Discourse surrounding conflict and terrorism is often confined by gendered binaries which conflate masculinity with violence and femininity with peace and passivity. The social adoption of these archetypes has encouraged policy makers and security officials to paint men as combatants or orchestrators of extremism, while women are thought of as mere collaterals to war. However, the number of women involved in extremist groups is rising both domestically and abroad. As the essentialization of femininity becomes increasingly dangerous, the exigency to reimagine national security initiatives grows. This comment argues that the United States has reached a critical juncture in its counterterrorism policy and must avoid rigidity in favor of a more nuanced understanding of how gender influences the risk of radicalization. Recognizing that most research in this area focuses on how extremist groups leverage their influence to extort and subjugate women, this comment focuses on women's roles as both perpetrators and potential mitigators of violence.

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