iraq
(and globally): “She wore a black abaya and, like
many of the other women, was walking with a
child, in her case a young girl […]” (Hussein,
2009). In this quote, the normalcy for women is to
bear children, which is incompatible with the
perpetration of violent action. However, there is
no ex p l a n a t i o n of th e d e e d a n d no
contextualization, which results in misperception
with regards to political agency while not
analysing correctly the conditions under which a
woman may take or be forced to take the decision
to commit suicide bombing.
The easiest way to explain women's
violence is also to categorise them as absolutely
“deviant” from the norm, as psychologically inapt
and therefore, easy to manipulate. This has been
used a lot by the Western media, and later
disclaimed, as was the case in 2008 when a
woman who blew herself up was considered to
have Down syndrome (Howard, 2008; Bloom,
2011, p. 219). Iraqi News reporters cover FSB
events with the same kind of affirmations: “A
mentally-retarded female suicide bomber”
(Berwani, 2008) or “[m]ost of these female suicide
bombers are either mentally-disabled or
bereaved women who have lost their loved ones
(Mohammed, 2008). The problem of female
terrorism is associated to emotions and
irrationality as it is easier to assume that the
woman is “deviant” from her gender than to
suppose any agency or resilience in political
actions. While emotions are important factors in
the war context, it is dangerous to reduce FSB
acts to irrationality without taking the whole
socio-political context into account.
Arab News doe s n ot addre ss the
problematic of women involved in violence as
Iraqi News: there was only one short report
about a female bomber in Pakistan, and a few
other articles depicting the phenomenon in
Afghanistan and Iraq. Only two articles in the
entire online version of Arab News focus on
wo men's par tic ipation i n t he Al-Qaed a
organization. The first article published in 2003
is based on an email interview with Um Osama,
the leader of the women Mujahedeen of Al-
Qaeda. In this article, Um Osama indicates the
role of women in Al-Qaeda as bombers and
fighters. She mentions: Besides martyr
operations, our mission is to provide logistical
support to the Mujahedeen and intelligence on
the hypocrites wanted by the Mujahedeen” (AN,
2003). The second article, titled “Saudi women
played a marginal role in deviant group's
activities” (Al-Sulami, 2010), and highlights the
women doing marginal tasks, such as logistical
matters, helping wanted militants, travelling
with militants, fundraising for Al-Qaeda's
widows and media relations officers.
Even in AJE, the keywords “violent
women” did not explicitly give us many results:
the problem of domestic violence and above all
rape in India was monopolising the media
attention on this topic. This confirms that there
is a saturation of news portraying women as
victims of gender violence (Gámez Fuentes &
Núñez Puente, 2013, p. 148), while less is done
to comprehend their active role in society.
However, it is worth mentioning that AJE,
compared to the two other media outlets, is
publicly taking part in promoting the campaigns
against gender-based violence, as was the case
for India and Saudi Arabia.
With that being said, since the events of
9/11, AJE has been creating more and more
assertive views on women's political actions in
armed resistance. Contrary to what was
expected, we got only 4 pages of results on the
topic of FSB, which is low for AJE. When we
searched for “women terrorists” and “women in
terrorism” we both obtained 25 pages of results
but very few were really depicting women's
political violence. Since most of the articles on
FSB come from international news agencies, the
narratives that were identified by Sjoberg and
Gentry (2007) as well as Brunner (2007) in
Western Media are repeated in AJE. It was the
case on the coverage of Chechen and Dagestani
FSB with the recurrent use of the expression
“Black Widow” to categorise them (AJE, 2010).
Ahmad Lida, Priscyll Anctil Avoine /“Deviant” women in English Aarab Media: comparing representation in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Qatar
Such labelling only portrays these women as
monstrous and abject, othering” North
C a uc a s u s w o m en , d e m o n i si n g a n d
dehumanising Muslim women (Sjoberg y Gentry,
2007, p. 103). However, AJE has sought to give
another portrayal of FSB, especially Palestinian
ones , b y promo t i n g progr a m m es like
“Everywoman” or “Riz Khan” where the analysis
goes in depth, and experts are invited in order to
understand the political reasons behind
women's actuation, while deconstructing the
myths behind their violence (AJE, 2008).
“Everywoman” offered a more comprehensive
approach to women's suicidal violence by
insisting on the necessity of involving them in
peace processes and by interviewing directly
some of the women willing to commit the deed
and: “[…] there is something special about
sacrificing yourself [...] by blowing yourself up
you become one with the land [...] building a
bridge with the future generation which will
liberate Jerusalem” (AJE, 2008).
AJE also addresses controversial themes
on female combatants, as is the case with
American women who got their right to fight in
ground combat or with the reclamation of self-
defence combat for women. On the topic, AJE
shows high abilities in describing women
political/military agency while also representing
the victims by demonstrating women's resilience
in conflicts times. Nevertheless, most of the time,
women are portrayed as masculinised because
they are deviating from the gender norms
(Sjoberg y Gentry, 2008, p. 14), and AJE even
pr o ves that wome n a re c hara cter isin g
themselves as such quoting a Syrian female
combatant: “I do not feel like a woman
whatsoever when I am here” (Atassi, 2013). AJE
also makes a relevant portrayal of political
engagement of female fighters in Sri Lanka's
Tamil Tiger (Grey, 2007), even if the aberration of
the journalist covering the topic evidenced the
general difficulty of understanding why a woman
would decide to sacrifice herself, largely due to
our understanding of women as intrinsically
The approach of AJE with relation to
combat and fighting is comprehensive, mostly
portraying women as political agents and
resilient in the face of violence. However, the
question of female combatants in the Arab world
is not clearly addressed, apart from some
articles on Syria where the violence of women is
presented as a civil war effect: “mothers, wives
and daughters are increasingly becoming
weapons of war on the frontline of the battle
between government forces and the opposition”
(AJE, 2013). The strength of this article, and the
video related, is that is makes one of the rare
portrayals within the mainstream media of
women implicated in the Syrian conflict and the
battle engaged on their bodies. The video is quite
polarised on the topic of women engagement,
offering a fervent debate between three women
experts and activists of the Syrian conflicts,
showing the intention of AJE to expose
marginalised points of view.
