Boston University Law Review








The preoccupation with the challenges posed by violent actors has long existed for many states, whether such actors are characterized as terrorists or insurgents, nonstate or paramilitary actors. The events of September 11, 2001, brought a new urgency and vibrancy to state action in the realm of counterterrorism, illustrated by both the response of national legal systems as well as more concerted efforts to achieve multilateral and multilevel counterterrorism reactions on the international plane.1 From a feminist perspective, it is notable that terrorism and counterterrorism have long been of marginal interest to mainstream feminist legal theorizing.2 This is partly because of the sustained absence of women's voices in the regulation of armed conflict and war, as well as the exclusion of women from the war zone, aptly illustrated in Homer's pithy phrase that war constitutes "men killing and men being killed."3 Men remain the primary and visible actors in terrorist acts and counterterrorism responses. In the legal field, a concentration on male actors has dominated national security conversations. There is no "end of men" in terrorism or counterterrorism discourses. When women come into view they typically do so as the wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers of terrorist actors, or as the archetypal victims of senseless terrorist acts whose effects on the most vulnerable (women themselves) underscores the unacceptability of terrorist targeting. Women remain marginal to the conversations in which definitions of security are agreed upon and generally peripheral to the institutional settings in which security frameworks are implemented as policy and law. Women perpetrators of terrorist violence are largely ignored or fetishized. Women scholars have generally not articulated a feminist perspective on the ways in which states respond to violent challengers.4 More particularly, the legal quandaries that result from the use of law as a management tool to address terrorism have not generally garnered a feminist response.

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