Jihad Jane's Radicalization Has Nothing To Do With Feminism

What Women Really Think
March 18 2010 10:16 AM

Jihad Jane's Radicalization Has Nothing To Do With Feminism

The Daily Beast chose a provocative headline for their article on "Jihad Jane," aka Colleen LaRose, who allegedly plotted to kill a Swedish cartoonist: " The Feminist Jihad ." The author, Richard Miniter, points out that LaRose is a recent, highly radicalized convert to Islam, and that she wanted to help kill the cartoonist because he portrayed the prophet Mohammed as a dog. Miniter argues that feminism is causing women to want to participate in jihad. "Terror leaders might want to take the world back to the 7 th century, but they have to contend with a feminist revolution," Miniter writes.

In the case of LaRose, this is a supremely illogical read of her behavior. He compares Jane to highly educated Pakistani Aafia Siddiqui, who was born Muslim and seems to have been radicalized through her marriage to Ammar al-Baluchi , the nephew of one of the orchestrators of 9/11. A better comparison would be to Susan Atkins, a follower of Charles Manson-or really, any other person, regardless of gender, who has joined a cult. LaRose has been divorced twice and had many scrapes with the law . Atkins was raised by alcoholics and was sexually abused as a child . These lost souls are easy targets for extremists, no matter what variety of extremism they're peddling. It's tempting to apply a facile explanation for their behavior-but it doesn't really make sense.

Jessica Grose is a frequent Slate contributor and the author of the novel Sad Desk Salad. Follow her on Twitter.