Generally, the language of AJE is
appropriate regarding the coverage of politically
and military engaged women, even if sometimes
the newspaper employs terminology as “mother
of revolution” or “peace mom” to explain
women's political engagement, which tends to
reduce women agency to their role as mothers.
Fortunately, these discourses are balanced with
many reports on the implication of women in
Arab Revolts, including interviews with women
on the street to see how they struggle for their
4.2 Socially-involved Women: A Mitigated
Iraqi News gives a voice to women that are
actively defending a non-conventional position in
society, above all, to human rights activists.
There is a firm difference between the articles
redacted by Mohammed as she tries to give voice
to feminist activists and female politicians. In
general, the articles are mostly quoting women
activists, not really deeply analysing their
political acts . Most of the articles seem to per se
argue that we should “not limit the image of
women in typical roles” (Mohammed, 2012) and
that the role of women in politics should be
promoted. However, lots of articles are using the
expression “female elements” (Mohammed,
2012a) to portray women in some of the roles
considered “deviant”, suggesting a certain
objectification of women. It confirms the
complexity of perceptions on women's insertion
in “men's business” showing that the women
entering politics or armed forces are still
considered to be the “other”, the “strange
elements” within a dominated masculine world.
One recurrent element in various articles
was that women that “deviate” from their gender
roles in Iraqi society are associated with land and
national pride. As we argued regarding FSB,
4 The programme was stopped without any clear reason.
motherhood functions as a “symbol of
heteronormativity”, and therefore, represents
the “natural femininity” (Ahall, 2011, p. 29),
most of the narratives on women are based on a
direct association between women, politics and
the land. The feminine body is directly
associated to the nation and nationalism
because the mother's body is connected to the
perpetuation of the nation (Qazi, 2011, p. 32;
Agra Romero, 2012, p. 66). The woman is
th ere for e n ot f ull y r eco gni sed for he r
achievements, but for what she can provide for
the nation: quoting the Women Committee
supervisor, one article stresses the necessity of
supporting women to “highlight the Iraqi artistic,
cultural heritage and civilization” (Mohammed,
Equally, articles assume that women
should be given a space in politics because of
their “sacrifices for Iraq” (Hussein, 2013) or
because “women's honor is the honor of all
Iraqis” (Hussein, 2012). As Banner argues,
women's bodies are often territories of battle
during war and this leads to national efforts in
promoting women's emancipation in post-war
society as proof of a nation's progress (2009).
Consequently, women are accepted in certain
jobs as “Iraqi women proved to be trustworthy”
(Amin, 2009): their femininity is an obstacle to
their role in society, but since they have “proved”
themselves in a male world, they have been
accorded some public space.
Iraqi News raises a number of alarming
issues such as honour killings (Amin, 2010a)
which seems to be a preoccupying question for
the newspaper, the dilemma of polygamy
(Hussein, 2012a) and the compelling problem of
women prisoner abuses (Hussein, 2012).
However, t hese t opics are superficially
addressed while it would have been interesting to
investigate Iraqi women's resilience and agency
on the matter.
Iraqi News tries to give voice to women in
Iraq, although in a very embryonic manner to
perceive it as a changing force, especially
considering that the general public might not
read in English and does not necessarily have
Internet access on a regular basis. It surely
confronts at some point the notion of women
normalcy for Iraqi society, denouncing the
inaction of the government on topics like women
prisoners abuses. However, Iraqi News does not
present itself as an emerging force for Iraqi
women: the online newspaper largely sticks to
the facts and does not provide a space for women
and men to discuss gender issues. The portrayal
of “deviant” women would be more accurate if the
newspaper would hire more female journalists:
although it is still difficult in post-war Iraq for
them, they have m anaged to ge t new
opportunities and enjoy new freedoms of speech
(Al-Rawi, 2010, p. 223).
The con ceptualis ation of “soc ially-
involved” women is relative following the country
and the normativity with regards to femininity.
Arab News shows that politics, driving cars and
working in the media are “deviant” work for
Saudi women because, despite their activism,
they are still denied a social space. Several
articles have been published in Arab News on the
topic of driving women in Saudi Arabia. The
newspaper tries to give voice to both sides: the
ones who support lifting the ban on women
driving, and the “activists” who are “opposed to
women getting behind the wheel” (Khan, 2013).
Arab News is not officially against women's
driving, however in the reports they published,
the Saudi women's efforts to lift the ban on
driving are portrayed as very pale. These three
articles' titles express this trend: “Driving alone
can't define Saudi women's progress” (Al-
Mulhim, 2013), “Activists oppose women's
getting behind the wheel” (Khan, 2013), “Women
driving campaign fizzles out” (Al-Bargi y Ali,
2013). In the first article, Al-Mulhim (2013)
indicates many women's achievements in the
Kingdom and adds that: “Yes, women in the
Kingdom are not allowed to drive. I have a gut
feeling that it is just a matter of time when the
world will witness women drivers wading
through traffic jams in the Kingdom”.
