Jessica Pacwa


The events of September 11, 2001 (9/11) continue to morph American identity. 9/11 warranted a frame—a narrative—to explain and assign meaning to the sudden death of nearly three-thousand men and women. The phrase "war on terror" was first used by George W. Bush in an address to Congress on September 20, 2001, and since then, the term has entered into common global lexicon. The strict binaries that confine American discourses in this War on Terror—civility/barbarity, freedom/oppression, Judaea-Christianity/Islam, progress/tradition, the protector/the protected and democracy/tyranny—are not unique; rather, they are rooted in imperialist, colonial, and Orientalist legacies, where narrative often relies on gendered rhetoric—a key aspect that this paper focuses on. It argues that gendered discourse and politicalized representations of Afghan women worked to gain domestic support for the war in Afghanistan, government officials, media outlets, and aid organizations invoke mythic war narratives (i.e. arguments about good versus evil)—which often rely on the victimization of Afghan women—as a mean to gain bipartisan domestic support for military involvement. While I examine the war on terror frame generally, my aim for this paper is to specially address the U.S. liberation campaign for Afghan women by examining U.S. policy and speech discourse on the matter using critical discourse analysis (CDA).

Library of Congress Subject Headings

War on Terrorism, 2001-2009; United States -- Foreign relations -- Afghanistan; Afghanistan -- Foreign relations -- United States; Women's rights -- Afghanistan

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School Affiliation

Seaver College


Political Science

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