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Women and Organized Racial Terrorism in the United States

NCJ Number
Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume: 28 Issue: 5 Dated: September-October 2005 Pages: 421-433
Kathleen M. Blee
Date Published
September 2005
13 pages
This article explores women’s participation in racial terrorism in the United States from the immediate post-Civil War period to the present.
Racial terrorism is defined as violence perpetrated by organized groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis, against racial minorities. Women are often active participants in this type of violence; this article analyzes the nature and extent of women’s participation in racial terrorism within the White supremacist groups the Ku Klux Klan, White power skinheads, and neo-Nazis. Racial terrorism and perceptions of the enemy during the postbellum era, the early 20th century, and today are analyzed. While the official state apparatus imposed on the defeated South is described as the main target of White supremacist groups in the postbellum period, the focus of their hatred has shifted over the years to finally settle on the Jews as the main subject of racial terrorism today. The hierarchal organization of White supremacist groups is reviewed as the author analyzes how this hierarchal structure impacts women’s involvement in acts of violent terrorism. While the most structured and hierarchal organizations tend to exclude women from direct participation in violent operations, the more loosely structured groups include women in their brand of narrative racial violence. Overall, the involvement of women in racial terrorist organizations has increased over time and is variable, depending on the broader societal changes and on the organization of the White supremacist group with which they are involved. Table, notes, references


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