In the second article, Arab News reported
on several activists going against the
recommendation of three women members of
the Shoura Council over the lifting of the ban on
driving for women. Furthermore, one day after
the campaign launched by Saudi women that
drove on the streets near their houses on October
26, 2013, Arab News used the expression “fizzles
out” and reported on only a few women's
It seems that Arab News is a liberal
newspaper in Saudi Arabia playing a positive
role in women's participation in the media; some
of the articles we analysed in our investigation
had been written by women and some women
also commented on the articles even though it is
reserved to English speakers. Women's rights are
discussed even by male journalists, as is the case
with Ghafour when addressing the use of social
media, particularly Twitter. He notes that
thousands of Saudi women use social media and
Ahmad Lida, Priscyll Anctil Avoine /“Deviant” women in English Aarab Media: comparing representation in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Qatar
fight for their rights. He gives an example of the
part-time female teachers' campaign to get full-
time jobs, resulting in the government giving
permanent jobs to 10,000 teachers (2013).
After 9/11, there was strong criticism
toward the Saudi Arabian government, one of the
USA's closest allies in the Middle East, because
fifteen of nineteen hijackers had Saudi
nationality. Thus, the improvement of women's
status and creating democratic societies in the
Middle East and Islamic countries was put on the
agenda of their governments. The Saudi
government is also working on reforms,
including women's issues. Arab News is a voice of
the Saudi government, especially when it
publishes in English and targets foreign readers,
highlighting the government's reformation
proposals and achievements: it warily talks
about women's issues and still has a conservative
and prudent approach toward “deviant” women.
AJE is definitely transcending the typical
“victimisation” of women: compared to Arab
News and Iraqi News, it presents women as
much more resilient and proactive in social
change, giving voice to women that are breaking
the typical role associated with their gender. AJE
offers multiple and diverse critiques, and
censorship is not really felt, mostly due to its
international reach, allowing a certain “defiance”
on women's issues.
As women activists are affected by
different constraints concerning their gender
roles following their cultures, it must be
recognised that AJE tries to portray their diverse
points of view, but above all, the context of
emergence of such activism. For instance,
“Witness Al-Jazeera” published a video reporting
on Maryam Bibi, a Pakistani woman engaged in
girls' right to education in Tribal areas, depicting
her as a strong communitarian leader daring
social norms. AJE also discusses women
occupying u ncommon jobs and def ying
tr a d i t io n a l v i e w s o n w o m e n ' s s oc i a l
participation. As a matter of example, we can
quote the reporting of a woman wedding
videographer in Morocco who is fighting against
her conservative family that prohibits her from
working (AJE, 2013a). This article challenges
the gender dynamics in Morocco, showing the
social barriers to her career development while
affirming her struggles in the midst of
Equally, AJE does not fear addressing
uncommon roles for women, even if considered
“deviant”. It goes as far as criticising some Arab
regimes, taking a strong position against their
legislation, as is the case of the ban on driving in
Saudi Arabia. It explicitly appeals to other
governments to stop supporting the Saudi
regime as a means of pressure (Naar, 2013).
These tensions between Qatar and Saudi Arabia
are currently deteriorating which is partially due
to the polemical coverage of AJE (Gresh, 2014).
Interestingly, there were not many results
with regards to Qatari women except from some
news on the insertion of Qatari women in sports.
The only divergent voice of Qatari women is a
video on the Qatari author Al-Malki where she is
interviewed in April 2012 regarding women's
place in the public arena and the necessity to
institutionalise women's rights. The almost
absence of Qatari women in the newspaper is
revealing as it seems that the debates on
“deviant” women are only concerning other
countries and not the host country of AJE, which
can signify that it does not want to risk entering
the slippery field of criticising the country's
In sum, various articles are presenting
women in different social roles, more often than
not prohibited or frowned upon by their
societies, as is the case with the testimony
attacking the common understanding of Yemeni
women as victims of child marriage and in
“necessity to be saved”. This depiction victimises
Yemeni women and limits the possibility to have
any form of agency and control over their life.
AJE breaks down these stereotypes, affirming a
more complex portrayal of Muslim women and
feminism: “Instead, we hold tight to an
orientalist vision of the Middle East that makes
women into oversexed and illiterate haram
maidens” (Fawcett, 2013).
4.3 Spaces of Feminist Confrontations
Arab News was the first liberal initiative of the
Saudi government “because it was issued by a
company with limited liability outside the
framework of the Publications Regulations
which governed all local newspapers at the time”
(Al-Faisal, 2010); however, we found double
standards regarding “deviant” women. For
example, it is rare to find any article about Saudi
or Arab lesbian women in Arab News: only one
article was identified on April 2011, titled
“Student appeals expulsion over deviant
relationship”. It is the story of a sexual
relationship between a female student, Sarah, at
the King Abdulaziz University, and a supervisor.
Arab News identified a lesbian relationship as a
“sexual identity crisis” (Humaidan, 2011) and, in
all online issues brings up this one case
repeatedly, while university administrations and
psychologists say they have observed many cases
in universities and schools in Saudi Arabia. It is
interesting to note that Abdul Qader Tankal, the
supervisor of safety and security of Abdulaziz
University contends that: “Lesbian relationships
are quite common among girls in recent years
because of satellite channels and the internet”
(Humaidan, 2011). The newspaper promulgates
numbers of reports about homosexual rights
movements in other countries such as India, UK,
USA and some other European and African
countries. It shows the double standards of the
paper regarding the issue of considered sexually
“deviant” women; the approach of Arab News
regarding lesbianism is generally a reflection of
Saudi Arabia's Islamic attitudes about this issue.
