Chelsea Rock

Date of Award

Spring 2006

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Rhetoric & Comm Studies


Since 2002, popular Western news media has become fixated with the "advent" of the Palestinian female suicide bomber when a woman named Wafa Idris detonated herself on a busy Jaffa Road in Israel. Questions about gender, domesticity, violence, subjectivity, and technology arise as researchers, journalists and others confront culturally conceived notions about women and their roles in both Islamic and Western societies. Proposing a broader concept of violence that is cognizant of women's violent histories and struggles over agency, this essay suggests that analyses of women and violence are incomplete without critically thinking about the "female suicide bomber"--or shahida--within their contemporary cultural and social context. Yasser Arafat's "Army of Roses" speech in 2002 serves as a representative anecdote useful for constructing and deconstructing the shahida rhetoric as it disseminated through global news media outlets. Thus, this essay's focus on "female suicide bombers" contends that understanding subjectivity and technology as inextricably linked is crucial to the development of a more inclusive theory of violence and gender. Shahidas are excellent and perhaps indispensable figures for understanding how rhetoric effects our perceptions of gendered roles in society, while providing a broader spectrum for furthering theories about women and violence.