‘Many Sisters Wish They Were Men’: Gendered Discourse and Themes in pro-ISIS Online Communities


  • Meili Criezis Polarization and Extremism Research Innovation Lab (PERIL), American University Washington DC


Islamic State, Terrorism, Telegram, Gender, Women, Online


Though official Islamic State propaganda maintained narratives about women and the appropriate societal roles they were expected to fill, unofficial online content and behavioral patterns of online supporters both amplified and strayed from the official party line. Excellent scholarship has focused on gender dynamics and female membership in the Islamic State however, with the exception of Twitter studies, not as much research has been conducted in the online realm on other platforms. This paper hopes to contribute towards filling the gap by 1) examining 22 conversation exchanges in private pro-ISIS groups; some of which include interactions between male and female members and 2) analyzing prominent themes and narratives displayed in unofficial propaganda about women by addressing how these elements may or may not reflect the official narratives of the Islamic State. The findings are drawn from qualitative and quantitative data gathered from the online platforms of Hoop, Riot (Element), RocketChat, TamTam and Telegram which were selected for their wide popularity among ISIS supporters during a period ranging from 2018-2020.


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