The status of women in Saudi Arabia
always has been a controversial issue between
the Saudi government and the international
community. A Human Rights Watch report
(2008) discusses male guardianship and sex
segregation in Saudi Arabia. This report
highlighted that every Saudi woman, regardless
of their economic and social status, must obtain
permission from their guardian (a male relative)
to work, study or marry. Sex segregation puts
Saudi women in a category in which they are
treated differently to their male counterparts.
General Presidency of Girls Education (GPGE)
has a specific curriculum for girls that teach
them housew ife skills and mo therhood
practices. Even though the Kingdom created
some reforms in women's education, invested
millions of dollars in universities and King
Abduallah has encouraged girls to continue their
education at higher levels, culture and tradition
still create barriers that confine women's study
within the county.
Meanwhile, Arab News rarely ever
mentions these discriminatory situations for
Saudi women and their political resistance. It is
true that it often presents achievements of a
certain fringe of Saudi women as, for instance,
was the case with the two Saudi women who were
selected to be among 20 top Muslim scientists by
Muslim Science, a UK-based online magazine.
However, in some articles Arab News “slams” the
i n t e r n a t i o n a l a p p r o a c h t o w a r d s t h e
“oppression” status of Saudi women, thus
exposing Saudi government policy towards
women's rights. One article published in
September 2013 strongly disclaims the World
Bank report “[…] saying that Saudi Arabia tops
the list of countries for laws that limit women's
economic potential” (Jiffry, 2013). Another
article, “Activists slam UN rights report” was
posted in October 2013, quoted the argument of
Suhaila Zain Al-Arideen, a women's rights
activist, wherein she argues that Saudi women
are allowed to participate in municipal elections
and that are acting as senior officials and others
that manage their own businesses (Jiffry, 2013).
While Iraqi News did not present any
concrete analysis of the heteronormative society
or question sites of contestation with regards to
feminism, AJE is clearly positioning itself on the
matter. When we searc hed for les bian
representations in AJE, most of the results were
in relation with Sochi Olympic Games of 2014,
as the debate was virulent on the topic.
Nevertheless, the coverage of lesbians' rights in
the Arab world was low: instead, the focus is on
other countries mostly in Asia, Russia and the
USA, suggesting that the problem is addressed
from an international perspective while almost
nothing is said on Arab lesbians. The keywords
Arab lesbians” presented only 2 results and the
most relevant reportage on the subject was an
article of photojournalism on the Mumbai gay
pride parade, which included lesbian women in
the pictures and their social demands.
Considering our topic, AJE's strength
resides in its power to discuss gender and
feminism, mostly because of the technology and
budget it relies on: the coverage of what are
considered “hot” topics in the Arab world is thus
facilitated by the dynamism of its platform and
its worldwide access.
In the post-9/11 political landscape,
feminist ideals have been used to justify foreign
intervention to “save” Muslim women behind
rhetoric of a civilising mission presenting Islam
as abject (Butler, 2009, pp. 129-30). AJE
advocates for a revision of this perception with a
critical confrontation between Western feminism
and the representatives of a feminism that better
encompasses the Muslim precepts and social
realities of Arab countries. For instance, articles
are focused on criticising the justification of war
relying on women's rights in Afghanistan trying
to portray women's participation in combating
gender inequalities in their country: “[…] Afghan
women also have been activists on their own
behalf long before the US invaded […]
determined to fight for their rights […]”
(Eisenshtein, 2013).
Within this scenario, Al-Jazeera also
challenges typical views on women liberation as is
the case of one article questioning why “women
are 'free' to undress, but not to dress up” (Petkova,
Ahmad Lida, Priscyll Anctil Avoine /“Deviant” women in English Aarab Media: comparing representation in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Qatar
2013), calling for a more comprehensive
approach to Muslim women's fight for their
rights. Criticising FEMEN activists, this article
refuses the idea of social confinement of Muslim
women and affirms that they are socially engaged,
having a long history of activism. These positions
are “deviant compared to Arab News for
example, however, there is currently no
investigation reporting the real access of Arab
women to these challenging debates.
In the end, “it is hard to say that Al-Jazeera
has a policy on representing women” as it
definitely provokes massive debates but still
“like many other broadcasters worldwide, is said
to select female presenters on visual rather than
intellectual criteria” (Sakr, 2002, p. 836). AJE is
promoting a space for feminists confrontation
contrarily to the other newspapers analysed
where the debates on the topic are still
embryonic. There are various articles in AJE
discussing Arab women and Islamic Feminisms,
mostly developed by the numerous newspaper
columnists with the intention of restoring
Muslim women's image and their longstanding
so cial inv olv ement, d esp ite th e o verall
submissive image in the media.
4. Concluding Thoughts
This investigation is only a first step towards
broadening the academic knowledge on Arab
media coverage of “deviant” women. Our
extensive analysis of the three online media
demonstrated that reification is impossible. In
general, we conclude that the three online media
are enthusiastic while reporting on “deviant”
women of other countries, while more reserved
in depicting them in their own country, as we
confirmed with lesbianism. AJE definitely
proved to be the most progressive website of our
investigation, confronting feminist issues and
portraying “deviant” women more exhaustively.
Arab News, because of the social control on
women in the kingdom, tends to cover “external”
women's issues fairly, but the debate on women
driving is much more polarized and aligned to
Saudi Arabia's policies. Finally, Iraqi News
presents a quite embryonic vision on “deviant”
women (and women in general) because of its
underdeveloped opinion columns and low
presence of female journalists.
As our topic has been understudied, this
article is evidently a call to deepen the analysis of
“deviant” women, but also of women in general.
