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When Neighbors Stop By

Jezebel writer Callie Beusman wrote this piece yesterday on reports of women in Britain fawning over Jihadi Syrian men over the Internet, ultimately traveling there to join them, and sort of calling it out as absurd. She particularly takes umbrage with a column by author Hannah Strange written for the Telegraph Women's Life section. She writes this passage:

I myself am by no means immune to the charms (or the curse) of the bad boy. From the nightclub manager with a raging drug problem to the serial womaniser who insisted "I was different" (spoiler alert: I wasn't), the landscape of my love life is littered with the men my mother warned me about. I've never personally ventured into the criminal or terrorist underworld in search of a date, but it doesn't take too much mental manoeuvring to see that it's essentially the same phenomenon, writ large.


And Jezebel adds this commentary:

Privileging the bizarre narrative of "women can't help themselves around bad boys, and jihadis are the baddest boys of all!" over the fact that some British citizens — at least four women included — are turning to violent extremism is ridiculous. And, obviously, the decision to leave one's country and join a revolution because of your ideology is nothing like the decision to date a nightclub manager with a drug problem. If you can equate the two without "much mental manoeuvring," then you probably haven't spent much time thinking about Syria.


Of course, modern technology exists to let Hannah Strange know when her article is linked to or mentioned on the Internet, so she went ahead and stopped on by:

Hi Jezebel, would you like to actually refer to the point of my column in Telegraph Women (not a news article) which discusses the evolutionary reasoning as to why women sometimes make such choices in men? Or just pull out the joke I made about my own love life to distort the point? And have you investigated the online evidence as to the approaches made by British women? Please note, the article is not about women going to Syria as you suggest, that is clearly an entirely different issue, which I have written about separately. It is about women seeking a husband in the jihadi world online while staying in Britain, you seem to have misread it.


Full disclosure, I promoted this comment out of the grays because I love this type of stuff and think it's bold and commendable when a Journalist shows up on a competitor's comment section to defend their piece, regardless of whether they're right or wrong.

I'm more on board with Callie Beusman's take here. The line between a bad boy stereotype (which is probably more fiction than fact) and the very real consequences of being involved in an actual relationship with a man who has extreme radicalized beliefs in a foreign war torn country seems pretty tenuous. Reinforcing stereotypes with these types of extreme stories isn't really a great thing to do for women. Also, Hannah Strange's tip to "evolutionary reasoning" makes me wonder if she's on a reasoning path towards arm chair evo psych. I also don't understand Hannah Strange's first retort about her piece not being a news article. Nothing I got out of Callie Beusman's article gave me the impression it was such.


Anyway, regardless of the particulars in this discussion, I thought the dialog was interesting. I doubt Callie will respond but it would have been cool to see some back and forth.

PS I realize I'm assuming that is the real Hannah Strange, but the account has only one comment and I really don't see why anyone would try to fake in this case.

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