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Portrayals of Kurdish Female Resistance

By Shahin Firoozmand

The emergence of the Islamic State in Syria and the Levant (ISIL) has given rise to multiple streams of discourse in Western media. One issue garnering much attention is the presence of female fighters among the Kurdish resistance.  Though they have existed for many decades, Kurdish female fighters have only recently been reported on in such detail by media sources.  Two views on the media portrayal of Kurdish female resistance are briefly outlined below with links to relevant articles. 

Kurdish female fighters have become a dominant strain of media attention in the West and serve as a symbol of the forces battling the spread of ISIS.   These images and stories of female fighters embody, both figuratively and literally, the present fighting, especially in Kobane (see The Angel of Kobane).  It is interesting to note that many of the Kurdish actions, including suicide bombings, are wrought in more sympathetic narratives than such actions would otherwise garner from media outlets.

Some analysts, such as Dilar Dirik, claim portrayals of Kurdish female fighters as "badass" are counterproductive stereotypes which cheapen and distract from the core issues fueling the current conflict.  Viewing female Kurds in this way, without questioning their own ideological motivations, is a political tool for Iraqi Kurdistan and the opponents of ISIS.  Moreover, such portrayals reshaping Kurdish identity around superficial "tokenism".


Shahin Firoozmand is the current Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of International Policy Solutions.  He focuses on International Economics and Politics with a regional focus on China.  Having traveled extensively, Shahin hopes to use his experiences and knowledge to underscore the increasingly interconnected and complex web of global political and financial dynamics emerging in the world today.


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