Thus, there are plenty of new venues for future
investigation on the topic. It would be of great
interest to investigate this topic in Arabic
newspapers, especially AJA, to compare with the
coverage in English, as the language might
provoke some change in news coverage related to
women as English is used to promote an
innovative image of Arab countries to the world.
There is a need to “assess the impact and
reach of these online publications” (Loubna,
2006, p. 53) and the whole technology complex
that is behind as proved in the aftermaths of the
Arab Revolts where women's participation in
protests did not favour their rights. We are
conscious that the media we analysed “consist
mostly of women academics and other privileged
women” who have English notions, as is the case
in the Arab world concerning Internet access,
reducing the target population. Future research
sho u l d also b e orie n t ed tow a r ds t h e
conceptualization of how a woman is portrayed
as a victim, both when she is actually a victim of
gender violence and when she is perpetrating, as
she is often portrayed as left unprotected
because the depiction made by the media has
direct consequences on women's status in
society (Sakr, 2002, p. 834).
The challenge for Arab media is fomenting
an alternative discourse on gender violence
(Gámez Fuentes y Núñez Puente, 2013, p. 152)
and assessing the reality of Arab women as strong
social agents in their society. This includes going
out of the traditional vision of submission, but
also considers that women are capable of
violence: we should consciously address our
responses to contemporary violence and the
media are one of the first concerned on the matter
as their coverage can contribute to the
perpetuation of violence. In this huge task, Arab
media cannot stay neutral and need to engage in
democratic and ethical journalism that permit
women's voices to be heard, but further, to be
translated in real socio-political emancipation for
Agra Romero, M.X. (2012). Con armas, como
armas: la violencia de las mujeres.
Isegoría. Revista de Filosofía Moral y
Política, (46), 49–74.
Ahall, L.T. (2011). Heroines, Monster, Victims:
Representations of Female of Agency in
Political Violenc e a nd the Myth
Motherhood, [PhD diss.], University of
AJE (April 13, 2008). Female Suicide Bombers.
Al-Jazeera. Ret rieved f rom http: //
ww w.aljaz ee ra. com /PR OGR AMM ES/
--- (March 30, 2010). Russia Accuses Chechen
Female Group. Al-Jazeera. Retrieved from
h t tp : / / w w w. a lj a z e e r a .c o m / n e w s /
--- (April 16, 2012). Corporate Profile. Al-
Jazeera. Retrieved fromhttp:// www.aljaze
e r a . c o m / a b o u t u s /
2006/11/2008525185555 444449.html
--- (February 24, 2013). The female factor, Al-
Jazeera. Retrieved from http://www.alja
--- (November, 14, 2013a). Casablanca
Camerawoman. Al-Jazeera. Retrieved
from http://
mes/witness/2013/11/casablanca- came
rawoman-201311 1181236771611.html
Al-Ariqi, A. (2009). Middle Eastern Women in
the Media: A Battle against Stereotypes. Al
Jazeera: A Case Study. Reuters Institute
Fellowship Paper, 1–43. Retrieved from
Al-Bargi, A. and Ali Khan, G. (October 27,
2013). Women Driving Campaign Fizzles
Out . Arab N ews. R etrie v ed f r o m
AL-FAISAL, Turki (2010): Arab News: Mother of
all SRMG publications”, in Arab News,
Ap ril 21. Avai lable at ( 15.02.14 ):
< ttp://>
Al-Malki, A. and Kaufer, D. (2009). A 'First' for
Women in the Kingdom: Arab/West
Representation of Trendsetters in Saudi
Arabia. Journal of Arab and Muslim
Media Research, 2(1-2), 113–133.
--- (2012). Arab Women in the Media: Old
Stereotypes and New Media. New York,
United States: Bloomsbury.
Al-Mulhim, A. (October 9, 2013). Driving Alone
Can't Define Saudi Women's Progress.
A r a b N e w s . R e t r i e v e d f r o m
Al-Rawi, A. (2010). Iraqi Women Journalists'
Challenges and Predicaments. Journal of
Arab & Muslim Media Research, 3 (3),
Al-Rawi, A. and Gunter, B. (2013). News in Iraq.
In B. Gunter and R. Dickinson (eds), News
Media in the Arab World: A Study of 10
Arab and Muslim Countries (42-64). New
York, United States: Bloomsbury.
Al-Sulami, M. (December 1, 2010). Saudi
Women Played a Marginal Role in Deviant
Group's Activities. Arab News. Retrieved
f r o m h t t p : / / w w w. a r a b n e w s . c o m /
Allam, R. (2008). Countering the Negative Image
of Arab Women in the Arab Media: Toward a
“Pan Arab Eye” Media Watch Project. The
Middle East Institute Policy Brief, (15), 1-8.
Amin, T. (March 9, 2009). Women to occupy
senior educational positions soon
minister. Iraqi News, March 9. Retrieved
/women-to-occupy- senior-educational-
po siti ons- soo n-m inis ter /#ax zz2w Xlh
--- (December 3, 2010). Pupil Dies after Teacher
Harshly Rebukes Him in Baaquba. Iraqi
News. Retrieved from http://www.ira
qin e m /vari e ty/pu p il-dies - a fter-
t e a c h e r - h a r s h l y - r e b u k e s - h i m - i n -
baaquba/#axzz 2wQdsfgpu
--- (October 24, 2010a). Honor Washing Crimes
Kill 84 Iraqi Women in 2009. Iraqi News.
R e t r i e v e d f r o m h t t p : / / w w w. i r a q i
k i l l - 8 4 - i r a q i - w o m e n - i n -
AN (March 13, 2003). Bin Laden Has Set Up
Female Suicide Squads. Arab News.
