Is It Radical for a Woman to Become a Stay-at-Home Mother or Wear a Headscarf?

Published on April 3, 2023 

Book chapter in Ayhan Kaya, Ayşenur Benevento, Metin Koca Eds.(2023) Nativist and Islamist Radicalism: Anger and Anxiety, London: Routledge.

In a larger study concerning overlapping radicalisation processes among self-identified Muslim youth and right-wing native youth in Europe, we discovered that a number of women in Belgium (N = 39; 27 Muslim women and 12 native women) explored how their gendered values (the importance of veiling and mothering or being a homemaker) emerged and how their decision to act in accordance with those values involved self-acceptance and explicit refusal of outside influences when making their decisions. The chapter aims to shed light on how young women’s decisions are not viewed as choices but are repeatedly assessed in terms of external influence (from religion, right-wing ideology, etc.) rather than as authentic, autonomous acts. This research demonstrates the importance of exploring the role of homemaker when studying radicalisation, which is an area that has thus far been dominated by concerns about non-normative (non-western) cultural practices such as veiling. By highlighting the double standards through which young women's choices are interpreted, I hope to challenge the mainstream discourse that often cluster European natives and Muslim groups in two distinct cultural and civilisational boxes, often via women's freedom of choice over their bodies and practices. Based on the findings the chapter also recommends rethinking how “deradicalisation” is operationalised and providing safe spaces where compassionate curiosity is encouraged.

Available under a Gold Open Access License

Taylor & Francis open access link to the chapter