Retrieved from http://www.arabnews.
--- (2014). About Us. Arab News. Retrieved from
http://www.arabnews. com/node/51199
Atassi, B. (January 28, 2013). Newlyweds Fight
Together on Syria Frontline. Al-Jazeera.
Retrieved from
Banner, F. (2009). Beauty Will Save the World':
Beauty Discourse and the Imposition of
Gender Hierarchies in the Post-War
Chechen Republic. Studies in Ethnicity
and Nationalism, 9 (1), 25–48.
Berwani, H. (November 24, 2008). Female
Suicide Bomber Kills 3, Wounds 12 in
Green Zone. Iraqi News. Retrieved from
h t t p : / / w w w. i r a q i n e w s . c o m / i r a q -
w ar / f em a le - s u i ci d e - bo m b er -k i l ls - 3 -
w o u n d s - 1 2 - i n - g r e e n -
Bloom, M. (2011). Bombshell: Women and
Terrorism. Philadelphia, United States:
University of Pennsylvania Press.
Ahmad Lida, Priscyll Anctil Avoine /“Deviant” women in English Aarab Media: comparing representation in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Qatar
Brunner, C. (2007). Discourse – Occidentalism
Intersectionality Approaching Knowledge
o n ' S u i c i d e B o m b i n g ' . Pol i t i ca l
Perspectives, 1 (1), 1–24.
Butler, J. (1988). Performative Acts and Gender
Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology
and Feminist Theory. Theater Journal, 40
(4), 519–531.
--- (2009). Frames of War: When is Life
Grievable? New York, United States:
Eisenshtein, Z. (August 10, 2013). Burqas and
empire, again. Al-Jazeera. Retrieved from
http : / / www.alja z e / i n depth/
Fawcett, R. (March 22, 2013). The restoration of
human dignity in the women of Yemen. Al-
Jaz e e ra . R e t r i e v e d fr o m h t t p : / /
Figenschou, T.U. (2011). Suffering Up Close:
The Strategic Construction of Mediated
Suf ferin g on A l Jaze era E ngli s h.
International Journal of Communication,
5, 233–253.
Forastelli, F. (2007). Regulaciones culturales y
viol encia. Rec ientes d ebates e n el
movimiento de mujeres y Queer en
América Latine. Feminismo/s, (9), 51–66.
Gámez Fuentes, M.J. and Nuñez Puente, S.
(2013). Medios, ética y violencia de género:
Más allá de la victimización. Asparkía,
(24), 145–60.
Gentry, C.E. (2011). The Neo-Orientalist
Narratives of Women's Involvement in al-
Qaeda. In L. Sjoberg and Gentry, C.E.
(eds), Women, Gender, and Terrorism,
(176–193). Athens and London, United
States: The University of Georgia Press.
Ghafour, P.K.A (August 19, 2013). Women Use
Twitter to Raise Issues. Arab News.
Retrieved from
Gresh, A. (March 7, 2014). Grave crise entre les
émirats du Golfe. Les blogs du Diplo.
Retrieved from
Grey, K. (August 3, 2007). Sri Lanka's Female
Tigers. Al-Jazeera. R etrieved from
Howard, M. (February 2, 2008). Female Suicide
Bombers Kill 72 People at Baghdad
Markets. The Guardian. Retrieved from
HRW (2008). Human Rights Abuses Stemming
fr om Male Gu ardiansh ip and Sex
Segregation in Saudi Arabia. Human
Rights Watch. Retrieved from http:// docid/480c3dd72.html
Humanidan, M. (April 25, 2011). Student
Ap p e a l s Ex p u l s io n o v e r De v i a n t
Relationship. Arab News. Retrieved from
Hussein, A. (April 24, 2009). Fears from
Reorganizing Baathists as U.S. Troops
Withdraw. Iraqi News. Retrieved from
http : / / w ww.iraq i n e w a g h dad-
p o l i t i c s / f e a r s - f r o m - r e o r g a n i z i n g -
b a a th i s t s - a s -u - s - t r o o p s - wi t h d r a w-
--- (November 26, 2012). Alwani Condemns
Torture & Rape Crimes Inside Women
Prisons. Iraqi News. Retrieved from
http : / / w ww.iraq i n e w a g h dad-
politics/alwani-condemns-torture -amp-
--- (September 27, 2012a). Parliament Votes on
9th Commissioner of IHEC. Iraqi News.
R e t r i e v e d f r o m h t t p : / / w w w. i r a
--- (September 20, 2013). Siheil Urges to Grant
50% of Social Peace Committee for Women.
Iraqi News. Retrieved from http://www.ira
women/ #axzz2wXlhR9pb
Hun t ingt o n, S . P. ( 1 993) . ¿Cho q ue d e
civilización? Foreign Affairs Español.
Retrieved from http://
IN (2014). About Iraqi News. Iraqi News.
Retrieved from
Jiffry, F. (September 29, 2013). Despite
Constraints, Saudi Women Upbeat about
Empowerment. Arab News. Retrieved
f r o m h t t p : / / w w w. a r a b n e w s . c o m /
Khan, F. (October 22, 2013). Activists Oppose
Women Getting behind the Wheel. Arab
News. Retrieved from
Loubna, H.S. (2006). Communicating Gender
in the Public Sphere: Women and
Information Technologies in the MENA.
Journal of Middle East Women's Studies,
2 (2), 35–59.
Mellor, N. (2005). The Making of Arab News.
New York, United States: Rowman &
Mohammed, L. (November 25, 2008). Interview
with a Bomber. Iraqi News. Retrieved from
ht tp:/ / w ww.i raq inews.c om/ feature s/
i n t e r v i e w - w i t h - a - b o m b e r / # a x
--- (May 25, 2012). MoWA Honors Creative Iraqi
Women. Iraqi News. Retrieved from http://
ww w.i raq m/f eat ures/ mow a-
honors - c r eative -iraqi-wom e n / # a x z z
--- (December 6, 2012a). HR Parliamentary
Committee Meets Activists in Women
Rights. Iraqi News. Retrieved from
--- (May 9, 2012b). MoC Honors Number of Iraqi
Female Artists. Iraqi News. Retrieved from
honors-number-of-iraqi-female -artists/#
Mouline, N. (2010). Power and Generational
Transition in Saudi Arabia. Critique
internationale, n°46. Retrieved from
Naar, I. (October 27, 2013). Shifting Gear:
Saudi Women Defy Driving Ban. Al-
Jazeera. Retrieved from http://www.
al jaz eer a.c om/ ind ept h/f eat ure s/2 013 /
10/shifting-gea r- saudi-women- defy- dri
ving-ban-20131027132853713829. html
Obeidat, R. (2002). Content and Representation
of Women in the Arab Media. Expert Group
Meeting on Participation and Access of
Women to the Media, and the Impact of
Media on, and Its Use as an Instrument
for the Advancement and Empowerment
of Women, Beirut, Lebanon, November 12-
Petkova, M. (April 26, 2013). FEMEN, Eastern
European Women and the Muslim Sisters.
A l - J a z e e r a . R e t r i e v e d f r o m
Qazi, F. (2011). The Mujahidaat: Tracing the
Early Female Warriors of Islam. In Sjoberg,
L. and C.E. Gentry (eds), Women, Gender,
and Terrorism (29-56). Athens and
London, United States: The University of
Georgia Press.
Rahbani, L.N. (2010). Women in Arab Media:
Present but not Heard. Paper presented at
Standford University, Standford, California,
Reuteurs (January 14, 2013). Jodie Foster
Confirms Speculation at Golden Globes.
Arab News. Retrieved from http://www.
ar abnews. com /jodie-f oster- c onf irms -
Sakr, N. (2002). Seen and Starting to be Heard:
Women and the Arab Media in a Decade of
Change. Social Research, 69 (3), 821–850.
--- (2004). Woment-Media Interaction in the
Middle East: An Introductory Overview. In N.
Sakr (ed.), Women and Media in the Middle
East: Power through Self-Expression (1-14).
New York, United States: I.B. Tauris & Co.
--- (2008). Women and Media in Saudi Arabia:
Rhetoric, Reductionism and Realities.
British Journal of Middle Eastern
Studies, 35 (3), 385–404
Sjoberg, L. and Gentry, C.E. (2007), Mothers,
Monster, Whores: Women's Violence in
Global Politics. New York, United States:
Zed Books.
--- (2008). Reduced to Bad Sex: Narratives of
Violent Women from the Bible to the War on
Terror. International Relations, 22 (1),
Terry, J. and Urla, J. (1995). Deviant Bodies:
Critical Perspectives on Difference in
S c i e n c e a n d P o p u l a r C u l t u r e .
Indianapolis, United States: Indiana
University Press.
Van Leeuwen, T. (2008). Discourse and
Practice. New Tools for Critical Discourse
Analysis. New York, United States: Oxford
University Press.
Warf, B. and Vincent, P. (2007). Multiple
Geographies of the Arab Internet. Area 39
(1), 83–96.
West, J. (2005). Feminist IR and the Case of the
'Black Widows': Reproducing Gendered
Divisions. Innovations: A Journal of
Politics, 5, 1–16.
Ahmad Lida, Priscyll Anctil Avoine /“Deviant” women in English Aarab Media: comparing representation in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Qatar
... Although Saudi Arabia has taken major steps to change the stereotypical image of Saudi women in the last few years, few linguistic studies have documented and analyzed the discourse addressing women-related issues. Most of these studies have taken up a wider linguistic perspective as they explored the drastic changes in Arab media discourse in relation to taboos such as religion, governance, and gender (Lahlali, 2011), the representation of women in Arab media (Lida & Avoine, 2016;Obeidat, 2002;Sakr, 2002), the representation of Islam and Muslims in electronic forums (Törnberg & Törnberg, 2016), and the image of Arabs in the American press (Shousha, 2010). ...
Full-text available
This paper is a corpus critical discourse analysis of the journalistic representations of Saudi women as they appear in the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) (Davies, 2008). It follows a sociocognitive approach (van Dijk, 2008) to explore the thematic foci discussing issues related to Saudi women and to discuss the discursive strategies implemented to propagate such issues. The study has reached four findings. First, the thematic foci related to Saudi women are textually and referentially coherent as they were meant to provide a grand narrative underlying a specific context model. Second, Saudi women are negatively represented as no social roles are ascribed to them throughout the corpus. Third, different social actors are also represented alongside Saudi women to put them in a wider socio-cultural context to aggravate their problems. Finally, the most effective discursive strategies which mediated the running context model included victimization, categorization, stereotyping, normalization, and exaggeration.
... What is more, within the print, audio-visual, and online media industries, where on a daily basis Egyptian women play very vital roles, there is barely any research that investigates their everyday leadership challenges. For the most part, the existing literature has tended to focus primarily on how Arab women's leadership in general is socially constructed in media reporting (e.g., H. Loubna Skalli 2011;Ahmad Lida and Pricyll A. Avoine 2016). By focusing on women in media leadership, specifically in the context of Egypt, the findings of this study aim at helping bridge this gap in the literature. ...
This article examines the factors contributing to the under-representation of women leaders in the Egyptian media. Whilst a plethora of research exist on women in the Arab media in general, very few have so far examined the extent of women’s representation in top media management positions particularly in Egypt. Based on empirical insights from 40 key informant interviews, this article finds that in their quest to become top media managers, Egyptian women journalists encounter a two-dimensional uphill battle—institutional and social discrimination. Institutional discrimination is evident in the absence of a legal and organizational environment to encourage women leadership. This includes a notable wage gap, gendered work relations, and difficulty maintaining a work–life balance. Social discrimination is practised against women journalists outside newsrooms, more specifically within their home environments, where they have to battle patriarchal social norms. © 2018
Full-text available
This is a re-uploaded text after adding Chapter 3
Full-text available
Almost a decade into the global war on terrorism, the academic and intelligence communities have yet to agree on whether psychological profiles of militant women are a useful paradigm. Few scholars are able to ascertain common patterns across various conflicts and countries from which female terrorists emerge. Others question the utility of trying to study female terrorists as distinct or unique from terrorists more generally.1 Scholars scanning the literature of jihadi mythologies as well as statements, trial transcripts, and other communication nodes do reveal common themes expressed by many women- and men-engaged in violent action.2 These themes largely reflect common grievances; for example, perceived injustice and the indiscriminate use of violence by states on distressed Muslim communities and individuals. © 2011 by the University of Georgia Press. All rights reserved.
Full-text available
A woman did that? The general reaction to women's political violence is still one of shock and incomprehension. Mothers, Monsters, Whores provides an empirical study of women's violence in global politics. The book looks at military women who engage in torture; the Chechen 'Black Widows'; Middle Eastern suicide bombers; and the women who directed and participated in genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda. Sjoberg & Gentry analyse the biological, psychological and sexualized stereotypes through which these women are conventionally depicted, arguing that these are rooted in assumptions about what is 'appropriate' female behaviour. What these stereotypes have in common is that they all perceive women as having no agency in any sphere of life, from everyday choices to global political events. This book is a major feminist re-evaluation of women's motivations and actions as perpetrators of political violence.
Introduction: Mapping Embodied Deviance N Jennifer Terry and Jacqueline Urla Gender, Race and Nation: The Comparative Anatomy of OHottentotO Women in Europe, 1815ETH1817 N Anne Fausto-Sterling Framed: The Deaf in the Harem N Nicholas Mirzoeff Colonizing and Transforming the Criminal Tribesman: The Salvation Army in British India N Rachel Tolen This Norm Which Is Not One: Reading the Female Body in LombrosoOs Anthropology N David G. Horn Anxious Slippages between OUsO and OThemO: A Brief History of the Scientific Search for Homosexual Bodies N Jennifer Terry The Destruction of OLives Not Worth LivingO NRobert N. Proctor Domesticity in the Federal Indian Schools: The Power of Authority Over Mind and Body N K. Tsianina Lomawaima Nymphomania: The Historical Construction of Female Sexuality N Carol Groneman Theatres of Madness N Susan Jahoda The Anthropometry of Barbie: Unsettling Ideals of the Feminine Body in Popular Culture N Jacqueline Urla and Alan Swedlund Regulated Passions: The Invention of Inhibited Sexual Desire and Sexual Addiction N Janice Irvine Between Innocence and Safety: Epidemiologic and Popular Constructions of Young PeopleOs Need for Safe Sex N Cindy Patton The Hen That CanOt Lay an Egg (OBu Xia Dan De Mu JiO): Concepts of Female Infertility in Modern China N Lisa Handwerker The Media-fed Gene: Stories of Gender and Race N Dorothy Nelkin and M. Susan Lindee Notes on Contributors Index
On February 25, 2007, after fighting with the guards, a woman in Iraq blew herself up at Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, injuring forty-six and killing forty-one students. Very little information has been found about this woman; in the weeks that followed, rumors circulated that the bomber was neither a woman nor affiliated with al-Qaeda.1 While there have been a plethora of bombings since the Iraq War began in 2003, each February since 2007 at least one more woman has perpetrated a suicide attack. In February 2008, two women, who possibly had Down syndrome, killed seventy-three people in Baghdad. A February 5, 2009, an attack left fifteen dead, and another on February 13 left forty dead. On February 1, 2010, a large attack on pilgrims at a way station killed fifty-four. Again, however, these were not isolated attacks, and they are not the only suicide bombings carried out by women. From 2003 to 2008, there were 1,715 attacks in Iraq, 51 of them by women. Seven happened before or at the beginning of the surge of American forces; after the surge, attacks by women rose significantly, as did the media coverage of them. Those first five women received very little attention, while women from the West (the United States and Europe) with ties to al-Qaeda received an enormous amount of attention. Once the number of female self-martyrs began to rise, however, the media began to research and speculate about the reasons. © 2011 by the University of Georgia Press. All rights reserved.
Building on Bernstein's concept of recontextualization, Foucault's theory of discourse, Halliday's systemic-functional linguistics and Martin's theory of activity sequences, this book defines discourses as frameworks for the interpretation of reality and presents detailed and explicit methods for reconstructing these frameworks through text analysis. There are methods for analyzing the representation of social action, social actors and the timings and spatial locations of social practices as well as methods for analyzing how the purposes, legitimations and moral evaluations of social practices can be, and are, constructed in discourse. Discourse analytical categories are linked to sociological theories to bring out their relevance for the purpose of critical discourse analysis, and a variety of examples demonstrate how they can be used to this end. The final chapters apply aspects of the book's methodological framework to the analysis of multimodal texts such as visual images and children's toys.